Food so good it will haunt you until your dying day

As well as being one of Denmark’s oldest castles, Dragsholm Slot is well known as one of the most haunted. It’s no wonder then that the more superstitious of us have reason to stay away. Hearing the story of the ‘white lady’ imprisoned in the castle walls, whose ghost now roams the corridors, was enough to make me keep my distance. But curiosity got the best of me – and I took a trip to this somewhat hauntingly enchanted place. And while I didn’t encounter any ghosts, I did stumble upon some of the best food and wine that this country has to offer.

I shouldn’t have been that surprised. Voted the best hotel and restaurant in 2009, and referred to by many as ‘mini Noma’, Dragsholm is without doubt one of the very best representatives of regional Danish cuisine.

Dragsholm’s aim is to have their cuisine belong to Scandinavia’s gastronomical elite, both now and in the future. They use seasonal ingredients from the Lammefjord area they lie in –the fjord being one of the most fertile agricultural areas in Denmark after it was drained last century for farming purposes.

Diners are offered a choice of five or seven courses. We had seven – and it was seven of the most innovative taste escapades I’ve enjoyed.

We began with the Danish childrenÂ’s favourite of Snørbrød wrapped around large twigs with marmalade on top. On the side were small muffin-like pieces of bread – a mix of both malt bread and white bread baked to perfection. This was served with two different types of butter: one with chicken skin that was divine, and the other a fresh horseradish style.

Dragsholm not only serves local cuisine, but enhances the whole experience by serving it on local ornaments. Our butter was served on a large, smooth, cold rock, collected from the nearby beach that we couldnÂ’t stop admiring.

If youÂ’re new to monkfish you should try it here – it doesnÂ’t get any better. The smell of it was as good as the taste; the richness and freshness of the fish drifted into our noses before we even took a mouthful. Accompanying it were small bead-like pieces of potatoes – faultlessly undercooked, they demonstrated a new way to present potatoes without that weighty feel they bring to meals at times.

Dragsholm’s pioneering attitude towards their food is also reflected in their flavour combinations. Mixing rocket and turnip with natural yoghurt was a pallet soother, while slices of raw chestnut with squid made for a beautiful combination – and here’s me thinking that I didn’t like chestnuts.

But my award for the most creative dish and also my favourite of the night went to my second dessert: the Candied mint with ‘skyr’ mousse and celery sorbet. Two words you don’t want to see written together: celery and sorbet. But my goodness this worked well. Fantastically fresh, unexpected and fun. The acidity and sweetness of the dish made for a concoction I didn’t know existed. Served with light crème fraîche underneath, and little green sugary citrus surprises scattered throughout the bowl, it really was supreme.

The wine list is extensive and the food matchings are second to none. Our champagne had no sugar added, making for a very pure, crisp drop. For the majority of our meal we relaxed into a bottle of Les Chataigners Bourgogne Chardonnay 09. This offset the fish dishes well as it had some of the same taste elements. For a chardonnay it was rather light, but a wonderful drop that still lingers as one of the best chardonnays IÂ’ve tried.

A restaurant is never complete without great service. Keeping with their ‘fresh is best’ philosophy, many of the sauces in our meals were served by the chef or the waiter at our table – a small touch that magnified our experience in a huge way.

I left Dragsholm devoid of seeing any ghosts but I’m still haunted by the food … and while I won’t be passing on tales of the ‘white lady’, I will be passing on the tale of my bewitching food experience.

Dragsholm Slot
Dragsholm Alle 1, Hørve;
5965 3300
open (until Dec 31): Fri-Sat 18:00–22:00;
Cuisine: Danish
Top Dish: Candied mint mousse
Price Range: five-course menu 650kr, seven-course menu 800kr;