Friday, September 18, 2009

Denmark: two good days


I spent the entire day — well, maybe not the entire day, but at least three hours — talking with my adviser. It was great. We made a lot of progress, although I don't believe that his proof works when there is a magnetic field, and I'm not convinced of his proof even when there is not a magnetic field, and I don't believe his method can get the global constant correct anyway, but it all doesn't really matter because today I found a different proof of the theorem I'm trying to prove, which doesn't require his lemma.

Oh, and also, I got to move into one of the "guest rooms", where I'll be staying for the rest of my time here. It's on the top floor of the biology building. The room is office-sized, with a couch/bed, a desk, a coffee table, and a few chairs. The room has a large hall-closet and a large bathroom, and there is also a kitchen and laundry that is shared with the three other guest rooms for this floor. I'm so much happier here than at the hotel, which was small and impersonal and uncomfortable.

Dinner last night was slightly-overcooked penne with a sauce of leeks, fresh tomatoes, garlic, white button mushrooms, and sweet peppers. Highlights:
  • It took me the longest time to figure out how to turn on the stove. It's a fancy electric induction stove, with a computer chip that makes it turn off as soon as you remove the pan from the burner. It heats up extremely quickly.
  • I had wanted a salad, and most of the available lettuce at the supermarket is all the same not awful but not great iceberg. But I saw a plastic bag with some good-looking fresh lettuce, and although it was very expensive, it was nothing compared to eating out. While making dinner, I discovered that this lettuce was sold with a pot-shaped well-packed mound of soil: you are supposed to bring it home, plant it on the windowsill, and enjoy your salad in a few weeks. Well, I ripped the leaves off and threw away the dirt: it was just the right amount of lettuce for one night.


My bag came! I had left it in Strasbourg — now I have clothes! Also, my mom and sister came! They are visiting for a few days, while my mom gives talks here and in Lund. So I left school early to meet them at the train station, went to my mom's talk, and then we walked around Aarhus and went out to dinner.

We went to Sct. Olaf's, a restaurant my grad-student host M showed me. I had tried to go on Wednesday, when instead I went back to Casablanca (incidentally, the driver of the cab that took us from the train station back to campus says that Casablanca is way overpriced, although very popular, and largely serves the "rich kid" clientelle — a good glass of wine there is 60 kroner, about $12). On Wednesday, Sct. Olaf's was full, but I booked a reservation for three for tonight.

We got there early, and were told to go away by the waiter, who speaks French and German but not English, and unlike the Danes thinks that American's are mangy mutts to be dispensed with, not cute puppies to take care of. When we re-arrived about 15 minutes early, he let us sit at the bar before taking us to a table in the back room.

Sct. Olaf's each night offers only two options: the meat or the fish. The three of us each asked for the fish. What came was a divine two-course meal (we didn't have room for dessert). With the table came house-made bread and we got a bottle of white table wine; shortly after we ordered, there arrived dinner bowls of mussels, steamed and tossed in a sauce of cream, white wine, garlic, and whole mustard seed. The mussels were sprinkled with lots of fresh parsley, and were very good.

After giving us time to digest a little, they brought the main course, a white fish, possible steamed or poached? It was very tender, anyway. The fish was served over a bed of chanterelles, and was topped with some other even tastier black mushroom with a thin cap and large gills. The mushrooms were sautéed before being plated with the fish. Spread over everything was a thin layer of cream sauce, like the sauce for the mussels but with rich and slightly spicy (in the cinnamon-and-clove way) overtones. Served next to the fish was a small cube of polenta, cooked from a fine meal and probably cooked a long time, and flavored with rosemary and other spices. The flavors were all strong but perfectly married. The only problem was that the dish was over-salted.

We were completely stuffed, and so did not order dessert, although it looked good: tonight's option looked to be an apple crumble.

Except that I expect to cook for myself for the rest of my time here, I would happily return to Sct. Olaf's.

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