Saturday, May 03, 2008

Re use food containers - save the environment!

Do you often react to how much rubbish you have made after preparing a meal? I do! Paper, plastic and glass containers are chucked away having been used only once. Well there are a few easy ways to avoid this, creating less waste as you prepare and keep food, and saving money and the environment as well.

Much of the food you buy are packed in solid glass and plastic containers. Much of these are actually reusable. The good thing is that they are custom made as food wrapping and will not release harmful materials to the food inside. I peel off the labels of containers of a certain quality and wash them in my dish washer. Then I have containers available in different materials and sizes. In the plastic container above there once was a shrimps salad. No it is used again to contain frozen chicken stock.

Glass containers are also well suited for freezing down different ingredients, but if you freeze down liquid remember to allow some space on top for it to expand. If not, the glass will break from the expanding liquid and it will pour out - hardly a delicious thing to clean out of the freezing compartment.

And if you want to dispose of the container having used it three or four times, think of how much waste you have saved.

And in the end - remember to recycle!!!

Friday, May 02, 2008

A room with a view

The Commodore the luxe class on board the Crown of Scandinavia does not come cheap. Still this has been the most comfortable trip past the Kattegat ever. It is not only the room, but all the extra service included that makes this a great way to travel. A room with a view as all cabins are equipped with their own balcony where you may enjoy the crossing in all privacy.

Location: BBBBB

Very few rooms have a better location than the commodore de luxe cabin. Located on the 10th floor of a large ship, you may experience the crossing from Oslo to Copenhagen. A magnificent view while traveling out the Oslo fjord and next morning when entering the strait of Øresund with the Swedish coast on your left and the island of Sjælland on your right. And when the weather is great, what could be better than this.

Service: BBBBB

This room has much extra to offer of service. In the adjoining commodore de luxe lounge you have a free bar with red and white wine, beer, soft drinks and mineral water, and coffee and tea. At the morning you could get fresh rolls, cheese, cold cuts, jam, and cereals. During the day there were fresh vegetables, fruit, snacks with dips for you to enjoy.

The room was made up while being on land, and after a day in Copenhagen you could return to enjoy the Commodore de luxe class once again.

Hygiene: BBBBB

Immaculate. Well cleaned and maintained.

The room: BBBBB

The room was a comfortable hotel room, a small entrance area. A good sized main room with a large double bed good for two travelers, them friends or lovers.

There was a comfortable sofa and an arm chair, a small desk. The room had much storage. Two large closets and one open wardrobe, where you could store you suitcases and hang up all your clothes. A TV with remote control was hidden away in another closet.

The bathroom was rather small, still considerably more comfortable than other bathrooms experienced on these ferries. There was a large marble top with much room for your toiletries, and a comfortable sized shower with glass doors. This is a good as it gets, if you do not upgrade to a suite.

Breakfast: BBBBB

Breakfast for the commodore travelers were served at the Blue Riband restaurant, providing privacy as the breakfast for other travelers was served at the buffet restaurant 7 seas.

The breakfast was first class, as everything else. Scrambled eggs, tomato beans, sausages, crispy bacon and fried mushrooms. Cheese, cold cuts in abundance, and fruit and cereal if you want a healthier start on your day.
Other conveniences: BBBBB

A separate lounge with a flat screen TV, free wireless PC access and two PCs available for guests traveling without their own computer.

Very comfortable lounge away from all the commotion on board the ship.

All guests was given a discount coupon with 50 DKK off any purchase of a glass of red wine in the ships wine bar. Room service available.

Price: BBBB

NOK 36oo or €450 for the room is expensive, but you get much for your money, so I will not say that it is worth it.

Rating the Commodore de luxe experience: BBBBB- (4,85 points)

A great way to travel to Copenhagen. A recommended getaway for a romantic couple.

Want to see more?

Here is a short film clip showing the cabin.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My traveling bear buddy

I sincerely believe that everyone should have one eccentric side, myself included, thus introducing Alexander, my traveling bear buddy. Bought by Ketil, during our trip to Berlin and named after Alexanderplatz, this cuddly fella is my companion while traveling.

I am happy to say that Alexander has followed me on several trips, though having avoided my photo lens, until now. In the future my teddy will follow closely and assist me in my job.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cut the Bolly darling - take the Moët!

For those of us in love with Absolutely Fabulous, Moët and Bolly has entered our standard vocabulary. Whereas Patsy and Eddy just open their refrigerator and take out one out of many champagne bottles, we had one bottle of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial to share, but we made most out of it.

Is it not great to experience the sense of luxury in a one of the 20 million bottles of champagne from Moët & Chandon? It certainly is. This well known champagne house goes back to 1743 and owns 550 hectares of vineyards in the central areas of Champagne district.

Moét & Chandon Brut Impérial is an exquisite blend of pinot meunier, chardonnay, and pinot noir. Wonderful golden colour. Lime, apple, and mineral nose. Well balanced taste and great fizz.

And then some tasty nibbles aside.

Salmon nibbles, smoked salmon and cream cheese wrapped in tortillas and thinly sliced. I also made another variety with cream cheese and red pesto.

Another great thing to serve is crispy parmigiano crisp right from the oven.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

God - here comes the flood!!

This winter has been a relatively mild one. This means, little snow in the lower parts of Norway and huge amounts in the Norwegian mountains. In 2008 people living along lakes or rivers are waiting in suspense for the snow to melt.

Norwegian mountain resorts have had a great winter with up to 12 feet of snow. If all this snow should melt off quickly it would spell disaster for many. This is certainly the case for the population along Lake Mjøsa. They have experienced many disastrous floods during history. They have even erected a monument to keep record of the worst ones.

Close to Hamar city centre and to the lake itself you will find this large stone where they have marked the worst floods in written history. During the French revolution, July 24th 1789 they, experienced the worst flood ever. At that point there were only farms and farmlands here. Whereas the flood waters of June 1860 would have submerged the first floors of the many houses of the newly built city. The most recent flood were recorded June 11th 1995, but that was one of the lesser floods marked on this monument.

So we will see whether the spring of 2008 will mean another record. For the sake of the many inhabitants of Hamar, let us hope not.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Renaissance Buildings in Oslo

After the 14th large fire in 1624, the old location of Oslo was abandoned and the dynamic Renaissance king Christian IV designed the new city by the Akershus fortress. In this way he wanted to make it easier to defend the city from advancing armies, mainly the Swedish that attacked regularly. He named the new city Christiania, after himself, and decided that it would be rebuilt in stone in order to avoid further large fires. From the renaissance there are a considerable number of buildings preserved. Here are a few to see.

Anatomigården (1640)

Antanomigården is located at Christiania Torv, where you find more 17th century buildings. Anatomigården is one of few remaining half-timbered buildings left. During the 17th and 18th century a great number of buildings where built in this Northern European style.

The name comes from the fact that it housed the Medical Faculty of The University of Oslo 1815-1852. It was also the location where the sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien made the draft of the sculpture of the Swedish-Norwegian King Karl Johan that can be seen in front of the Royal Palace.

Address: Rådhusgaten 19.

Rådmannsgården (1626)

Rådmannsgården is the oldest renaissance building of the city, built just two years after the large fire as a residence of Lauritz Hansen, a local official (rådmann).

The style is Dutch renaissance and the complex was larger when it was constructed. What is left is built in Dutch bricks. The inner courtyard has a beautiful late 17th century addition built in half-timber, where you may dine during the summer months at the Kafé Celsius.

The building has housed the University and the Municipal libraries. From 1850 it was the home of the military hospital for the personel at the fortress nearby. Now you find the Oslo Society of Art here.

Address: Rådhusgaten 19

Oslos first city hall (1641)

This building was the city hall of the new city from 1641 - 1733. It was constructed by Lauritz Hansen, the owner of the neighboring Rådmannsgården.

It used to have a tower, that was torn down during the 18th century. It fell into disrepair during the early 18th century until it was taken over by the widow of General Patroclus Rømeling that restored the building. In 1785 it was sold to the oldest Norwegian masonic lodge St. Olaus til den Hvite Leopard. It housed the Supreme Court from 1821-1846. From 1856 it has been a restaurant in the house. Today it is the home of the Theater Museum and Gamle Raadhus restaurant. It burned in 1996 but has now been fully restored.

Address: Nedre Slottsgate 1

Christiana Opfostringshus (1640)

This building is located at Bankplassen, by the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was built as residence for Mads Haraldssøn, a local official in 1640. In the period 1778 - 1917 it was home for poor children.

Stattholdergården (1640)

Stattholdergården has it name from Stattholder Ulrik Fredrik Gyldenløve, the royal representative in Norway, and the illegitimate son of Fredrik III, that used the house as his residence 1680-1699.

It was built for Peter Grüner, the head of the Norwegian mint in 1640. It has beautiful stucco ceilings from the mid 18th century. The house has a beautiful room named after the Egyptian queen Cleopatra in neo-rococco style. Today you may eat here in style at Statholdergaarden, one of Oslo Michelin star restaurant owned by the Norwegian restaurateur Bent Stiansen.

Address: Rådhusgaten 11.

Oslos second City Hall (1620's)

The oldest part of this building goes as far back as the years following the large fire in 1624. It was extended as it was taken over by a local official, Stiftamtskriver in 1647 that used the house as his residence.

As the first city hall was abandoned in 1733, the city administration moved into the building and it worked as the second city hall 1743-1833. It was also a police station for over 200 years, from 1745-1963.

Address: Rådhusgaten 7

Magistratgården (1647)

The house was built as a residence for the city official Hans Berthelsen in 1647. Over the door you can see the coat of arms of Morten Leuch Elieson and Dorothea Monsen.

He did not live in the house long and the following 200 years the house had many owners. In 1843 it was bought by the state and used as offices for Magistratene, royal official from 1843-1870.

The house has beautiful stucco ceilings from the 17th century.

Address: Dronningens gate 11

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A delicious sauce

I have already priced sauces and soups from Kelda. This smooth mushroom sauce was not an exception. Premade sauces from Kelda are highly recommended and will be even better with small adjustments, but these corrections are optional.

I love mushroom sauces, and for those of you on a diet, it will be a consolation that it contains a mere 6 % fat. I personally like to enrich these sauces with a little single cream (20%), and a little sweetener. Here you may use maple syrup, sherry, or Thai chili dipping sauce. I rounded the sauce off with cream, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

And to what food do you serve such a sauce? I recommend it to lean meats, as beef, or game, or even as a base for a casserole with onion, and mushrooms.

I found a packet of fresh Italian raviolis with spinach and ricotta cheese. Boiled them for 4 minutes until al dente, then folded in the sauce and sprinkled fresh pepper on top.

Very, very good!!!

Read more on the Kelda Soups here