Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year 2007 in Trysil

The New Year 2007/2008 will be celebrated with friends in Trysil, a 4 hour bus trip north east of Oslo. This is a famous winter sport resort surrounding Trysilfjellet, a peak of 1100 meter / 3300 ft.

This is the second year of Enjoy Food & Travel. I am very pleased that my gloom in July on behalf of the site has been turned to optimism. From September around 2000 of you have visited the site every month, and many have left their comments. Please continue to do so, as I need good advice to make Enjoy Food & Travel better and more useful for you.

I will return to work on the site early in 2008. Until I do, I will thank you all for the support you have given me in 2007 and wish you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oslo Airport - Information

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Here is the first presentation of Norwegian airports, starting with Oslo Airport. Oslo Airport is the largest airport in Norway, and the 2nd largest airport in Scandinavia, after Kastrup International Airport in Copenhagen. It is located in the fertile region of Romerike, 40 kilometers (30 miles north) of Oslo. Oslo airport is the main hub for international flights to and from Norway, and most of the international travelers may have to change to domestic flights here. The same will those of you traveling to Oslo and Eastern part of Norway.

General information
Oslo Airport:

Here you find a list of airlines operating to and from Oslo airport, both domestic and international. Most international non-stop flights are to European destinations. There are however intercontinental flights operated from Oslo Airport. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operate three weekly departures from Oslo to Islamabad. Continental Airlines will from 2008 have daily services to and from Newark International Airport in New York. Norwegian Air Shuttle will move many of its international flights from Oslo Airport to the new Rygge Airport at Moss, 60 kilometers (39 miles) south of Oslo.

As Norway is not a member of the European Union, travelers leaving and arriving Oslo Airport may buy duty free goods. At the departure area you have a large shop selling perfumes, liquor, wine and beer at very low prices. You may even buy goods at arrival in a large duty free shop. This requires, however, that you have kept the small receipt left on your boarding card. Without this little token of travel you may shop in vain, even if you are on International arrival. At departure I would like to recommend the shops selling Norwegian food specialties. When being in the duty free shops, I would recommend the Norwegian Akevitt, a hard liquor made from potatoes and flavoured with herbs. Another great drink is the herbal liquors Faun or Sankt Hallvard.
Dining and drinking

In both international and domestic departure you will find a large number of different bars restaurant to enjoy. For those going abroad I would highly recommend the Seafood bar, serving the best products from the rich seas surrounding Norway. Enjoy smoked salmon or prawns with a glass of dry white wine or a good pint of Norwegian lager.

Parking at Oslo Airport

Airport Hotels

You will find accommodation at different prices around Oslo airport. For those of you with no concern for you credit limit the easiest option is the SAS Radisson Airport Hotel, a business class hotel in walking distance from the terminal building. Most of the other hotels may be reached by buses. The most inexpensive option is the Gardermoen Gjestegård. At the Clarion Hotel you have a large indoor swimming pool area for you to enjoy, a great choice for those arriving during the cold season.
Transport alternatives:

There are several ways to travel from and to Oslo Airport. The easiest way is to take the high speed train to Oslo and Asker, that will take you the whole distance to the Norwegian capital in less than 20 minutes. The train end station is Asker, the large suburb east of the capital. But it will cost you. 150 NOK (€19) one way per person to Oslo Central Station. From Oslo Airport you will also have access to the national railway net, southbound to Oslo and on to the other main railway lines and nortbound to Hamar, Lillehammer and Trondheim. There is also airport express buses, a more inexpensive alternative for those of you that have more time.

  • Airport Express Train (Flytoget) Operating to / from Oslo Airport – Oslo Sentralstasjon (19-22 minutes) – Asker (49 minutes)
  • Regular train service (NSB)
Stories on Oslo Airport here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Bush Tucker!

October 9th, we were planning the last part of our South African journey, the safari at Pilanesberg National Park. Before we started we needed to do some grocery shopping. We went to shop our bush tucker at Pick'n Pay at the Kilarney shopping mall in Riviera and here you see the content of our shopping trolley.

Bush tucker means what ever you would find to keep you alive in the bush. We did not have to think of such things. The supermarket in Johannesburg was so different from the one we had visited in Estcourt, on our way to the Drakensberg mountains. Well stocked, and with a selection of goods that would rival any supermarket in Europe.

We had fallen in love with our boereworse, ye Boer sausage during our stay in the Drakensberg Mountains. We intended to substitute it to bacon for breakfast. Bread, sweet chili sauce, a large lemon, and spinach - a favourite after so many meals during our trip. I particularly loved our wine - a chardonnay from Thandi, a producer under the fair-trade label.

And after our visit we left for the bush - to behold the wonders of Africa!!

Coffee in Melville!

Very few things in life make me more satisfied than a good cup of freshly made coffee in the morning. This was the only thing lacking in South Africa - good coffee. The daily question asked - how would the coffee be today? Thin? Instant?!

So on a cool morning in Johannesburg, October 9th, to be precise, I wandered down to 7th street. I was very pleased to find a coffee bar and was served the best coffee for weeks. And I will tell you that there is nothing better than being far away, sitting by yourself watching people running by on their way to walk knowing that you are on vacation.

This morning, December 28th, I look back on this mug of coffee on the other side of our troubled planet with a sadness that my South African adventure is part of my past, my history.

But I am still happy to have a good cup of coffee with cream by my side.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New: 2008, Fly Budapest - Torp

Another low cost air carrier will service Torp Airport Sandefjord, Ryanairs main base in Norway. Hungarian Wizz Air will open new services to Eastern Europe from January 2008.

Wizz Air has already brought 70000 passengers from and to Torp to Katowice and Warsaw in Poland in 2007. In January 2008 they will start flying to Gdansk and Poznan, and in June travelers will be able to fly from Torp to the Hungarian capital Budapest.

And it is cheap. Flights start at NOK 199 (€25) one way.

A good site on Norwegian beer

I am a beer lover, but I am not the one claiming to know much about beer. For those of you interested in beer in general, and in Norwegian beer, may I recommend a very good blog.

Lars Marius Garshol is the master behind the site Larsblog, and this man travel around in Norway and Europe to taste beer. He is obviously a fan of my favourite beer “Nøgne Ø” (Naked Island), a Micro Brewery with the most exquisite brews. This is serious stuff, far away from the mass produced drink of Interbrew or Carlsberg.

For those of you in quest for new beer experiences, wait no longer. Visit Larsblog and his stories on beer, and learn, as there is so much to learn on the topic. As you can see, my stories are rather few. This, as my knowledge on beverages is on wines not beer, but I am eager to learn, so I may revisit soon!

A logistical nightmare

Friday, December 21st. Another logistical nightmare for Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Days like these, and believe you me, there have been a few, shows that the largest Norwegian hub lack the most basic skills needed to manage large numbers of travelers. For those of you visiting Norway, you are well advised to come to the Oslo airport well ahead of time, as so much can go wrong here.

Logistics 1 - queuing up, for what?

For a experienced traveler, it is ironic, that Oslo airport has not learned how to deal with the consequences of peak travel days, as how to deal with a large crowd of people arriving at the same time, for instance.

I have experienced these days before and arrived, three hours ahead of time believing that I would be in some kind of control. No such luck! As I left the half empty train, and took the escalator up two floors to departure I was left speechless. In front of me was an enormous crowd of people.

Whereas other airports would have tried to organize this crowd into long lines waiting to get some kind of service, here we were faced with pure anarchy. As we were clearly heading for the Scandinavian airline counter, I guessed, quite correctly that this airline was the root of the problem. But what were we waiting for. Check-in, I presumed. In that case it would be Christmas Eve when I would get to the counter and I had no time for that.

Logistics 2 - self service check-in, the worst choice

I used what I had of logic thinking and assumed that self-service check-in would be the most rational way to handle the chaos. If you have the same logic under similar conditions and you happen to be at Oslo Airport, leave the logic!! I managed to get into some kind of line to the self-service check in, punch in my reference number, get the only seat left on my flight, and to stick the proper tags on to my suitcase.

And then I expected everything to go smoothly. How foolish of me! As I tried to find the line to the baggage drop, I found that it started far behind me, 200 yards further towards the entrance. As I joined the end of the line, I met fellow travelers with far less time than I, that had been standing in different lines for hours, and a few of them experienced that their airplanes left as they were standing in line.

The line we were standing in was progressing painfully slow, and there were two reasons for that. 1 - there were no staff to organize the line, so there were several lines merging into one at the point of the baggage drop. 2 - the luggage handling system was out of order. This vital piece of information came via a text message to one of the passengers that were late to her plan, to Las Palmas.

Logistics 3 - Information! Information! Information!

As we were standing in line we merged into a community of people sharing a common destiny. We were all in a hurry - desperate to get away for Christmas. The lack of information spun into rumors hearsay. One of my fellow travelers "heard" from one of the ground staff that there were no refund for those that would miss their plane, whatever circumstances. I would never settle for such nonsense, but I know that Scandinavian would clearly run away from their obligations, blaming AVINOR - the Norwegian Airport Authority for the trouble. There were no information on whether flights would leave or were cancelled, as air traffic had been severely disrupted by freezing fog that same morning. The vital information was never given, and I think many people missed their plane that day, due to the lack of communication.

Logistics 4 - reaching baggage drop, coincidentally

Suddenly out of our blue came our rescuing angel, a man dressed in blue with Scandinavian on, informing us that a new baggage drop had been opened - 100 yards towards the entrance. Those of us in a hurry ran down and managed to drop our luggage, slip smoothly through the security into the departure hall - and hey. My plane was on time. Santa Clause - here I come.

Logistics 5 - delayed, due to the lack of ground staff!!!!

Hooray!! At 9.40 AM, the monitor showed BOARDING, and I took my boarding card and we were all waiting in line. There were no one there, and this apparent lack of staff soon got peculiar. A handsome flight officer came up with a "what the hell is going on" look on his face.

After another 20 minutes the airline crew came up to announce that they were ready, but there were no one to get us on board. That was a completely new twist. As Jo Kobro, the Director of Communications proudly announced that the fog was vanishing and that planes once more were allowed to leave, we waited for the ground staff to come. As the monitor changed from BOARDING to GO TO GATE, we knew we were in for the long haul, and eventually 40 minutes after the scheduled departure ONE man came and got us on board.

I count my blessings, I arrived in time for Christmas.

Blessing number 1: I arrived at Evenes Airport an hour delayed and the bus that would take us to Sortland in Vesterålen waited. Many passengers were severely delayed or lost their plane that day. Many had to take bus as an alternative transport for distances up to 750 kilometers, as long distance flights to the North of Norway were given priority.

Blessing number 2: I got my luggage, many did not. The mess at Oslo Airport meant that some travellers arrived without clothing or Christmas presents. I got my Carlton suitcase with the purple ribbon just after arrival, and the Santa Clause from Oslo had something to leave under the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas 2007 - at the Polar Circle

From today, December 17th to December 27th I will take a break to visit my brother. He and his family are living at Rise, between the cities of Stokmarknes and Sortland in Nordland county. These two communities are located on the Vesterålen Archipelago a range of small and large islands north of the Polar Circle. I will take a plane to Harstad Evenes airport and travel two hours by bus. Now this region is resting in the Arctic winter where the sun does not rise over the horizon. So now you have to wait for ten days for my Christmas stories from 2007.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Your Norwegian snowguide:

In quest for snow? Looking for the best pistes? Planning to visit the Alps? Let me give you another idea. Travel to the Norwegian mountains. At you can find snow reports, last minute offers, events - all in the main European languages. Have a look.

For many, there has been no other alternatives than the alps, but with increasing competition in the air, there are other options for you to discover.

With Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair, and Sterling, there are departures from an increasing number of airports in Europe to destinations in Norway, often at very good prices. From Oslo and the other main Norwegian cities there are good public transportation to many of the ski resorts. I leave for Trysil to stay with friends to celebrate the New Year. A great place to be and you are guaranteed snow and good conditions.

At, you get information on conditions from resorts from Alta in the North to Hovden in Bykle, in the South of Norway, current weather and for the coming five days, accommodation - regular and last minute offers. You will find a good presentation of the resorts, facts, ticket prices, nearest airports and more, and you can have a peak through one of the numerous web cams.

This is a very good website that offers information on European resorts as well, so you can even compare conditions.

So browse through, available for foreign snow lovers in French, Spanish, German, Danish, Swedish, Italian, and Dutch. Good luck!!

Ribbe med surkål!!

10.50 AM, December 16th.
I have previously told my readers on the ultimate Christmas test - how to make Pork Rib with crispy crackling, the way our mothers did. My mother died in the year 2000 and I still struggle to get my ribbe perfect, and today I will have another try. I have two friends for dinner and I will make it the easy way. Roasting on low temperature a very long time, so that I may leave the house to do some Christmas shopping.

The pork rib has been left marinating for a few hours. I made an untraditional marinade, chili and barbecue spices. The theory is that the sweet chili will help crisp the crackling at the end of the cooking time. The plan is to bake potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, Christmas sausage and meatballs under the dripping fat.

I will keep you informed on how this ended as the day progress.

11.30 AM

The Pork Rib in in the oven, at very low heat 100C / 210 F and will stay there for at least 7 hours. I have poured hot water to steam the rib. This to soften the cracklings and make them crispy at the end of the cooking time. Yum!!

I then leave the house to do some serious shopping.

5.15 PM

Back in the house. Three presenta have been bought. The rib has been steaming in the oven for 5 hours and 30 minutes. It is time to prepare the other ingredients. I place the rib on a grill and place the chopped potatoes on a tray underneath it. This will allow them to fry in the fat from the pork. I have remove the liquid. This will be mixed with a stock cube and act as a base for my gravy.

5.45 PM

At this point I increase the heat to 200C / 400F. Brussels sprouts join the potatoes with two other traditional ingredients. They are medisterkaker i.e. meatballs made from ground pork and beef with up to 25% fat, and Christmas sausage.

These are ingredients that a real foodie should make himself, but as I am extremely lazy, I tend to buy them. All in all, these products hold a decent quality, in fact they are so good that you do not hesitate to buy them.

6.15 PM

I boil up a kettle of hot water and add a bag of ready made surkål, Norwegian sauerkraut. This is the next best thing, as a proper housewife or a foodie should in all decency make their own.

15 minutes in hot water and it is heated through.

6.30 PM.

The rib is removed from the oven. Sweet chili sauce is not a good idea, as the cracklings burnt due to the sugar in it and did not turn crispy. Another failure. Next time I will use the traditional salt and pepper and hope for a better result.

Then I may serve the most delicious long roast rib to my friends, with Brussels sprouts, meatballs, Christmas sausage, roasted potatoes and brown gravy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Susi on Berlin

My good friend, Susanne Koch is a co-writer here on Enjoy Food & Travel. She is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.

She visited Berlin just a week after me.
She attended a conference, but had time to do some sightseeing as well. She has left here impressions from the German capital on her blog.

See her Best Berlin Photos here

See even more Berlin photos here

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mezza Luna - under a crescent moon

October 8th 2007 - arriving in Johannesburg, and another encounter with the teddy bears and soft beds of Melville House. Being back in Melville in Johannesburg felt reassuring, but it also meant that our departure back to Europe was only three days away. Close to the end of our trip, we had maybe the second best meal of our voyage. Magic at Mezza Luna - under the crescent moon.

Location: BBBBB

The Mezza Luna is located in 7th street, the main street of Melville. Very easy to find, when you are there, a little more complicated if you live else where, but definitely worth it.

Mezza Luna is located in a small a small passage, and in a few small rooms, with even tables inside and even outside under lush, climbing vegetation

Mezza Luna is the place to take someone you love for a great meal. Romantic indeed!!

Interior and atmosphere: BBBB

Tables with white table cloths, but not much more. No glasses, forks, knives, napkins or wine glasses.

The theme of the interior is Franco-Italian, white walls, oak coloured chairs, tables - rustic and very tasteful. As we sat down outside, under the climbing lushness, I got this Mediterranean feeling.

Reasonably well seated, but the ground surface was uneven, meaning that the tables outside were moving, not stable, a problem when you have tall wine glasses standing.

Price: BBBBB

I did not keep the bill, but it was not significantly more expensive than the 75- 100 ZAR we paid for a good meal in South Africa. For a two course meal and wine it is definitely a full score.

Service: BBBBB

Very good service. We were guided and adviced concerning wine and food, and we did not wait long for the food. Top score.

Food: BBBBB-

I ordered an entree and a main course. The profile of Mezza Luna was a fusion between Italian cooking and a distinct eastern influence, and it was. The food was spectacular, with multiple tastes, one for each taste bud. A fine balance between sweet, salty, and spicy - with nuts, honey and crispy pastry as well as savoury ingredients.

My first taste of Mezza Luna was parcels of filo pastry filled with figs and blue cheese, a great combination and a sweet honey and nut mixture. Reminiscent of Moroccan or Turkish kitchen, the sweetness of the figs slightly overpowered the strong aromas of the blue cheese. But the crisp filo pastry and sweet nuts and honey made this closer to a a dessert, a baklava, than a main course.

Then I ordered chicken with dried figs, rice and sauteed vegetables. Once again a fine balance between salt, sweetness, and spices.

This dish worked great, as the sauce was sweet, the vegetables salty, the chicken deliciously tender. You could just close your eyes and sense the spices of North Africa, and the areas along the silk road to China. A box of precious spices brought to a Europe hungry for new tastes to explore.

When I omit telling you about the wonderful wine, it is because I forgot to write down its name, but it tasted heaven under the South African African sky.

Overall score: BBBBB- (4,75 points)

Highly recommendable. Eating at the Mezza Luna is a magic, mysterious union between the bazaars of Marrakech and Istanbul.

Mezza Luna
9a, 7th street
Melville, Johannesburg
South Africa
Phone: 011-4822477

More restaurants?

See other restaurants in Johannesburg and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel!

See all restaurants reviewed here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Schnitzel Cordon Bleu in Berlin

Veal Schnitzel Cordon Bleu is delicious, and terrific when served at Antica Roma at Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, and the best thing - it is nearly for free, at least according to our wallet.

We were hungry, and heading for a decent place for a good lunch. Antica Roma seemed to be a good idea, probably for pasta, but when seeing they had Veal schnitzel Cordon Bleu on the menu, a schnitzel with ham and cheese, it was definitely something to go for!

The schnitzel at Antica Roma was served with a creamed chantelerelle sauce and crunchy crispy french fries. Delicious!!

And what to drink? We decided to go for the Lambrusco, 1/2 liter served in a jug, but found that it was far too sweet for our taste, and ordered another jug of Chianti - ah!! 2 jugs of wine, 1 bottle of Italian mineral water, our meals, and one espresso - all for €40. A ridiculous sum, and we were even a little tipsy.

Great place, so if you would like to try it yourself, here is the address:

Ristorante Antica Roma
Wittenbergplatz 5-6
10789 Berlin
Phone: 211 49 64
Fax: 213 85 54
See location on map here

More restaurants?

See other restaurants in Berlin and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel!

See all restaurants reviewed here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Air traveler - know your rights!!

We all know the feeling - you have packed your suitcase, traveled to the airport and found that, on arrival, the flight to your destination has been delayed or even worse - been canceled. Have no fear - the European Consumer has rights most have not heard of, but will make it so much better. Alternative flights, food as you wait, hotel, or even refund are given to those who know. So - air traveler, know your rights!!

If your flight is delayed:

You are entitled to the following compensation:

Meal and refreshments proportioned to the waiting time when:

a) your flight is up to 1500 kilometers and delayed two hours or more
b) your flight is more than three hours delayed and within the EU/EEA area and over 1500 kilometers, and for all flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers
c) your flight is more than 4 hours delayed and is not covered by point a and b

If your flight leaves the following day you are entitled to accommodation and transport to and from the hotel.

If you are more than 5 hours delayed, you may demand a full refund even for a used ticket if the flight is not suited to fit your original schedule.

According to the Montreal Convention of 1999 you may even seek financial compensation from the air carrier if you have documentation showing financial loss. The air carrier may, however, not be responsible if they tried to avoid the delay or if it was impossible to avoid.

If your flight is cancelled:

If your flight is canceled the airline must either refund your ticket or offer alternative flight to the destination. You are also entitled to food and accommodation.

Unless the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances, bad weather or force majeure, you are entitled to compensation according to the following tariffs:

- € 250 for flights under 1500 km
- € 400 for flights within EU/EEA area over 1500 kilometers or for other flights within 1500 and 3500 kilometers.
- € 600 for all other flights

This compensation may be reduced by 50% if you are offered alternative flight and if arrival time do not exceed the original flight with more than:

- 2 hours for flights up to 1500 kilometers
- 3 hours for flights within the EU/EEA area exceeding 1500 kilometers and all flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers.
- 4 timer for all other flights.

All passengers are entitled to this compensation and it must be paid by the airline to the passenger without delay.

You are not entitled to a refund:

If the airline or travel agent has informed you on the cancellation

- Earlier than 14 days before departure date
- From 7 to 14 days before departure date, and if you are offered an alternative flight less than 2 hours before the original departure and arrive at your destination less than 4 hours after schedule.
- Less than 7 days before departure date, and if you are offered an alternative flight less than 1 hour before the original departure and arrive at your destination less than 2 hours after schedule.

So airline traveler - arm yourself with your new found rights and have a safe trip!!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Delicacies in the wilderness

We left the KwaZulu-Natal heading north to Johannesburg. The route took us from Durban over Hammerstein to Pietermaritzburg, where we spent the night at the Aintree Lodge. The morning of October 8th, we left the humid and warm climate close to the coast and drove back to Jo'burg. As my friend Jan had heard of a very good place to eat close to Harrismith, we decided to try it.

We drove past Harrismith, and found ourselves in the great outback, far removed from the densely populated KwaZulu-Natal province. In the Free State, we drove along long and completely isolated areas, with no places to eat in sight. As we had not eaten properly, we grew more and more desperate to find a place to eat, and finally we found it, and it was so different from what we expected.

As we saw a sign marking a restaurant, we found a large yellow zulu-shaped restaurant and shop selling local produce.

And what was on the menu? Home made meat pies, crunchy, flaky pastry on the outside and succulent ground meat on the inside. I ordered one pie with a good glass of red wine.

It was great to tuck into a decent piece of food, and it tasted delicious. It was not packed with people, on the contrary. There were a few guests as we arrived, and they left during our meal. We did, however immediately get in touch with the two guys running the place and they had some surprises in store.

These two guys had left Johannesburg, where they had worked in the catering business and settled in the outback, selling a wide range of local products as cured meats, jams, cheese, and much, much more.

The funniest thing, however, was that they knew people in Oslo, among others the proprietor of Fenaknoken, the best place to purchase the most exquisite Norwegian food products.

They asked me to get in touch with him, and I will, after I have finished this story. They wanted to get recipes for Norwegian specialties to produce where they lived. I got their card, but it has mysteriously disappeared. So if any one of you know what this place is called, write to tell me.

So after a good meal, and an interesting talk we left them and would arrive in Johannesburg early evening of October 8th, for another night at Melville House.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More non-stop services from Oslo to New York?

Tore Grundstad, the CEO of Continental Airlines in Norway wants to extend the airlines non-stop services from one to two a day during peak season in 2008.

Continental took over the only non-stop flight from Oslo to Newark International Airport from SAS in 2004, and it has been a success story for the American air carrier.

In 2004 there were three weekly flights from Oslo. Continental has gradually extended its schedule, and today planes leaving from Gardermoen airport are booked over the 80% average that Continental has on its European flights. From January 2008 there will be daily transatlantic services from Oslo.

Continental may even plan to increase its current capacity by switching their current Boeing 757 planes with 175 seats to Boeing 767's with around 240 seats. This increase may bee good news for the travellers, as it may increase the number of low-price tickets.

Source: Aftenposten. Read the full story here

Rediscovering Spaghetti

I remember the first time I tasted spaghetti. It was overcooked, mixed with tomato sauce, meatballs, cocktail sausages, and in the best tomato sauce. Spaghetti à la Capri came out of a tin, and you can still get it here in Norway. I remember it was the most delicious experience, but as I tried it again a few months ago, I was certainly disappointed. Either my taste, or the product had changed, but it was too bad as I want my childhood memories back!!

Traditional spaghetti is certainly an ingredient to rediscover. Served with a strong tomato sauce, and with a drizzle of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

I have discovered two ready made sauces that I really can recommend. One is made by the Italian producer Barilla. The Gorgonzola Ricetta Speciale has the most distinct taste of the delicious Italian blue cheese and the creamiest consistency. The Knorr sauce with tomato, oregano, onion and garlic is a chuncy, spicy, garlicy, experience. Both are easily turned into the most delicious meal - with a few modifications.

Warm up a generous amount of olive oil and add more garlic (you can never have too much of it). Then add half an onion and streaky bacon or even better - pancetta. I substituted this ingredient with cubed German salami. Then the spaghetti sauce goes in. One thing is vital, add the necessary amount of sugar to balance the acidity and saltiness of the sauce.

You have of course boiled the spaghetti in the same pan to save time and effort. Add it to the sauce and stir well. This is before and after a good hand full of grated parmigiano reggiano and a few roughly torn basil leaves go in. Now you cook as a true Italian.

And boy how that taste, and it is very easy to make, taking 20 minutes at the most. For you guys there is another reason to eat tomato sauce. It protects against prostate cancer. Great stuff!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Norway Lobsters

This weekend I visited the South Eastern coast of Norway, and during our brief visit we drove down to Kristiansand, the largest city along this coastline, and here we visited the local fish market. There they were, the most wonderful Norway Lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) waiting for us, and we bought four, just to enjoy - and we did.

If you wonder how do you serve these beautiful creatures, there are many options. If you choose to heat these precooked crayfish, do remember to be careful, as overcooked they will be very tough. I have prepared them hot, after I have cut them in half, and brushed them with garlic butter and parsley, or pesto, garlic and parmeggiano and baked them in the oven until the liquid bubbled.

I, however, find them best in natura, meaning cold. Peel the tail, as you would a lobster or a prawn. Here you'll find most of the meat, crack the claws carefully with a nutcracker. Cut the tail and the claw meat in slices or pieces, spread on a toasted slice of ciabatta. Add a couple of white asparagus, lemon juice and a good squeeze of Hellman's mayonnaise. Great stuff.

And if you do this at home, do not throw away the shells. They are full of taste, and ideal for the most exquisite stock, to use in sauces or soups. Put the shells in a large pan, pour over water, add salt, pepper, dill, alternatively one or two stock cubes and allow to boil for twenty minutes to extract all the lobster taste. You may use it immediately in a fish soup or freeze down in smaller containers to use later.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A lunch in Zululand

On our way back from Durban to Johannesburg we stopped in Hammerstein, a township between Durban and Pietermaritzburg to visit our friend Phumziles mother. She had promised us lunch, and this was one of the most memorable experiences from our trip to South Africa.

Hammerstein was not a place of wealth, but the people here seemed to be better off than those living in many of the other townships we had seen and/or visited. Phumziles mother lived in a three bedroom house, and had a small living room, a bathroom, and a modern kitchen.

It was a wonderful generosity to be served a meal like this. The meal was simple, yet very delicious. On top you see our lunch table. On your right you see pieces of chicken baked until golden. In the middle was the most delicious steamed white bread. To our chicken we had a dark and hot gravy, flavored with Indian spices, steamed spinach with ginger, fried onion and carrots, and a salad. For dessert we had a delicious vanilla custard dessert.

This meal is supposed to be eaten with your fingers, but we had the privilege to get forks and spoons, so we did not (unfortunately) enjoy this the Zulu way.

Berlin - shaken, not stirred

We had some very good drinks in Berlin. Who can resist a dry martini, shaken but not stirred. This dry martini was served at Spagos Bar at our hotel, and let me present some of the drinks we enjoyed.

These two beer varieties, Berliner Kindl and Warsteiner (right and left) were traditional lagers or Pilsner beer, as we call them in Norway. Very light and refreshing on a summer day but as good during late fall or winter. Enjoyed at Cancun and Bistro am Gendarmenmarkt.

Krusovice Kralovsky Pirovar (middle), a delicious beer brewed since 1517 in the old town of the same name.The brewery got a contract in 1581 to provide beer to Emperor Rudolph II of the Holy Roman Empire. A noble history for a good pilsner beer enjoyed at Bierstube Alt Berlin.

A Margarita and a Mojito, two great drinks to enjoy as a night cap. The Margarita was served at El Curandero, while the Mojito was enjoyed at Spagos Bar at our hotel, Park Inn Alexanderplatz.