Saturday, January 12, 2008

Being Harry - being happy!

Doris and Harry are the Norwegian archetypes of vulgar, shallow and superficial humans. Doris and Harry live in their campers with thousands of their soul mates during summer - and they like it! Doris and Harry do not dress properly for dinner but wear training gears, and have no academic background. Doris and Harry are stupid enough to travel over the Swedish border to do their grocery shopping. Doris and Harry are not the people to be, or are they? I am Harry on and off, as I love to do my grocery shopping in Sweden!

Being Harry or being Lars?

It was Lars Sponheim, our previous Norwegian Minister of Agriculture, that claimed that people that crossed the border to buy food were completely Harry. This in a hopeless attempt to try to persuade people to see the stupidity of such action. After showing such contempt to the domestic consumer I claimed that those that defend a system where the consumer can not choose between domestically produced food and imported food on a fair basis must be completely Lars.

Food is a highly politicized matter in Norway, and the authorities systematically provides propaganda that Norwegian food is healthy, environmentally friendly, and has a superb quality. This in contrast to the European consumer that spend most of their time on the toilet, due to the poor hygienic quality of the European food. I have traveled enough to know that this is a blatant lie to protect the Norwegian agricultural cartels.

I love being Harry!! Last weekend I performed my first Harry trip of the year to Sweden from Oslo, and I loved every moment of it.

When Harry goes to shop groceries in Sweden!

Most people living in a reasonable distance from the Swedish border have somewhere to shop cheaper groceries, and many do. When I travel, we go two or three in a car. In this way the price of petrol will stay relatively low. For many the discount will be eaten up by the high cost of fuel.

From Oslo there are several options. To the west you have the large shopping mall at Charlottenberg, in the south east direction you have the mall at Töcksfors. We traveled south and crossed into Sweden over Svinesund, a narrow sound on the border between the two countries. Here you find the large Nordby Mall that have two impressive supermarkets offering great bargains.

The money thing - how to get much out of your krone

You are shopping groceries in Swedish kroner (SEK). It has 80-85% value of the Norwegian counterpart (NOK). In this way you get an instant 15-20% discount when you cross into Sweden.

As Sweden is a member of the European Union you will also profit on the lower food prices in the single European market. In order to get as much as possible out of your shopping, the consumer must bear in mind that not everything is much cheaper in Sweden.

I travel to Sweden when my refrigerator is nearly empty. In this way I do my normal grocery shopping there. Eggs, milk, coffee, and bread goes into the trolley. I also look for interesting foods difficult to find in Norway and there are. There are also many foods that are much cheaper to buy in the European Union.

What to buy, and not to buy

Many meat products are getting cheaper in Norway. I never buy ground beef or pork or chicken products in Sweden as there are relatively little to save here, but look out for discounts. You may get a great deal on some products.

There is much to save if you shop conscientiously. Italian and Spanish cured meats are heavily taxed when imported to Norway. That means that even cheaper cured meats are very expensive at home.

I bought this delicious 100 gram package of chorizo produced by Espuna for a mere 14 SEK (11,20 NOK). You will have to pay 2-3 times more in Norway.

I love duck. If you choose a whole frozen duck you pay around 40 SEK a kilo. This is around 30% of the price you pay in Oslo. If you buy a duck breast you pay around 130 SEK (110 NOK) a kilo, around 25% of the price over the border.

There are even big profits on beef, expensive as well as cheaper cuts, but do choose Swedish meat. There are much Irish under offer but our experience is that it has lower quality than the meats produced in Sweden. Frozen game as reindeer, venison, and quails, is also much cheaper.

There is much to save on sliced cheese, in large packages, under offer for SEK 50 or less for a kilo.

I also buy canned mushrooms, especially morels, as they are widely available and relatively inexpensive in Sweden. One great product is Borgens champinjoncrème, a blend of butter and mushrooms, great to add as additional flavour in mushroom stews or sauces.

Some products that ended up in my trolley

Soups from Kelda

I have bought these delicious soups several times. I opened up a packet of Carribean Chicken soup yesterday and it was delicious. Creamy with a delicious aroma of coconut milk and spices. I spiced it a little more with some Thai chili sauce and a bit more cream. For those of you that are concerned with the amount of fat, it is good to know that these soups have less than 5% fat.

This is an example of some of the reasonable priced European products under offer at Svinesund. This delicious Green Pepper Paté cost around 100 SEK (85 NOK) a kilo and you may buy several varities.

I love patés, and I have bought this range of Belgian products before and loved them. You pay a little under 40 SEK for 400 grams. If you are alone (as I am) you may divide it into smaller pieces and freeze them for use later.

These sausages from Catalonia are a favourite of mine. They are hard to get hold of here in Norway. They always end in my trolley when I see them under offer in Sweden.

You pay 40 SEK for 400 grams, very inexpensive compared to what you would have to pay in Norway. Due to heavy duties you would have to pay from two to three times more in a shop in Oslo, when available.

Wine and tobacco

Many Norwegians crossing the border do so in order to buy wine, liquor, and tobacco. If crossing the border at Svinesund, the nearest liquor stores are found in the nearby town of Strömstad.

Be aware that there are strict quotas when traveling into Norway even when goods are for personal use only. You may roughly bring per. person:
  • 100 cl beverages containing more than 22% alcohol
  • 150 cl wine containing less than 22% alcohol (or 300 cl wine if you do not bring liquor)
  • 200 cl beer (containing up to 4,75% alcohol)
  • 200 cigarettes
For more detailed information consult

There is so much to save on tobacco. I usually buy Manne cigars, an I pay around 50 SEK for 10. You will have to pay 4 times the price in Norway.

Alcohol - what to buy to get value for your money

Marsala wine - great in food and great to drink

Marsala wine is a fortified Italian wine, corresponding to the Spanish sherry or the Portuguese port. It contains 18% alcohol, thus being under the 22% limit. I love this Marsala Superior Vecchioflorio from Cantina Florio.

This is great when you need to add sweetness to cream sauces. A great idea is to use this wine to soak dried mushrooms. Heat the wine and add the mushrooms and allow them to soak. Use both mushrooms and the remaining liquid in pasta dishes.

Orancio from Cinzano - and a recipe for an ultimate cocktail

Another good product under the magic 22% alcohol limit is this Italian orange beverage from Cinzano. Orancio contains little less than 15% alcohol and is great on a warm summer day enjoyed on the rocks.

I use it for an ultimate strawberry cocktail. I hereby launch the ultimate coctail Jordgubbsstället (hereby patented on Enjoy Food & Travel). I have a jar with fresh strawberries in rum in my fridge. Place a few tablespoons of strawberries in a glass. Add a few ice cubes and and pour as much orancio you want. Dead delicious!!!

Well here you find a map over the nearest shopping centres close to the Norwegian border. Be aware that you have to travel to Strömstad to buy wine and liquor.

Have a great trip and be Harry - and Happy!!

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