Thursday, April 03, 2008

Splendour through 3 centuries – Frogner Hovedgård

When you enter the Vigeland Sculpture park you are in the grounds of the old manor house at Frogner. Today this is one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in downtown Oslo, but when the current buildings were built 250 years ago, this was countryside. The manor, as you see it today goes back to the late 18th, early 19th century.

Frogner was one of the first farms to be settled in this area, and one of the largest. Its estate included much of the area visible from the farm, the current city area and Frognerseteren located on one of the highest hills in the Oslo area, close to the Holmenkollen ski jump complex. During Medieval times it belonged to the monastery at Hovedøya in the Oslo fjord, founded by the Cistercian Order in 1147. When Denmark-Norway adopted the new Lutheran religion in 1532 it was taken over by the king. During the chaotic 17th century, the King og Denmark-Norway lent money from the Dutch born Postmaster General Selius Marselis. As the king never paid back, Marselis kept the manor.

Until 1750 Frogner was a working farm. From then, it changed into a summer residence for members of the Norwegian social elite. In the mid 18th century Hans Jørgen Scheel changed the buildings into a Danish style manor house, and when the wealthy Bernt Anker bought Frogner Hovedgård in 1790 he gave the buildings the appearance they have today. A main half-timbered building with an enclosed courtyard. The industrialist Benjamin Wegner rebuilt some of the complex and added the tower.

The city of Kristiania took over the manor in 1896, and now it house the collections of city museum of Oslo. These collections are worthwhile seeing, and if you are hungry you may sit down in the little café, open from 11AM til 4 PM, or take a pint or two in the shade of the large trees at Herregårdskroen, a nice waterhole connected to the manor.

Stortorvets Gjestgiveri revisited

I have previously described Stortorvets Gjestgiveri as: "their food", as "rather mediochre. Once again it is sad to say that atmosphere you find in this beautiful old house is not strengthened by its kitchen. So, once again, enjoy a beer or wine in the old interior or the beautiful courtyard, and eat somewhere else.” After a visit yesterday I am happy to say that this is not the case anymore. They serve great food!!!

Yesterday I dropped in to meet a colleague and got a table by the large 18th century fire place. The fact is that it is one of the most beautiful places to eat and drink in the Norwegian capital. I ordered an open Danish-style sandwich with chicken salad and bacon. It was expensive, but may how it tasted. For 12 EUR you got a huge sandwich. Chicken in a great mayonnaise-sour cream dressing with curry, crisp bacon, and fresh salad. Others enjoyed traditional Norwegian food in this wonderful old eating hall. So I am now happy to recommend Stortorvets Gjestgiveri for dining and drinking.

Icelandair losing out on Transatlantic flights?

Icelandair has become my first choice when traveling to the US. This small airline provides the best service from Scandinavia to Boston. A two hour flight from Oslo to Reykjavik and 4 hours and 50 minutes to Logan International in Boston. It has, until know, also offered low prices, making it the ultimate bargain for Scandinavians visiting the Eastern US. Is this about to change?

As I checked its website, I found that prices on its transatlantic flights had risen dramatically. Planning a possible off-season trip to the US in May the lowest price offered was around 750 EUR round trip, some being up to 1300 EUR. Earlier the lowest fare has been offered at around 500 EUR.

To my surprise the best offer from Oslo now was a joint British Airways / Virgin Atlantic flight, offered at 560 EUR ( What are the pro and con for this route? The pro is the low fare. The cons are however transit at the infamous terminal 5 at Heathrow, with a risk that BA lose your suitcase. Then a 7 hour 20 minute flight from Terminal 3 to Boston, with or without your suitcase.

Is this worth the lower price? I do not know yet, as I have still not decided to travel. It is however important for Icelandair to keep a favourable price tag, to ensure that its customers will remain faithful. I would think it would be a great loss if it would lose out to other airlines across the herring pond.

Enjoy Food & Travel will keep you posted…..

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Meals for the week ahead

If you live by yourself, you may resort to ready made meals, as the easy solution. The price may be low enough to tempt you to pick up a frozen product to put into your microwave. You may, however, with a little planning prepare meals for the coming week in one operation.

For me this has been a success when I have had time to do it. I do not mind eating a good stew several days in a row. If you prepare a large portion cool it down and fill up containers, one for each day. In this way you may come home, take out one, place it in the microwave and - hey presto, dinner!!

Many stews (if properly cooled down when you first made it) will keep for at least three days in the fridge. Excess portions may be put in the freezer for later use. When you reheat it you can spice it up by adding cheese or chili flakes for variation.

You may also do as I did, buying two chicken weighing 1300 grams, or a little under 3 lbs each, paying €10 for both, a bargain for 10 portions. I made sure that the birds had an acceptable use-by date

I made a marinade of 10 cl olive oil and 3-4 tbsp of seasoning, I used Tone's Rosemary Garlic Seasoning, sold in 20 oz containers. It is delicious!! I allowed the marinade to infuse over night. I took out the chicken, stuffed the cavity with shallots, small onions, and I diced carrots, and cut potatoes, onions, and placed them all in a baking tray. Added a little oil, seasoning, and water. Then I placed the chicken on top of the vegetables, brushed the marinade on the birds and placed them on low heat, 120C, or 250F for 4 hours. At this point the vegetables are tender and the chicken super tender.

Cool the vegetables and chicken. Separate the chicken in 4 parts, two breasts and two thighs, put them two and two in zip lock bags and freeze. I had 8 portions of chicken, I kept two in the fridge for next days dinner, froze down 6 and the carcass of the birds - the latter very good for soups. Take out 200 grams of potatoes and 100 grams onions for the first dish and freeze the rest.

Next days dinner

The next day I made a potato and onion soup. For two portions I used.

200 grams of oven baked potatoes, shelled and diced
100 grams oven baked shallots
2 cubes of chicken stock
3-4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
10 cl double cream
2 chicken breasts, diced

Heat water, add the stock cubes, and allow them to dissolve. Add potatoes and onions and boil for 5 minutes. Pour stock and vegetables in a liquidizer and blend until smooth. Pour back into casserole and reheat, then add cream, curry powder, and sugar to balance the taste. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Add the chicken and heat through.

Have a nice and healthy dinner.

What are you having for dinner today?

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Is that you? Eyes on Criciúma

March 2008 1754 visitors flicked through 2800 pages here on Enjoy Food & Travel.
Feedburner, my excellent statistics program shows that I have visitors on all continents. In weekly articles I will find out where my readers live. Between March 7th and March 14th I had one visitor in Criciúma in Brazil. How can you get there and what are there to see on this location?

Criciúma, Brazil

Founded: 1880, by Italian immigrants
Area: 209,8 km²
Population: 190 923

How to get there?

You can get to Criciúma by travelling to Florianópolis, 145 km north east of Criciúma. I easily found that Air France / TAM Brazilian Airlines offers a round trip ticket from Oslo to Florianópolis in May 2008 at NOK 8440 (€1000) all included (ebookers). The trip will take you around 30 hours, as you will have to wait to change planes twice, first at Charles De Gaulle (Paris), and then at Guarulhos International (Sao Paolo), in order to get to Florianópolis. From here there are 145 kilometres (117 miles) to Criciúma.

Where to stay?

I have tried persistently to find and book a local hotel, but have only found rates on one.

At Ibis Criciúma hotel there
"are 110 air-conditioned rooms and a meeting room for guests on a business. trip. It also has a restaurant, a bar serving snacks 24-24 and secure private outdoor parking." They offer rooms for 75 BRL (€27) a night, all included.

What to see?

I have browsed through the net and tried to find what to see in Criciúma, without finding any sights. Except if you love soccer. The city has a good team playing in the Brazilian National league. Maybe you can enjoy a good match.

If you are the visitor from Criciúma, share your story. Leave your remark, or
share your story on Enjoy Food & Travel

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Why are we waiting.......?

I am happy to say that I have very little experience with poor service. Once we threatened to leave a restaurant in Brussels after waiting for a whole hour for our food to arrive. Last year I was served lamb after ordering duck at the Chinese-Thai restaurant Bippat Sentrum in Oslo, and the waitress persistently claimed that I had ordered lamb and pointed on her note to prove it. We could not prove it, as she had written our order in Chinese. During Easter I could note another appalling example of bad service. A word of advise - stay away from Vagabondos in Vesterbrogade. You are left waiting an hour for an exceptionally bad meal.

The word vagabond means:
  • a (generally impoverished) itinerant person. Such people may be called tramps, rogues, or hobos. A vagabond is characterized by traveling, lacking a fixed home, abode, or residence. Vagabonds are not bums, as bums are not known for traveling. (wikipedia)
Rarely has a name of a restaurant been more appropriate as we were lured within its walls. Even a traveling bum would have disapproved. Little did we know this as we sat down and we ordered our meals.

I ordered a pint of beer, a starter - mushrooms in a tomato sauce and a pizza with pepperoni. Beer came pronto, and the starter after a short while. It was bland and boring. After devouring the mediocre starter I waited patiently for the pizza, knowing that baking a pizza hardly is a challenge for anyone.

I have no idea what happened, except that drinking beer on an empty stomach made me a little tipsy, and the hunger started to affect my mood. I am, with a few exception, a peace loving restaurant guest. However - after half an hour, I started to get very grumpy, and I reminded the waitress that I was getting impatient.

The other guests got their food, and disapproved clearly. One had ordered lasagna, and discovered that there was no bechamel sauce. He sent the lasagna back to the kitchen with an order that lasagna has white sauce. The plate returned with some double cream on top.

It started to dawn on me that this restaurant visit was a big mistake well into the second half hour. I went to the kitchen and asked politely, and firmly, whether the pizza had to be flown in from Naples. Point taken, but no pizza. 60 minutes. I declared my anger by announcing my departure.

At this point the staff should have excused the appalling service to me as a guest. No such luck. They were however frightened that anyone else would discover my irritation and insisted that I should leave, after paying for one starter and one beer.

I had to pay up, but I sincerely claim that any distressed guests should not have to pay for such a service or rather - lack of it. I left after having paid DKK 100 for a starter and a beer, and ended up at Viggo in Værnedamsvej enjoying an excellent soup made from real tomatoes.

So Ye Be Warned - ladies and gentlemen! If you are up for a bad experience - go to Vagabondos. If not - find another place to eat. May I recommend Café André Citroën and Madam Ludbas (to be reviewed)

Stay away from:
Vesterbrogade 70
1620 København V

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pre Christian Roman Sculptures

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek has an impressive collection of art from the five decades of the Roman era. As you walk through the halls you are amazed by the collection. Here are a few treasures from the first, second and third century BC. Some are historic figures, others identity are lost in time.

As this marble bust of a Roman lady. The only thing we know is that it dates to the 1st century BC. What strikes you is that this depicts a real person, that most definitely would have approved of the masters work.

The tragic poet Euripides (270 BC)

This bust of Euripides (Εὐριπίδης) is a copy of a Greek original from the 4th century BC. It was made around 270 BC, during the early part of the Roman empire. Euripides (480-460 BC) was one of three great Greek Tragic poets.

The Poet Homer (2nd Century BC)

Whereas Euripides is a historic person, much less is known on Homer, the poet that is supposed to have written the classic works the Illiad and the Odessey. The ancient Greeks believed Homer to be a historic persons. Modern science believes that the important classic works were the result of an oral Greek tradition created by many artists.

The doubt of Homers identity describes why this bust is described as a Fantasy Portrait of the Epic Poet Homer. It is as the bust of Euripides a copy of a previous Greek work and it dates back to the 2nd century BC.