Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mjøsa - Norways inland sea

"I can live anywhere in the world, as long as I see Mjøsa." This is a saying among the inhabitants of Hedemarken and Toten, the main landscapes surrounding this large lake.

Mjøsa is by no means a large lake, internationally. Its length from south to north is around 70 miles, and it is 10 miles wide close to the city of Hamar. Still it provides the cities of Hamar, Lillehammer and Gjøvik with a kind of a sea view and even a harbour area. At Hamar they have even created a beach area where you can rest and enjoy a swim during summer.

For those of you that plan to visit Norway, Mjøsa and fertile districts around it , is absolutely worth seeing. Here you find some of the largest farms in the country, some as large as mansions, and there are many old churches and other sights to visit.

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Stav Østre - the open corridor on the 1st floor

The corridor on the 1st floor has a bold red colour balanced with white and grey, and two large lamps in glass.

Stav Østre

The main living room - the impressive limestone oven

The living room has a light cream colour and the focal point is this impressive contemporary limestone oven.

Stav Østre

Sadly, the day I wanted to take a snapshot of the house, it rained, so you'll get some pictures of the interior.

Stian Sagerud works as a handyman in a DIY-store at Hamar, whereas Øyvind Lodten works in an architect firm. They moved from their 3 room flat downtown, to Stav Østre close to Løten church late last year. The house is built late 19th century.

What these guys have managed the last six months is impressive indeed. The previously run down house has now a new roof, chimney, and they have done wonders with the interior. This project aims at restoring the house back to what it once was. Still these guys are using new design features as well. Smart men with an excellent taste.

This is their large kitchen, with a new designer fireplace, plenty workspace and they have used Italian marble tiles over the stove. Impressive!!

Cooking at Stav Østre: Pork tenderloin with bacon and sage

If you are on a diet, you should know that pork tenderloin is an extremely lean meat. In fact it contains as much fat as you find in the same amount of cottage cheese. This is a very easy way to prepare the pork and the vegetables on the same time.

To serve four you need

2 pork tenderloins (800 grs/1,8 lb)
8 large slices of lean bacon
16 large leaves of sage

Trim excess fat on both tenderloins, and rub them with salt and pepper.

Place whole leaves on top of the fillets, and fold the slices of bacon over. Fasten if necessary with string.

Place on a tray or as here on a grill.

Cut potatoes, zucchini and other vegetables and place in another tray. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Place grill and tray in a medium hot oven (175C / 350F) and bake until fillets are well done (approx. 50 minutes). Take fillet out first and allow to rest for five minutes leaving vegetables in oven for that time.

Serve with a good red wine, preferably a Spanish one.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tourist in Paris: Musé Max Fournet de’l Art Naïf et Primitif

In Halle St Pierre in Montmartre, at the foot of the hill which is crowned by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, le Sacré Coeur, is an extraordinary museum, Musé Max Fournet de’l Art Naïf et Primitif.

By guest writer Susanne Koch

This is a small museum with no permanent exhibition, but with a cavalcade of small exhibitions of primitive and/or naivistic art.

There museum has a small bookstore with excellent books on the subject (in French) and loads of postcards and trinkets in the same genre.

There is a small café in the spacious yet intimate hall of the museum. They serve some very nice home made vegetable pies and gorgeous cakes.

As nice as the café is, the main thing is the exhibition itself. As I mentioned, they vary, but the quality remains constant. On my last visit, I saw a fascinating display of miniature sculptures by Pétra Werlé. It was hard not to think of the sculptures as anything but tiny persons – each one with a unique and very expressive face and dressed in the most fantastic creations assembled from dried petals, butterfly wings, snail shells…

It was as if the exhibition offered a glimpse of a parallel universe where a miniscule race of people lives an enchanted life. I will remember this one for a long time.

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 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 26, 2007

Faustino I Gran Reserva 1996

Smooth as velvet

This bottle was a gift from my friend Ketil Zahl for the tapas I made for his 50th Anniversary. It was a natural choice to bring to Stav Østre, destined for a good dinner.

This wine, made from 80 % tempranillo and 20% graciano /mazuelo, is smooth as velvet. Deep red, with flavours of plum and cherries, with hints of tobacco and leather.

We enjoyed the wine in the large kitchen of Stav Østre, in the dusk, and in candlelight with fire burning in the fireplace. The old kitchen, excellent wine and old friends. Who can ask for more!!

Jacquesson Cuvée no. 731

Napoleóns favourite

This is certainly not your average champagne. Champagne from this maison created in 1798, became the favourite of Emperor Napoléon 1er, who served it on the occassion of his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria.

It is made from Chardonnay (52%) Pinot (31%) and Pinot Meunier (17%).

I certainly understand why Napoleón liked its wonderful grape character and finesse. I do not know whether it is recommended to the salmon with pink pepper, but for us it worked perfectly.

Cooking at Stav Østre: Smoked salmon with lime and pink peppercorns

This is a delicious recipe I have learned from my sister. She usually serves it as an entrée served with some toast or good bread. And this dish is extremely easy to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 4)
200 grs / 7 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced
The juice from one large lime
Whole pink pepperkorns

Place the thinly sliced salmon on a large plate until it covers most of the surface. Pour limejuice evenly over the sliced salmon and use as much pink pepper you want.

Garnish with more lime and a smal, sprig of tarragon. Place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

It was a hit at Stav Østre accompanied by a glass of sparkling champagne!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reypenaer VSOP 2 Years - A helluva cheese

As a gift to Øyvind and Stian I brought a Reypenaer VSOP 2 years to Stav Østre. A gift from my nephew Hans Ørnes from his last trip to Japan. A "use by" May 30th told me that this cheese adventure had matured enough and was ready to eat. And it was really a treat for my friends!

If you eat a regular Gouda, you will recognize its mild taste and firm consistency. An ordinary Gouda is , however, easy to slice or cut.

Not the Reypenaer. It has the hardness and even character of a delicious well matured Parmeggiano Reggiano. But it is easy to recognize the Gouda taste, in a stronger, more develloped form. It has a delicious nutty taste. It is hard to cut or even slice, and it does not crumble, the way a Parmeggiano does.

I will really say, you never tasted such a cheese. Not very available, but possible to order from Try it if you can. You are in for a treat!!

Restaurants in Paris: Restaurant Orestias

Orestias is my favorite restaurant in Paris. It is messy and noisy and the waiters are real characters. They offer a small menu of inexpensive, seasonal Greek dishes.

By Guest writer Susanne Koch

The place
‘Greek?’ you say, ‘… in Paris?’ Yes, strangely my favorite Paris restaurant is Greek. Yet in many ways it is still a French experience. You find Orestias in the charming historic Latin Quarter. It is located just 50 yards off Boulevard Saint Germain
in Rue Gregoire de Tours.

My first (and worst) dinner in Paris ever was in this little street some 15 years ago. The choice of restaurants is huge here and for a first time visitor it is not easy to find the really good ones. After this disaster a friend told me to look for the busiest places. He explained to me that these restaurants would often be messy and untidy because the waiters would be too busy taking care of all the customers.

Oresatias is exactly such a place. When we had made our choices, the waiter simply scribbled them on our paper tablecloth. After our delicious, hearty meal he added the prices and summed it all up for us.

The food
We had a selection of greek starters for an appetizer: Stuffed wine leaves, tzatsiki, taramasalata, olives and spiced sausage. The serving was generous and the selection was very nice. My favorite was the taramasalata, a yogurt salad flavored with cod roe.

My companion had mixed grill, which turned out to be food enough for two; pork belly, chicken thigh, lamb chop and steak. It was all tender and tasty.

I had octopus in red wine sauce with rice. If you are squeamish, this is not for you. It looked like something out of Alien, but turned out to be an exquisite dish. The octopus was tender and the sauce was savory.

Orestias serves genuine no nonsense greek food in a very charming atmosphere. It was founded in 1932 and one of the waiters looks like he has been there the whole time. I always visit Orestias when I am in Paris and I enjoy myself every time.

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 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.