Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lunch at Südøst



















At 2.15 PM last Saturday I arrived at Süd Øst in Oslo's trendy Grünerløkka area to enjoy a better lunch. Süd Øst is an extraordinarily trendy place, but in spite of its trend factor, the food served here is good at its worst, and excellent at its best. I once indulged in a lobster soup to die for here, finding when I wanted an encore a few days later, the same soup to be rather ordinary. Most of my experiences from Süd Øst up to now have however been of the excellent kind, and lunch served Saturday, April 12th was no exception.

Tuna salad on rye bread

This was one of these open sandwiches that cries out loud - eat me!! A generous amount of well seasoned tuna salad - mayonnaise, tuna fish, onion, served on a slice of dark rye bread.

One half of the slice with tuna, the other with salad tossed in an oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, so deliciously sweet that even the most stubborn meat eater would eat all the rabbit food. Great lunch for NOK 99 (€12).

Quiche with salad

The second choice, the French quiche, was equally a success. Crispy short crust pastry, basically butter and flour, pre-baked and then filled with a mix of cheese (I highly recommend cheddar over any other cheese for an even creamier result), ham or bacon, double cream and eggs.

Wicket food, and the staff at Süd Øst really know their stuff. The contrast between the crispy pastry and the exceptionally creamy, cheesy, well seasoned filling. Balanced on top a cold slice of crispy bacon, and more of that salad...... Price: NOK 119 (€15).

Satisfied after lunch and three glasses of red wine, I wondered why I do not go here more often. I have to try a three course dinner soon, and see whether I may detect a weakness in their culinary Armour, and pin them with a rating

Address:

Süd Øst
Trondheimsveien 5, 0560 Oslo
Phone +47 23 35 30 70
Fax: +47 23 35 30 71
E-mail (booking) bord@sydost.no
Web: http://www.sydost.no/index.htm (Norwegian only)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Traces of Oslo's Medieval past




















The history of the Norwegian capital goes more than 1000 years back in time. The location of the city changed after the 14th great fire in 1624. Many of the medieval buildings decayed and became a source of building material during the construction of many of the renaissance buildings in the new city. In spite of this, much of the medieval remains are still visble and local authorities are now working to preserve what is left from the oldest part of Oslo's history.

The Royal Residence (1040 - mid 16th century)

At the end of Saxegaardsgaten, or Østre Strete, you find remains of two important Medieval buildings. The Royal residence, goes back to 1040-1060, when there was a circular defense structure with wooden buildings on the site. This oldest structure has been dated from English and German coins found on the site.

Oslo experienced a construction boom during the reign of King Håkon IV Håkonsson (1217-1263) It was he that started to build the fortification visible today. It was a square walled structure with two towers and a large guild hall.

It was used as a royal residence until 1300 and was then taken over by the Catholic church as the construction of the new royal residence, Akershus fortress started. This as modern armour had made the old residence vulnerable from fire directed from the Ekeberg hill nearby.

The royal residence housed during the last two centuries the clergy connected to the diocese of Oslo. After the reformation the old royal residence, as many of the other medieval buildings fell into decay.

Church of Saint Mary (1050 / 1300 - 1550)

It has been church buildings on the site for nearly 1000 years. The first church was a stave church in wood built around 1050. It was replaced by a stone church around 1100 and this building was extended for the next two centuries.

Around 1300, during the reign of Håkon V Magnusson, the last king of Norway, a new church was rebuilt in brick. The transcept was extended and two tall towers were built on its west front, flanking the main entrance.

The Church of Saint Mary was one of the larges churches in Norway, along with Nidaros cathedral and the Church of St. Hallvard. Adjacent to the Royal residence, it served the royal household.

When Håkon V died in 1319 he, and his queen Eufemia of Rügen were buried in the church. Their remains were later removed and are now buried in the Royal mausoleum at Akershus fortress.

The Church of Saint Mary did not, as most of the other medieval buildings in Oslo, survive the 16th century. After a fire in 1523 the church fell into decay and was 20 years later beyond repair.

Read more on Oslos historical sights here

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Venetian style risotto

Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers Susanne and Per Koch visited Venice a few weeks ago. As the three of us went to visit our friends Øyvind Lodten and Stian Sagerud last weekend, she had brought a few culinary ideas with her and a packet of Vialone Nano. Wicked!

Vialone Nano is a rice variety grown in the Mantua and Veneto region in Italy, and is particularly good to prepare creamy risottos.

Read more on Vialone Nano on Italian Cooking and Living.

It is an art to prepare risotto, but you must use an Italian risotto rice variety in your preparation, as a good end result will rely on it. You will most certainly get an Arborio rice in the supermarket where you live.

It is important to use a good stock, I prefer vegetable or chicken stock. Risotto is made with what you have at hand. Susanne made a Venetian variety. She coated the Vialone Nano rice by lightly frying them in a good olive oil. Then she added white wine, lemon juice and good vegetable stock. When making risotto you have to stir constantly, unless you want the grain of rice to stick to the bottom.


Susanne made a strictly vegetarian risotto, but vividly described a risotto she had eaten in Venice a few weeks before - frutti di mare, made with fish stock and different crustacea and fish caught in the Adriatic Sea.

Our risotto was simple - a taste of wine, lemon juice, stock - topped with grated parmeggiano, toasted pine nuts, and grated lemon zest.

Less is more, and this delicious dish proves it to the fullest.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coming up - beautiful Värmland



















I am happy to return to Värmland in Eastern Sweden. I went there to visit my friend Terjes parents in February, and now we are traveling back. Värmland is bordering Østfold, Akershus and Hedmark county in Norway. Here you feel the tranquility found in unspoiled nature.

Terje is the owner of a large trailer with all modern commodities 30 kilometers / 19 miles east of Charlottenberg. It has a lounge, two bedrooms, kitchen with a gas stove and refrigerator, and even a shower. It equals a cabin in size and is located by a beautiful lake, where you can swim during summer.

I look forward to seek the tranquility. I hope to get a sight of the Mårbacka manor, the home of the Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf. Here you may see how this great writer lived and worked, and admire her beautiful garden.

So stay tuned and read stories on Värmland here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Preparing Livèche chicken



















I had invited my Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers for dinner yesterday, and was out of ideas on what to buy. As I entered my favorite super market, Centra, they offered Livèche chicken breast at 149 NOK (€ 18) a kilo, produced by Prior. As Prior is a member producer of what I call the traditional Norwegian agricultural production mafia, I am skeptical, and will remain so. But the chicken breast was e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t.

Livèche is the French name of lovage, a herb with a distinct taste of celery, that I grow the garden of our summer home. The Livèche chicken is produced according to the French Label Rouge standard, a pasture-raised free range poultry production increasingly popular in Europe and the US.

The Label Rouge started as a grassroots movement and now commanding 30% of the French poultry market, it has helped boost incomes for small farmers.
The Norwegian Livéche chicken is corn fed and slaughtered after 81 days, providing a larger and better tasting bird. The breast I bought weighed 534 grams or 1 1/2 lb.

Long roast Livèche chicken breast with mustard and bacon

I placed the chicken breast in an oven proof dish. I spread a generous amount of Dijon mustard, and placed four slices of streaky bacon on top of the mustard.

I poured 1 tbsp sunflower on top of the bacon to moisten the surface, and roasted it on a low heat, 120 C / 250F for two hours.

I served the chicken with bacon and chinese cabbage slightly first lightly fried in butter and then steamed in a Noilly Prat. Oven backed potatoes with salt and Provence herbs and a good red wine reduction with butter.

Yum!!!


Monday, April 14, 2008

A product to be avoided

I am happy to say that I am rarely disappointed by many ready made sauces, as many of them can be a good base and easily improved. I had high expectations for this one. It said that it had been prepared for 72 hours. I swear that if I would use that much time, the product would be very different.

Containing beef stock made from beef bones, water, carrot, onion, thyme, parsley, clove, black pepper and bay leaves and in addition onion, celery, tomato and salt it is a demi-glace by the book. I would have preferred a splash of red wine as well.

But it was terrible.......

Most bases, may be improved but this was beyond this point. Trying red wine, sugar, salt, and even a little whiskey it kept its uninteresting taste and a unidentifiable bitterness. So where did it go? Into the sink, and I started all over again. I had some stock in my freezer and started from scratch, with an excellent result.

So avoid this product from Puljonki Ldt. produced in Juuka in Finland. A waste of time and money.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oslo's new Opera House opens
















Yesterday was a historic day in the Norwegian capital, as it was the official opening of Oslo and Norways new pride - the new opera house. It is designed by the famous Norwegian architects at Snøhetta. This firm has designed the new Library in Alexandria, the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, The Turner Contemporary Museum in the UK, and the Museum complex planned on Ground zero in New York City.

It is covered by white marble from Carrara in Italy, and its exterior and interior design represents the latest in Scandinavian Architecture. A new sight has been added to the long list in the Norwegian capital.

Pre Christian Greco-Roman Art



















You walk back in time, when you go through the collections at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. You dig through layer after layer, in our common European history. Egypt, Rome, and then - ancient Greece. The oldest culture on the European mainland. Here are a few examples of the master pieces in its pre Christian collections.

Grave statue of a sitting dog. Athens, 360 BC. Marble

Watch- and hunting dogs were status symbols in ancient Greece. Their were often placed in pair to watch over their masters grave.

This excellent example was made to watch over an Athenian grave some 2350 years ago. It is carved from solid marble, and the skill of the sculptor presents the alertness and strength in its quest to watch over the diseased.




Tomb Lion, Marathon 330 BC Marble

Another animal to watch over you grave, now one out of two lions that once guarded a noble grave at Marathon.

The eyes of these lions were often inlaid and their bodies painted to make them more life like.


Head of the God Hermes, 500 BC, Boeotia. Marble

Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods, and the protector of the traveler. Who could be more welcome here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

This head was once placed on a pillar. In front of the pillar you had male genitals, and arms were mounted on both sides.

These statues were placed along the roads to protect the traveler. So this statue could have told us many interesting stories - if it could talk.

Female Votary, 5-4 century BC, Cyprus. Limestone

This sculpture of a woman carries a wreath of laurel leaves, flowers and many jewels around her neck. In her right arm she carries a calf that she is presenting to her deity, probably Aphrodite.

Placed as a votive. A votive deposit or votive offering was left in a holy place for ritual purposes. This was generally made in order to gain favour with supernatural forces.