Friday, February 23, 2007

New England February 24th to March 6th




















Ladies and Gentlemen! This is one of my homes the coming two weeks. This house in Scituate Massachussets is the home of my cousin Erica Eastman Brady and her husband Mark.

This means a drought from me, but Enjoy Food and Travel will bring new articles on travel, food and culture from New England from March 6th.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beantown revisited

When I came to Boston one day in February 1988, I did not know that it would be the start of a love story. Since then, I have landed on Logan International Airport more than 20 times, and learnt to love this old US city.

In 1988 I came to visit my dearest friend Joseph Cice, then a Harvard graduate, sadly killed in a car accident in California May 9th 2004. We stayed in his lovely flat in Banks street, close to Harvard University, for a week. The same February I met my American family again, and we just connected. So , on Saturday night, European time, I will land in my beloved Beantown (the home of Boston Baked Beans) once again.

I have lost track of alle the places I have been, what sights I have seen, and where I have eaten these last 20 years. I have had great meals at Grendells Steakshouse close to Harvard Square, and at the mother of all Bertuccis Brick Oven restaurants and John Harvard's Brew House in the same neighbourhood, long before they both spread out over New England, as franchise restaurants. I have enjoyed Italian meals to die for in the North End, a place you can close your eyes and absorb the sounds and smells of Italy.

Yes, this is my lovestory with an American city. What would I recommend to do, what to see, where to eat? Sadly, after September 11th, public access to the observatory on the top of John Hancock Tower has been denied. From there you had the most spectacular view of Boston. I miss this great view. Still there are so much to see:

The Ware Collection of Blascka Glass Models of Plants is a collection of glass models of plants made from 1886 by Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolph. You are totally captivated by the collection of life like fake flowers at Harvard Museum of Natural History. When you are at Harvard, use time around Harvard Square. Here you find some very old buildings, like the Massachussets Hall (1718), or you can visit one of the great bookshops. I highly recommend the Harvard Coop, a feast for the book worm.

Go visit the oldest building in Boston, the Paul Revere House, once the home of the hero from the American revolution, built in 1680. When you are in the North End, visit the Old North Church, the oldest church in the city, that also played an important role in the American revolution. You can relive the citys role in the Revolution by taking the whole Freedom trail, from sight to sight. One of them is the Old Corner Bookstore (image) on the corner of School and Washington Street. It was built by Thomas Crease in 1718 for his apothecary shop and as his residence. In the 19th century it was the gathering place for authors living in Boston, as: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Where to eat? Visit Quincy Market for a snack, or visit Green Dragon Tavern or Bell in Hand for a pint in historic surroundings. Eat Italian in the nearby North End, where you find hole in the wall restaurants, serving scrumptious seafood or good pasta dishes. Newbury street in the Back Bay, is another great deal. But Boston is the home of so many good places to eat. Check this site for your quest . Boston Hidden Restaurants will give you the place where you can get the ultimate Boston grub!!

Boston, and the surrounding area will be my home the coming weeks. I will give you my memories when I return. It will explain the news drought from Saturday evening!!

See map of sights, restaurants, foodstories from the Boston Area here


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Monday, February 19, 2007

Bean soup with chicken

People that know me, say I am soup mad. Especially during winter such a soup is nourishing and, I believe, chase colds and flus away. As a base I used stock made from the bones from a chicken I made yesterday. You can vary the quantity of the different ingredients, but I found the combination delicious.

Serves 3 hungry, 4 less hungry.

Ingredients:

1 ltr / 2 pints of good chicken stock
3 stalks of celery, whole
7 chalottes, whole
1 medium sized red pepper
1 can of tomatoes (14,5 oz / 411 grs - I used the S&W stewed tomatoes, mexican recipe)
1 can of brown beans, washed
3-4 tbsp chili dipping sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
5 fluid oz / 1,5 dl sour cream
7,5 oz / 200 grs cold chicken meat

Pour chalottes, celery, tomatoes into the chicken stock. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add chilisauce and sugar.

Take out 3/4 of stock and all the vegetables, and place in blender with sour cream. Add half the can of brown beans. Blend until smooth. Pour soup back into the pan, and add the rest of the beans. Allow to boil for antother 10 minutes.

Place cold chicken meat in soup plate, pour warm soup over. Serve with good bread and butter, or croutons.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

RoadsideAmerica.com - sights off the beaten track

You will not find the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building or Mount Rushmore as sights portrayed in RoadsideAmerica.com. This is truly a great site for some very off the beaten track sights and a good laugh. There are some seriously strange stories behind the headlines very difficult not to explore.

Behind this site you find the trio Doug Kirby, Ken Smith, Mike Wilkins, that launched the site already in 1996, and it has, in their words, taken off since.

As I am going to Boston the coming week, I wondered what RoadsideAmerica could offer in the Beantown area. This is what I found. What about the Ether Dome in Massachusetts General Hospital, the historic site where they used anesthesia for the first time during surgery? If I would travel to Sherborn MA, I can stand in awe at "Sacred Cow Animal Rights Memorial", erected to honour Emily, the run-away cow, that escaped a slaughterhouse and became a local spokescow for a non-meat human diet!

The latest tourist news column similarly offers some very interesting headlines. Did you know that there are plans to make an alien theme park in Roswell N.M. ! Eat you heart out E.T!! Or that there has been sightings of Virgin Mary in a freezer at Thriftway supermarket in Morton, TX! Take out your rosary beads and book a ticket!!

Also the last visitor trips really offers some other real treats. Did you know that there is a statue of Lenin in Atlantic City N.J. and a that a large viking statue towers over the city of Lake Placid N.Y? Behind the headlines Contagious sightings you find numerous reports of Colossal Cow statues (Cowlossus of roads) or sightings of white squirrels in five US states.

You will be amazed by the sights you can find over The United States of America!! If you see something not reported during your travel you are free to leave it on their electronic attraction map. And when you find your quirky monument, you may look for accomodation for your pilgrimage. The site offers its own Hotel and Motel Finder, and it covers more than the big cities! It had a good deal for the Inn at Scituate Harbour. But who needs it - I will stay with my cousin.

If you live in the US, check out this site - and find a strange sight close to you! And it might be a good guide for us non US citizens, planning a vacation, as well. Have fun!!

Ordering airline tickets on the net - best bargains

I, personally have not used travel agencies for ages, as I always book airline tickets and hotels using the internet. Still, I have my sites where I usually book flights and hotel rooms, and I have not bothered to check where to get the best bargains. That is - until know. Yesterday I started to check 21 Norwegian travel sites, in order to find out how much I cold save through the internet. And I was truly surprised!!

I wanted to find an answer to four questions:

  1. Where could I get the best price for a round trip airline ticket for a fixed date?
  2. Travel booking sites or the airlines own booking services, where could I get the best fare?
  3. How large precentage would taxes and booking fees be of the total price?
  4. How quickly would the price fluctuate, i.e. would the price change from one day to another?
The order

My order would be the cheapest round trip ticket available from Oslo to Barcelona, departure date April 20th, returning April 23rd, not considering total travel time. I did however try to avoid a time return that would require staying overnight during transfer. The prices will be presented in Euros (8,17 NOK).

The sites


I ordered through the following sites:

• www.ebookers.no
• www.lufthansa.no
• www.ticket.no
• www.travelink.no
• www.gotogate.no
• www.supersaver.no
• www.seat24.no
• www.marcopolo.no
• www.ryanair.no (Gerona)
• www.skytours.no
• www.reisefeber.no
• www.berg-hansen.no
• www.sembo.no
• www.restplass.no
• www.kilroytravel.no
• www.kelkoo.no
• www.brusselsairlines.no
• www.klm.no
• www.airfrance.no
• www.britishairways.no
• www.sterling.dk

Question 1: Where could I get the best price for a round trip airline ticket for a fixed date?

Conclusion:
  1. The best price was offered by www.ebookers.no and www.lufthansa.no
  2. Lufthansa is the preferred airline for the booking sites for this destination. The cheapest fare offered by ebookers, however, is KLM. The price difference between this cheapest flight at ebookers on KLM is €212, €134 less than if you had booked the ticket directly with the airline!
  3. The budget airlines offers no great deals during weekends, use them if you may travel on less popular weekdays, where you really can get great bargains.
The result:

Best: www.ebookers.no had a great offer of €212,36, followed by www.lufthansa.no €255,93.

The following other sites had prices under €275: www.ticket.no (€265,11), www.travellink.no (€266,34), www.gotogate.no €266,95), www.supersaver.no (267,19), www.seat24.no (267,31) www.marcopolo.no (€269,03) www.ryanair.no (€270,01), www.skytours.no (€272,21), www.reisefeber.no (€274,90)

Prices €276-300: www.berg-hansen.no (€276,74), www.sembo.no (€280,04) www.restplass.no (€281,39),

Prices €301-325: www.kilroytravel.no (€309,91)

Prices €326-350: www.kelkoo.no (€330,84), www.brusselsairlines.no (€331,57), www.klm.no (€346,02)

Prices €351-400: www.airfrance.no (€364,74)

The most expensive, price over €400: www.britishairways.no (€427,90)
www.sterling.dk (€438,18)

Question 2: Travel booking sites or the airlines own booking services, where could I get the best fare?

Conclusion:
  1. The booking sites offers much better prices than the airlines themselves. The only exception here is Lufthansa!
With the cheapest price (ebookers) equals 100, the arline booking sites get the following result:
  • Lufthansa: 120,81
  • Ryanair: 127,14
  • SN Brussels Airlines: 156, 13
  • KLM: 162,93
  • Air France: 171,75
  • British Airways: 201,49
  • Sterling: 206,34
Question 3: How large precentage would taxes and booking fees be of the total price?

Conclusion:
  1. Most sites charge from € 106 - €122, roughly from 30-50% of the price
  2. Ebookers charge more than 50% in taxes and fees, but they offer the cheapest flight overall
  3. The budget airlines, Ryanair and Sterling have the lowest overall taxes, Sterling as far down as 5%. But Sterling offer the worst deal of them all!!
Question 4: How quickly would the price fluctuate, i.e. would the price change from one day to another?

Conclusion:
  1. The prices does not fluctuate much from one day to another. Most sites did not change their cheapest prices over night
  2. Ebookers was not the cheapest the day after as it inceased its lowest fare with 26%! Sterling and SN Brussels airways did also increase the lowest fare overnight (with 16% and 2%)
  3. British airways offered a 13% lower price overnight, but still it was one of the most expensive rates. Kilroytravel and restplass.no dropped their lowest price (5 and 7%)
I will return and check price differences next week and update you on the fluctuation in prices.