Saturday, March 29, 2008

Introducing - Meatloaf Rossini

Introducing - Meatloaf Rossini, a new culinary invention. Why Rossini? Italian composer, nice name and the filling has two very Italian ingredients. Ground, well seasoned beef filled with a rich mousse made from ricotta, parmeggiano, and salami. Yum!!

You need the following ingredients for a meatloaf Rossini for six people.

600 grams / 1 1/2 lb) lean ground beef
Seasoning (I used McCormicks Bag'n Season, but use what you like)
2 slices of bread, crumbed
1 egg
250 grams / 10 oz ricotta cheese
75 grams / 3 oz parmeggiano, diced
50 grams salami (I used a spicy Spanish chorizo), diced

Start by preparing the ingredients. Use your food processor, as the ingredients must be worked into a very fine mousse, and this is difficult to achieve using your hands.

Pour diced parmeggiano into your food processor and process until the cheese is finely chopped. Then add salami and mix the two ingredients well. Add the ricotta cheese and pepper and let the processor work the ingredients into a very fine mousse. Add more seasoning if needed. This mix can also be used as a delicious dip for vegetables or potato chips.

Clean out the food processor, as now we are preparing it for the meatloaf mix. I had to prepare the meatloaf in two batches as my processor could not work all the meat at the same time.

Whisk the egg and prepare the seasoning. Add half the bread crumbs to the food processor, cut it finely. Then add seasoning, half the egg and half the ground beef and blend thoroughly. Do the same with the second batch.

Roll out a sheet of cling film and add olive oil. Put the meat loaf mix on the sheet and press it into a flat square.

Then comes the fun part. Take the ricotta mix and spread on the meatloaf. Do not add mix out to the edges in order to seal the cheese inside the meatloaf.

Then fold the meatloaf mix over the cheese and make the meat loaf. Seal properly to keep the cheese inside and place the loaf in a baking tray.

I used a large baking tray, and to make it all easier I added diced vegetables on the other half of the tray and seasoned well and poured a little olive olive oil. In this way you make dinner in one operation.

Place in a medium hot oven (200C / 400F) for 45 minutes. Serve with you favourite gravy, I made a mushroom stew with cream.

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Thank God It's Friday - Duck!

Yesterday I had dinner guests and I served my favourite - roast duck. I towered the duck slices up in this impressive presentation. Swiss rösti-potatoes as a base of it all, topped with deliciously pink duck lined with tasty crispy skin. Then I stacked up oven baked asparagus tops making it all into a tent shape. Then I poured a delicious creamed mushroom stew on top. De-li-ci-ous!!

I have already told you how to prepare the ultimate duck breast, so I will not go into detail on how I prepared this. I did however enjoy some other interesting things yesterday evening and we tasted two very good red wines.

Sturgeon terrine with seaweed from Bretagne

I bought the little glass of sturgeon terrine at Caviar House & Prunier at Copenhagen airport when visiting the Danish capital with my pal Ketil a month ago. This is as close I will come to real caviar, as most species of sturgeon are under threat, especially those harvested for their caviar.

At least this terrine comes from a different species than the one currently exploited for their roe. It is made from Siberian sturgeon (acipenser baerii) (62,5 %), seaweed from Bretagne (10%), the rest is bread, olive oil and salt.

It is manufactured by the French firm Sturia that specialize in products made from farmed sturgeon including a special range of caviar. The terrine had nice chunks of fish with a meaty texture, but it tasted definitely fish, enhanced by what I think was the seaweed. It was delicious, but it is difficult to describe the taste.

And how to serve it. I served it on Ciappe, an Italian specialty, wheat crackers made with 15% olive oil and chives.

A lazy chocolate mousse

Fridays you are in for easy solutions, particularly desserts. Yesterday I bought this extravagantly expensive cups of chocolate filled up with chocolate mousse and a rhipsalis berry strategically located on top.

Price - NOK 70 (€10) for two!!!

Chocolate mousse is extremely easy to make, but you make a lot of mess! I gave in to this mess less temptation, in spite of the scandalous price. And it was wicked!!

Domaine André Brunel Cuvée Sommelongue 2006

This Côtes du Rhône is produced from grapes from the vineyard Sommelongue, north of the cities Châteauneuf-Du-Pape and Orange. It is a blend of 85% grenache and 15% syrah and mourvèdre grapes.

It is a relatively expensive wine (NOK 140 / € 17,50), but it is absolutely worth its a price. A wonderful ruby colour, aromas of blackberries and crow berries, thyme, and heather.

Castro Bergidum Mencia 2006

This red wine is made from 100% mencia grapes, and originates from El Bierzo, a region in the Léon province in north western Spain.

It was a good wine, but did not match the level of the Côtes de Rhône. Dark red colour, aromas of red berries and spices with hints of licorice and balsam.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brunch at Cafe Stella

Being up at 4.30 AM, departure at 7.15, arriving in Copenhagen at 8.05 - without proper food. Hunger... This meant late breakfast or early lunch - add them together and you get Brunch, at Cafe Stella. Not the worst place to start a five day vacation in Copenhagen.

We had placed our luggage at Hotel Sct Thomas, took the 25 minute walk into the city centre, and started to look for a good place to get some grub. Cafe Stella is located in Kompagnistræde, a narrow street close to Strøget, the famous pedestrian shopping street crossing the city centre.

We were tempted by Stella's lunch at DKK 85. What did you get for this symbolic sum? A large brunch plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, small sausages, Spanish chorizo, brie, tuna salad, cheese, jam, yogurt with muesli, and finally pancakes with maple syrup. Two slices of Danish rye bread and a focaccia. I ordered a caffe latte and a large glass of orange juice (not included).

If that isn't a breakfast for champions, what is.....?

It was a terrific brunch and all on this smorgasbord tasted great. In fact there was so much, I did not manage to eat the pancakes - or to be quite honest, I did not really care, as it would have been too much.

Breakfast at Stella is highly recommended. This is a substantial meal that will keep you going for hours, time you may use on some retail therapy, or just roam around in cool Copenhagen.


Cafe Stella
Kompagnistræde 15, 1208 København
Phone +45 33 15 19 00

Monday, March 24, 2008

Style on 32nd floor in NYC

I am sad to say that the times of the hotel bargains in the US is over. Until 2003 it was possible to get the most sensational bargains on the net, but as the American economy has heated up, or over heated, the prices of accommodation in the United States have skyrocketed. In 2003 and 2004 I had two stays in the Big Apple with hotel rooms to die for, at affordable prices.

In September 2003 I visited New York City. I had booked two nights at Helmsley Park Hotel, at 36 Central Park South via the German hotel reservation site This luxurious hotel is located on the southern end of Central Park with New York Plaza on the right and the Ritz-Carlton on the left.

Even then I knew what bargain this was. USD 150 per night, was dead cheap, even then, but I held my expectations back and waited to be placed in their smallest room. I had kept my reservation secret for Laila, my traveling buddy for the same reason, not to disappoint her.

Helmsley Park Lane Hotel is the most exclusive hotel experience in my long life as a traveler. The lobby with deep soft carpets and huge flower arrangements set the tone. We were offered a Deluxe City view room located on the 32nd floor. These are described as "luxurious and spacious" on approx 250 sq ft". It had two separate, huge rococo style beds with matching furniture a beautiful luxurious bathroom, and a view to die for - overlooking the high rise buildings on the Upper West side.

These rooms also offer two two-line phone systems with data capabilities, voice-mail and bathroom extensions. High speed internet access, television. iron/ironing board, vanity mirror and hair dryer in each bathroom, nightly turn-down service.

Sadly these rooms are now out of reach for most of us. My favourite hotel website does not offer hotel reservation on US hotels any more. In 2006 the average price for a hotel room in Manhattan reached USD 304, expected to rise in 2007.

Rooms at Helmsley Park Lane Hotel from September 10th to September 14th 2008 would cost you from USD 605 for a city view room with a queens size bed to USD 745 for a room with two beds with overlooking Central Park. Our room would cost us USD 705 in 2008, USD 3000 incl. taxes for 4 nights.

The room we stayed in, is certainly not worth the price charged today. We were however lucky to experience a stay at Helmsley Park Lane Hotel without using all our budget on accommodation.

Revisiting Hotel Sct. Thomas

It is not often you are staying in the same hotel 4 weeks apart. I stayed at Hotel Sct. Thomas in February, and I did not like it then. Returning to Copenhagen I asked myself whether I would change my mind and get a more favorable opinion on the hotel.

The good thing this Easter was that we were traveling as a group and could get their opinion as well. This may give you a correction on the hotel. Their opinion did, however not deviate much from mine. Shortly - Hotel Sct. Thomas is cheap, but its price reflects the general price level for a hotel in Copenhagen. The Danish capital is an expensive place to stay. As a comparison, I paid a little more for a luxury experience at Hotel Park Inn Alexanderplatz in Berlin.

Here are a few highlights from Hotel Sct. Thomas:

  • I stayed in my old room, 101, located just over the main entrance. I woke up every time someone came in. The room was still extremely small, and I used every logistic skill to get comfortably organized.
  • You were given your own key, as the reception close at 9 PM, meaning there are no staff in charge in the hotel during the night. I do not know what would happen in an emergency e.g. during a fire, but leaving the guests to fend for themselves in such a situation is highly irresponsible.
  • I found the electrical wiring looked old and suspicious.
  • Three of us decided to share a family room with three beds. They got only one key to share among them leaving them with little flexibility. As one wanted to party through the night and the two others went back early that meant that one had to go down to main entrance to lock the happy camper in as he returned.
  • Two of fellow travelers experienced that the door opened into the tiny bathroom, making it extremely difficult for them to get in and out.
So sadly, I cannot say that I have changed my opinion on the hotel. DKK 595 is expensive, but this is what you get in Copenhagen.

Sterling - a Danish budget airline

We had booked a round trip ticket from Oslo to Copenhagen with Sterling, the Danish budget air carrier, leaving Oslo 7.15 AM Wednesday 19th, returning Sunday March 23rd 3.15 PM. Low price, good punctuality, but you travel in discomfort. This is what you get by choosing Sterling.

Punctuality: BBBBB

Leaving at 7.15 AM means that you will be up by dawn, getting out to the airport, and as you arrive the only thing you want is to leave on time for your destination. I am glad to say that both check-in, boarding and departure from Oslo were smooth. Same experience on our way back, leaving Copenhagen 3.15 sharp and arriving Oslo airport on time.

Read how check-in at Oslo airport may be at its worst.

Price: BBBB

We paid a low fare of around € 65 for a round trip, all included. A strong price and you get much for your money. This good score is due to the low duration of the trip, as muck lacked in flight comfort.

Booking with Sterling gives you a few surprises - read more here.

Comfort: BB+

I was very happy that I was not out for a long trip, as flying with Sterling was an agonizing experience. The seats looked wider than they were, and both knees were firmly planted in the back of the seat in front of me. The lack of leg space meant that the kid in the seat behind me, managed to kick me in the back twice. Fun for him, not me!

Read more on leg space on budget airlines here

Food & wine: N/A

Food and wine was not included in the price. We had a decent breakfast before we left and were to enjoy a great brunch at Stella's in Copenhagen. No food - no rating!

Rating the Sterling experience: BBBB-

Sterling offered a good price for our round trip ticked to Copenhagen. If you may travel out of season and on weekdays you may get equally good prices elsewhere, but Sterling does not necessarily offer good prices when most of us may travel. Good punctuality, but I am very happy that I was on board for an hour, as Sterling does not offer much flight comfort.

An Early Easter in Copenhagen

Wednesday, March 19th, I left for a short Easter vacation in Copenhagen. As Easter is at its earliest this year, visiting the Danish capital was a cold experience. We were met by fresh snow, as we landed at Kastrup international airport.

What did we do? We visited Statens museum for kunst, and admired a works by Cranach, Rembrandt, and Hals. We revisited Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek to see its French collection including works from Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, De Toulouse-Lautrec, and Matisse.

Copenhagen is an old city, and I walked its street in freezing winds, finding a few interesting sights. Copenhagen is a food Mecca. We indulged in large open sandwiches, brunch plates, and found another great Italian restaurant. I waited in vain for a pizza that never arrived. What to do in such a situation? Stay tuned and I'll tell you.