Saturday, May 26, 2007

Coming up at Enjoy Food & Travel - Visiting Bergen May 31st to June 3rd

The coming week I will visit Bergen the beautiful old city on the Norwegian Vestlandet, by the west coast with its steep mountains and deep fjords.

Bergen is more than 900 years old, and is one the best preserved cities in the country. It is renowned for its historic sights as Bryggen, the part of the old hanseatic quarters with roots back to the Middle ages, when German merchants ran much of the trade in Bergen. You also have the beautiful Mariakirken, a beautiful medieval church, and the Bergenhus fortress dating as far back as 1240.

I will visit my nephew Knut Ørnes, studying medicine at the University of Bergen. I will certainly report back from the sights of Bergen, but will also visit some interesting restaurants.

A colleague recommended eating steamed mussels at Dampen Steakhouse, and I will most certainly take my nephew out to Enhjørningen (the Unicorn), an excellent Fish restaurant at Bryggen.

And we will cook to.

So be patient, as my stories from Bergen will be written as I return, from Sunday June 3rd.

Cuvée Christer Berens Monastrell 2004

I usually love Spanish wine, and this was a completely new experience at a reasonable price (NOK 89,90/€10,50). It was exact quality for money, much fruit and less body than most Spanish wines I have tasted.

It comes from the region around the town Yecla in Murcia in Eastern Spain, a large wine producing area. It is made from 90% Monastrell or Graciano grape, and 10% Garnacha Tintorera grape. The latter being a grape variety made from crossing Grenache Noir and Petit Bouschet grapes.

Recommended for lamb, poultry and cheese. A good piece of advice as it has not the body to match red meat or game. It has a brilliant blue red colour, and a young spicy character based on red berries as blackcurrants and cherries. Lacking body I would hardly recommend it. And would I buy it again? No!

Read more on wines from the Yecla area on

See complete list of wine reviews here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your source to good wine!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tøyen hovedgård - the manor at Oslo's East End (1679 / Early 19th Century)

When you walk down Trondheims- veien, a street in Oslo's East End, you see these two small houses. They are today located on each side of a small side street. 200 years ago, however, they were gatehouses guarding the entrance to Tøyen Hovedgård, a large manor house that was owned by members of the Norwegian elite.

The name Tøyen belongs to the oldest classes of farm names we know. The name Todin consists of two syllables, the first "Tad" meaning manure or fertilizer, and the second "vin" means pasture. Tadvin is a name that came before the viking age, that means that it is at least 1250 years old.

The manor from 1161 to the fire in 1670

During the medieval time it was a part of the estate of the Nonneseter monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary, housing Benedictine nuns. It was founded before 1161. It fell into disrepair after 1547, and stones from its church were used to build the new city hall in 1616, still standing close to Akershus fortress.

In 1640 it was granted status as a noble estate under the Norwegian chancellor Jens Bjelke, one of the most powerful men in Denmark-Norway. This may also be the place where Anders Lavrisen died December 28th 1627. He took care of Nonneseter Estate for Jens Bjelke. He is buried in St Hallvards church, where you still can admire his beautiful grave.

The present manor house

Jens Bjelkes son, General Lieutenant Jørgen Bjelke took over Tøyen, and it burnt around 1670, and a new house was built in 1679. New dendrochronological method dates the present house to this date, making it the oldest wooden building in Oslo.

The Stockfleth family took over the house at the end of the 17th Century, and the new owner, Christian Stockfleth had a visit from the Danish King Christian V in 1685. It was renovated just before and after the start of the 19th Century, when it got the appearance it has today.

The park is turned into Botanical garden

King Fredrik VI bought the manor in 1812, and it was given as a gift to the new University of Oslo. Today the manor is situated in the Botanical Gardens in Oslo.

Tøyen has recently been restored back to its former glory. During this process the University was forced to cut down two large Horse Chestnut trees. The oldest predated the French and American revolution, and the oldest may have been planted around 1750. This was sad, but very necessary as these huge trees threatened to undermine the house itself.

You can see photos of these trees here.

Today the Manor is situated in a wonderful park housing an impressive variety of plants from many continents, many of considerable age. Until recently the largest green house - the palm house, had a palm tree - a Phoenix Canariensis, a date palm from the Canary Islands brought back by the gardens founder Christen Smith and germinated around 1819. Sadly it died out of lack of room.

Take a stroll in the park during the spring time admiring the trees and flowers in bloom, or sit by the fountains during a hot summer day. You can even enjoy a coffee at the cafe in the manor house (now closed due to renovation).

And you will be in my neighbourhood.


See other sights in Oslo and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your travel source!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oslo Hospital 1290 / 1538

A little closer to the steep hill Ekeberg you find Norways oldest hospital, established in 1538. The caring for the sick here goes much further back in time, in fact over 800 years

In 1290, during the reign of the Norwegian king Håkon V Magnusson a group of Franciscan friars started to build a monastery, where Oslo Hospital is today. Their wanted to promote their ideals, to be relieved from their material desires, and offer help to the poor. They made room for the ill, needy, and poor in their little church, angering the Bishop of Oslo.

Pope Nicholas IV did, however, through a letter written in 1291, offer protection for the little monastery to continue its controversial practices, and they did continue their work among the poor of Oslo.

After the Lutheran reformation in 1536, the king took over the Roman Catholic estate in Norway. As the city of Oslo at that point of time needed a hospital, he established Oslo Hospital in 1538 for the citizens of Oslo.

In 1736 a young girl, Birthe Jonsdatter was aquitted for the murder of her husbands children, but was sentenced to life long psychiatric ward at Oslo Hospital. She is the first psychiatric patient recorded here, and the hospital has since that year also had psychiatric patients.

The grey house in the picture is from the time when Birthe Jonsdatter was admitted to psychiatric care at Oslo Hospital. It was built in 1734 and is considered the oldest hospital building still standing in Norway.

See the website of Oslo Hospital here (Sadly in Norwegian only)

Gamlebyen kirke (1290/1730/1796)

The church at Oslo Hospital is the parish church for the area of Gamlebyen. It has burned several times and was in period also used as hospital. Until the latest fire in 1794 much of the old church was still standing. In 1796 the new church was built in Louis Seize style.

But the walls of the church belongs to the old Franciscan church where the friars cared for the old and needy. This makes Gamlebyen church the second oldest church in Oslo after the church at Gamle Aker.

Oslo Hospital / Gamlebyen kirke - how to get there.

To get to Oslo Hospital / Gamlebyen kirke is to take tram line 18/19 - direction Holtet / Ljabru and leave at Oslo Hospital.

See other sights in Oslo and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your travel source!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dim Sum at a Taste of China

I completely fell in love with dim sum, when I went to my first dim sum parlour in Boston in 1988. Reasonably priced, deliciously steamed and fried dumplings, spring rolls and wantons - a Chinese tapas feast.

I was delighted when I discovered that dim sum had conquered the Oslo culinary scene, and I have visited a Taste of China four or five times. It is not the perfect place, as the interior is rather boring, and the service may, at times, be rather slow, but the food is exquisite and the price is unbeatable.

Location BBBB

The Taste of China is located in the heart of Oslo, close to the city's second shopping street, and just a few minutes walk from the sights of central Oslo. But it can hardly be said to be the most romantic location, if you are looking for the place of the meal of your dreams.

Atmosphere: BBBB

The interior of the restaurant is light but looks a little uninspiring. Red walls, and vinyl floors, and rather sparsely decorated. Tables with white paper tablecloths, and no knives or forks. The Asian wooden chairs are tall, and you are well seated. But trust me, you do not go there for the interior - but for the food!!

The price: BBBBB

The price is absolutely unbeatable. The four of us had 12 different orders, and I had two bottles of Tsing Tao. I ate until I was completely stuffed and my part of the bill was less than €30. And it was absolutely wort every cent!!

The service: BBB+

I am not sure of my rating as the staff provided much of a Chinese feel to it. We had problems understanding what our waiter said, but the menus had pictures and was easy to pick from. But they had no English menu, and if you have not eaten dim sum before you may be in for a surprise.

But this is also the case at the China Pearl in Boston, as old Chinese women wander along the crowded tables, offering their dishes from their trolleys with such a strong Chinese accent. You have no clue what you order. So if you can relax and stay in China for a moment, one may award it with five B's for charm, but for this evening, it ends up with a BBB+

The food: BBBBB

But God! What food you get!! You prepare by mixing a hot sweet chili sauce with soy sauce, and then the bowls, bamboo steamers, and plates follows. Siu Mai, steamed pork and shrimp parcels with tofu skins, are followed by spring rolls with mushrooms and beef and rice-paper dumplings with prawns. Then Woh Tip - fried dumplings with pork are served with beef in a broth with cabbage. This is only a selection of what we ate, and the tastes and texture were various, soft rice paper, crisp wanton and spring roll sheets. Do choose a wide selection, but be aware that some of the orders have three and other four pieces, and that is complicated when you are four, but - you can order two!!

The Taste of China does not provide you with the authentic Chinese atmosphere, but the food brings you to the Far East for a little while!!

And the Tsing Tao is perfect company to the food!!

Overall score: BBBB+ (4,3 points)

Do not look at the overall score, go there and enjoy the food - it is delicious!!

Adress: Torggata 18, Oslo
Phone: +47 22 11 18 88

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

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Sights of Old Oslo

Olavsklosteret and the Bishops Residence (1239 / 1623 / 1880)

By St Hallvards Church you find the residence of the Bishop of Oslo. The present buildings was built in 1880, but the base of his residence used to be the east wing of the monastery dedicated to the National saint of Norway, Saint Olav.

The Monastery was founded by the Dominican Order or the Order of Preachers (Ordo fratrum Praedicatorum) in 1239.

Most of the Monastery is now in ruins. This is also the case of the enclosed courtyard that once had rows of gothic columns with an open hallway around it.

To give the visitor the impression on how it might have looked, wooden beams have been placed where the columns used to be. Still the most intriguing parts of the monastery are the vaulted rooms enclosed in the basement of the Bishops residence.

The monastery fell into disrepair during late medieval times.

In the mid 1550s the Bishop of Oslo, Franz Berg rebuilt parts of the old monastery, and a small fragment of a small bird painted on one of the walls inside the bishops residence is from the period. In 1623 a second floor was built on top of what was the East wing of the Monastery of Saint Olav, and in that way, three vaulted rooms from medieval times were preserved.

These three rooms had from the 13th Century wooden roofs. The vaults were built in the 14th century, and
you can admire the patchwork of constructions from the different centuries from the outside.

Sadly the vaulted rooms are under restoration and thus not open for the public. But do visit the remains of the Monastery and tread on historic ground

Olavsklosteret and the Bishops Residence - how to get there.

Olavsklosteret is situated by the Church of St. Hallvard and the other remains from the Medieval era is situated in Old Oslo, in downtown Oslo. The easiest way to get there is to take tram line 18/19 - direction Holtet / Ljabru and leave at St. Hallvards plass.

See other sights in Oslo and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your travel source!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The site of a royal wedding

Oslo Ladegård (1210/ 1579/ 1725)

Oslo Ladegård is one of the few buildings with medieval roots, still in use today. Here you have at least four layers of history on top of each other.

Early 13th century it used to be the site of the Bishop's palace, first built in wood. Through the late medieval era, the Bishop's palace was rebuilt in stone, and connected to St. Hallvards church. The palace grew into a religious as well as a politcial centre, and it was here the first agreement of union between Sweden and Norway was signed after the death of the last Norwegian king Haakon V Magnusson in 1319.

In 1523 the Swedes destroyed what was left of the Bishops palace and the mayor of Oslo built his renaissance building in bricks on top of the remains of the palace in 1579.

In Christoffer Mules house another event of major importance took place. November 23rd 1589, James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots married Princess Anne of Denmark in Oslo Ladegård. He was 23 and she was only a child of 15. After the marriage ceremony they left for Helsingør and Copenhagen before they went to Scotland in May 1590.

At the right you see a doorway from Mayor Mules building. Fancy - the Royal couple may have passed through this door!

Another interesting part of the Oslo Ladegård is The Chapel of Bishop Nicolas, named after Nikolas Arnesson (died 1225), the bishop that started the construction of the palace in 1210. He was closely related to the royal family and was active through the Norwegian civil war period (1130 to 1240).

It used to be a part of the Bishops palace and it was excavated in 1919 as it was found during the construction of a railway line.

It was rebuilt partly from the old stones and partly on bricks in 1961, and is today used as a chapel.

Christoffer Mules house was taken over by the wealthy Toller family that used it as a summer residence. Sadly, Christoffer Mules renaissance building burned down in 1722

In 1725 Karen Toller (image) built the baroque building that is standing today, and it is a wonder that it has survived all these years. Today you may admire the beautiful exterior and interior, and there is a small reconstructed baroque garden made in Karen Tollers honour.

Here you can even enjoy a meal, as there is a great little restaurant where you can order a good ciabatta or pizza, and enjoy a dripping cold beer.

Oslo Ladegård - how to get there.

Oslo Ladegård is situated by the Church of St. Hallvard and the other remains from the Medieval era is situated in Old Oslo, in downtown Oslo. The easiest way to get there is to take tram line 18/19 - direction Holtet / Ljabru and leave at St. Hallvards plass.

See other sights in Oslo and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your travel source!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Historic sights of Oslo The Church of St. Hallvard (1100-1650/1780)

This church was dedicated to Saint Hallvard, Oslos patron saint. Hallvard Vebjørnssøn (1020-1043), was canonised having tried to defend an innocent female slave.

The Church of St. Hallvard was built in the beginning of the 12th century in romanesque style with a long aisle and two side aisles and a central tower. In style it would have resembled Gamle Aker kirke that was built in the same period. In 1260, during the reign of king Sverre, parts of the church was torned down and a gothic quire, the size of the main aisle, was built.

Sigurd Jorsalfare, the famous Norwegian crusader king, was buried in the church of St. Hallvard in 1130.

The church fell into disrepair after the main city was moved closer to the fortress in 1624, and in 1780 they used stones from the remaining ruins to strengthen the old road to Oslo. Some of the stones from the medieval church can also be seen in today's cathedral.

Still you can clearly see the stones outlining the walls of the old church, and walk down the aisle. By the entrance you can see a few graves, that may date back to medieval times. Inside the church are two stones that clearly indicates the graves of two prominent members of the elite in old Oslo, one from the 16th century and one from the 17th century.

The grave of Magdalena Franzdatter (158*)

This is the grave of Magdalena Franzdatter married to Jens Nielsen. She died in childbirth and the stone shows them both, facing each other, dressed late 16th century clothing.

On the stone you can read the following text.


Anno 158*, February 12th, died the honest, chaste, and God fearing woman Magdalena Franzdatter, Master Jens Nielsen Superintendents wife with her fetus, and lies her in hope of **** resurrection on Judgement day.

The grave of Anders Lavrisen (died December 28th 1627)

Anders Lauritzen was an official working for the very powerful nobleman Jens Bielke, Norwegian chancellor from 1614-1648. Anders Lauritzen was in charge of the estate that once belonged to the Nonneseter Monastery, situated in Old Oslo. On hi stone you can see his coat of arms.

There is the following text on the stone.


Here are buried hones, wise and "well read" man Anders Lavrizen that was Jens Bielkes "foged" over Nonne Monastery Estate and died at Tøyen February 28th 1627.

Old Oslo - how to get there.

The Church of St. Hallvard and the other remains from the Medieval era is situated in Old Oslo, in downtown Oslo. The easiest way to get there is to take tram line 18/19 - direction Holtet / Ljabru and leave at St. Hallvards plass.

See other sights in Oslo and around the world here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your travel source!