Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mårbacka - Selma Lagerlöfs home

In the county of Värmland you find Mårbacka, the home of the famous Nobel Price laureate Selma Lagerlöf. As we drove from Lake Stor Treen back to Oslo, we were determined to get a glance of this important cultural site. Sadly, the house was closed but we walked around in the impressive garden she commissioned.

Selma was born here in 1858, in a house that had belonged to her family since 1801. The original building had been built in 1793. As her father, lieutenant Erik Gustaf Lagerlöf, died in 1885 the family had to leave the manor house.

Her literary career started in 1890 with the novel Gösta Berlings Saga. Through 45 years she wrote 20 books, the last published after her death during the Second World War.

In 1909 she was awarded the Nobel Price in literature and with the money from the price she bought her beloved Mårbacka back, and here she lived until her death in 1940.

She redesigned the old main building 1921-1923 with the help of the architect Isac Gustaf Clasons.

Selma Lagerlöf loved her garden. She and her horticulturist Ruth Brandberg created a beautiful garden with bushes, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetable and flowers.

Gårdsflygeln (The Wing built 1909-1910)

Gårdsflygeln or Flygeln was built when Selma Lagerlöf took over in 1909.

From 1920 a cereal called Mårbacka Havrekraft, or Skredmel, was packed here, a flour made from barley said to be inexpensive, nourishing, healthy and strengthening, highly recommended by doktor Per Clarholm at the hospital in Karlstad, the capital of the county.

Mårbacka Havrekraft was a great success and sold in Stockholm, and was even exported to the United States.

The garden (1909-)

Most of the garden was created early in the 20th century. There are, however, remains of an old English garden called Toddylunden, commissioned by Selma Lagerlöfs father and designed by an eccentric local gardener.

In 1909 Selma Lagerlöf wrote a letter to the newly graduated horticulturalist Ruth Brandberg, asking her to assist her in establishing a horticultural nursery at Mårbacka.

Ruth Brandberg moved to Mårbacka and created a garden after Selma Lagerlöfs design. The two of them did not succeed to create a nursery at Mårbacka, but they managed to create a garden, that could offer pears and apples from the orchard on the market at Sunne, the nearest village and from a shop on the property.

The garden was restored in 1996-1997 by landscape architect Anna Tandre.

See the official website of Mårbacka here

Here you have a little film to give you an impression of Mårbacka and surroundings.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ryanair say goodbye to Madrid, and au revoir to Provence!!

Ryanair has announced today that it is closing down its non-stop flights from Torp Sandefjord to Marseille Provence this fall. This due to stiff competition and increasing oil prices. It will also close its flight to Madrid and Pisa and reduce the frequency to four other of its destinations.

There are many critical voices to the Irish budget airline in Norway. I took one of the first Ryanair flights from Sandefjord to Marseille october 2006, and I found nothing to be critical of. I loved my trip to Marseille and Ryanair brought us from Norway to France on schedule and we paid only €100 for a roundtrip ticket for two!!!

Torp Sandefjord is the main hub for Ryanair in Norway. It serves the eastern part of the country and Ryanair has launched and closed down destinations over the last years. The flights to Marseille and Madrid will not be the last to be closed down.

Ryanairs service to Madrid has has hard competition by the flights operated by the rivals Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle to the Spanish capital. This destination will not be opened later, but Ryanair has been the only airline flying to Marseille, and has suggested that they may reopen this service in 2009.

Reduced frequency to four destinations

Ryanair will reduce the number of flights from Torp Sandefjord to:

- Girona/Barcelona, from 4 to 2 weekly flights
- Bremen, from 5 to 3 weekly flights
- Dublin, from 7 to 4 weekly flights
- Milan, from 7 to 4 weekly flights
- Liverpool, from 4 to 3 weekly flights

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let us make it a good egg!!

At home I enjoy a simple nourishing meal during weekday mornings. The weekends however the first meal of the day can be enjoyed at a slower pace and should provide you with energy well past noon. I am in favour of making it into a good egg, as an egg may be prepared in different ways, with different results. Here are a few.

Eggs Benedict - good enough for a pope

Eggs Benedict, as presented here by Paul Goyette from Chicago, is one of the best eggs I know. I never prepare this at home. They belong to my favourite US memories. The last time I enjoyed Eggs Benedict was at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston. My dearest aunt Hanne also prepared it for me once or twice.

Eggs Benedict are poached, cracked into water with vinegar. I have never learned to make a proper poached egg, but you are supposed to create a swirl in the the hot water to collect the egg whites around the yolk. Poached eggs are white outside and the yellow interior is runny - yummie. Serve on an American muffin with boiled ham and hollandaise sauce. That is a helluvan egg!!!

A good summer egg

One of my favourite eggs are prepared on the summer mornings in our summer home. After a long and nourishing nights sleep you are in need of a decent egg. First I prepare the bacon in the oven, as when doing so you do not have to add additional fat and it gets much crispier than in a pan. Let the bacon dry on kitchen paper before placing the crisp slices on two slices of good bread - each!

Then fry four eggs, and do not dare to touch the yolk, too me a runny egg yolk is the best bit. Heat one can of baked beans and you are in for a helluvan egg!!

Pile the eggs on the crisp bacon and the beans on the side of the plate. Yummie!!!!!!

Or what about this egg?

Enjoyed at the restaurant at the Crown of Scandinavia as we entered Øresund. Not fried eggs, but scrambled, delicious when still moist, not completely dry. Often there is a tendency to overcook scrambled eggs. I love to add finely chopped chives to mine to add flavour. At the Crown of Scandinavia we were served bacon, lightly fried ham and mushrooms and beans. This is a breakfast for real champions.

An egg to please Gaia

Well you can even make an alternative, eco friendly bio dynamic egg.

These eggs are serious life style products. My friends Stian and Øyvind had decided to make a serious statement through buying these Demeter Eggs. For those of you that does not know what this brand stands for it is based on the agriculture method created by Rudolf Steiner in his "Agriculture Course" given in Koberwitz in 1924, and developed further in practice and research. The brand is marketed by 18 member organizations world wide. The Norwegian member organization is DEBIO, that certifies all organic produce in Norway.

Well we decided to make an organic, bio dynamic egg. What were we to add to these eggs, in order to attain the alternative profile of the breakfast?

The alternative company was the Provence sausages from Grøstad Gris, marketing it as meat from happy pigs. It is not equally alternative as the Demeter brand as the latter is packed with religious practices as well. The green Ø-label means that it is "økologisk", meaning certified as organic under the National certification of organic products in Norway.

Did it please the pallet as well as Gaia? It probably pleased Gaia more, as an egg is an egg - produced by a Rudolph Steiner chick or a caged one. I did not taste much difference.

The sausage was good for even a larger crowd as it had no milk or gluten, important for those with lactose intolerance or coeliac disease.

The sausage was pricey, but it tasted real meat. I really love homemade sausages, and this was well seasoned with herbs as a Provence sausage should be.

So this was certainly a good egg, and you could meet the new day with a good conscience as well - not bad, eh?

How do you enjoy your eggy moments?

Send a picture and a short description of your favourite eggs to Then we could compare notes and you could your story here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Golden Bamboo Copenhagen

The Golden Bamboo trapped us for a highly ordinary lunch March 21st, a rainy day when outdoors activities were highly restricted. We had been to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. One of my traveling companions had passed the Golden Bamboo earlier and pointed to the fact that we might extend our culinary horizon a little further out than Øresund. He also pointed to the fact that the interior looked nice, and that Chinese cuisine offers a light and delicate alternative to fat Danish open sandwiches.

Location: BBBB

If you care to test whether my review provides a correct description of the Golden Bamboo it is a consolation that it is dead easy to locate, as it is found in Vesterbrogade, one of the main streets leading from the neighboring borough of Fredriksberg down to Rådhuspladsen, the main square and the beating heart of Copenhagen. It is a typical city restaurant so the location is neither spectacular or romantic.

Interior: BBBBB

The interior was one (if not the only) asset of the restaurant. It was an eclectic mix of a contemporary and traditional Chinese interior. Elegant tables set with wine glasses and dark red napkins. Comfortable leather chairs to rest your backs. I just regret that the culinary experience did not match the interior.

Price level & quality: BBB+

It would be wrong to say it was expensive, you could easily get a meal for less than €25, and for those of you that prefer to shovel the food in, you would not leave hungry. Sadly for those of us that like the food to taste as well, the Golden Bamboo was a disappointment. Cheap yes, but the price reflected the average quality, nothing more.

Service: BBBB

The staff was nice, served us quickly, and offered a decent service. We did neither have to wait long, nor nag the waiters. No obvious blunders either.

The food: BBB+

The food got the highest score for presentation, but both preparation, taste, and texture could not make this food taste better.

I and Per Christian were the hungriest one, and we went for the full Chinese monty, meaning appetizer, main course and dessert. As the other were both slimmer and prettier than at least me, they decided not to indulge in that much for lunch.

Appetizer - deep fried prawns with sweet and sour sauce. They did not tell me that it was deep fried prawns and broccoli, as what I thought was the third prawn was green inside.

I do not mind the healthy alibi, but what I do mind is the quality of the batter used for deep frying. It was too thick, too much, and instead of a thin crisp delicious coating over a tasty prawn it was soggy and greasy. This made the appetizer much richer than it might have been. This was a point as what we had ordered to follow the prawns could hardly be labelled as lean and healthy.

I love Chinese spare ribs - sticky fingers!!! Red lacquered with a salt, sweet and smoky glaze. The delicious taste of the far East, contrasts created by a blend of different spices and sauces. This is multitasking food, you eat this social food removing bone by bone, and socialize with your company across the table.

It looked great at the Golden Bamboo, but the glaze lacked the depth of the intense aromas otherwise found in an authentic spare rib. It did not give you that kick of tastes as I have had in many other good Chinese taverns.

This is not food that would please a Chinese pallet, but served to those of us in Europe that do not know better.

The same thing could be said of the dessert, pancakes with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Presentation again looked promising, but the pancakes were hardly warm, thick and rubbery - not the crispy thin crepes delicious served with ice.

So you need not be clairvoyant to understand that my visit to the Golden Bamboo did not belong to my greatest. Hardly so! Nice interior, decent service, nice food - to look at, but hardly to eat and enjoy!

Rating the Golden Bamboo experience: BBB (3,22 points)

Stick to the delicious Danish sandwiches - visit the Far East somewhere else (preferably in the Far East itself)

Golden Bamboo
Vesterbrogade 41
1620 København V, Denmark
+45 3321 7158

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fish lovers - make love tonight

Yesterday I was in a hurry, even though I had dinner guests. In situation like these I settle for easy solutions. If you have good ingredients, as I did, the result will most likely be a success, and with fish and mussels - what could possibly go wrong?

Fish Parcel for Fish Lovers (Serves 2)

In order to prepare a fish parcel like I did you will need:

400 grams / 1 lb halibut fillet
200 grams / 1/2 lb salmon fillet
4 large scallops
Green asparagus
Baby corn
Seasoning (I used a Salmon & Shellfish seasoning)
200 grams / 1/2 lb good butter

Place one slice of halibut on a large sheet of tin foil, season, then pile one slice of salmon on top of the halibut, and season once more. Then place scallops on top. Place asparagus and baby corn on each side of the fish, before adding butter.

Fold the tin foil around the fish. Place parcel in a medium hot oven (180C / 360F) and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with wild rice. Delicious!!