Saturday, November 18, 2006

Enjoy Harvard Square!

By guest blogger Susanne Koch

I recently visited Cambridge, Massachusetts for the first time. I spent an excellent day in the beautiful, historic area around Harvard. Here are some tips if for enjoying food and culture around Harvard Square.

Accommodation: Make yourself at home
If, like me, you travel a lot, you appreciate really good accommodation. I spent two nights at Irving Guest House, which I can recommend without reservations.

Irving House (in the photo) is bed & Breakfast situated in a lovely old house on a quiet street five minute's walk from Harvard Square. The people who work there are all friendly and helpful and the interior is charming.

There is a free wireless network throughout the building and a computer available in the lounge by the lobby. The rooms are cozy and very clean. And there are books in all the rooms, which I particularly liked. All of this made me feel right at home and I hope to be back at Irving House soon.

This hotel has been reviewed on Enjoy Food & Travel October 20th 2008. See full review here

Great, local food
My first night in Cambridge, just off the airplane and horribly jet lagged, I went for a stroll and had my evening meal at at Darwin's, 1629 Cambridge Street. Darwin’s bohemian, charming deli and cafe, serving up local gourmet sandwiches, take-out dinners, local bakery breads and goods, and much more. I had a mix of antipasti -- black olives, grilled peppers and zucchinis, and Italian salami. Mmmm!

At the Greenhouse coffee shop and restaurant, I had a great big lunch in a charming, busy cafe filled with locals and tourists alike, right on Harvard Square. There is a large menu of all kinds of sandwiches, wraps, soups, burgers... I had a veggie melt which was great and a little Spanish lady sitting at a neighboring table had a burger so large she could only eat half :) The Greenhouse has both a breakfast and a lunch menu and I was very sorry not to have time to try the cakes.

I am not an avid shopper, but I love books and I loooove food. So at Harvard Square I spent a lot of time in The Harvard Coop (1400 Mass. Ave.). I have seen a lot of book stores and this is one of the very best. Four floors of books -- all kinds of books. This amazing store was founded in 1882 by a group of students. It was organized as a cooperative and would provide the academic and professional community with a place to buy merchandise at competitive prices and that would also distribute the store-earned profits among its members. To this day, members of the Coop get discounts on all books.

Right next to the Coop I found Cardullo's, a family owned food shoppe. It is a tiny store packed with gourmet food from all over the world. I found feta cheese imported from Greece, olive oil from Italy, chocolates from Belgium and Switzerland and even from my home country, Norway. Needless to say, imported specialty foods like these don't come cheap. Still, the selection is amazing and the atmosphere is great. A must!

Susanne Koch blogs regularly in the Pandia Search Engine News blog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thank God it's Friday - but what's for dinner?

Todays dinner is one of those dishes you can vary as much as you want. You can make the budget variety, using ordinary tagliatelle and ordinary mushrooms, or you can take the Rolls Royce edition. I use Bavette ai Funghi Porcini. Meaning - pasta with dried porcini, and use shitake, oyster mushrooms or porcini for the sauce. Any way - it is made in less than 20 minutes, and it tastes great - so here goes.....

Porcini tagliatelle with creamed mushroom and sherry sauce (Serves one really hungry person - add up if your are two)

Three or four bundles of porcini pasta

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 oz / 40 grs of butter
Four medium fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
Four medium fresh oyster mushrooms, sliced
A small piece of Spanish Chorizo, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon flour
3-4 liquid oz / 1 dl vegetable or chicken stock
1-2 liquid oz / 0,25 - 0,5 dl sweet sherry
3-4 oz / 1 dl single cream
Pepper to taste

Heat butter, fry minced garlic. Then add onion and chorizo. Fry until golden. Then add mushrooms and allow to fry for a minute. Then add flour and mix well to avoid lumps. Add stock and stir for a few minutes until sauce has thickened. Add sherry and cream. Use more salt or pepper if necessary.

Boil pasta in a generous amount of water. Drain and mix pasta with sauce. Serve immediately with a generous amount of parmeggiano reggiano.

Serve with a good red wine. I had a glass or two of Impala Ridge (Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon) from South Africa.



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Enjoy – Food & Travel News Flash: Nov. 9th to Nov. 16th

One white truffle sold for
€125 000!

As diamonds, you have to pay far more for a large truffle, than a small one. In fact a buyer in Hong Kong paid a little over €78616 pr kilo, for a 1, 59 kilo white truffle at Worldwide Alba White Truffle Auction. The total price for the mushroom (no kidding - it is a mushroom) was 125 000 Euros. The unit price of this large chunk of a truffle was, however, narrowly beaten by the specimen sold last year. It sold for a little more than €79600 pr kilo.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this confirms what I earlier have told you. White truffles, they are seriously luxurious food. And you may actually have a little slice of it, as it will be cooked at the Hong Kong's Ritz-Carlton Hotel and served to diners at a charity dinner. I have, however, not been able to find out the price of the menu. I’ll keep you posted……….

Read more at Yahoo News

Indian pudding – a good old American Thanksgiving Classic

The American public will gather around the table to celebrate their Thanksgiving November 23rd. The traditional meal served is the stuffed roasted turkey accompanied by a number of more or less traditional side dishes, cranberry sauce being one of the most traditional.

When it comes to dessert a number of different pies are often served to the guests. At this point they may be as stuffed as the turkey was at the start of the meal. These pies are often made with apple, pumpkin or a traditional mince-meat pie.

The Christian Science Monitor gives in its November 15th edition, an introduction to an old American Thanksgiving Classic – the Indian pudding, which has been made in the US since the mid 18th Century. It provides a sweet (it is made from Molasses) traditional treat that may end the Thanksgiving meal. The article even gives you the recipe – so who knows, it may be time for a revival.

Read the full story in Christian Science Monitor

Lima – the new gourmet hot-spot

Fancy a different dining experience, travel to Lima, Peru! The complex ethnic tapestry of this South American capital has created a fusion cuisine of Far East and native cuisine. This new blend is the latest trend to hit The United States.

Local cooks of Asian and European origins are in the forefront of this new trend. They challenge the Peruvian way to prepare and eat, as well as traditional Asian and European cooking. Japanese food in Lima tastes definitely not the same as it tastes in Tokyo.

So now tourists flock to Peru not only to see Inca sites and breathtaking natural beauty, but to adjust their pallet to new interesting tastes.


A frequent flier rip-off?

ABC News reports to what length some frequent fliers in the US make to retain their elite status in their mileage programs.

David Bolaffi gained a short celebrity status by taking a one day 5000 mile roundtrip from Oakland, CA to Dulles Airport VA, in order to maintain his superior privileges on United Airlines. This while Ann Scharff from Maryland charged $ 15000 on her AA Advantage Card in two months to get a free trip to Australia to join her husband, taking her son with her.

I wonder how much an ordinary roundtrip ticket to Australia would have cost the Maryland mother. There is somebody that get a seriously good deal here, and I doubt that it is the frequent flyer……

Read more on ABC News

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hotel Reservation Service ( - good and reliable

A fellow bureaucrat recommended the Hotel Reservation Service. He used it to get hotels in Brussels, where he attended meetings two to three times a month for a long period. He was certainly no computerexpert, but he felt completely easy as he made reservations on his computer. This was around five years ago, and I still use it. It has actually grown to be my favourite.

Hotel Reservation Service is easy to personalize as you can choose from 31 languages and get the price of the hotel room in 17 different currencies. This makes it an easy site to use for those who does not write or read any foreign language.

You can also widen or restrict your search by choosing distance from the center of the destination of your trip. A wonder of warning, though - this does not reflect the distance on the ground, this is the distance "as the crow flies." If you want to get the exact information to your destination, you can get it when you click on the hotel of your choice. When you click on hotels displayed you can find pictures, specification of rooms and hotel, travel/driving directions, distance to subways or other public transportation and a good map.

The HRS displays a surprisingly large number of hotels at a very reasonable price. And the standards of many of these hotels are high. I have booked some of the best rooms on my travels by using this service. I got a large doubleroom at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in New York three years ago, for less than $200 a night. It is situated between the Ritz Carlton and the New York Plaza at the lower end of Central Park. The last great hotel that I booked, was the Royal Windsor Grand Place Hotel in Brussels and I paid only €110 a night! The rate for the room was over €300.

If you choose a lower price hotel you can easily find uot whether it is good or not. HRS has opened up for feedback from their guests. This is relatively new. You can rate the hotel after you've stayed there, thus helping other people to choose the best hotel and stay away from the ones not choose.

I have however found that the HRS is best on Europe. A few years ago it was brilliant to book hotels in the US as well. Sadly, the site provides fewer hotels than earlier and the prices can not compete with american reservation services. So I have turned to other sites to book rooms in America.

HRS is one of the few sites where the hotel charge your creditcard when you have stayed there. If you arrive at the destination after 6 PM, you have to give your creditcard number to uphold the reservation, but you pay your bill in the reception when you leave. You can also cancel your reservation close to the date of your arrival. Check when you make you order.

So - enjoy!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A piece of history at Fru Burums

At the Oslo westend you find Fru Burums. It is located in a relatively new building, but the place has an old world charm. The owner has collected old pieces of furniture to the pub. As I asked about the gothic piece in the bar counter I expected the answer to be - "that is made out of paper-maché". The answer was however: "This is a genuine medieval piece....."

There were several interesting pieces of the interior that came from an old church even the benches where you sit. In fact the other part of this interior used to be a pulpit. There was also this very old archway close to the entry originating from the United Kingdom. So if you would take a beer in an ecclesiastical environment you now know where to go.