Saturday, May 10, 2008

Focaccia Failures


















Focaccia – that delicious Italian bread seasoned and soaked in olive oil. Last weekend we tried to create that authentic taste, and I rediscovered that I have (at least) one serious culinary weakness – baking! I ended up with a crisp flat hard crust, with a delicious topping, whereas my friend Øyvind succeeded in how to make the real thing, light and tasty.

Baking is serious chemistry. Good bakers have the same intuition on quantities and ingredients as good cooks. They know how the ingredients interact and how to make them do what you want. I tried to follow a simple recipe. It said, flour, olive oil, salt, herbs. Looking back, the ultimate failure was the fact that I did not read the recipe. I took all the ingredients in one bowl and started working them together. As it soon became obvious that the ingredients did not act the way they were supposed to, then I sat down to read the recipe. It said something like “add half the olive oil (20 cl) to the flour, then use enough water to create a light dough. Use the second half to drizzle on top.”

Water? Where the hell did the water come from?

I did not use water and even though I pressed the dough into an oven tray, creating kind of a pizza crust shape, it ended up with a biscuit texture and it tasted flour.

My friend Øyvind knew better. He found another recipe, stating that foccacia was made more or less from the same dough used for pizza and white bread; he made his focaccia with yeast and hardly any oil – and water, then drizzled olive oil, Parmigiano, herbs, and salt on top. No failures there.

Through that process we found quite a few, highly different recipes for focaccia. The commonsense here is – know your ingredients, use water, use oil on top – and not in dough, and add yeast! Then you are in for a focaccia feast and not a focaccia failure.

Bon Apetito!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Preparations for my trip to Lyon


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I try not to be an accidental traveler. This means that before leaving for new destinations, I consider where to live, how to get to and from the airport, what to see and where to eat. I have already started my preparations for my trip to Lyon due in two weeks time. This as a part of the whole traveling experience.

I have already created at map, before takeoff, plotting in where I stay, how to get there. As I return to my flat to write on my trip, I will develop the map in order to explain to you all what I experienced during my four days in Lyon.

What preparations have I done until now?

I have already booked my hotel at www.venere.com. Grand Hôtel de Terreaux is a four star hotel, located in the old part of Lyon. €216 for a single room for three nights in such a hotel should be a bargain. I will give you a full review of the hotel as I return. For now you may see the description of the hotel on www.venere.com here.

May 23rd, I will arrive at Lyon Airport at 8.30 PM. The firm Satobus operates a bus service every 20th minute from the airport to the city centre. The trip takes 50 minutes all in all. It has five stops before the end stop at Lyon Perrache. I will leave the bus at Lyon Part Dieu, 30 minutes from the airport. From Part Dieu it will take me 20 minutes to walk to my hotel. This means I will arrive at my hotel around 10.15 PM.

And where to look to find out what sights to see in this historic city?

I consulted wikipedia as there it is surprisingly much to learn. They have a great article on Lugdunum, the Roman city established here in the 1st century BC, it is followed up by an article on the modern city. Of historic sights in Lyon I have found stories to read on wikipedia on:
I particularly look forward to see the old city of Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The traboules, narrow medieval passage ways typical of Lyon.

Lyon is the culinary capital of France, so I look forward to good food and wine. I have, however, to do some more research on restaurants and taverns. I will return to this point later.

In short - I do look forward to my little adventure already.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Preparing the 2008 season




















This week the temperature reached 20 degrees on the Celsius scale (70F), and the Norwegian spring season is on schedule. This weekend is the last bank holiday of the spring, as the 2nd day of Pentecost is on Monday. I will travel to our summer home for the first weekend of the 2008 season. First weekend means cleaning floors, dusting, but also enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside.

I love to explore countries, cultures, and cities. Equally I feel great comfort returning to a place going back to the time when Elizabeth I reigned Great Britain. Our family took over the house located not far from Arendal by the Norwegian South Eastern coastline, as late as 1773, making us the 6th generation to live here.
So I enjoy all the best of all worlds, traveling abroad at leisure, taking part of the hectic life of Oslo, and when you are fed up with it all, you may retreat to the peace and quiet by the coast.

Who can ask for more.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Amadeus Café & musik Conditori, Copenhagen




















As Ida Davidsen, my favourite place to eat in Copenhagen, was closed during Easter, I had to look elsewhere to enjoy open sandwiches. My traveling companions recommended Amadeus, not far from Amalienborg Palace. They were hungry for the brunch there served with a glass of champagne. For my part, I do not think that I will substitute the sandwiches at Ida Davidsen for those served at Amadeus.

Amadeus is a classic European café / restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went there to eat lunch after a few hours exploring the Danish National Gallery (coming up later). My friends had been there before and described its brunch plate with great enthusiasm. I had only one thought in mind - smørbrød, or the famous Danish open sandwiches.

The brunch menu contained omelets (11 AM - 3 PM), open sandwiches 1 for DKK 69 (€9), three for DKK 149 (€19) and if you want "en lille en", you would have to pay DKK 169 (€21). You may choose a range of different other dishes, cakes, and pastry.

A delicious brunch plate!

My friends chose the brunch plate. Scrambled eggs with grilled beef sausages and bacon, 2 cheeses, Serrano ham, fruit salad, pancakes with syrup, Greek yogurt with fruit coulis, smoked salmon rolled with spiced cream cheese, one glass of juice, tea or organic coffee.

Price DKK 109 (€14), and if you want to pamper yourself, order a glass champagne and pay DKK 149 for all (€18,50). Naughty! Wicked! Great!

Open sandwiches

And then I chose the full sandwich package, with beer and a digestive!

My first choice was a egg and shrimp sandwich with mayonnaise, dill weed and lemon. This is a Danish classic. A large heap of peeled shrimps, enough to cover a slice of Danish rye bread and a generous amount of mayonnaise.

But what a disappointment. I do not know whether the shrimps had been in brine, or frozen. Frozen shrimps may be good. What ever, these shrimps did not taste very much.

Then the second sandwich appeared, smoked salmon, with a apple and horseradish cream.

Interesting combination as salmon is often served with scrambled eggs. This sauce provided an interesting contrast to the salted fish, fresh, sour, and the heat from the horseradish.

A much better choice than the shrimps, but I would getter an even better treat!!

The Danes love their liver-paté, and it has to "lun", slightly heated and served with bacon, mushrooms, and pickled cucumber.

Amadeus promised home made paté and it was served in a small oven proof dish. It was delicious, delightful, delovely.

You could scoop out a generous portion of tasty, moist paté and pile it up on a slice of dark rye bread, and devour it with a cold glass of Danish beer.

This was certainly in the spirit of the rich Danish sandwich tradition. It was an awesome experience, highly recommended.

So in short, stay away from the shrimps, salmon is interesting, but do choose the liver paté.

And if you do not care for any of them, I have to say that the brunch plate offered value for money.

But open sandwiches are best enjoyed in any of the traditional Danish "kro" or tavern. In Copenhagen I may recommend Skt. Annæ, Skindbuksen, or Hviids vinstue for the authentic atmosphere.

Address:
Amadeus Café & musik Conditori
Store Kongensgade 62, 1264 København K
Phone: 33-32-35-11
Official website
Booking on web

Monday, May 05, 2008

Coming up in May, - Lyon, France!!


















Lyon is Frances third largest city. It is located in the Rhône valley where the rivers Rhône and Saone meet. It has a long and dramatic history, going back more than 2000 years. Sights from Lyons long history will be presented here on Enjoy Food & Travel. Lyon is also the culinary capital of France, and I do look forward visiting a few very good restaurants as well.

Scandinavian Airlines offered a discount fare to Lyon in May and it was very difficult to resist a very good offer. For only NOK 1222, (around 150 EURO), I got a round trip ticket leaving Oslo May 23rd 6.30 PM, arriving in Lyon 8.20. The return is Monday, May 26th at 9.30 PM, arriving in Oslo close to midnight.

I will stay at Grand Hôtel de Terreaux, located in Lyons historic district. A first class hotel offering a single room at less than 70 EURO a night. Is this price too good to be true? Well, I will let you know!!

So sat tuned here at Enjoy Food & Travel in May.