Saturday, June 28, 2008

Le Gourmand de Saint Jean - Lyon

Lyon is famous for its Bouchons, serving food far away from la nouvelle cuisine. Here you may enjoy traditional rich local food. Lunch my first full day was at le Gourmand de Saint Jean, in the heart of old Lyon on the west bank of the river Saône. It was certainly not the member of the exclusive club of genuine bouchons, but it had all the traditional dishes on the menu and I chose two. I was very satisfied with the result.

Location: BBBBB

Le Gourmand de Saint Jean is located by a small square in the medieval part of Lyon. Here you may sit outside in a historic setting and enjoy your food. This restaurant has a superb location.

Atmosphere: BBB

In spite of the location, I believe that the restaurant has not used its full potential. Chairs and tables outside were small and rather uncomfortable.

Price level: BBBBB

I paid € 20 for a full three course lunch, with an entree, main dish and cheese plus 25 cl of the rosé wine of the house. This is a good bargain.

Service: BBBBB

As I speak French the menu did not pose any problems, but you may have problems if you only speak English. I chose from the menu, and asked the waiter if I did not knew the terms, and they helped. When ordered, the food was served swiftly. So full score for service.

Food: BBBBB-

I loved all the food!! I ordered three courses, out of which two belonged to the typical dishes served in a traditional bouchon.

Chevre in puff pastry with fresh salad with vinaigrette

I love hot chevre, and this was certainly another and a new way to serve the delicious goats cheese.

The cheese was baked in fresh puff pastry with honey, and the contrast between the crisp pastry and the melting cheese was awesome. The crisp and completely fresh salad was served with a delicious traditional French vinaigrette dressing. Scrumptious!!!

Quenelle de Brochet au Sauce Laurencin (Pike dumpling with lobster sauce)

Quenelles or dumplings made from fish is a traditional dish served at a bouchon, and the quenelle served was shaped more like sausage, fried on the outside and beneath the crisp crust I found a delicious mousse made from pike.

The lobster sauce was rich made from stock and cream, well seasoned and balanced. The only things served by its side was rice with carrots. This was another good choice!!!

Saint-Marcellin Cheese

I do prefer cheese to a dessert, when given the choice, and in France you may always choose cheese.

The Saint-Marcellin cheese is produced locally and has a very creamy, nearly runny consistency. Served with a salad and good French bread it was a perfect end to my lunch.

And I ordered a 1/4 litre rosé wine, good both for fish, chicken and cheese.

Rating the Le Gourmand de Saint Jean experience: BBBBB- (4,6 points)

One out of two good restaurants I would recommend in Lyon. Good food for a low price in old Lyon.

Le Gourmand de Saint Jean
4 place Neuve Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
:04 78 42 45 59

Friday, June 27, 2008

Even better - Cafe Zeleste revisited

A friend working in Copenhagen introduced and reintroduced me to Cafe Zeleste. During Easter I had another lunch here, and I am happy to say that Cafe Zeleste was even nicer than in 2007. I highly recommend this wonderful restaurant close to Nyhavn, the pittoresque old harbour. It is awesome.

Location: BBBBB

Café Zeleste is located in Store Strandstræde 6, close to Nyhavn and Kongens Nytorv. These are among the most popular areas of Copenhagen with many good restaurants that serve traditional Danish food accompanied by "en bayer" - a glass of cold beer. And do as the Danes do, try an additional Aalborg Jubileumsakevit to your "frokost".

Atmosphere: BBBBB-

Café Zeleste is located in a charming small house and during spring and summer you can also eat in the back yard. Inside it has a classic, pale blue interior. If you choose eat outside, you can enjoy your food in a charming continental setting. We were placed at a table for two, in the wonderful interior.

Price: BBBBB

I chose a lobster soup followed by the Huks Fluks, 5 small dishes. With her and my lunch, a bottle of white wine at DKK 150 we paid DKK 600 (€75) for the whole meal, and it was definitely worth it.

The service: BBBBB-

The service was excellent!! Nothing more, nothing less!!!

The food: BBBBB

The lobster soup is one of the best I have ever tasted. Often you are served soup that does not have the sweetness found in a delicious fresh lobster.

This soup had this sweetness. Exquisite, well balanced, rich with a velvet consistency. As I gave my compliments to the cook, he ensured me that this was the real thing, made from lobster carcasses . I highly recommend this soup.

The Huks Fluks plate was equally delicious. A plate with 5 different dishes. First a Skagen toast, with a salad made from mayonnaise, shrimp, onion and fish roe.

Then a slice of juniper-berry smoked eel, yum!!! What could be better than a salmon tartar made from raw fish served with scrambled eggs

In French manner - two varieties of cheese, one brie and one soft yellow cheese. The end of the meal was celebrated with
Zeleste´s soft and sweet chokoladekage - chocolate cake.

Overall rating: BBBBB- (4,88)

Close to perfection and better than the last review (4,69 points). I do recommend the lunch at Cafe Zeleste, if you are travelling to the Danish capital. But if you are hungry, you can easily enjoy a three course dinner here, and still not feel stuffed. For lunch - may I recommend the Huks Fluks and the lobster soup, if on the menu.

See the previous review of Cafe Zeleste here

Adress: Store Strandstræde 6, Dk 1255 København K
Phone: +45 33 16 06 06

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Depressing news for Rygge Airport

Rygge airport is the newest airport serving the populous eastern part of Norway, but has struggled to attract interest from airlines operating flights from Norway to the continent. As the price of fuel goes through the roof, the airlines increasingly scrutinize the profitability of their existing destinations in order to stay in business. This week Rygge airport is the one to lose out, as Widerøe and Norwegian Air Shuttle announced that they are closing down flights from the new airport this fall.

I travelled from Rygge airport to Barcelona a week ago. It was a great change from Oslo airport. No long lines at the check-in counter or at the security check. It did, however, feel a little strange to leave from an airport where there were such a small number of departures and so few travellers. You are bound to ask yourself whether there really is a need for a third airport within a two hour drive from the Norwegian capital. It is obvious that the airlines may reach the same conclusion.

Ryanair decided earlier this month to close down two flights from Torp airport and also reduce the number of flights to a number of the existing destinations. Torp will however remain the main hub for Ryanair in Norway. Rygge has no such advantage. It has to compete with Oslo airport and may be losing out.

As this week Norwegian Air shuttle and Widerøe decided to close down two of their services from Rygge. Norwegian Air Shuttle will close their service to London Stanstead September 1st, and Widerøe, a subsidiary of Scandinavian Airlines, will close its flights to Copenhagen August 31st. The price of fuel and lacking interest from travellers were the explanation both airlines gave for their decisions.

The question is whether this is the beginning of the end for Rygge. As the competition in the air tightens the small differences will count and the management of the new airport will have to work on a strategy to retain or hopefully increase the interest from the airlines. The best alternative would be if one of the European budget airlines would make Rygge into its national hub, but the question is whether the international and domestic market would be interesting enough for air carriers as Easyjet, German Wings or WizzAir.

It will certainly be interesting to see.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Festival of Saint Anthony, Lisbon

By guest writer Susanne Koch

I have just returned from Lisbon, where I had the chance to experience the celebration of Portugal’s patron saint, Anthony. I had expected processions in the streets and church bells ringing. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The feast of Saint Anthony is on June 13, but by then the main celebrations was done. They all took place the night before. The streets were filled with people – young and old. Down town, on Avenida de Liberdade, was a carnival style parade. In the Alfama neighborhood, where Saint Anthony was borne, every street was transformed into a movable feast.

The parade
My friends and I had planned to spend the evening in Alfama and around 5.30 we crossed Avenida de Liberdade on our way there. This is when we discovered the scope of the celebrations: Along the avenue, bleachers were erected for the spectators.

I asked a police officer when the parade would take place and he told me 8.30. Too bad, I thought. We would be dining with friends in Alfama around that time and would miss it all. Or so I thought.

After spending a great evening in Alfama (more about this below), we returned to our hotel around midnight. At this time, the parade was still going on and we learned the next morning that it didn’t finish until 1.30.

The participants in the parade were dressed up in colorful, creative and some times humorous costumes. There were plenty of bright colors, sequins and wigs. My favorite was a group wearing huge replicas of Portuguese explorers’ ships on their heads. Another group carried big, blinking carnations in every color of the rainbow in remembrance of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution.

The Alfama celebrations
Earlier in the evening, as we climbed the Alfama hill on our way to the castle, Castelo Sao Jorge, we saw the preparations for the celebrations:

Young people of the area were dressing up in historical costumes to represent their neighborhood in the parade. Others were setting up stalls and prepared to sell drinks like mojitos, caiprinas and sangria. Some were setting up little impromptu restaurants or snack bars.

By nightfall, the streets were absolutely crowded. It seemed everyone in possession of a barbecue was making some extra Euros that night. In every street and winding little ally in this charming neighborhood you could buy grilled sardines, spicy sausages (chouiços) pork or chicken.

Some stalls were even providing desert: Little plastic cups with arroz doce, a sweet rice pudding with cinnamon. These were almost as popular as the ubiquitous sardines, but a little sweet to my taste.

There was dancing in the streets – sweethearts young and old, mothers dancing with their babies and the odd tourist deciding to give it a try.

If you want to know more about St Anthony, there's an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia and one in Wikipedia.

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two Dutch masters - Hals and Rembrandt

I found three small paintings at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen. They were painted by two famous Dutch masters - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Frans Hals. I admire the skill of the Dutch masters, particularly their use of light and shadow that create a mysterious beauty in their works. As in this painting, oil on wood by Rembrandt of an old man. It was acquired by the Danes already in 1773.

Rembrandt died 63 years old in 1669 and is acknowledged as the greatest master of what is called the Dutch golden age. During his turbulent life he made 600 paintings, 400 etchings and 2200 drawings.

Another of his paintings is found in Copenhagen. This "sketch for a knight with a falcon, called the crusader" (oil on wood) was painted at the end of his life in 1661.

In 1661 he took his last apprentice and Rembrandt was asked to complete work for the newly built city hall, as the artist previously commissioned died. The end result, the conspiracy of Claudius Civilius was however rejected and returned to the painter.

This painting was not made by Rembrandt but by Frans Hals. He was more than twenty years older than Rembrandt and died 86 years old in 1666. He was originally from Antwerpen in what was then Spanish Netherlands. His family moved when he was five to Haarlem in the Netherlands.

He is particularly famous for his portraits and has highly influenced the evolution of the portrait painting in the 17th century.

This painting is of another celebrity, the French philosopher René Descartes and is dated to 1649.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

On Enjoy Food & Travel

Enjoy Food & Travel is created by me, Tor Johnsen, currently working as Head of Information at the Cancer Registry of Norway. In private, I am a passionate traveller and foodie, and I use Enjoy Food & Travel as my personal diary to describe where I have stayed, what sights I have seen, and where I have wined and dined on all my travels.

My views are highly private and personal, i.e. you may have have experiences on food, places, hotels or people very different from mine.

As a passionate foodie, I try to make a good meal at least every day. Enjoy Food & Travel is also a channel for my culinary whims. I never use a cookbook, and during my cooking I experiment. The best proof of my success as a foodie, is if the people that often visit highly enjoy my food – and I am pleased to say that they do.

I’d love to hear from those of you that visit my site (in fact in average 3000 a month). Give me your story to publish, or opinion on how I may improve the Enjoy Food & Travel experience for you.

I would be very grateful!