by Nikolaos Strangas, the prince of patisserie in the Danish capital. He may be the newer kid on the block, but this Greek pastry chef has got serious skills, an elegance of style, and perhaps most important of all for an artist, an uncompromising perspective on his medium and the system that surrounds it.
Anne is good friends with Niko (like she is with most everyone, it seems), so we meet at the cakeaway occasionally for a post-work coffee. It is invariably a good time, a warm and relaxed vibe as they close, seasoned with lively conversation as Niko shoots back and forth between the counter and the kitchen.
The man himself.
We hang out slowly, catching a breath after a busy day. Niko wastes no time and brings us out an apple streusel pie, pulled from the oven minutes before. He slides it straight onto the hewn wooden table and plunges a silver spoon to its heart, eviscerating it with a practiced, physical drag.
Anne inspects the macaron case. It looks right onto Åboulevard, drawing you close.
Those bowls are my favourite. They hold one macaron, cupping it solid yet supple. They are sanded until just before smooth, keeping a texture, a grain that fits in the hand.
And then there are the cakes.
The beautiful remains of a group. How I love the detritus of a table.
The first time, I tried the salted caramel. Tried and true, yes, but never ringing with such clear veracity until here and now. This afternoon, it is the basil and strawberry.
It is herbal, a triangulated angle-chase of sweet, tang, and aroma. One drop of aged balsamic vinegar would have elevated to the seraphic ranks.
It lingers on the mind on the bike ride back across the lakes. Through town, along the old canal, I return to this fountain constantly – a circle of granite chevrons set into old cobble. It mesmerises and I haven’t yet figured it out.
Now it is dry, but for the residue of rain.