Saturday, February 23, 2008

Shopping in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a great place to shop, but be aware that you may pay much for the exclusive Scandinavian design you are looking for. Most of the tourists are trapped in Strøget, the famous pedestrian precinct stretching from Kongens Nytorv to Rådhuspladsen. Let me take you through what you may find on your way here.

Magasin du Nord

Magasin du Nord is the old department store by Kongens Nytorv. Standing outside, you get some of the same feeling as you get standing in front of Harrods in Knightsbridge, in a different scale than in London, of course.

Magasin du Nord offers the latest in Scandinavian and International trend & fashion in clothes, furniture, kitchen appliances, and has a great food & wine department.

It's Gucci, sweetie - darling!

In the area around Magasin du Nord you find places that seriously will make your credit card scream. As Gucci in Østergade 46, for example. An hours shopping here, will set you back thousands of Danish kroner.

In Østregade 16, you find Louis Vuitton, a total rip-off for those in quest of a new bag.

That does not mean that there are only expensive places to shop in lower part of Strøget. In Østregade, close to Kongens Nytorv there is a shop selling shoes, where you can get the smartest Italian shoes at a very low price.

Amber - the Danish Jewel

Amber is the Danish jewel. Along the miles of beautiful beaches, you find these lumps of resin, millions of years old trapping ancient lives as small leaves and insects.

Along Strøget you find a great number of shops selling amber in all shapes, sizes, and prices. I bought an amber pendant for DKK 350 (€45) at the House of Amber. A good idea as a gift for your girlfriend.

Coffee at Illum

Illum is the second large department store in Copenhagen. It covers a whole block, between Østergade and Silkegade. This is a marble palace where you can get all you may desire. All in designer clothes, furnitures, lamps, and of course food. There is one thing I love to do, while being at Illums. That is to sit down in the café facing Østergade, ordering coffee and a Danish pastry. Then just sit there, in pure Danish interior design, and watch people walk by.

Above is a small film clip from one of the large atriums at Illums. Enjoy!


Open Sandwiches is the ultimate Danish treat. If you are there, remember to find a place that serves these specialties.

I was intrigued by the shops that sells these to take home with you. Here you see a tray with fried plaice fillets served with sauce remoulade.


In the streets around Amagertorv, you find many exclusive shops selling antoque forniture, china, and paintings. As this shop, Carré of Copenhagen, found in Lederstræde, not far from Christiansborg Palace.

A good idea, is to buy pieces of old silver tableware, on display in another of the shops I saw in Lederstræde.

Antiques is, however, expensive to buy, but it is intriguing to take home a piece of Danish history as a memory of your stay in the Danish capital.

More shopping in Copenhagen here on Enjoy Food & Travel?

See: Copenhagen - a shopping paradise (January 31st, 2007)

One good, and one bad idea!

I am a fan of BBC Food. I call it my porn channel. Often I grasp ideas from the chefs on how to make things easier and smarter, and use them with a twist. I have, lately, tried two ideas from two BBC Food cooks. One worked well, the other was a disaster. The successful idea was conceived by Chef at Large, Michael Smith, the disastrous idea came from James "can cook" Reese.

Small taco tartelettes

These crispy taco discs to your tapas table was dead easy to make. You just need flour tortillas. I had two packets, one plain and one with Mexican seasoning and jalapeno. Find a cup with a diameter of 10 centimeters / 4 inches. Place on tortilla, cut around to create round discs. You will get three tartelettes out of each tortilla.

Brush the discs with olive oil on both sides, make a small incision. Place discs in a muffin tray and form them into small tartelettes. Bake in a hot oven (200C / 400F) until crisp.

Fill the ready made tartelettes with tapenade or as I did, with a spicy tuna mousse. A successful idea from Michael Smith. Thank you!!

Wanton skins for easy ravioli - a bad idea?

Mushroom & Leek Ravioli
by James "can cook" Reese, is meant to be an easy way to make ravioli. James Reese substitutes the pasta dough with ready made wanton sheets. I decided to try his recipe at home, and I am sorry to say that I failed.

I have James on BBC food and he makes the ravioli from wanton skins, all right and it works for him. My frozen "Spring Home" TYJ Spring Roll pastry did not work, and I have also tried the frozen wanton variety. The problem is that the sheets are too thin. The raviolis get soggy and many of them burst and the filling floats into the water.

Maybe some of you may tell me what works, and what doesn't. Here James can cook, I can't.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flight news

As air traffic hits the roof, competition is getting harder. Here are a few pieces of air travel news cut from the Norwegian press.

NORWAY: Non-stop flights from Bergen to Tokyo this summer

Japanese tourists may avoid overcrowded airports on their way to Norway this summer. Scandinavian Airlines has, in cooperation with Japanese tourist agencies launched 5 non-stop flights from Tokyo to Bergen International Airport, Flesland this summer. Only around 20 seats are left on the Airbus A330/A340 airplanes that will operate these flights. (Source VG / SAS Inside)

UNITED KINGDOM: Heathrows reputation as hell-hole strengthens as it shows most delays in 2007

I have previously declared Heathrow Airport the ultimate hell hole among airports. To the words overcrowded, long lines, too big, may now be added - delays. The recently published statistics from the IATA, proves it to be the worst airport in the world in punctuality. In fact more than one third of the flights to and from Heathrow are more than 15 minutes delayed, and the average delay is in fact over 35 minutes. This gives travellers using Heathrow a transit problem – how to reach their flights, especially if you need to change terminal.

So if you are going to the US - do as I do, travel Icelandair! (Source Aftenposten)

NORWAY: Tickets cheaper than airport parking

The Norwegian airports experience a travelling bonanza, as budget airlines offer tickets at low prices. Parking expenses at the airports may, however, be higher than the price of your low price ticket. The Norwegian paper Dagbladet found that. A weeks indoor parking at Oslo airport may cost you up to EUR 125, and leaving your car outside will cost you up to 110 EUR. The prices do vary, especially on the outdoor parking, so you better check before you pay up.

The prices at the new Rygge airport and the Ryanair hub, Torp Airport are much lower. Here you may get parking for around EUR50 for a week. (Source: Dagbladet)

NORWAY: Leg space new battleground for charter airlines

Sitting ten hours from London to Johannesburg with no leg space is hell on earth. As the attractive and increasingly demanding Norwegian charter tourist travels further and further away to experience sun, sand, and sea, the pressure on the charter air carriers are growing.

Last year the operator Star Tour launched a campaign, guaranteeing 84 centimetre leg space on all long-distance flights. Its rival, Ving, has now answered by declaring its own campaign. Two of its Airbus A330-200 will now be modified, providing the long-distance traveller leg space from 84 to 89 centimetres.

These planes will bring travellers with comfort to destinations as Florida, Thailand, as well as The Canary Islands. (Source: Aftenposten)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A gift to eat? Why not!

Wonder whether your friend have a certain book, or has a kitchen full of gadgets that are never used? Buying a gift for someone like me, over 40, that has everything and certainly not needs more is such a pain. Here is a good idea for you. Buy a box full of goodies to the food lover, or a good wine! I love edible gifts!

A smart gift!

I had my former colleagues at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority for a tapas meal last Friday, and they knew what to buy for a hungry man - a gift packet from Oliviers & Co, shops selling olive oils and Mediterranean specialties. You are easily trapped at Oliviers & Co, as you wonder among delicacies within your reach.

Shops as Oliviers & Co have ready-made gift packets or they are happy to make a gift box just for you, so here may be a solution for those of you in need of a good idea for a present.

What was in my gift box? Here are the exclusive ingredients?

Semi-dried tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes is a great ingredient with many uses. You can make red pesto, you can mix these tomatoes that have an intense concentrated flavor, are delicious in tomato sauces.

These tomatoes are semi-dried, i.e. they are also easier to eat as they are, as a snack. Then soak them in olive oil or as a garnish on cold food. The fully dried tomatoes are harder and some of them contain too much salt to be eaten as they are.

The tomatoes are produced in Tunisia for Oliviers & Co.

Cracked Green Olives from Baux-de-Provence Valley

These French Olives are no ordinary olives. No, they have their own Appellation Controllé.

This guarantees that they come from nowhere else, than this, for me totally unknown French valley, but it works for the French. These controlled designations are particularly successful in French wine productions. So, it will be interesting to compare to these olives to their Greek, Italian or Spanish cousins.
Tournore d'Olives Noires au Poivre Muntock

My first question is; where is Muntock, and what makes it so special? Nothing to find in wikipedia, but the
website of Jacksonville Mercantile you get this explanation:

"Hand-Picked Muntock White Peppercorn is grown in the hills behind the village of Muntock, on the Indonesian island of Bangka. Pepper farmers climb traditional bamboo tripods and hand pick fruit spikes of red pepper berries."

Interesting! I need to do some research on how to use it.

Tapenade with black olives and tomatoes

In this smart little jar with O & Co logo visible, you find a tapenade. I have no admit that I have not used tapenade before, but my immediate idea is to use this paste on toast with garlic and olive oil.

The combination of olives and tomatoes is also perfect in a rich tomato sauce, so this is another possible use.

I'll keep you posted!

Ciappe - An Italian Specialty

Here is another new, and for me unknown, Italian Specialty. Wheat crackers with 15% olive oil and chives.

Enjoyed with some cheese, or maybe with some of the tapenade with olives and tomatoes. And with a generous glass of red wine.

To be saved for romantic occasion, or a good selection of cheese after a good meal.

And roses........

In addition to the edible gift, I got a bouquet of beautiful white roses.

I would like to thank my former colleagues for the great gift that will be enjoyed, little by little.

On Oliviers & Co

See the Oliviers & Co Official Website

Shops in Norway:

CC Vest: Lilleakerveien 16, 0283 Oslo
Majorstuen: Dronningsgate 7, 0355 Oslo
Sandvika Storsenter: Brodtkorpsgate 7, 1338 Sandvika
Stavanger: Breigate 25, 4006 Stavanger

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gramadoelas - eclectic and elegant

Gramadoelas was the last place we ate in South Africa and definitely the classiest! The food was awesome, the interior was breathtaking. Gramadoelas has been host to royals, as well as presidents and cultural celebrities, but in spite of this, the price for an exclusive dinner here will not break your back.

Location BBBBB

Gramadoelas is located in Newtown, on the corner of Bree street and Wolhuter street in Downtown Johannesburg. This is an area in rapid change, centred around the Museum of Africa and the Workers Library and Museum.

Atmosphere: BBBBB

Entering Gramadoelas is a breathtaking experience. The rooms are dark and mysterious, held in ochre, and dark brown, with cream coloured marble columns.

And the interior - old furniture, china, large paintings, objects in copper and silver, and hunting trophies. A wonderful, eclectic mix!!!

As I was there the tables had dark blue table clothes, white napkins, white china, and wine glasses.


Prices: BBBBB

We chose from the á la carte menu, but Gramadoelas offers a great number of different menus.

Soups, salads, and light entrees for 25-55 ZAR, main courses from 60-100 ZAR, and desserts from 15-25 ZAR.

If you would like to really have a treat, choose Prawns Mozambique 1/2 kilo (Kings) peri-peri, garlic and lemon butter. Price? ZAR 225,95 - hardly expensive for the best food on the menu.

Service: BBBBB-

Good service from a professional staff, dressed in black trousers and waistcoats, bright white shirts and a black beau tie. Very elegant.

The food was brought to the table with no unnecessary delay, and they gave good advice on what to order.

The menu, however, was as eclectic as the interior, and the meaning behind dishes as UMNQUSHO BRAISED BEEF SHIN, BEANS & MAIZE, or SNOEKPAAI (PIE) WITH CHEDDAR TOPPING was not easy to grasp.

But I did not care, as the food came to the table.

Food: BBBBB-


The Rock Lobster Soup had the most beautiful red colour, the creamiest consistency, and the taste......

The taste of fresh lobsters is mild and sweet, as well as the rich salty aromas of the deep sea. This soup carried the same subtle aromas fully. Thank God for the Cape Lobster!!

After the Lobster Soup my expectations to the Moroccan chicken grew. The chicken had some of the features of the traditional Moroccan cuisine. The thin pastry with icing sugar. The preserved lemon.

The chicken tasted great, but it did not fully meet my expectations. I found that the spices used was not used in quantities necessary to create the contrast between the savory and the sweet. I also found the pastry not crisp enough.

Rating the Gramadoelas experience: BBBBB (4,91 points)

An eclectic, exotic, elegant, exclusive experience in Johannesburg

Restaurant Gramadoelas
Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg
Phone: +27 11 838 6960

PS: The Restaurant website has its own recipe collection - an ideal inspiration for international cooking.

More restaurants?

See other restaurants visited in 2008 here

See restaurant ratings on Enjoy Food & Travel from 2006-2007 here

See unrated restaurants on Enjoy Food & Travel from 2006-2007 here

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A world-wide brotherhood

I am proud to be a Freemason, a world wide brotherhood, with roots going back 400 years in time. The first lodges met in taverns and inns, and as the brotherhood grew in size and importance, the first masonic temples were built. In Scandinavia, Iceland, the UK and America the freemasons have built large wonderful buildings. I always try to find a masonic building as I travel, and here are a few from different countries.

The masonic temple in Oslo

Stamhuset is the larges masonic building in Norway and headquarter of Norwegian freemasonry. It is located by Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament, close to Karl Johans gate, Oslos main street.

Besides the Royal Palace and a few other buildings, it is one of the largest and stately buildings in the Norwegian capital. It was built in the late 19th century. It replaced the old lodge building by Akershus fortress.

Stamhuset is the home of the oldest lodge in Norway, St. Olaus til den Hvide Leopard (Saint Olav to the white leopard), dating back to 1749.

The home of the Grande Lodge of England

A few years ago, I visited London, and during a day off, I decided to find the home of the United Grand Lodge of England.

It was June 24th 1717, on the day dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, that four lodges met in Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s churchyard and formed the Grand Lodge of England.

There is a long way from the humble Ale house to this magnificent head quarter of British freemasonry. I left the underground at Covent Garden, and found it in 60 Great Queen St, nearby.

The Lodge building in Hamar

There are freemasons everywhere, in London as well as Hamar, where you find this masonic building.

Last Saturday I went to enjoy waffles and coffee served every Saturday from 12 AM to 2 PM. I was taken there by two fellow masons from Hamar, and I was shown the wonderful banquet room.

So if you want to enjoy coffee in a masonic lodge, you know where to go.

A truly world wide movement

When I say that the freemasons belong to a world wide community, here is the best example. A Chinese Masonic Temple in the United States.

As I walked by shops selling crispy duck, Chinese medical remedies, and dim sum parlour, I found the entrance of this Chinese Lodge, right opposite to my favourite Chinese restaurant in Boston, the Pearl of China.

Here you do not find the magnificent domes, columns and ornaments of European masonic temples. Here you just enter this gate and the Lodge is located on the 3rd floor.

The Lodge at Fredriksberg - Copenhagen

As I arrived at Hotel Sct. Thomas, what did I get as the nearest neighbor - you guessed a building belonging to the local St. Andreas Lodge. This is certainly not the main headquarter of the Danish Freemasons, as the masonic movement are as strong here as in Norway and Sweden, and this building certainly belongs to one of the smaller lodges in the Copenhagen area.

America - a Masonic Heartland

America is certainly a Masonic heartland. Freemasons were among the heroes from the American Revolution.

John Hancock and Paul Revere were in the forefront of the Boston Tea Party. Several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were masons, as well as the first American president George Washington.

The headquarter of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is located by Boston Common and the lodge goes as far back as 1733, 16 years before the first lodge was founded in Norway.

More on freemasons here

Paul Revere was a freemason, and his house is the oldest building in Boston and is now a museum. Read more here

The freemasons assembled at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston before the revolution. Read more on the Green Dragon here.

Parmigiano Crisps

This is an easy alternative to potato chips or crackers. These parmigiano crisps are extremely easy to make, and can be eaten as they are or can be enjoyed to soups. You can mix in different tastes, but avoid using spices with salt, as the cheese is very salt in itself. I used Provence herbs.

Take 100 grams of parmigiano cheese, grate the cheese finely. Cover an oven tray with baking paper. Make small round heaps of grated cheese, add a little flour to each, and then some Provence herbs. You can use a little chili, pepper, or other seasonings.

Then place tray in a hot oven (200C / 400F), and allow the cheese to melt. Remove the crisps and place over a bottle or rolling pin to make them curvy.