Saturday, August 02, 2008

Red alert – freak weather on your destination!

This is most certainly not the weather you would like to meet at your destination, unless you are one of the few chasing twisters in the mid western states of the US. For the rest of us, freak weather conditions are to be avoided or lived through with as little danger as possible. For those travelling in Europe there is a site that may alert you to extreme weather on the continent. Meteoalarm prepares you not only for conditions as thunderstorms, heavy rain or wind, but also severe drought and heat on your destination.

Today, July 31st there are orange alert warning of thunder hand high temperatures in parts of France, Belgium, UK, Germany and Austria, due to thunder and/or high temperatures. There are yellow alert issued for 10 other countries.

The parameters in the alert system are:
  • Avalanches
  • Coastal event
  • Extreme high temperature
  • Extreme low temperature
  • Fog
  • Forest fires
  • Heat
  • Rain
  • Snow/Ice
  • Thunderstorm

So here you will find perilous weather phenomena for all seasons. The site is updated daily, and should keep you informed or prepared on what weather that may come your way.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Around the world on Enjoy Food & Travel, July 2008

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By July 31st, 2088 of you had visited Enjoy Food & Travel. In addition to this, an average of 24 of you subscribed daily to feeds, bringing the total number to 2845 in July. I am still curious who you are, those of you that visit Enjoy Food & Travel.

Visitors on all continents

It is Feedburner that has made it possible for me to follow where my visitors come from, and it has been exciting to follow the increase in traffic.

From the humble start in September 2006 Enjoy Food & Travel has grown in size. In average I have published one story each day, and in a month or so the site will have more than 1000 stories on food and travel. As the site has grown, more and more of you visit. The first year I struggled to reach 400-500 visitors a month, now the number of visitors have increased five fold.

There are some hot spots. Most visitors come from the United States and Europe. In the US there are hot spots as the Boston, New York City-New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. In Europe I am pleased to say that many visitors are in my home town Oslo, from neighboring Denmark, England, The Netherlands, and Belgium.

More visitors in Africa and India, still no visits from PR China Caucasus and Central Asia

I have had visitors from more and more states in Africa. The latest visits are from Gabon, Swaziland, Togo, Zimbabwe, Benin, Uganda, and the small French island of Réunion, east of Madagascar. In Asia I have had my two first visitors from Pakistan, one from Karachi and one from Islamabad. There have been more visitors from India as well.

There are also an increasing number of visitors from South Africa, mostly in the Johannesburg- Pretoria area. I have visited South Africa once and I loved the sights, people and the restaurants, and the food was marvellous.

There are relatively few visitors from the Russian Federation, the Middle East and Asia, more in Australia and New Zealand.

I have in July had no visits from the PR of China, the Caucasus region and Central Asia, so we have to gain new ground there.

Visitors from new countries & territories

In July I am pleased to see that I had visitors from new countries and territories on all continents.

I would like to welcome my first visitors from:
  • Pakistan (Islamabad, July 3rd 2008)
  • Gabon (Nyanga, July 5th 2008)
  • Swaziland (Ezulwini, July 5th 2008)
  • Réunion (La Possession, July 8th 2008)
  • Moldova (Chisnau, July 9th 2008)
  • Monaco (July 9th 2008)
  • Bosnia & Hercegovina (Sarajevo, July 10th 2008)
  • Togo (Unspec, July 16th 2008)
  • Qatar (Doha, July 17th 2008)
  • Kambodsja (Phnom Penh, July 20th 2008)
  • Venezuela (Caracas, July 20th 2008)
  • Zimbabwe (Harare, July 20th 2008)
  • Paraguay (Asuncion, July 23rd 2008)
  • Benin (Unspec, July 25th 2008)
  • Uganda (Kampala, July 26th 2008)
  • Nigeria (Unspec, July 28th 2008)
  • Northern Mariana Islands (July 29th 2008)

Welcome back to Enjoy Food & Travel!!

Share a sight, a restaurant or your favourite recipe on Enjoy Food & Travel

Send an email to, 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!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Food Market at Boulevard de la Marne

Every French city with respect for itself, has a food market. So also in Strasbourg. As we walked up the streets not far from Council of Europe, we ran into an impressive market at Boulevard de la Marne. The market was located in the middle of the large street. It is open every Tuesday and Friday.
Food markets bring consumer and local producer together, cutting the middlemen thus giving both the producers and consumers better products at a better price. I was pleased to see the wide range of products available.

Lobsters - an exclusive delicacy

What about these delicious lobster brought all the way from the North Sea, under offer for €35 per kilo? A good price for such a delicacy.

Here in Norway you easily pay €50 per kilo, and for such a beauty you may have to pay around €70 at Boulevard de la Marne.

What to make from it. Delicious just to boil, served warm with melted butter, or cold mixed with mayonnaise.

Turbot - a giant plaice

The turbot is a flatfish, related with halibut, plaice and sole, but are served in a completely different way than the smaller ones.

I have not prepared turbot. I have however prepared its close cousin the halibut in different ways. I have marinated halibut in pesto and rolled it in bacon, or steamed in a delicious fish parcel with salmon and scallops.

Skate wings

I have never prepared skate wings, and have seen it prepared on BBC Food once. The famous cook Rick Stein prepared it with a sauce made from vinegar and melted butter.

Well here it is, and if you want to prepare skate wings, do some research, try a recipe and let me know how it tasted.

Say cheese - you are in France, after all!!

France is a cheese producing country and the French loves their great number of different cheeses, from the soft cream cheese, like the Saint-Marcellin I enjoyed at Le Gourmand de Saint Jean in Lyon, delicious blue cheeses as the Roquefort, and the Comté a hard cheese resembling the Swiss Gruyère and Emmenthal cheeses. I think it is this variety that is for sale here, at €29,90 per kilo.

A Dutch Parmesan

My nephew Hans Torsvik Ørnes gave me Reypenaer VSOP 2 Years a year ago, bought on duty-free at Schiphol airport, on his way back from Japan. It had the same hard consistency as a Parmesan, a nutty taste, but through it it was definitely a Dutch Gouda.

Like this one, a cheese originating from Amsterdam, aged even longer than the Reypenaer, for three years.

Other food markets here on Enjoy Food & Travel:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Truffle Risotto from Piedmonte

We have been through one of the most beautiful weekends this year. Close to 30 degrees in the shade and 25 in the water and hardly a cloud on the sky. I spent the weekend with my good friend Laila at our summer home. She brought a treat for us to prepare on last Friday evening - risotto with black truffles from Piedmonte.

I love risotto and I love truffles, and the combination of the two - what could be better!!

Laila had been given the small bag with arborio rice, seasoned with dried black truffles and porcini as a culinary gift from Italy. She had most generously brought the bag as her contribution to a great weekend - and my how good it tasted.

When preparing such a risotto, less is more. I only used olive oil, white wine, vegetable stock, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

I heated the rice gently in olive oil, added a glass of dry white wine.

I had heated 100 cl water with two cubes of vegetable stock, adding little by little, stirring until the rice had absorbed the liquid turning soft, but still a little al dente. When ready, I mixed in as much Parmesan as I felt for, but I was careful not to overpower the subtle truffle aromas. If necessary you may enhance the risotto by adding a little truffle infused olive oil.

Even without truffle oil, the mysterious, characteristic truffle aromas played with all our senses.

And what to drink? A cool glass of dry white wine.

More on truffles on Enjoy Food & Travel
More on risottos on Enjoy Food & Travel

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ham Heaven

The first task is as simple as it is hard: You have one hour to do your shopping in Barcelona - what to buy? Second task might be harder: Where to buy it?

By Enjoy Food & Travel guest writer Hans Torsvik Ørnes

In my case, I knew very well that what I wanted - needed! - was Spanish ham! It keeps well, both during transportation and on return, and unless one goes for a full leg, goes neatly into your suitcase. But best of all, months after your return, you will be able to bring back memories of happy days under the Spanish sun, slice by thin slice.

So the first choice was easy, really, but for one who does not know Barcelona very well, the second could very well been quite a challenge. Luckily, your hotel can usually help, although I had to enquire twice, as "it was really the manager who knew good ham". Indeed he did, and after a nice chat, I had a the words "Reserva Iberica", a magic circle on my tourist map, and went rambling up La Rambla with my suitcase on wheels in hunt for ham.

A few blocks later I turned left and walked straight into the Reserva Iberica show room and tasting area, pure Ham Heaven. Not so much an average butcher, it was more resembling a modern cafe, with Iberian hams lining the interior, and a seating area in the end. One could also get other Spanish delicacies, such as cheese and special selections of wine going well with the ham. The staff was very pleasant, informative, and English speaking. The show room can be found in Carrer d'Aragó, 242 in Barcelona.

I highly recommend the place and their website for more information on Iberian ham at, which also includes prices. If your country is available for shipping, one can even order ham directly from the website.

Hans Torsvik Ørnes is 30 years old, Master of Science graduated from NTNU, the University of Trondheim. He is currently working as Product Quality Manager at Fugo Oceanor in Trondheim. He has a special interest for Japanese language and culture, and has studied Japanese language at the University of Oslo. He and his wife Siren has also spent several years studying and working in Japan. You can read his Blog here (Norwegian)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rösti potatoes, a Swiss specialty

My friend in Strasbourg, Øivind, did not only initiate me into the art of preparing a perfect duck. He also served me my first Rösti potatoes, potato cakes with cheese. He loves to prepare Rösti from scratch, whereas I tend to be lazy. I take out the ready made frozen ones, to heat up in my oven.

I will concentrate on the preparation of the potatoes. On how to make a perfect duck breast I refer to my previous article here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Øivind served my first rösti before moving to Brussels some 12 years ago. Then he rented a house in Oslo and invited friends to a great dinner. He prepared them now as then, with roughly grated cheese and potatoes.

As we walked through the supermarket in Les Halles in Strasbourg looking for the ingredients, I suggested that we could use grated cheese, saving time and energy. Øivind did, however, insist that hard labour would give the best result and bought a whole cheese to grate himself.

He grated three to four peeled potatoes, and in order to get a good end result, he placed the grated potatoes in a kitchen towel, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, then adding the seasoning.

Then he fried the grated potatoes gently in salted butter until soft and golden, but not brown. He took the potatoes out of the pan, mixed the cheese and grated potatoes and shaped the mix into a large flat cake, that was fried in a pan until crisp.

And voila! Fried duck breast with a delicious swiss potato cake. Try it! It is a break from your mashed or dauphinoise potatoes - or your French fries.

The cheese makes is very tasty, but some of you may find it a little rich to duck, but I did not - it was fab!

Have a try - and enjoy it with a good red wine!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

When approaching Strasbourg you cannot fail to see the mighty Strasbourg cathedral, with its impressive tower. It was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874, and the world tallest church building until 1880. Today there are only three churches that are taller than this impressive building.

The church is standing on historic ground. On the site there have been buildings from Roman times and a small temple dedicated to Virgin Mary was built here in the 7th century.

Under the reign of Charlemagne another larger church was completed in the late 8th century. This building fell into decay and the last remains burnt down in 1176.

The building of the current church was started immediately and lasted for around 260 years. The first phase of the work was done in Romanesque style.

From 1225 the style of the building turned Gothic, as many other beautiful churches in Europe. Using pink sandstone from the Vosges region, the builders created a building of great architectural beauty.

Enormous, mighty, and at the same time so ornate that the facades look like lace. Full of beautiful details to discover and explore. As the enemy at the spears end found along side the main entrance of the church.

And the door is beautiful in all its detail. So extremely ornate, and full of symbols, whose meaning are lost in time.

As these buildings are not merely buildings. They are monuments reflecting a rich religious reality full av folklore, ideas, symbols, and drama are carved out of stone.

Much of this folklore is now impossible to interpret or understand. In this way Notre Dame de Strasbourg is a building and a riddle.

If you look carefully on the photography of the main entrance, you can see that all the saints are standing on their enemies. Here Christianity is the winner and there are punishment for its enemies, both in this world and in the worlds to come.

As you enter the church you are surprised how gracious the tall nave is standing. The upper roof of the nave is painted white, thus reflecting all the light outside.

The church has a number of beautifully coloured glass windows, sending blue, yellow and green rays into the old church room.

I will later return to the beautiful astronomical clock that was constructed in the mid to late 16th century. There are also a great number of beautiful art works in the church.

As we sat in front of the church during the evenings we discovered that there was a show, where light illuminated different parts of the main facade of the church. Here I will show a few of the beautiful picture I took during the magic illumination.