LAURA CARTLEDGE: Cooking with Vikings was a recipe for fun

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I have always thought I was a little bit Viking.

I say thought, I mean hoped really.

My vaguely red hair is far from a family trait.

And Viking just sits better with me than the hilarious ‘milkman’ story my parents always tell.

So, when I found myself in Danish woodland last week with a group of the bearded seafarers I felt oddly at home.

The visit, or rather the experience, was part of a four day foodie tour of the north coast of Denmark.

In fact, it was our last stop before the airport and turned out to be quite a spectacular sign off.

The rest of the trip had seen us sample ‘modern Nordic’ dishes.

A theme of which was tiny portions, high tech techniques and things pretending to be carbs.

For instance the first dish looked like ravioli but was thin slices of green tomato with oyster inside.

So this was a hands on, all in, roaring fire, appetising contrast.

Instead of awardwinning restaurants we had a clearing among beech trees.

Our chairs and tables had been replaced with fur covered wooden logs and our laps.

As for plates and fine silver cutlery it was carved bowls and our fingers.

I couldn’t wait to find out more but I was surprised to find I was the only volunteer when our host Jesper Lynge, aka Kjøgemester Oldfrue, asked for a sous chef.

Perhaps everyone else was too captivated by his resemblance to a giggly Brian Blessed.

Or because it was because he showed us how sharp his ‘knife’ was by shaving part of his arm.

Having to step away from the fire might also have been a deal breaker.

Whatever the reason - it ended up being just me who stepped up to help turn the table of ingredients made from half a tree into a feast.

My first task was to chop carrots, onions, garlic and leeks which seemed a bit ordinary, until I was given a blade as long as my arm finished with a bone handle.

But I felt the most rebellious when I got into the flow of just chucking the peelings over my shoulder.

We added the veg to a pot of mussels and steamed them in cider.

Salmon was smoked over wood chippings and served with sour cream on hunks of bread we ripped off with our hands.

Before we finished off with a ‘mushroom porridge’ made with barley.

And it was all incredible.

Most people I’ve mentioned it too have asked ‘what about drink?’

The answer is we supped mead out of a communal horn between raising a toast to Thor. Obviously.

It was strange, after a lifetime of only knowing of the Vikings violent acts to be making chowder and fishing nets sat among them.

The domesticated side didn’t get much press it would seem.

There is no doubt it was something I will never forget.

And not just because every time I move my raincoat it still lets off a faint waft of smoke.