Saturday, April 21, 2007

Street food: The Halal Boys in New York City

One of my honest to God greatest meals on my visit to New York City was a bit of a surprise.

By guest writer Susanne Koch.

On the street corner right outside our hotel (53rd and 6th), there was a nightly show: Every day at 7pm a street vendor opened a stall and long before the food was ready, there was a long line.

Also, long before the food was ready, the area was filled with the tempting aroma of garlic, grilled meat and all kinds of exotic spices.

The Halal Guys work hard every night to serve a multitude of hungry customers. And it’s no wonder that this stall has the longest line I’ve seen for a street vendor. For 5 bucks you get a complete dinner: Fragrant, yellow basmati rice, your choice of lamb or chicken meat (and lots of it), pitta bread, salad and two kinds of sauce – a large cup of mild yogurt sauce with herbs and a small cup of harissa style very hot red sauce.

A satisfying and tasty quality meal for a surprisingly low price: Give it a try if you’re in New York City!

The Halal Guys were even among the finalists for the 2005 Vendy Award for street vendors.

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Pandia.com. 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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Enjoy Food & Travel takes a short spring break

It is spring here, and the magnolia in the Botanical Garden in Oslo has large buds.

Enjoy Food & Travel will take a break from April 20th to April 26th, in order to give you more reports on food, sights, restaurant, and travel.

First - a stay at Stav Østre, located in the Løten community, well known for its aquavit production. This is the home of Stian Sagerud and Øyvind Lodten, good friends. Then April 23rd to April 26th - I will attend a conference on board the M/F Pearl of Scandinavia. Sharing experiences on the cabins and restaurants on board and as well as restaurants and sights of the Danish capital - Copenhagen.

So, you'll hear from me in a week - until then, Enjoy the spring!

Villa le Querce Rosso Piceno 2004

Inexpensive and not my cup of tea

This wine is from the Marche region, on the north eastern coast of Italy, bordering Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria. This wine comes from the hills around the cities of Ancona, Macerata and Ascoli Piceno.

It is produced by the renowned La Vite winery a blend of 50% sangiovese and 50% montepulciano grapes. Deep purple red colour, a distinct cherry character ,with herb and leather undertones.

This wine is not matured in barrels, only in the bottle. It has neither the body, nor the well developped character that I appreciate e.g. in Spanish wines. Even at the price at €8 , it will not a wine I would buy again.

Berberana Viña Alarde Tempranillo 2004

Good and inexpensive

This wine is produced by Bodegas Berberana, the second biggest producer in the La Rioja area, and they produce an impressive 15-20 million bottles of wine per year.

This wine is made from 100 % tempranillo, a grape native to Spain and widely grown there and nowhere else. It is an inexpensive wine, less than €10, and good quality for money.

Medium red colour, and it has a well developped fruitiness with strawberries but also a significant spicy character and a hint of leather. This is a wine that can take red meats, stews, poultry and pork dishes.

A good wine for a decent price - recommendable!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Restaurants in New York City: Sammy’s

Sammy’s in Greenwich Village is a large, lively Chinese restaurant. This is perhaps not the place for a romantic anniversary dinner, but it is hard to beat for a hearty dinner on a weekday when you feel you deserve something extra.

By Guest writer Susanne Koch

Over all rating: BBBB
Sammy’s has a charming location, a huge menu, great food and huge helpings. The atmosphere is relaxed, but the interior is a bit on the Spartan side.

The menu: BBBBB
The menu is extensive: Home made noodles, all kinds of dumplings, stir-fries, huge bowls of steaming soup, and some nice vegetarian options.

The food: BBBBB
The food is great. I go to Sammy’s primarily for fabulous home made noodles, but all the dishes are delicately prepared, colorful and interesting. All though the meal you will be served ice water and tea on the house.

Location BBBB
Located on Avenue of the Americas and quite close to the Subway, the location is good. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping in the area.

The restaurant: BBB
The restaurant itself feels a little bare. The furniture is nothing special, the room is large and it lacks that intimate feeling I look for when I am out to reward myself after a day’s hard work.

Sammy's
453 6th Avenue
New York, NY

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Pandia.com. 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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Skinnarbu høyfjellshotell - the bar area

The bar area is nice, but the design is slightly outdated.

Rating the Skinnarbu høyfjellshotell experience

Breakfast: BBBB+

Included in the price - great!! Very good breakfast for those who want to enjoy the outdoors until lunch. Fried egg, boiled egg, bacon, cereals, yoghurt, cheese, meats and patés, very well prepared and tasteful.

Good and strong coffee. The only disappointment is the juice, watery apple and orange juice, or it may hardly be called juice as it is far away from fresh fruit that I have tasted.

Facilities: BBBB

Very nice reception area where you may sit by a fireplace after you have returned from your skiing adventure. The bar is nice, but the design is slightly outdated. The same could be said of the dining room, but you can enjoy the greatest view from your table - and that helps!

There is a swimmingpool with a sauna, but it is small and could do with some renovation.

Price: BBB

We paid NOK 2500,- (€ 300) all inclusive for two nights, included breakfast, one dinner and two lunches. A decent price, but I would not have paid the price for this standard, if I had a choice.

Skinnarbu høyfjellshotell - the bathroom

The room: BBB

The bathroom however is properly tiled and has a bathtub - Hurrah!!

Skinnarbu Høyfjellshotell, Rauland - the room

Hygiene: BBBB

Rooms, as well as bar, reception area and dining room are clean, but some parts of the hotel are a little run down and need some renovating.

Room: BBB

The rooms are spacious, but the design is a totally outdated and the interior brings me back to my time on university campus in the 80's. Old beds and sofas in birch wood, strongly coloured curtains. The bathroom however is properly tiled and has a bathtub - Hurrah!!

Skinnarbu Høyfjellshotell, Rauland - location

Location: BBBBB

Skinnarbu høyfjellshotell is situated on the between the mountain ski resort of Rjukan and Rauland, 1000 mtrs / 3000ft, over sea level.

The hotel is situated in a magnificent mountain area, where where you can enjoy cross country skiing during winter and exploring the wilderness by foot and enjoy fishing in the nearby Møsvatn lake during spring, summer and autumn.

Skinnarbu Høyfjellshotell, Rauland - final rating

Decent standard in the Norwegian mountains

Overall rating: BBBB- (3,8 points)

A month ago I had a chance to stay at Skinnarbu Høyfjellshotell. This mountain resort situated by the Møsvatn lake in Rauland, in Telemark, the heart of Telemark. This was all in all a decent experience, but not enough to be regarded as highly recommendable.

Enjoy Food & Travel is returning to Barcelona

Enjoy Food & Travel will visit Barcelona June 20th to June 27th. We have booked 7 nights at Sunotel Aston, situated in Eixample, and we look forward the stay. As we had our last experience from this great city during the christmas, we expect a much warmer stay this time, and to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, and to enjoy the Barceloneta.

Enjoy Food & Travel will share with you new travel experiences from Catalunya. We are planning a visit to the town of Sitges, south of Barcelona, and to have our own private pilgrimage to the monastery at Montserrat, to admire the Black Madonna. And ofcourse. More food, and more wine. As we are staying in Barcelonas Gay Village (Gaixample), we also hope to do some clubbing as well.

Hotels in New York City: The New York Hilton

A great location and the excellent reputation of the Hilton brand made me expect something special when I splurged and booked rooms at the New York Hilton. The hotel did not meet my expectations. By Guest writer Susanne Koch

Overall rating: BBB
The New York Hilton was a bit disappointing. I have stayed at Hilton hotels before, in Bali and Vancouver and although these two hotels were very different, they were both excellent. The New York Hilton is not.

The price: BB
I know that hotel accommodation in New York City is very expensive, but after paying 305 USD a night (which was a special conference rate), I had expected better service and a more stream lined experience than the one I got.

The location: BBBBB
The location is ideal for almost any visitor to New York. On the corner of 53rd Street and Avenue of the Americas, it is a short walk away from Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, MoMA, 5th Avenue shopping and more.

The service: BBB
The hotel employees were all helpful and accommodating. Service could still be hard to come by: We were waiting in line to check in, to check out, and to get into the dining room… And the bleeping elevators were always busy.

The food: BBB
First of all, I was shocked to find that after paying 305 USD including tax a night, breakfast was not included. After waiting in line to get into the dining room for breakfast, I found out that the continental breakfast was USD 26 and the American breakfast USD 29. The dining room itself was like a hangar – huge and noisy. So we had breakfast around the corner.

I attended a conference at the Hilton and lunch was included. There was a choice between 5 different kinds of sandwiches, served in a cardboard box with a bag of chips and a cookie. The sandwiches were good and healthy, but the cardboard box was dreary.

The New York Hilton
1335 Avenue of the Americas
New York
10019 New York
Tel: 1-212-586-7000
Fax: 1-212-315-1374

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Pandia.com. 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.

Photo: giblet

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cheeseline.com - an interesting website

As I researched the Reypenaer VSOP, I stumbled over cheeseline.com, a "European Gourmet Cheese, French Cheese, Gourmet Food source." I was captivated by this site, as here you can find a whole range of cheesy information from 14 different European countries.

Cheeseline.com is an online cheese shop where you can order cheese from different country to be delivered to your door, as well as other gourmet articles.

You may a search on a cheese after country, milks and textures from 14 countries including Norway and Cyprus as the most exotic countries. If you are on a diet you can also look up low fat gourmet cheeses or if you are looking for the most exclusive cheese experience you can look for the cheese with the best rating. I am pleased to say that my Reypenaer is rated as the best cheese. So now I will have to share this great cheese with somebody soon!

I am sad to say that only one Norwegian cheese is displayed, os the sweet Goat cheese (that often is mistaken as a kind of toffee), and from Cyprus you can get a tasty Haloumi cheese. Well, the selection of cheese displayed for sale, is much bigger from France, Italy and the Netherlands. And if you do not intend to buy anything, there is much to learn.

Cheeseline.com also offers a range of different gourmet products as risotto rice, pastas, honey, oils and much much more. There are also more or less cheezy accessories for sale. What about little paper flags to your buffet, "that will give your guest a fast glance of how internationally oriented you are." This and much more is for sale at cheeseline.com.

One other interesting part of cheeseline.com is their section of cheezy recipes. Here you find hot and cold starters, breads, pastadishes, pie recipes, as well as cakes and desserts. Here you can find some mouthwatering ideas for you next dinner.

So sit down and browse cheeseline.com. This will definitely be one of my main cheese websites in the years to come.

Sights of Oslo - off the beaten track

Mangelsgården

This magnifinicent house was built in 1698 as a summerhome by the river. Now it is situated in the middle of Oslo 2nd main shopping street, Storgata.

In 1772 the house was converted into what you see today. It was in use as a asylumn "Prince Christian Augusts Minde" from 1819 to 1915.

Sadly, as it is used as an office space, Mangelsgården is not accessible to the public. But do peak through the gate, and admire this beautiful 17th century building.

Exclusive shopping in Oslo

When I moved to Oslo 27 years ago, the Norwegian capital seemed provincial, and it remained a backwater until 10 years ago. The increasing wealth of the Norwegians due to the countrys large oil production brought an end to this sad status.

This is particularly evident when you want to go shopping. Oslo has everything any other European capital has to offer. But a word of warning - clothes offered by European wide stores - be advised to buy them where you live. Oslo is an expensive city by European standards.

If you buy your hand bags at Louis Vuitton, I believe you could not care less. A bag here, will easily substitute the sum of money we mortals use during a vacation. This store opened not long ago, in a very good neighbourhood. It faces the back entrance of Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament. For those of you with a large bank account, it is important to know. Louis Vuitton is one of the few designers that has opened his own shop in Oslo. Usually you find the well known designer clothes in exclusive shops at the city centre.

For those of you with a good bank balance I might recommend a few stores to shop exclusive clothes in Oslo: (Sorry, but most on the links are in Norwegian only)

Good luck - and Enjoy!