Once you start believing in your own potential, it is easier to convince others that it exists. It seems that the people of Samsø have indeed started to believe in their own produce and culinary abilities, and this belief has only grown over the last 10-15 years. Today, fresh asparagus, dark lamb meat and sparkling red strawberries are presented with a pride that makes the island’s guests really see the potential in Samsø.
One of my first gastronomic memories is from Samsø. I wasn’t that old but, nev¬ertheless, I clearly remember a dinner at the restaurant “Ved Kæret”: the powerful tastes, the crisp local vegetables and Søren Ørum’s heartfelt way of introducing the meal. I can honestly say that it was one of the experiences that led me to where I am now with food as my major interest.
Søren Ørum was more or less a lone wolf at this time – but this is no longer true. Today, you almost have the prob¬lem of too much choice, because how can you choose between so many fine restaurants? 10-15 years ago, if anyone had told you that you could fill a week by going to restaurants on Samsø, most people would have probably had a good laugh. Today, this is reality.
The produce has always been there; the sandy soil of Samsø where asparagus thrive, the mild climate that benefits potatoes and berries and the wide plains where gute sheep and wildlife graze before eventually ending on your plate. But the part of the story containing the right people to do the cooking was still missing. Luckily, today, a number of young talented chefs see the potential of Samsø’s produce and many of them have settled here. The journey from farm to fork is very short, which makes it possible to work with freshness in a manner that is difficult in larger cities. The fact that the chef profession has shifted from being seasonal work to being permanent makes for increased stability because it is these same talented people that are developing promising food concepts all year around.
The number of food producers has also increased dramatically. If you do not believe me, then try dropping into the shop, “Smagen af Øen” (The Taste of the Island), in Ballen; when owner Lars Damgaard Hansen opened in 2008, he stocked items from four local producers on his shelves – today he keeps over 30. There is high demand for good products and this is another important part of the development. The interest from outside the island has also increased. Tourists plan their vacations to catch the annual produce festival, and Tranebjerg is hit by traffic chaos when it is time for the competition of “Samsøs bedste kartoffelmad” (“Samsø’s best open potato sandwich”). Samsø has really been taken over by an interest in quality food and good restaurants; and, in my opinion, this is only the beginning.
By Rasmus Palsgård
Rasmus Palsgård is a food critic at the magazine “Gastro”, food and wine writer for a number of Danish magazines and newspapers and gives lectures about Danish gastronomy.
Did you know …
That Samsø has three restaurants listed in the White Guide, a guide with the best restaurants in the Nordic countries
Last updated: 25/02/2016 10:54