In recent months, the Danish word 'hygge' (pronounced “hoo-ga") has taken the world by storm, and for very good reason. The term refers to a unique feeling of coziness and contentment that helps make long winters more pleasurable. Though often used to invoke a warm and intimate atmosphere, this wonderful lifestyle concept can also be used to describe food as well. In the culinary world, things like slow cooked stews, mulled wine, and roasted seasonal vegetables could all be described as 'hygge.' To help you plan a delicious winter vacation, here are seven travel destinations that showcase food at its finest.
Alaska's biggest city is a picturesque winter wonderland from January through March, and its food scene has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years thanks to a robust economy and an influx of sophisticated eaters who are eager to expand their palates. For a dinner that's guaranteed to warm you up, the spicy Alaskan salmon and rockfish jambalaya at the Spenard Roadhouse compares to none. On chilly days, a decadent giant cinnamon roll coated in thick frosting from Orso will keep you feeling extra 'hygge.'
A steaming cup of freshly brewed Seattle coffee sipped on a brisk morning is the very definition of the term 'hygge.' Since the weather in the Pacific Northwest can be spectacularly snowy during the winter months, the city's best restaurants compensate by offering richly flavored meals that will stick to your ribs. Try the slow cooked beef stew with bone marrow at Quinn's Pub, or sample the spicy grilled chicken thighs with poblano peppers at the acclaimed restaurant Brimmer & Heeltap for a tangy winter treat.
Comfort foods are extremely 'hygge' and Chicago features some of the most comforting meals in the Midwest. Winter visitors to the Windy City should reserve a table at the elegantly appointed Tortoise Supper Club. Their famous Pheasant Pie is made with slow-roasted shredded pheasant, combined with seasonal vegetables and foie gras cognac sauce, and comes topped with a crispy pie crust. Or for something simpler but equally delicious, try the irresistible macaroni and cheese with Irish bacon at Lady Gregory's Irish Pub in Chicago's colorful Andersonville neighborhood.
Throughout January, Denver's evening temperatures drop to an average of 15-degrees. To combat the cold, hungry visitors should make their way to the historic Five Points neighborhood and pull up a chair at Acorn, an award-winning restaurant specializing in wood-fired cooking. There, you'll find 'hygge' dishes like wood fired baby yams, tomato braised meatballs, and Creole-style rock shrimp and grits. If you prefer Asian Fusion, head on over to Denver's Highland Parks area and order a comforting bowl of duck ramen at the popular Uncle restaurant. Their shoyu (soy sauce) broth is extraordinary.
Few destinations in North America capture the magic of winter quite like Vermont. When a fresh blanket of white snow settles on the vibrant streets of Burlington, the effect is like a picture postcard come to life. Diners looking for a taste of something special should pay a visit to Leunig Bistro, an upscale French restaurant in downtown Burlington. Since 1980, they've been serving 'hygge' meals like roast pumpkin chowder with applewood-smoked bacon, and classic beef bourguignon braised in red wine. Whisky lovers owe it to themselves to try a creamy Irish coffee made with triple distilled Tullamore Dew at cozy Finnegan's Pub, also located in downtown.
The winter landscape in Bend, Oregon, is nothing short of breathtaking. For those who worship the great outdoors, this snowy playground is truly a must-visit. After a day spent skiing or ice skating, the homemade pecan sticky buns and syrup-drenched French toast at McKay Cottage will put a huge smile on your face. If farm-to-table dining is more your speed, then the pizzas and pastas made with local seasonal ingredients at Jackson's Corner are exactly what you're looking for.
Each winter, visitors to Calgary get to experience the best of both worlds: a bustling urban metropolis and an environment filled with scenic natural beauty. Since nothing is more 'hygge' than a warm glass of mulled wine, be sure to stop at Lounge XVIII for a sip of pinot gris infused with clove, anise, ginger, and rosemary and flavored with fresh citrus and honey. If you're in the mood for an intimate atmosphere, the rustic charm of Charbar is the city's top choice. Ask one of their expert mixologists to make you a classic B&B (brandy and Benedictine, served at room temperature) or a cozy fireside cocktail like a Hot Buttered Rum. You'll be experiencing the magic of the 'hygge' lifestyle in no time.