Saturday, November 25, 2006

Traditional drinks for Christmas Season

Christmas is just five weeks away. Except the date of the calendar other signs of the time we call Advent - the waiting time, are appearing. Except the traditional Christmas Buffets (Julebord), this is also the time for the seasonal drinks - Akevitt and Christmas Beer.

Seasonal beer

A special seasonal beer has been brewed for Christmas since the dawn of time. It has traditionally been darker than the brew you drink during the year and it is much higher in alcohol. That means that if you want the real stuff in Norway, you have to leave your crocers shop (allowed to sell alcoholic beverages up to 5%) and go to Vinmonopolet (the state owned wine and spirit shops) to buy a good bottle of the real thing. However, the Norwegian brewers have devellopped a less strong seasonal beer that may be sold in the corner store. It has much the same character - but hey, I like to follow the old tradition!

This seasonal beer are served with the traditional food for christmas. Pork Rib, Pork Roast, Pinnekjøtt (dried mutton ribs), Lutefisk, or boiled cod.

The test of the years seasonal brew made by the food magazine (Aperitif), show that the stronger beer get a generally higher score than the stuff you buy in the cornershop. And buy it in bottles!!

Norwegian varieties given the highest scores are (These are all over 5%):

Aass Juleøl 2006
Nøgne Ø God Jul 2006
Fredrikstad Juleøl 2006
Mack Juleøl 2006

There are also foreign varieties sold. The best chosen by Aperitif was:

Noël de Silenrieux, Brasserie de Silenrieux, Belgium

Read more on the test in Aperitif (Sadly - norwegian only)

Akevitt (or Aquavit if you want....)

If you have a large portion of Pork Rib with cracklings, served with meatballs and Christmas Sausage, you really need a digestive, and the drink you turn to is the Akevitt (derived from Aqua Vitae, meaning the water of life). This is a potato based spirit with herbs, carraway been the herb that gives it its distinct character.

The later years distillers have started to design Akevitt to be served specificially to one of the dishes above.

Aperitif made a test on this years akevitt as well. The years favourites for the christmas dinner are:

Gilde juleakevitt 2006
Alborg Jule Akvavit 2006

So - if you can get this where you live, try it as a alternative to the digestive you use.

So - enjoy!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Enjoy – Food & Travel News Flash - Nov. 17th to Nov. 23rd

Dining bill in New York the highest ever…

Going to New York soon? Then embrace yourself for the restaurant bill! The average price for a dinner in the Big Apple will be 15 percent higher than last year, according to the 2007 Zagat dining survey released on Wednesday.

The average price for a dinner in New York will cost you just under $40 per person, up 5 percent. That was the biggest increase in years and 20 percent higher than the national average. Still, New York is still considerably cheaper than Tokyo at $75 per meal, London at $72 and Paris at $67, Zagat said.

Read more at ABC News

Carribean Islands bans smoking in public places

A famous Carribean destination, the Virgin Island bans smoking. The Legislative Council unanimously approved a smoking ban late Wednesday. Smokers will not be allowed to light up in enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants, or within 50 feet (15 meters) of a door or window to such a space.


Posh city residents fight RyanAir riff-raff

A group of residents in Deauville in Northern France fight the opening of a new service by RyanAir from London Stanstead to the Northern French city. The ultimate fear is that economy travellers coming to the region would ruin its charm and character. Mind you, as britons go, the region is pretty much ruined already. 9000 of them have made Deauville and sorrounding their home and 40% of the tourist are already british. The local authorities ensure that the groups view, does not reflect their or the majority.

But the group and their leader will fight the RyanAir riff-raff in the courts or even to Brussels, if necessary. Good Luck!!

Read the full story in

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Perfect food for the festive season?
Call the Mummy-helpline!

November 23rd is date of the biggest event of the American calendar - the Thanksgiving dinner. As darkness falls, millions of husbands sons and daughters gather around the table for the traditional roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberry Sauce, and all its different side dishes. Many of us, however, prevented to travel to our homes, have to struggle by ourselves in order to reconstruct the wonderful traditional meals our mothers prepared so easily. And who do we turn to? The Mummy-helpline, ofcourse!

Here in Scandinavia Christmas is the big thing, as we do not celebrate Thanksgiving. As December 24th (the big day here) approaches we have one big challenge that match your Turkey struggle. How to get crispy crackling on our Christmas Pork Rib. Not every Norwegian take part in this traditional torment. There are various traditional Christmas meals in different regions, pork rib being just one.

Along the coast boiled cod fillet may be served with butter, boiled potatoes and veggies. In the westerly regions, salted, cured lamb rib is steamed on top of sprigs - called "Pinnekjøtt" (sprig meat) it is served with the stock, boiled potato and mashed swede. Others serve Turkey, a new dish increasing in popularity.

I, however, am a strong defender of the traditional pork rib. Being father- and motherless I turn to the next in line - my sister, whose cracklings are as crisp as the ones of my childhood. Before my mother died, six years ago, I did my rib dinner for my friends under her motherly guiding every christmas. Now I call my sister - and I have, to my satisfaction, had a great success with my cracklings.

How to get your crisp cracklings

The Pork Rib (2 kgs / 4 lbs) must have a good layer of fat and the skin. Make 0,5 cm/ 2-3 inch deep incisions into the fat criss crossing the top of the rib making small squares. Rub a lot of salt and pepper and place in plastic bag and allow to marinate over night.

Place in tray, fat down, pour water and allow to steam in a moderately warm oven (230C / 450F) for half an hour. Then turn the rib over. Put a plate under it so the excess fat can escape and lower the heat to 200C / 400F. Allow to roast for 1 1/2 hour. If the cracklings are not crisp at this point you can place it further up and use the grill. But be careful - it may burn and the time margines are small.

The Mummy Turkey Helpline - brought to you by Butterball

Well, in the US, you have a substitute Help-line. 100 000 calls are made to 1-800-BUTTERBALL or to the companys e-mail service. The ultimate goal is to get the Turkey of our childhood. Would have worked well here as well for us orphans. Maybe we should establish a service called 1-800-CRISPRIB?

On another way to serve rib, why not try this variety?

So - Enjoy!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Great story on Berlin Street Food

As I told you earlier, I found that Berlin was a great place to eat and stay. As I looked through the Travel section of the NY Times, I found a brilliant article on Berlin as Europes Street Food Mecca.

It gives a great introduction to where to eat, and what to eat there. So dive into this brilliant article. It confirms what I have claimed earlier - Berlin ist eine Reise Wert.

Read the full article in New York Times here - great bargain or total rip-off?

Hotwire is a very special hotel reservation site. I personally had an open mind as I tried to use hotwire to find hotel bargains in two cities in the US. But I stopped, or rather I was stopped before I could succeed in my quest.

Hotwire gives you socalled hotel deals in specific areas on your destination. I say "so called" as the name of the hotel will not be disclosed to you before you have made your reservation. This secrecy guarantees, according to the founder mr. Ottmar, great deals for the customer. This as famous hotels would, according to him, ruin their reputation if it was known to the market, that they gave customers the kind of bargains that only hotwire may provide.

I think this sounds very strange. I've had great deals from other hotel reservation sites on prestigious hotels at very reasonable prices. To know the name of the hotel is a must - this gives the customer a chance to ensure that the hotel he has chosen is the hotel of his choice. He can also cross cheque by visting the website of the hotel before completing his reservation.

This secrecy is not made better by the fact that a reservation with hotwire is irrevocable. If you have ordered a room with hotwire you'll never get your money back. And I mean never, however early you may try to cancel your reservation, what ever reason. This is a very bad deal indeed for the customer. Other hotel-reservation sites may charge your card as you book, but you will, nearly always have a possibility to cancel and get your money back.

But I wanted to check the site for myself. I tried, to see what six different websites had to offer for a hotel room in New York and Boston from November 10th to November 12th. This comparison ended up impossible on hotwire. As I succeeded my search in Boston, and changed to New York I got a pop-up window that tried to force me to register my profil with hotwire. This window was impossible to remove, and I could not continue my search. So I was forced to quit. This way to recruit new customers is completely unacceptable.

Mr. Ottmar may claim that he provides me with the best deals. But as I lack the name of the bargain, I will only have his word. This combined with the absence of any cancellation policy has convinced me that hotwire is nothing for me. If anyone of you can prove me wrong, I would be more than happy to know.