Saturday, January 12, 2008

Berlin - Breakfast at Bell Chicco




















I dream back to the time, when breakfast was included when you stayed at a hotel. Shame on the United States, that used to be the only place to be as cheap, as to charge extra for a good start on the day. Now this American abomination has spread to the rest of the civilized world. At Park Inn they charged €15 extra for a breakfast, that cost a fraction of the price to prepare. Well, let us face it, the good old times will not return. I ate at the hotel once. The second day we found Bell Chicco, where we paid just a few Euros for a great breakfast.

Bell Chicco was located just a few blocks away from Park Inn Alexanderplatz, as one out of many places to get a good and reasonably priced breakfast. Here you could choose from a menu of warm and cold plates, coffee and other beverages and freshly pressed juices.

We chose an omelet, mine with salami and cheese. Delicious, served with freshly baked bread, and slices of apples, oranges and melons on the side. I ordered a glass of orange juice, pressed from whole oranges with pulp and all. Good coffee.

So remember! If you stay at a hotel cheap enough not to include breakfast, find a place nearby. There are plenty of them in Berlin, and they are inexpensive.

This as hotel breakfasts are complete rip-offs!!

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 www.toll.no

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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Friday, January 11, 2008

Sundown Ranch Resort




















Sundown Ranch & Lion Park is a resort that offers self-catering cottages, as well as a first class hotel where you may get packets that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are swimming pools connected to both the hotel and the cottages. Here I will present what the area has to offer.

The Sundown Ranch Hotel

The Sundown ranch Hotel was located just by the gate. It is a turquoise German-styled half timbered (!) building. This is the best and the most expensive accommodation on the Sundown Ranch Area. It is a round building with all rooms facing an beautiful enclosed garden.

I paid around 500 ZAR per night for a beautiful room with a terrace, and I did not regret it. I will soon write a separate review on the hotel. My advice is - choose the hotel. Comfort at a much better price.

Cottages

All visitors to the cottages will have to collect the keys in the reception of the hotel. The cottages are located further up from the hotel, towards the lion park. We arrived just at the end of the dry season, and the area around the cottages was very dry and arid.

I found the cottages rather bleak, a bit run down, and could could certainly have needed some paint. There were two bedrooms with double beds and a bed in the living room with additional seating and a dining area. It was a very small kitchen and bathroom. The cottage did not appeal to my taste, so I decided to go for a room at the hotel, and I did not regret that choice. Here is a small film clip of the cottage and the surrounding area.

video

The Lion Park

The Sundown Ranch Lion Park is located on the resort area, just a short walk away from the hotel and the cabins.

As lions may be hard to see during your safari, you may see lions in all sizes at the Lion park, and even play with them, and touch them. I did not see any lion during my safari, so I found a visit here much amusing.

Here you find a bar to cool you down in the heat and a nice gift-shop for that little extra retail therapy.

I will also write more on the lion park later.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The sights of the Hamar Area


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Here you find a collection of links to articles on Enjoy Food & Travel to food stories, restaurants, and sights in the Hamar area

Food Stories:
Knutstad & Holen - A culinary oasis, Hamar

Hotels:
Bjerke Gård, Lillehammer (January 13th 2008)

Restaurants:
Alanya Restaurant, Hamar (January 3rd 2007)

Sights:
Birth Place of Edvard Munch, Løten
Bishop's fortress, Hamar
Grave of Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken, Løten
Hamar medieval cathedral, Hamar
Løten old church, Løten
St Mikaels church, Rokoberget
Stange Church, Stange

Hedmark Folkemuseum



















Hedmark Folkemuseum was founded in 1906, just one year after Norway became an independent state. It is located at Domkirkeodden, close to what is left of the Hamar cathedral and the bishops fortress. Today you can wander around admiring buildings from the two only counties with no coastline, Hedmark and Oppland county.

Main building Grimsrud, Helgøya

This farm building built in solid wood, comes from Grimsrud farm located at Helgøya, the largest island in Mjøsa, Norways largest lake.

It is built in 1775, and was bought in 1905 from Nils Vien and was rebuilt in 1906 as the first building on the museum.



Building from Skråstad Nedre

This building comes from Vang, close to the city of Hamar. It was bought from Kristoffer Skråstad in 1913 and rebuilt on the museum 1913-1914.

The building from Skråstad Nedre is one of the oldest at the museum, built around 1600.


Storage house from Løken in Stange

This magnificent building was a gift from Hans Ree and was rebuilt at the museum in 1909.

It comes from the bourough of Stange, south of Hamar and dates back to 1778. There were many houses like this on the old farms, and luckily many are preserved.


Store Hubred in Vang

This large building is also from the area around Hamar. It was bought from Johan Hubred in 1909 and rebuilt 1912-1913.

The oldest part of the building dates back to 1746 but has been extended during the years.



Hamar Katedralskole

The school connected to Hamar cathedral was built south of the church on this location in 1153, and was closely connected to the ecclesiastic buildings at Domkirkeodden.

After the cathedral was burned down and abandoned it was transferred to the church at Vang in 1584.

On this site you found the main building of Storhamar farm here, and the large barn on the farm was rebuilt partly on the remains of the archbishops palace and from stones from the cathedral.

The intriguing thing is that below the surface you may still find the medieval vaulted cellars of the school. Here you are on truly historic grounds.





Affordable and formidable - Stormy Cape Shiraz 2006

I have to admit - I visit the South Africa shelves more often after my visit there in October. Increasingly I leave the Italian and French wines alone and head for wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and South Africa. These countries provide better quality to a much lower price. Stormy Cape Shiraz 2006 is a good example for this. Affordable and great quality!

The Stormy Cape range of wines was created by Gyles Webb, one of South Africa's leading winemakers, and one of the owners of Thelema Mountain Vineyards, in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape region, the heart of the South African wine country. It has a high alcohol level (14%) and stored for 18 months in oak caskets.

You can get a Stormy Cape Shiraz 2006 for around NOK 100 (€12), and if you see a bottle, buy it! It has a deep red colour, and when the wine touch your pallet, you are lost for words. Stormy Cape Shiraz 2006 is a surprisingly rich wine, with an intense aroma of red berries, caramel, and vanilla. This is a richness that you rarely find in wines in this price range. Excellent for red meats and game.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cole House - a cyber story















Running a website is not a solitary work. It gives you the possibility to share with the world what you experience, and occasionally some of you respond. Last year I got a mail from Lee Nicholls, the proprietor of Cole House in North Carolina, and we connected. The connection was food, as he is a passionate owner of a first class restaurant in the Appalachian Mountains.

The connection was not completely coincidental. Lees son is hiding under the pseudonym Balzac and the mind behind the blog that is not a blog - Ceci n'est pas un blog. Balzac has worked with my brilliant nephew Hans Ørnes in a renowned Norwegian Software company.

Lee has done, what I would have loved to do, to start doing what you like the most. I would have loved to start my own place, but it is so easy to get complacent, when you receive your salary on a regular basis. But there is so much death in complacency.

The only time I have visited the state of North Carolina was a day in February 1988, as I changed plane at Charlotte International Airport on my way to Orlando in Florida to visit my cousin, then a residence of Sebastian Fla. As I am in the United States at least once a year, I would love to travel to the Appalachian to eat and review Cole House. Well I am planning to leave for the US in April, so who knows?

Cole House have launched a completely new and delicious website. Here you may see what is under offer, how to get there, and where you even may learn from Lee how to make chocolate risotto, an intriguing dish.

Address:

The Cole House
1219 Main Street, Andrews, NC 28901
Phone: 1-828-321-0874
E-mail: eat@cole-house.com
Website: http://www.cole-house.com/index.aspx

A journey through the polar night




















My brother lives north of the polar circle. This means that the sun never sets from mid May to the end of July, and that the sun does not rise over the horizon from the end of November to mid January. It is strange to experience both periods, as the light mysteriously affects the natural environment. During summer there is an intense activity around the hour, whereas during winter it quiet during the short dusk and long hours of darkness. This is where I traveled for Christmas in 2007. I will tell you how to get there, and what to see on your way.

How to get there

There are two options to get to Vesterålen by plane. Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scandinavian Airlines have several daily services from Oslo Airport to Harstad/Narvik Airport, Evenes, serving the cities of Harstad and Narvik.

You may also travel to Bodø airport and change for a direct service to Stokmarknes Airport, Skagen, operated by Widerøe.

The easiest way to travel from the airport to your destination is by bus. You may travel by an airport shuttle bus from the airport to Sortland.

The bus will take you over the impressive bridge over Tjeldsundet to Lødingen. Then from Lødingen over Norways largest island, Hinnøya to Sortland. The distance covered is around 100 kilometers (65 miles) and it takes around 2 hours.

A word of advice. When you embark, ask for a round trip ticket. It will save you 50% on the return ticket. Current price for a round-trip ticket is NOK 330 (€41). One way you pay NOK 220 (€28).

Tjeldsundbrua and Tjeldsundet

Leaving the airport, you pass the community of Evenes, climbing a small hill and travel towards Tjeldsundet, separating Hinnøya from the mainland. On the mainland you find the community of Skånland. Then you travel on towards the crossing point, the impressive bridge over Tjeldsundet. Here you find Tjeldsundbrua Kro & Hotell, where you may book a room for the night or one of the fishermans cabins with the waterway as your nearest neighbour.

You have a spectacular view from the bridge in nice weather. South you can see much of Tjeldsundet itself and you may enjoy a short glimps of many of the small and larger islands north of Hinnøya.

Sandtorg

As you travel northbound you reach the community of Sandtorg, a trading community going back to the early 13th century. Here you find the impressive Sandtorgholmen Hotell, located on an an old trading point going as far back as 1557.

The oldest building today is the storing house (Stabburet), dating back to around 1750. Here you may book you own private suite and have no neighbours.

Bårdstuen used to be servants quarters and dates back to the mid 19th century.

The impressive main building is built in 1910 in Swiss chalet style, very popular in Norway at the turn of the last century. It has the most exquisite interior from the same period. I have heard the the kitchen at the hotel and the wine cellar are very impressive. You may book a room on the hotel website.

From Lødingen to Sigerfjorden

From Sandtorg you travel through the small community of Kongsvik. Here the mountains tower up to 1000 meters (3000 ft) over Tjeldsundet.

Lødingen is the main centre of the borough with the same name. This is a small fishing community, and from here the ferry M/F Tysfjord may bring up to 104 cars and 339 passenger over Tjeldsundet to Bogenes on the mainland. This crossing will take you an hour. See schedules here.

As you leave Lødingen you travel up the curvy and steep hill towards Kåringen, where you have camping facilities and a cafe by two beautiful small lakes. You travel on to Kanstadfjorden, that with the closely located Gullesfjorden nearly splits Hinnøya in two.

Near Kanstadbotn, the E10 splits in two. From here you may drive out to Lofoten along what is known as the Lofast connection, a new road with tunnels linking the archipelago to Hinnøya. The E10 ends on the other end in Luleå in Sweden.

Then you drive along Gullesfjord, past the small communities of Våtvoll and Bømark, until you reach Langvassbukt, where the road split again. One road goes to Flesnes where you have a ferry over to Kvæfjord. We turn towards the largest city in Vesterålen, Sortland.

Sortland and Stokmarknes

As you pass through from Langvassbukt through tunnels and a narrow valley, you enter the outer part of Hinnøya. Here you find the twin cities of Stokmarknes and Sortland. These communities are growing quickly and the boroughs of Hadsel and Sortland combined have today a population of a little under 18000. Here you find a local hospital, Skagen, the busiest small airport in Norway, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, and much more. My brother lives at Rise, a small community mid between these cities, and I was going to stay there for christmas.

You pass the small community of Sigerfjord, before crossing the impressive bridge over Sortland- sundet, separating Hinnøya and Langøya.

From Sortland you have many options if you would like to experience the nature, flora, and fauna of the Vesterålen archipelago. The twin communities are ideal, as here you have what you need in the urban community and a short distance to the most breathtaking natural wonders.

For your help I have mad a map of this journey and the area. Visiting Vesterålen is highly recommendable, and you may admire the mysterious blue light during winter. I did!


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