Thursday, August 23, 2007

14 new services from Norwegian Air Shuttle from Europe to Rygge Airport

October 1st the Eastern part of Norway get another major airport. Rygge airport is expected to be an important alternative to Oslo Airport Gardermoen and Sandefjord Airport Torp, the latter the main hub for Ryanairs services from Norway to the continent and the UK.

Until now there has been no interest from the major airlines to operate flights from the new airport. This changed today, August 23rd, as the major Norwegian low cost air carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle announced that they have 12 services from Europe to Rygge. They are:

  • Rygge - Alicante
    Days: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    First flight: Frebruary 15th
  • Rygge - Athens
    Days: Thursday and Sunday
    First flight: March 13th
  • Rygge - Barcelona (NEW)
    Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
    First flight: February 15th
  • Rygge - Belgrade
    Days: Wednesday and Saturday
    First flight: March 15th
  • Rygge - Bergen
    Days: Daily
    First flight: March 13th
  • Rygge - Budapest
    Days: Thursday and Sunday
    First flight: March 14th
  • Rygge - Istanbul
    Days: Monday and Friday
    First flight: March 14th
  • Rygge - London
    Days: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
    First flight: March 13th
  • Rygge - Malaga
    Days: Tuesday and Saturday
    First flight: February 16th
  • Rygge - Marrakech
    Days: Thursday
    First flight: April 3rd
  • Rygge - Palanga (NEW)
    Days: Tursday and Saturday
    First flight: February 16th
  • Rygge - Szczecin
    Days: Tuesday and Saturday
    First flight: February 16th
  • Rygge - Valencia
    Days: Tuesday and Saturday
    First flight: March 15th
  • Rygge - Warzawa
    Days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
    First flight: March 14th
Norwegian has not informed whether they will move some of the services currently operating from Oslo Airport or whether they also will continue their current flight schedule from the main airport in the Oslo area.

Enjoy Food & Travel will keep you posted....

Read more on this story at the Aftenposten web site

See what services Norwegian Air Shuttle operates from Europe and the UK to Norway on their official website

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Oslo Botanical Garden

The old green houses

I am lucky, as the Oslo Botanical Garden is located in my neighbourhood, in the gardens of Tøyen Hovedgård, an old manor house dating back to the 1680's. The garden of the manor is a horticultural and historical gem in the middle of city. This is the spot to be during spring when the first flowers are in bloom, as well as in fall, when the foliage of the large trees are coloured red, orange, and yellow.

The two small green houses date back to the 19th century. They are old and partly decaying, but inside them you find a surprising collection of plants from different continents. There are plans to build a new large circular green house close by, but sadly in a country swimming in milk and honey, this certainly has taken its time. But as we wait, we will have to walk in the old green houses, and they certainly have their charm.

The palm house - the main greenhouse

The largest of the two houses is the palm house (right and on top), built in 1868. This is the only greenhouse that allows large tropical plants to grow into full height. Sadly that did not help the specimen of Canary Island Date Palm, brought back by Christen Smith in 1815. It grew from one of the seeds from one of his journey. This plant grew in the palm house for close to 180 years before it died in the year 2000 of old age and lack of space.

But the palm house contains many other beautiful tall tropical palms and in the middle of the picture you see a large cycas, not a palm but related to the conifers. In the palm house you also find large specimens of ficus benjamina, banana, and other palm varieties.
From rain forest to desert in the Palm house

There are two small green houses connected to the palm house. The most interesting one is the desert house, where you have cacti and succulents. The desert house is temperate during winter and hot during summer.

There are several plants here of considerable age. In the middle of the picture you see an aloé variety, and left in the picture you see a large succulent plant of the Euphorbia family.

At the right of the picture you can get a glimpse of a large cactus plant of considerable age, and you find many other interesting plant species. Climbing on the wall you can admire "The Queen of the Night", a cactus variety that blooms one night in the year and has the largest and most impressive flowers you can think of.

The Victoria house

The Victoria house is the second greenhouse in the garden, and it was built in 1876. It is not named after Queen Victoria, but rather a water lily, with the largest leaves I have ever seen. It is said that it can carry the weight of a small child.

The Victoria house has three departments. The main house, dominated by a pond with a walkway around it. Then you have the orchid house, dominated by orchids, ferns, and other epiphytes.

This picture is taken in spring, and you can see the first small leaves of the Victoria in the foreground.

The orchid room

The orchid room contains many species of orchids, ferns, and epiphytes. The latter being plants growing on other trees without feeding on them directly. This room contains species related to the pineapple as the one on the left. These plants are also available at florists and may easily be grown in you own home.

Another interesting plants is the carniverous plant (left) known as Tropical Pitcher Plant or Monkey Cups. These plants grow attached to trees and feed from insects that are lured to its cup and falls into and are trapped in containers shaped like a deep cup filled with liquid. These may also be available at your florists but they require very humid conditions to thrive.

And then you have the orchids themselves. Most of them may be very plain, where they grow, connected to the old tree trunks brought in to create the right conditions for this plants. But many of them have the most beautiful flowers and all kinds of colours. Some of them have only one flower as the slipper orchid (Cypripedium), where as other varieties may have stems with a large number of flowers of different size and colour. And you find many interesting varieties in the orchid house in Oslo's Botanical Gardens.

A visit to my neighbourhood is well spent time as you can walk in the gardens, but also visit the three museums in the garden. Just across the street you can also visit the Munch Museum. So take the Subway to Tøyen Munch museum and you will have all these sights within walking distance.

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Old Fredrikstad - the 350 year walled old city

Coming week I will be away on an international conference. It takes place at Fredrikstad, the main city of the County of Østfold at the eastern side of the Oslofjord, close to the Swedish border. Later I will be partly responsible for the food at a great party. So there will be an exciting week ahead of you!!

Luckily the conference allows some cultural and culinary experiences. We will have a guided tour of the oldest part of the city, going back to 1569. The temporary walls around the original city was replaced by strong fortification in the 1600s and behind the walls you find the best preserved fortified city in Northern Europe.

We will also tour the waterways and stay at the new Radisson SAS hotel in the city. So stay tuned for the stories from Fredrikstad area. There are so much to see!!

At last - a real party for my best buddy!!!

At last - Saturday, September 1st, is the date when my best buddy Ketil Zahl and his wife Astrid Meling celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

I and my friend Terje will prepare tapas for 37 guests coming from Northern Norway, London, and of course from Oslo. We have been lucky to be allowed to use the professional kitchen where Terje works to prepare the goodies. I will share memories from that day - from the party, people, food, wine and entertainment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sushi & Wok, Majorstuen, Oslo - Brilliant!!

We met one evening to drink beer, but ended up hungry. What is better than Japanese food. We ended up, in the sun at Sushi'n Wok at Majorstuen. As we dined outside, I will wait until later to write a full review, and I will certainly return, as the food we ate was great.

I prepare sashimi, to sushi, and ordered a sashimi-plate and got the most exquisite selection of raw seafood. One large prawn, wonderful fillets of raw sea wolf, salmon, a sliced scallop with large bright red roe, served with pickled ginger. This was absolutely delicious, one subtle taste following the other.

The sashimi was followed by a noodle and seafood wok. Here there were several varieties of red and white fish, prawns and scallops in a hot tomato flavoured sauce. Tastes of coriander and lime enhanced the flavour of the sauce.

I love to get noodles served like this. You can use the chop sticks to get up the bits of fish and noodles, and you can lift up the bowl and drink the noodle soup / sauce as the Japanese do. And slurp. In Asia you are allowed to make noises by the table , and I did it the way of the East.

I will certainly revisit this place to give a full review. In the mean time, it is not difficult to recommend what we ate. If you like Asian food, it is a good choice.

Sushi'n Wok
Adress: Essendrops gate 9, 0368 Oslo
Phone: + 47 23 20 28 33

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Story number 600: Two very different white wines!!

I have rarely had two more different white wines in one evening than that evening. One wine reminded me on my first experiences with wine in my own personal Dark Ages, the other one gave great relief from bad memories.

P.J.Valckenberg Madonna Liebfraumilch

This was truly a stroll along amnesia lane, back to times when we had our first sips of alcohol hidden away under the stairs in our house, far away from mummy. Tasting it now, I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine how we managed to drink this stuff.

This wine is produced close to the city Mainz in Rhineland-Palatinate, and it is name is derived from the old church Liebfrauenkirche belonging to a large monastery in the area.

It is made from the grapes Müller Thurgau and Riesling. It has a flowery bouquet and a very sweet, and in my mind sickening taste of dried apricot. I have seen it recommended as company to sushi and other oriental dishes, but I can not in my wildest imagination tell how these tastes could blend into a higher unity.

So at a price of €9, this is a once in a lifetime and never again experience - and a waste of money!

Via Latina Loureiro 2006

How very different a wine. Whereas the Liebfraumilch was not suitable for the food I served, this Vino Verde was perfect to the portion sized fish pies served.

The Vino Verde is produced in the Minho region in Northern Portugal.

It is produced entirely from the Loureiro grape, and it is a wonderfully, fresh and dry white wine with aromas from apples and citrus, and with a very fine touch of fresh mint.

This is great to seafood, or even served with strawberries a summer evening. How very different and how very far away from my childhood, and a bargain at €9!!

Help! - I have become a member of the Nespresso community!!!

Well, I hate to be a member of a committed group, or at least if I can avoid it. However, I have enrolled as a fast- espresso- groupie! I have become a nespresso community member.

As I left my job in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, I received two gift certificates. One at 2000 NOK (€ 240) from my employer and one at 1139 NOK (€135) from my colleagues. I had already decided to buy an espresso machine, and consulted my dear techno-freak friend Terje Sletner for advice. He strongly recommended the Nespresso, as this machine makes coffee with no fuzz.

So we entered the kitchen appliance department at Christiania Glassmagasin in downtown Oslo to buy the fast-espresso-wonder. I just walked by the sales assistant eager to sell the expensive luxurious variety, and proclaimed - I am a dummy, and I want that one (NOK 1499 / €178)!!

Now this wonder is standing on my counter, close to the American spice department. No skill required to use this one, pour down water, put one of the small capsules in the fitted hole on top, press down the handle - and presto - espresso!!

In this way, sadly, I never learned to be a Barrista, to grind the beans, press the coffee into the small espresso filter, putting steam on and listen how the water filters through the filter and into the cup.

Now my coffee comes in small capsules in 12 different varieties.

They are called:

- Ristretto
- Arpeggio
- Roma (o, la, la - or was that Paris?)
- Decaffinato intenso (nighty, night.....)
- Livanto (more lively than I am already)
- Capriccio
- Volluto
- Cosi (fan tutte)
- Vivalto (valium?)
- Decaffinato Lungo (definetely to sleep on)
- Finezzo

Have already have three. Looking forward to more. Great taste - how annoying!!! Will keep you posted!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The most beautiful square in the world

Before I had been to Grand Place for the first time, a book described as the "largest ballroom in the world. " I had no idea what it meant then. But as I entered the square for the first time in the mid 90's I understood what the description meant. Grand Place with its ornate buildings with its towers and statues looked like an interior of a lavish baroque ballroom. There are very few places I love as much as Grand Place!!

Before August 13th 1695, when the french bombarded Brussels, most of the buildings around it were built in wood. During that day all of them caught fire and burnt down.

From then on the whole square was rebuilt. Among the buildings reconstructed was the building of the Dukes of Brabant (image) from 1698. The whole square is now a vital baroque style ballroom with such a great number of architectural details you need years to understand and digest them all.

One of the few buildings that predates 1695 is the wonderful city hall. This Gothic building dates as far back as 1455 and takes up much of southern part of the square.

Hundreds of statues covers the large facade, and the 96 metre (300 ft) impressive tower is crowned by a large statue of the Archangel Michael.

It is beautifully lit by night and during summer there is a large multi coloured light organ lighting up the brilliant facade accompanied by old classical music. My sister and I sat there, one warm night in June enjoying it all.

Between the city hall and the Maison du Duc you find these houses. One of them is Le Maison des Brasseurs, the house belonging to the Brewers guild.

In the small building on the corner you find the La Maison du Cygne, one of the best restaurants in Brussels. Here you have to dig much deeper into your wallet than in most other restaurants in the European capital. The prices are, at least for us Norwegians, not frightening but there are other and cheaper restaurants around the square. Be aware. The Grand Place area is, however, not (with the exception of La Maison du Cygne) the place for the great culinary adventures. It is a serious tourist trap where you pay more for less.

There are restaurants in abundance in the square but just a few have left an impression. Do go for a beer or two at Chaloupe d'Or or le Roi d'Espagne for the joy of having a drink in such an environment, but the food is not anything to pay for.

T'Kelderke in the basement of Le Maison du Duc is an exception. I enjoyed the most succulent and tender Horse Beef (sorry!!) in the vaulted cellars there - highly recommendable if you have no objections to eating horse meat.

And beware. Do not be tempted by the restaurants in the nearby Rue des Bouchers. In spite of the most tempting food displayed on the outside and the most pushy personnel trying to convince you to eat there. You risk paying much for mediocre food. Try one of the restaurants I recommend. You will be so much more pleased.

But do take time at Grand Place and feel the atmosphere. The book I once read did describe it, besides being the largest ballroom on the planet, as the most beautiful square in the world. And do you know, I agree!!

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