Saturday, June 07, 2008

Barcelona - two places to go for foodies!

I am happy to visit the Barcelona area for the 4th time in June 2008. This time we will not live in the city itself, rather in Sitges south of the Catalan capital. Grete, a colleague, has just visited Barcelona, and she recommended two shrines for foodies to visit, one grocery shop and a tapas restaurant.

Barcelona is certainly a place for foodies. Here you may indulge in tapas or pintxos, excellent seafood on a wide range of restaurants.

You should certainly visit the markets, as the food hall at La Rambla. But there are other places to visit to buy food, as one place Grete found, a grocery shop going back 100 years.

Colmado Quilez

This deli was founded 100 years ago and is a shrine for foodies. Colmado Quilez is as far away from a supermarket as can be. Orders of caviar, anchovies, turrón nougat and regional wines are rung up on the original cash-registers.

Here you find the greatest selection of both national and international alcohol. One section devoted to dairy products with lots of great cheeses and sausages as well. And if you visit during Christmas you can treat yourself to one of their delicious Christmas baskets.

Address:
Colmado Quilez
Rambla de Catalunya 63
Barcelona, CT 08007 Spain
Phone: +34 93 2152356

Cerveceria Catalana

The Cervecería Catalana is the oldest tapas bar in Barcelona. It was recommended by our friend John last year, but we did not find it. This was however one of Gretes favourites, a must see for a foodie.

Here you get a wide range of tasty tapas and montaditos (small pieces of bread with tapas on top), and their Ensaladilla (like potato salad but better), which decorate the bar behind the glass.

Address:
Cerveceria Catalana
Carrer de Mallorca 236
Barcelona, CT 08008 Spain
Phone: +34 93 216 0368

See sights, hotels, restaurants, and foodstories from Barcelona here

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lyon - a culinary capital





















Lyon is also famous for its food, in fact Lyon is said to be the culinary centre of France. I went to Lyon to taste the food of course, but I did not aim at eating in the most prestigious restaurants. I wanted to try the food at the Bouchons, i.e. the local restaurants serving specialties from the area.

Trying the Bouchons Lyonnais

I was stunned by the number of restaurants in Lyon. My culinary memories from Lyon are however varied. Meals served at two restaurants were plain and uninteresting, and definitely not worth the price. Three served delicious food. I will review the following here on Enjoy Food & Travel.
  • May 24th 2008: Lunch at Le Gourmand de Saint Jean
  • May 24th 2008: Dinner at Le Mandarine
  • May 25th 2008: Lunch at Le rendezvous des Gastronomes
  • May 25th 2008: Dinner at Le Laurencin
  • May 26th 2008: Lunch at Le Petit Glouton
The food market at the river bank

I would like to direct your attention to the food market along the Saone river. Rarely have I seen such a selection of fresh and processed meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, dairy products, bread and pastry.

The market is open Tuesday to Sunday, sadly closed Mondays, the day I would leave back to Norway. This meant that I could not buy any dairy product Sunday, as I would not have anywhere cold enough to store it overnight.

I did, however buy some salamis, cured meats that may be stored at room temperature. All in all I would love to rent a flat in Lyon and given the possibility to purchase food directly from the producer and prepare a delicious meal in a proper kitchen.

Seeing markets like this in Lyon or in other European cities I have visited, I realize that I live in a developing country, culinary wise.

I am filled with joy by the mere sight of local producers offering fresh natural products, on display, without cling film or unnecessary plastic wrapping.

Drooling at the deli

I come from a city by the Sea, but I never saw such a sight like this. In the middle of the city I could admire boiled lobster cut in half decorated with lemon and star fruit. In the back there were a dish with smoked salmon, delicately shaped and presented in a window of a delicatessen in central Lyon.

The fact that the owners of this shop have made the effort to prepare and display this exquisite products in their window describes their love of food and the respect for their customers.

And this was not all. Delicious pastry made with custard and/ or fresh fruit (on top), located by what I presume to be the salmon and lobster or crayfish terrine. This is pure gastro pornography, appealing to food as desire or lust.

On my quest of something to bring back I went to the local supermarket - the Monoprix, in order to find something delicious - and I did. In addition to the salamis bought by the bank of the Saone river I bought a small basket of delicatessen, but I will not reveal what I bought now. I will save this to later.

Lyon is a culinary shrine. If you have 5, 20, or 250€ to spend, you will get good food. Either in one of the small pastry shops, in an inexpensive bouchon, or a Michelin star restaurant. Such a range of restaurants are rarely seen, and try the local specialties. Some are made from unimaginable ingredients and will stretch your experience.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lyon through 2000 years

Lyon is unique in many ways. Here you have monuments going back to pre Christian times. You can walk paved roads as only the Romans could build them. You can see remains of the oldest churches in Western Europe outside Rome, and much of the city centre is classified as a UNESCO World heritage site. For those interested in European history, Lyon is worth visiting and revisiting, as there are so much to learn.

I have only passed through Lyon by train once, as far back as 1986 on my way from Avignon to Strasbourg. Lyon grew up where the rivers Rhône and Saone meet. The oldest part of what used to be Lugdunum was, around 50 BC, located at Fourvière, a cliff easy to defend. The city grew in time under the cliff by the river bank and continued over to the peninsula formed by the two rivers.

The oldest part of the city including the cathedral, the Marcanterie, and the Church of Saint Paul is located here.

On the peninsula you find many equally old buildings. The churches of Saint Ainay, Saint Bonaventure, Hôtel Dieu, and Saint Nizier, all with roots back to the Middle Ages. There are remains from the Roman era as well on the hill leading up to Croix Rousse.

Do take time to walk down the small narrow streets of old Lyon. You can easily see that the base of many of the what seem to be modern buildings are ancient.

You are also recommended to explore the old mysterious passage ways within the old quarters. The west bank is famous for its Tramboules, dark medieval passageways used by the canutes, the silk weavers to move the precious fabrics from workshop to workshop within the quarters.

If you cross over to the peninsula you find passages, as this one - La Passage De L'Abbay de la Deserte, that was built on the its present location in 1304. Mysterious, as an Arab bazaar.

So two thousand years have left their marks. As you cross the Rhône river you move into modern Lyon, with buildings from the 18th to the 20th century. Here you find the financial district in a modern city. I have to admit, I never crossed the Rhône river to visit. This as I wanted to remain in and breathe the atmosphere of a city that has been so important in our European history.

This is the Lyon I look forward to tell you about. A city of extraordinary beauty and roots deeper than most other places I have visited. Stay tuned to tales from a city of history here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Enjoy Food & Travel around the world - May 2008


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1961 of you visited Enjoy Food & Travel in May. In average 27 subscribed daily to feeds, bringing the total number of visitors close to 3000. I am still curious who you are, those of you that visit my website.


I welcome my first visitors from:
  • Ecuador (Quito, May 9th 2008)
  • Tunisia (Ariana, May 9th 2008)
  • Russia, Region of Altai (Barnaul, May 17th 2008)
  • Morocco (Rabat, May 18th 2008)
  • Jamaica (No location, May 19th 2008)
  • Senegal (Dakar, May 19th 2008)
  • Ukraine (Kiev, May 20th 2008)
  • Sri Lanka (Hendala, May 21st 2008)
  • Aruba (Oranjestad, May 22nd 2008)
  • Colombia (Bogota, May 24th 2008)
  • Ethiopia (Sibu, May 26th 2008)
  • Botswana (Gabarone, May 28th 2008)
  • The Bahamas (Nassau, May 29th 2008)
Share a sight, a restaurant, or your favourite recipe on Enjoy Food & Travel!

Send an email to johnsen.tor@gmail.com, attach a picture and get your story on Enjoy Food & Travel. Then the other visitors may get to know you! Then we could experience what a true global community may be.

And again, thank you for visiting Enjoy Food & Travel!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cooking with herbs




















I love to cook with fresh herbs, and I have herbs in abundance in my garden of our summer home. Inspired by my visit to Mesopotamia, I decided to prepare lamb chops with mint, one of many herbs in my garden. I have no experience using mint in savory dished, but mint sauce is a classic company to roasted lamb, so I did not think I was completely wrong.

My herb garden

What do I have in my garden? This satureja montana or winter savoury was planted last year and is in the process of waking up. I hope it will grow and be ready to be harvested during the summer.

By its side there are an equally fragile herb, lavender. Lavender is easy to grow along the Norwegian coast - but I have, funny enough, had problems to get Lavenders to survive through the winter.

Dill is delicious in a good fish soup and other fish and, shellfish or crustacean.

Cat mint
and pepper mint are delicious in sweet and in savoury dishes and in a refreshing mojito.

Lemon balm
is equally good in desserts, cakes and to fish.

Oregano
is the perfect herb in Italian dishes, and this herbs is growing wild everywhere to be harvested through the hot Norwegian summer

Ruccola is actually related to the dandelion. It is actually used more as a salad leaf, but the ruccola growing in my garden is so spicy that it is better to use as a herb.

Tarragon is a must in a Bearnaise sauce.

Thyme goes in casseroles, in soups and the variety Lemon thyme is great to fish and shellfish.

Horseradish is great with apples and cream fraiche served to smoked salmon.

If you are out of celery, you can just pick a few leaves of lovage. Great in soups and stews, and very hardy and it will endure heat and drought.

Parsley - used in herb butter with garlic.

And chives, great in scrambled eggs or cold potato salad.

So these are 15 herbs growing in my garden, and I often use a collection as I prepare food, as I did Saturday when I prepared my lamb chops.

Lamb chops with herbs and garlic

Lovage and mint are pungent herbs. I used my mezzaluna and cut the herbs finely, then crushing two cloves of garlic and mixed them all together.

Then I added salt, and olive oil and worked the ingredients into a paste. I allowed the herbs. garlic and salt to infuse.

I had 8 lamb chops, placed them in an oven tray and brushed the paste on top of the chops.

Doesn't it look great. Fresh herbs on pink meat. I sealed them in a hot pan, before I placed them back in a hot oven for just 5-10 minutes. Do not overcook lamb.

I served dauphinois potatoes, baked tomatoes and asparagus. Serve a rich Spanish red wine to this food.

Wicked!!!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Lucas Cranach the older - a German master from the 16th century

Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen has an impressive collection of art spanning most of the previous millennium. In the hallway we admired a bizarre collection of art of man and his relationship to death. From these contemporary works we wandered back into history, starting in the 15th century in Germany, and we saw some portraits of some very famous historic characters.

The carved wooden panel on the left dates back to 1650. The crucifixion is made by an unknown artist. It has been in Denmark for a long time, as it was bought already in 1673 and brought to the country.

The 15th century was a turbulent time in Germany. The Lutheran reformation divided the Catholic south and the Lutheran north. The painter Lucas Cranach the older (1472-1553) was closely connected to the Luther family and the Lutheran movement and he was godfather to Johannes Luther, one of Martin Luther and Katarina von Boras children in 1526.

This painting of Martin Luther was painted by Lucas Cranach the older in 1532. Lucas Cranach was in fact more or less the painter of the entire Luther family. He painted Hans Luther, his father in 1527, Margaretha Luther, his mother, and his wife Katharina von Bora in 1526.

Martin Luther was 59 years old in 1532, and in deteriorating health. He died of stroke in Eisleben in 1546.


This portrait of Elector John the Steadfast of Saxony (1468-1532) was painted by Lucas Cranach post mortem in 1533. He was born in Meissen, and protector of the Lutheran movement. He took over the throne of Saxony in 1525 from his brother Frederick the wise.

He established the Lutheran church as a state church in Saxony in 1532.

The painting is oil on wood. It came from Gottorp palace in Schleswig-Holstein in 1759. This was the ancestral home of the royal dynasty of Oldenburg.




This painting is much earlier than the two other, and has clearly a more catholic character.

Cranach painted Virgin Mary and baby Jesus 1510-1512. The holy family is protected by two small angels, and the two women by their side is Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine.

These two saints could not have witnessed this scene, as Saint Barbara lived in the 2nd and 3rd century, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria in the 4th century.



Sunday, June 01, 2008

Great budget food at Mesopotamia

If you are on a low budget in Oslo, you are in big trouble. The Norwegian capital is ranked as one of the most expensive capitals in the world to stay in. Still there are places you may get a good dinner for 10 Euros, and it may include even a small starter and a glass of strong Arab tea. We got all this as we visited Mesopotamia.

If there are any international area in Oslo to explore it is Torggata and its side streets from Arbeidersamfundets plass to Hausmannsgaten. Here you will find a large number of small taverns run by immigrants and Mesopotamia is one of them. Here you are served Turkish, Middle East food in abundance. This is not a place for those of you that want to dine in an elegant atmosphere, you go there for the food, and what food!!

We, i.e. me and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Susanne went there to dine. She had been there before and highly recommended the mixed plate at NOK 89,-. As we waited for our meal we were served the most delicious bowl of soup, a broth flavoured with mint and lemon with barley and chick peas. I never thought you could use mint in this manor, and it worked great. Something to try in my own home cooking, as I have my garden full of mint.

The mixed plate had three pieces of ground lamb meat baked in a dough (köfte), two pieces of lamb meat, one baked onion with rice, and one dolmas (wine leaves with rice). To this was served rice with vegetables, salad, and a delicious sauce with a lot of spinach. Well seasoned, delicious food in abundance served by a nice Turkish waiter. And what to drink? Mineral water or soda only, no alcohol as the custom for devout muslims. To end your meal we were served hot, strong tea in small glasses. The pricetag – 89 NOK (11 Euros) for soup, mixed plate, and tea and an additional 20 NOK (2,50 Euro) for the mineral water. Not bad for a good dinner.

Address:
Mesopotamia
Torggata 18, 0181 Oslo (Entrance Bernt Ankers gate)