I know Halloween very well from the US, but celebrating it is a relatively new thing in Scandinavia. Here we have All Saints Day, in memory of our loved ones that have passed away. But Halloween is a tradition with both European and native american roots. I do not hesitate to embrace new traditions like Halloween. This is how traditions works! So tonight it is Halloween - in Oslo!!
Since this is a food blog I'll concentrate on the food, but first I will tell you who are coming.
I am lucky to have many good friends. We do not see each other so often as we used to, as we are all working and living in different parts of the city. Some have families, and some even children. Some are gay and some are straight Some of us live by ourselves. A very interesting crowd with one thing in common - we love a good party. Halloween is my contribution to strengthen what we all have - a history together.
I am doing the only sensible thing when you have 18 guests, I am making a buffet. Food to be prepared and stored in the refridgerator to be served when my guests arrive. Or food to made just before. This is what my guests will eat tonight.
I bought three large chicken (8 lbs), removed all the bones (this is a complicated process I will return to later), made a spinach and cream cheese filling. From the deboned chicken I have made a roulade with the filling, and roasted it on a very low heat for three hours, then increased the heat in order to get a crispy skin. To be cooled down and cut in slices.
I have made a good stock from the bones. I have removed the chicken meat from the bones (in fact there are more than you think), placed it in a container with peas and diced carrots, and poured some aspic over it.
The stock will be used for a pasta dish with mushrooms, cream, sherry and Parmeggiano Reggiano.
I have made my salmon and tuna mousse. I have the recipe on this blog.
I will make a Skagen-røre (named after the small town of Skagen in northern part of Denmark), made with mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, and shrimps.
Then I'll buy some Danish Pate and serve it with sweet roasted onion and mushrooms and with cold oven roasted bacon.
I will bake small german bratwurst-sausages in puff-pastry with mustard.
Then I'll prepare small pizzas with olives, basil and mozzarella cheese. And serve a large bowl of Caesar Salad.
I will make fresh loaves and will also make my special bruschettas with herbs, garlic and anchovy-infused olive oil, baked in the oven with parmeggiano on top.
So I have a busy day ahead. I will take some pictures of the different dishes and give you more detailed recipes later.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Monday I left Oslo and travelled north on business. As I travelled out of Oslo it is so apparent the winter is approaching. I visited my friends Stian Sagerud and Øyvind Lodten at Hamar, the city by the lake. There I took this picture - the morning sun rising october 25th.
It is a distinctly automnal feeling here, as the birch-trees turn yellow, and it is a touch of frost in the air. These are times for rich hardy meals and a good drink. As we approach christmas certain seasonal dishes turn up. These are often accompagnied by beer and the ultimate winter drink - the Akevitt.
I tend to compare some Norwegian dishes to martial art. This is particularly the case when you enjoy a plate of Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye). The fact that you use lye in food make people wonder whether you've got you marbles intact. When my mother made lutefisk you sometimes did not believe you own nose. Another speciality is is Smalahoved (salted and smoked sheep heads), this is a recipe that you either hate or love. Personally I've been there, done that, once. Poking in the eye of the poor animal (considered a delicacy) is an experience you never forget.
Well - after telling you this, I beg you - do not consider us barbarians! There are so much good to eat during the autumn. Today I had dinner at Dovrehallen, founded around 1900, and there I could admire the view of salted and steamed meat with mashed turnip. My friends could not eat the fat. But I remind myself that since we turned so civilized we tend to forget that hard working people needed all the fat they could get as winter was coming. I chose ground meat cakes with potatoes, steamed vegetables, gravy and lingonberry jam. My friends then said - we should have had some Akevitt to this, but we chose not.
Yesterday arriving in Hamar I ate wonderful homemade spaghetti bolognaise with red wine. Stian and Øyvind served a wonderful bottle of Ripasso from Italy, smooth and spicy, with taste of red berries. And what did they serve as we finished this bottle and another one - two glasses of Akevitt.
A stronge alcoholic beverage (40 percent alcohol), made from potatoes and spices, it is the trademark of Scandinavia. Sweden, Denmark and Norway fight to be the prime producers of this water of life (Aqua Vita). Yesterday they presented me with both Løitens Linie and Løitens Export. As the taste of this spicy yellow drink spreads in your mouth you find there is nothing else to drink in autumn. The Løiten Akevitt is produced in different varieties at Løten, close to Hamar. The Linie gets its name during the maturity process that take place on a cargo ship that cross the Line, the Equator, twice before it is sold. Personally I love the most expensive one, the Gilde Non Plus Ultra, that rivals the best brandy. To be enjoyed in front of the fire, smooth and seductive.
I have not mentioned all that is good to eat during during autumn. For those of you that would like to try - here are some rich Norwegian dishes for the cold dark season.
Får i kål (Lamb and cabbage stew)
Kjøttkaker (Norwegian Meat Cakes)
Ribbe (Norwegian Christmas Pork Rib
Rømmegrøt (Sour Cream Porridge)
Monday, October 23, 2006
This year it is 100 years since the famous Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen died. In fact the whole year has been dedicated to this once so controversial figure. At the end of the year they have decided to create a special brand of cognac in his memory, Henrik Ibsen No. 1. Grande Champagne Cognac. It is for sale at the Norwegian stateowned wine and liquor shops. The price tag? A little less than €5000!
That is a horrendous amount of money for a bottle of cognac. The question you should ask yourself before you run out and buy it. What do you get?
Of course you get the cognac itself, produced by the Norwegian cognac house Birkedal Hartmann. Part of the expensive bottle is cognac produced at the time of the old master himself, other parts are 70 and 50 years old. So this better be good stuff. The Norwegian paper Aftenposten compared the taste of this cognac to what is said to be the most exclusive cognac you can get, the Courvoisier Grande Champagne Paradis. The Ibsen cognac got 97 out of 100 points, but the paper did not reveal the score of the other one. So - who won?
What else do you get? You get a specially designed box, and a handmade bottle you can put on your mantlepiece when you've finished to enjoy this historic experience.
Well I can only say to those of you that buy this masterpiece - Enjoy!!
Read more reviews of the Henrik Ibsen No. 1 Grande Champagne on the official Rosmersholm website
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Hjortetakksalt - more information
Do you remember the mystery ingredient Hjortetakksalt, that I mentioned friday. In fact it has an E-number, that is E 503, and its correct name is Ammonium carbonate. So if you want to get the equivalent, ask for E 503, and you get the same stuff.......
I ended up drinking a few glasses of beer. I bought Hjortetakksalt, but kind of lost motivation to make pastry saturday. However, it is always nice to visit my regular pub. But if you think I stayed completely idle the rest of the day, think again, I made dinner.....
Jan and Tone came for dinner, and I had planned an entree and main course. The entrée was an avocado cocktail with seafood. But sadly, the avocados were to hard, so the cocktail sauce turned out lumpy. It was good, but not great. And I do not settle for good, so - forget the entrée.
But the main course was not good - it was great, so here it comes.....
Vol-au-vents with mushroom and sherry sauce, with wild rice and asparagus.
I always make stock from leftover chicken that I've put in my freezer, so we start with the stock.
Leftover chicken - use everything
1 small onion, quartered
1 cube of chicken stock
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
Heat water to boiling point. Add chicken, onion, oregano and bay leaf. Allow to simmer until amount of liquid is reduced to the half. Then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Then take some puff pastry. I always use the frozen pastry. Allow to thaw. Then make an incision one inch from the edge of pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake in oven at 200C (400F) until the pieces of pastry have puffed up making a box. Then allow to cool. Remove excess pastry inside the cases, leaving room for the filling.
Then the filling
1 tbsp butter
The onion boiled in the stock.
4-5 medium sized mushroom (Chantarelles, champignon, cepes), sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon of flour
2/3 pts chicken stock
3 fluid oz double cream
1 1/2 sweet sherry (Bristol cream is great)
1/2 teaspoon good sherry vinegar
2 chicken breast, sliced
3 large slices of bluecheese
Heat butter, and fry the boiled onion, and then add the mushrooms. Allow to fry, then add flour and stir. Then add stock and stir well, until thickened. Allow to simmer for a few minutes. Then add double cream, sherry, ans sherry vinegar. Adjust taste to balance sweet, salty, and sour. Then add sliced chicken breasts.
Place the stew in puff pastry cases. Place in oven at 200C/400F until warmed through.
Prepare wild rice according to description on package, add a good lump of butter when remaing cooking water has been removed. Serve with asparagus baked in oven with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Arendal, the administrative centre of Aust-Agder county, is the second largest city of the South East coast of Norway. Its history goes back nearly 500 years.
It was originally built on 7 small islands and until early 20th century you could still see the canals that once divided the city. Then it was known as the Venice of the north.
The city was first mentioned in 1528 and recieved city status by the crown in Copenhagen in 1723. It used to be the one of the larges maritime cities in Northern Europe. Today it is charming mix of old buildings and modern architecture. At Tyholmen you find buildings up to 400 years old, along old narrow streets. Along the old harbour, Pollen, the last remain of the old canal system, you can enjoy beer and food on restaurants and bars.
If you would like to see some historic sites, do visit the Trinity Church, built in 1888, at the end of its powerful maritime era. This large neo-gothic church has one of the highest towers in northern Europe (82 mtrs).
Another site is the County museum, The Aust-Agder Museum, is built on the grounds of the historic Langsæ Manor-house and has a large collection of objects from area.
The museum displays the cargo from Fredensborg, the only slave ship ever found, wrecked near Arendal in 1768 with a precious cargo of ivory. From the Gold Coast of Africa 265 black slaves were sent across the Atlantic on the ship; those who survived were sold on the Danish-Norwegian colonial island of St.Croix in the Caribbean. On her way home to Copenhagen the "Fredensborg" was wrecked just outside Arendal. The wreck of the slaver was found in 1974 by divers from Arendal. This exhibition has text in English as well as Norwegian.
Another interesting historic site is Merdøgaard, an authentic captains home, with an interior preserved from the mid 18th Century. It shows the wealth of the local captains, travelling to the Carribean and the Far East bringing home silk, spices, and china. One precious artifact of the house is a 17th Century Ming Bowl brought back by one of the captain. The museum is open only during summer.
Arendal is not only a historic city but a vibrant modern city. Visit the new Culture House, an impressiv piece of contemporary architecture. A modern concert hall, it also house the city administration.
How to get there?
- By plane:
The closest airport, Kjevik Airport (Kristiansand, distance 45 miles).
Scandinavian airlines operates daily services to Kastrup intl. airport (Copenhagen) and Gardermoen intl airport (Oslo). SAS has also service to Spain (Alicante), once a week.
Norwegian Air Shuttle opens daily services to London Stanstead, from November 2nd.
KLM Dutch Airlines operates one daily service to Amsterdam, Schiphol
- The Norwegian Railway provides daily services from Stavanger and Oslo
Colorline operates a daily service to Hirtshals from Kristiansand (45 miles further south)
Nor-way bussekspress operates daily services from Oslo
Konkurrenten operates daily services from Oslo(Norwegian website only)
Lavprisekspressen operates daily services from Oslo (Norwegian website only)
Where to stay?
Clarion Collection Hotel Tyholmen
Arendal Maritime Hotel
Thon Hotel Arendal
Thon Hotel Breidablikk
Where to eat?
Restaurant 1711. (Monday - Saturday 6PM -10.30PM) Gourmet restaurant serving exclusive meat and fish dishes
Poppes Bar and Restaurant (Norwegian only) (Tuesday to Thursday 11AM to 12AM, Friday and Saturday 11AM to 2.30 AM. Sunday and Monday closed) A nice lunch menu (Pastas, sandwiches etc.) Smaller dinner menu (Meat and fish)
Cafe Lindvedske Hus (Monday to Saturday 11 AM, Sunday 1 PM - 2 AM). Sandwiches, pastas, salads.
Fiskebrygga kafé og bar. By the fish market. Mainly open sandwiches, soups, etc.