Saturday, May 12, 2007

Champagne - the nectar from Épernay

Yesterday I had something to celebrate. What would be better than to open a bottle of real champagne? Champagne is one of the most succesfully branded products in Europe, and the producers of this sparkling wine have managed to protect it for more than 100 years. Since 1994 it has even the phrase "Méthode Champénoise" been restricted to the wines produced in this little region not far from Paris.

Well, we opened two bottles of champagne, one very pink and small, and another half bottle. This certainly backs the euphoria deriving from a very good piece of news.

Nicolas Feuillatte One Four Rosé

When you choose this small bottle of 20 cl, you're enterring serious Barbie territory. If you had not known that the liquid inside contains 12% alcohol, I would had sworn that this product had girls from the age 10 to 16 as target group. With a cute little pink ribbon around the neck.

Well, the wine inside is made from 60% pinot noir, 30% pinot meunier and 10 % chardonnay. The price tag is NOK 99 (around €11), a steep price for a Barbie wine. The bouquet and taste, however, are great. Beautiful pink colour, floral scent, and a taste reminding you of red currants and blak currants.

If you are straight and bring this dinky little bottle to a party, you may run out of luck dating girls at the end of the night, as this is a girlie or a gay drink, and that is why I loved it so much.



Charlemagne Blanc de Blancs Réserve, brut

This 37,5 cl. bottle is a more traditional champagne. This is definitely not a gay wine. No pink ribbons here.
The wine is made from only chardonnay grapes. A beautiful golden colour sparkle in your glass as you enjoy a characteristic apple flavours, complemented with a little mint and citrus. A great wine for a warm day, but you have to pay up. €15-20, here in Norway, but Champagne does not come cheap anywhere. But if you want to drink the real nectar from Épernay, you can certainly pay much much more.

New England fish pie with asparagus

This is a recipe inspired by Pete McDonnells fish pie, that I enjoyed in Salisbury MA, a few months ago. It is basically the same recipe, but using 1 lb of lobstermeat was out of the question, so I used precooked shrimps and asparagus instead. The modified fish pie recipe was a success, so that is definitely something to serve again.

I used a 600 gr / 1,4 lb wolf-fish fillet and I placed in a ovenproof dish.

I used 5 large asparagus, but use as many as you want. Bend them until they break, and you will not have to eat the woody part of the stalk. Alternatively, you can peel the asparagus. Place them along the fish fillet. Then place 20-30 shelled shrimps on top of the fillet.

You can use the leftover woody stalks to to make a delicious soup. See how you prepare them, and get a good soup recipe here.


Put 100 grams Ritz crackers, 50 grams cheddar cheese, as much garlic as you want, and dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano) in a food processor and run until the the crumb mixture has been thoroughly blended. Place crumb mixture evenly on top of the fish.

Then melt 75 grams of butter and pour over the mixture.

Do not add salt, as both the crumb mixture and butter contains enough salt to flavour the dish.

Place in a medium hot oven 180-200C / 365-400F for 35-40 minutes.

And here is the end result. I could have used some more crackers to cover the the fillets properly. They were so fresh that the curled up in the oven. Making a New England fish pie is a delicious way to prepare white fish.

I served the fish pie with rice and a bottle of Soave Classico that worked very well with the fish.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tønsberg - through 1136 years of history

Tønsberg is a city by the south eastern coast of Norway. It claims to be the oldest city in Norway, with more than 1100 years of history. Today it is a charming mix of old and new, and in its centre you find the Castle Hill. On the tower erected on its 11ooth Jubilee celebration in 1871 you will find this inscription:

MAA BYEN SOM PAA TUNET STAAR FAA BLOMSTRE NYE TUSIND AAR (May the city located by the "square" bloom another thousand years)

I will write one article on the castle hill later here on Enjoy Food & Travel. I will here concentrate on this city itself.

A charming city centre

Tønsberg is located by the sea, and border the two islands of Nøtterøy and Tjøme. It is located in an area particularly popular during the summer season. If you want to explore the surrounding area you are well adviced to rent a car and visit some of the charming places along the coast. Here you can find great places to swim and enjoy other activities by the sea.

Tønsberg has a charming port area, Brygga, with old wooden storage houses. Here you can wander along the seafront on a boardwalk, and stop to enjoy a cold beer, or a glass of wine one one of the charming restaurant along the water.

We visited the pub Esmeralda to have a drink. This place has a charming dark interior, and on warm days you can sit outside. Along Brygga, you´ll find other charming pubs or restaurants and there are a large numbers of restaurants throughout the Tønsberg city centre.

Kockegården - an architectural gem

Further up in the city centre you have a charming mix of old and new houses. One of the most beautiful houses is the late 18th century Kockegården.

Through the Middle Ages and up to the 18th Century, the areas around the Castle Hill was wasteland. During the expansion of the city in the 18th Century the area of Fjerdingen grew up around Castle Hill.

In 1790 the wealthy merchant Faye built his Louis Seize house in timber. Behind the house there was a large garden and a variety of different houses for different purposes. There was a barn, stables, storage houses and a distillery.

One of the back houses, partly half-timbered, today house a restaurant Kocke Gården. It is so strange to see this old building, as it reminds you of an Elizabethan Inn.

Sights of Tønsberg

There are several other remarkable sights to see in Tønsberg. You have Haugar Vestfold Art Huseum and Vestfold County Museum. The wonderful Oseberg Viking Ship was discovered close to Tønsberg.

Shopping

Tønsberg is also a great place to shop. You can start at the County largest shopping mall - Farmannsstredet, close to the Tønsberg Railway station. Close to the charming square you find a large varieties of shops selling womens- and menswear, shoes, cosmetics shops and much more.

Tønsberg - how to get there

- By train: 1 1/2 hours on a regional train from Oslo Central Station.
- By airplane: Tønsberg is situated close to Torp Airport with a large number of flights to different European destinations.

See more on budget flights to Torp Airport here

Frozen Cava Daquiri - a great dessert

Strawberry and champagne is a great combinaton. I tried them together in a frozen drink. This dessert requires a good blender, i.e. one that may crush ice, as well. The result is great! Try it!

I made the dessert for two:

1/4 bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro, or any other dry sparkling wine, chilled
1 tbsp sugar
200 grs / 7 oz frozen strawberries

Pour sparkling wine into a blender, add sugar

Start the blender, as you add one and one strawberry to the liquid. As you do it will freeze and thicken

Serve in wide champagne glasses.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Treasures from the Roman period at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

The collection from the Roman period at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is extremely impressive. In fact, it is hard to digest it all, as you pass through numerous halls filled up with sculptures, sarcofagi, memorial plaques and other artifacts from one of the richest cultures in the European history.

This is a typical example of the exhibitions at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Large rooms with overlight, painted in the most beautiful colours provides the most beautiful background for the countless treasures at Glyptoteket.

I will like to show you some of the remarkable artifacts you can find in the Roman Collection.

Statues of Athletes in a Palestra

This relief may date from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. It shows a palestra, a sporting arena, with a small shrine to Herakles, the greatest of the Greek heros, and son of Zeus. On each side you have a colonnade with statues of athletes, one of them bearing the palms of victory.

Knealing Barbarian

This impressive sculpture of a knealing barbarian is dated to 20 AD. It is made of Pavonazzetto marble from Asia Minor.

He is identified as a barbarian by the trousers and the Phrygian cap he wears. Phrygia was located in the Anatolian highlands in todays Turkey.

The statue used to be a part of a monument in Rome that celebrated the conquest of the East.

Wounded amazon

This is marble statue of an amazon, a representative of a ancient nation of female warriors at the edges of Scythia, by the northern shores of the Black Sea. It originates from Rome and can be dated to 150 AD.

The amazon has a bleeding sword cut under her right arm.

It is told that Greek artist once competed to make a sculpture of a wounded amazon for the Temple dedicated to Artemis in Ephesus.

Hermes - the Messenger of the Gods

This marble statue of Hermes once stood at Hadrians Villa, at Tivoli outside Rome. It dates from the 2nd Century AD.

Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods, ties his winged sandals as he raise his head and listens to the command of Zeus.

The statue is a copy of an older bronze statue made by Lysippos 300 BC. It was restored by Cavaceppi in the 18th Century.

An extraordinary dinner on an ordinary weekday

Susanne and Per Koch invited me on a thank-you-for -taking-care-of-our-cats dinner, as I had fed the two baby cats Timian (thyme) and Basilikum (basil), while they were in New York. For this I got this great dining and wining and a large Will & Grace mug for my morning coffee.

Dinners at the Koch residence is predictable in the best sense of the word. You know you are served the most tasteful, well prepared food ever, as the entree - Coppa de Parma and Italian Salami with black peppercorns, very thinly sliced. Served with fresh Italian bread, good butter and cornichons - you need not say more!!

To this I was served a glass of cold dry white wine. Perfect. The reason why we had white wine to the cured meats, was that Susanne had her arborio rice, stock, large prawns, and asparagus ready to make risotto.

Risotto is seriously good food. You can make it in many different ways, but do remember to always use arborio rice. This glutinous variety cannot be substituted by any other rice as it creates the most perfect creamy consistency to the dish.

Use butter and olive oil, add some onion, and rice and stir until each grain of rice is covered by the oil/butter. Then pour a glass of dry white wine and stir until evaporated. Then add stock. You can use fish, chicken and even vegetable stock. Susanne had made stocks from the asparagus stocks - a great idea!! Then add a ladle or two of stock and stir until the grains has soaked up the liquid. Add stock the necessary number of times until rice is tender, but still a little al dente. The fry the prawns lightly and do not overcook as seafood tends to get tough. Then add steamed asparagus and the prawns to the risotto and allow to warm through. At this stage I usually add a little cream and some parmeggiano.

And the wine! A Barolo Niwasco Bersano 2003. Not your typical Italian wine, as it is in a completely other league than many of the light, red table wines you drink to pasta or pizza.

Made in the Piedmont region, from the Nebbiolo grape it had a very rich taste of blackcurrants or blackberries and very characteristic tannins. This is not the wine you enjoy with your pasta. Try it with meat. It worked great with the rich risotto.

As Susanne has a sweet tooth, we ended the meal with a
fruit salad made from apples, pears, and raisins in a syrup made with vanilla, and served with Ice Cream.

Delicious!

I will definitely volunteer to babysit the cats another time. Getting such a meal for just giving to cute cats food and drink is such a reward.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - Treasures from the Egyptian Collection

Enterring the Egyptian Collection at Ny Carlsberg you are faced with a large number of artifacts from nearly the whole history of Old Egypt. There are so much, that you cannot manage to digest all the impressions.

This large impressive stone with hieroglyphs is fastened to the wall of the first hall.

Left you see an offering scene carved / painted on limestone from the tomb of the Egyptian official Nofer. Nofer lived during the 4th Dynasty, and he was buried at Giza. The 4th Dynasty included pharaos as Khufu or Cheops, that built the largest pyramide at Giza, and his father Snefru.

Nofer lived from 2606-2575 BC.

This man in prayer dates from a much later period. It is made from a hard sandstone called greywacke. Its proveniance is not known, but is dated to 26th Dynasty (672-525 BC) or 27th Dynasty, also called the Achaemenid Empire (559-330 BC). Egypt was ruled, during his latest period, by Persians invaders.






Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a place I always return to, when I visit Copenhagen. Close to the Tivoli Gardens, you can escape the cool Scandinavian climate and enter into a distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is connected to the second owner of the Carlsberg Breweries, Carl Christian Hillman Jacobsen. In 1897 he founded the museum around his extensive collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian art.

I particularly love the museums sub tropical garden, located under a large glass dome. Here you find old date palms, flowering hibiscus, ferns, and other beautiful plants.

The Palm Gardens at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a place just to sit down and have quiet moment. I also recommend you to eat lunch here, as there is a great café as well, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and have a meal, under the large palm trees.

The exhibitions are located in beautiful clean halls in Greco-Roman style. The Carl Jacobsens Festive hall, is the heart of the exhibitions. It is a wonderful hall with marble columns and floor, contrasted by a deep red colour on the walls. Here you find antique statues displayed between the large columns.

The beauty of Carl Jacobsens Festive Hall leaves you speechless and moved. The same can be said of the enormous collection of antique art at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Carl Jacobsen also left a large collection of Danish and European art from the 19th and 20th Century. Here you find paintings from the French Golden Age made by David, Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Bonnard and Gauguin.

I will share some of my photos from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman Collections with you. But be aware - having 1-2 hours does not give a credit to such an extensive collection. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is, as Louvre in Paris, and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a museum to revisit, over and over again.

Visit the Official Website of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Spring at Kongens Have

Surrounding Rosenborg Castle, you find Kongens Have - the "Kings Garden". This wonderful Park was founded by King Christian IV in 1606. He actually designed the garden himself. Today it is one of the most beautiful green lungs in central Copenhagen.

I wanted to revisit the grounds of Rosenborg Castle, when viewing it from Rundetårn. My previous visit to the area had been as far back as 1976, when my mother, my sister and I visited Copenhagen for the first time. That time, seeing the Danish Crown Regalia and the interior of the castle, made a lasting impression on me. But I had no recollection of the size and the beauty of the park surrounding Rosenborg Castle.

This is actually a travel through gardening history. Its most striking features are from the renaissance, with a Rosegarden, a "crocus-carpet", and a "krumspring." In spite of its name, the park has been open for the citizens of Copenhagen since early in the 18th century, and today 2,5, million visitors admire its beauty every year.

The "Krumspring" (right), is part of the renaissance garden. It consists of two square pathways, leading into an open pavilion with a round stone in the centre. I was there early spring, where the wired structures were completely bare, but during summer they will be overgrown by climbing plants concealing the man made part of the "Krumspring".

I loved walking around in Kongens Have, admiring the diversity of flowers, trees and bushes. One small tree may, as far as I know, go back to the first period of the garden. It was a popular place to take snapshot of groups, as they were standing close to the hollow trunk. It was surprisingly small but it certainly had the aura of old age to it.

Another spectacular sight - two large trees very low and wide, covered with an abundance of beautiful white flowers. It was certainly springtime.

If you visit Copenhagen, do visit Kongens Have, and Rosenborg Castle. Walking in a park with so much history is a wonderful experience. You escape the busy city streets for a moment and find yourself in nearly a meditative mode, as you walk along the paths wondering who has walked them before you.