Saturday, October 07, 2006

Scandinavian open sandwiches - a few recipes

Shrimp sandwich with salmon (Serves 4)
4 slices of white bread
butter
1 lb/450 grams of peeled shrimps
2-2 fluid ounces / 50-75 ml of double cream
1/2 to 1 tsp of horseradish-puré
salt
4 slices of smoked salmon
dill

Cut off the crust and fry the slices in a little butter and let them cool down

Place the shrimps around the edge of the bread, whip the cream and add horseradish and salt to taste. Put a little of the cream in the middle of the slice.

Roll the slices of salmon into a rose-shape and place on top of the cream.

Garnish with a sprig of dill.

Sandwich with egg and anchovis (Serves 4)


4 slices of brown bread
Butter
1 tin (2 oz / 50 grs) of anchovis (8 small filets)
2 hardboiled eggs
4 leaves of salad
4 sprigs of dill

Butter the slices lightly.

Take the anchovi-filets out of the tin. Let the excess oil drip off.

Slice the eggs.

Place a leaf of salad on the bread, then place half an egg in slices on the salad, followed by the anchovis. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

Danish night-snack (Serves 4)

4 slices of dark rye-bread
Butter
1/2 lb/200 grs of Liver paté
8 slices of fried bacon (cooled)
5 ounces / 150 grs of mushrooms lightly fried in butter (cooled)
Pickled onions or cucumber to garnish
4 sprigs of parsley

Butter the slices of bread lightly.

Either spread the liverpaté or cut the into slices and place on top of bread. Then place fried bacon and mushrooms on top. Add pickled onions or cucumber.

Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

You'll find more recipes on these websites:


Ida Davidsens Restaurant, Copenhagen

Nordic Recipe Archive

Scandinavian open-face bay shrimp sandwich - a recipe

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Your own hotel reservations on the web - do's and don'ts

I have made my hotel reservations on the web for several years. In general, using the web this way, has made it easier and much more enjoyable to plan a trip. It is satisfying to do the groundwork yourself and I have to say - I've been very pleased by the hotels I've booked so far.

I am no working on a few articles here on Enjoy - Food & Travel. Before I present my results, I would, however, share some pieces of information that may lead you to the hotel of your choice.

Price, currencies, and payment conditions.


Just one of the reservation services I've used until now, has given you the possibility to choose to get the price of your hotelrroom in your own currency. While some of the websites give the price of the country they operate from, others show the price in the currency of the country you're booking in.

The price does, in many cases, not include local taxes. That will be shown after you have made the reservation. This will increase the price of the room some percentages. This has, however, never given me a shock, but bear this in mind.

Read the terms of payment very carefully. Some will charge your credit card after you have visited the hotel, and gives you the possibility to cancel your reservation with full or partly refund i.e. until 24 hours before you would normally arrive. Others will charge your creditcard when you book, but may still give you right to cancel.

A word of warning. On http://www.hotwire.com/travel-information/terms.jsp?lid=uhp.SMT02-01.SMT01-01.jsp:bnav:loc:0:terms you find the following passage in the payment conditions.

"Hotel Reservation Restrictions

2. All bookings are final and cannot be changed;

4. Reservations cannot be cancelled, refunded, exchanged or transferred to other individuals. Once you book a reservation, your credit card will be charged for the amount shown — regardless of whether or not the reservation is used"


This means that you will not be able to get your money back in any case. So if you do not want to gamble, do read the payment conditions.

Hotel standards

Another challenge is to understand how the websites rate their hotels. In one case the site reveals the criteria on which they base their ratings, and they tell you that they even partly use the rating system of the American Automobil Association (AAA). That gives the consumer a predictability in their reservation process.

I, as a consumer, do assume that the number of stars/diamonds or other symbols, reflect the general standard of the hotel. It is certainly reflected in the price. My general impression is that more symbols increases the price. What would else be the point? The absence of transparency on ratings, creates uncertainty whether you have booked the best hotel at the best price. This would particularly concern me if I'd booked a very expensive hotel. Here I have a little piece of advice. Before you make your reservation - check if the hotel has its own website. This may ensure you that you'll make the right choice.

Location

The number of hotels displayed on the different cities varies from site to site. Some sites actuelly gives you an option to restrict the search to hotels i.e. less than 5 km or miles from the city centre. In that case it is never told where the centre is. Is it Grand Place in Brussels, Westminister Abbey in London or Times Square in New York? The distance is also shown, and I quote as the crows fly, which means that it could be much more difficult to get to the city centre than you think, in spite of the short distance.

Others gives you a possibility to restrict the search to particular parts of the city. This is much better and accompanied by a map where you can see the town plan, you're often able to understand if the hotel you book has a good location.

Some websites display a very large number of hotels, and often it is very difficult to see whether the hotel has a good location. Then you have to check one hotel at a time. This may be worth while if you want to book a hotel in the larger US cities. If you do not rent a car, you do not want to end up stranded in a suburb with a gas station, a Dunkin' Donuts, and a motorway just outside your door. In order to use public transportation in the large cities in the US you must stay in a good location down town. In European cities, however, you may rely on public transportation to a greater extent, and living some distance from the city centre may give you a good bargain.

If you want to check my search-results for Boston and Brussels, and then New York and Paris, I'll try to publish this next week - but this is hard work.

Please share if you experience something that other people may need to know. Give me a comment for me and other to see!

Good luck!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open sandwiches - a Scandinavian Food story

If you want to find something typical Scandinavian to eat, may I recommend an open sandwich?

Smørbrød (Norway, Denmark), or Smörgås (Sweden) consists of one (and only one) lightly buttered slice of bread with a generous amount of different toppings. Open sandwiches are eaten in all three major Scandiavian countries, but the toppings are different.

If you visit Denmark you find that they like their smørbrød topped with slightly heated thick slices of liverpaté garnished with a cold slice of roasted bacon and pickled cucumber. Or you are served a filet of flounder, breaded and fried in butter, topped with remoulade and a slice of lemon. In all countries they really appreciate "Rejer i trengsel", a large heap of shrimps, with mayonnaise and lemon. The quantities in Denmark are very generous, and you are easily satisfied with two. Ida Davidsen, the Danish Smørbrød Queen, says that the should be enough ingredients to completely hide the slice of bread underneath.

In Norway the sandwiches are smaller, and the amount of toppings is less generous. The Norwegians love their "Karbonadesmørbrød", i.e. a with a large meatcake made from ground beef, garnished with fried onions and pickled cucumber. Another speciality here is the sandwich with scrambled eggs with chives covered by large slices of smoked salmon.

The term Smörgåsbord comes from Sweden. Swedes love their sandwiches made gravlax and mustard sauce and herring.

And remember - if you cannot see the slice of bread, you cannot be indifferent to what type you bread you use for what. Herring, liverpaté and roastbeef are served on dark rye bread, like the German pumpernickel. And shrimps, and other seafood are often served on white bread. But here there are different tastes and different traditions in the three Scandinavian countries.

In then - what do you drink? All countries like their open sandwiches with a pint of their local beer and "en lille en" meaning their traditional shot of aquavit. In Denmark that has, until recently (and maybe still) even been the case for the Danish frokost (lunch). In Norway and Sweden, however, this is often not tolerated, and the citizens have to wait after work in order to enjoy their favourite drink.

If you really would like to get the ultimate sandwich experience, go to Copenhagen and make a reservation at Ida Davidsens restaurant. In Store Kongensgade the Davidsen family has, sice 1888, supplied their customers with scrumptious sandwiches. On her website you'll find recipes for her more famous sandwiches. Today Ida Davidsen rivals the Danish queen Margrethe as a legendary Dane. In her restaurant you'll find more that 300 different sandwiches on the menu. She supplies the Danish royal family with their lunch a few blocks away, and she's been said to ship her delicacies abroad - even overseas.

But remember to make reservations well ahead. When you book hotels and flights, book a table - you might get it!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Northern New England

How to get to Northern New England

If you travel from Europe, most western european arlines have non-stop connections to Logan international airport in Boston. Having used most of them, I strongly recommend Icelandair if you have a good connection to Reykjavik. Travelling through Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and not at least London means finding your connection far away from where you arrive, being delayed through several security controls. And after this a 6-8 hour plane-ride awaits you.

In that way, Keflavik airport is a great hub to the US. From here you have flights to major cities as Boston, New York, Washington, Minneapolis, Orlando and San Francisco. Fewer travellers and less congestion in security controls and in duty free shops gives you are more relaxed experience. And the best thing - the distance to the US is much shorter, only 5 hours to Boston.

Where to stay

You can get good hotels through the major online hotel-reservation services. But be aware that some of the less expensive hotels may be situated in the remote part of the Boston greater metropolitan area. This is especially important to consider if you do not rent a car and rely on public transportation.

Outside the Boston Metropolitan Area you can depend on reservation services to make reservations in thew different New England states (i.e. New Hampshire, Maine
and Vermont). I have however no experience with these sites. Kindly give feedback on the use of these and similar sites. As a curiosity - if you want to experience something different why not visit a site on haunted hotels and inns in New England. You may be in for a scare.

Where to eat

Try to avoid the tourist-traps. Queuing for a seat at the Bull & Finch in Boston (Cheers), is in my opinion a waste of time. Instead do pass through the narrow streets in North End, where you can get a wonderful italian meal. Try to seek out the local restaurants in Boston. I've found the most charming jewish diners in Brookline and rustic pubs in Cambridge. There is also much to be experienced in the small towns along the coastline of Northern New England, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and breathtaking sea views. But do some research in advance. If you want to find some hidden treasures in Boston try this site on unknown (and presumably good) restaurants in Boston.

Good luck!!

Monday, October 02, 2006




Serious home cooking

I am very lucky to have relations in the US. That means that I can enjoy some great home cooking, as well as restaurant food. I am also extremely lucky to have cousins who know how to cook. During my stay I have enjoyed much as i.e.-

Lobsters

Lobsters are found in great abundance outside the New England coast, and as everything else, lobsters are bigger in America. Last year we ate an 18 lb lobster, said to be as old as me, i.e. 45 years old. This year my cousin Billy Eastman travelled far out at sea to catch two lobsters, each weighing between 10 and 15 lb's, estimated to be around thirty years old. There is not much of a market for these lobsters, and most of them are sold to producers of fresh or frozen lobstermeat. Many believs that the meat is tough, but believe me it is wonderfully tender.

Due to my cousin Billy, I am lucky to see, and eat these majestic animals.

Ann boiled the two monsters in a huge lobsterpot, and I have to say - it was delicious. What do you serve with New England lobsters? As for all fresh seafood - as little as possible. The lobsters were devoured dipped in melted butter with some corn on the cob or a little salad. When the lobstermeat are cooled down and picked out it is great do mix with some mayonnaise, lemon and finely chopped celery, served in a bun or a baguette. A lobster roll!! This is only one out of many recipes - here is another.

and Chowder (or Chowda')

New England Chowder is a fish soup brought over by the settlers. The name of the dish is said to be of french origin and refers to the pot the soup was made in. The chowder itself exists in many varieties, some new and some older.

The New England Chowder is usually made with bacon, onions, potatoes, chicken- or fish stock, and cream. The seafood or fish is added at the end of the cooking process. In New England they usually use clams. The Eastman family has their own recipe. It is the luxury edition, substituting clams with lobstermeat. Instead of bacon Ann used salted pork belly and instead of cream - evaporated milk. The latter is said to be somewhat of a secret recipe - not any longer - I'm afraid. The lobstermeat is added just before serving and the soup is served with bread. If you want you can add the traditional cracker crumbs.

and by the way - Ann has promised me a recipe. It will be published as soon as it arrives - by e-mail.

More on Chowder in Christian Science Monitor with more recipes here

CORNED BEEF (REAL MEAT - NOT FROM A TIN)

My family are now dominated by the irish. It is the Bradys of Scituate, and ofcourse Ann's husband Pete from Haverhill MA. His family comes from County Armagh in Northern Ireland. And Corned Beef is said to be as Irish as Irish Stew and Guinness.

In Norway corned beef are found in small tins and has the same reputation as Spammeat. I identify corned Beef in that form with my childhood served with fried potatoes and fried egg. Now I think it is out of fashion. I have not seen it in a long time. A pity really, it did not taste that bad.

The Real Corned Beef is however serious stuff. The Irish one is very different from the Jewish variety. Isn´t life and culture beautiful?

I once watched Rick Stein make Corned Beef with potatoes. The Irish way is with cabbage, I think. Ann prepared the Corned Beef in a Crock Pot, boiling the Corned Beef in a stock for a whole day on a very low heat. She served with Dauphine potatoes.

That concludes my memories from New England, until I get the recipes from Anne.