Saturday, August 09, 2008

Brasserie Flo - riding a culinary roller coaster

Brasserie Flo had been recommended as a good place to eat by my friends colleagues. We found a typical French bistro or steakhouse with a long menu, but our meal was a culinary roller coaster, from exquisite to under average dishes. We were both quite surprised by such a variation in quality in this apparently well run restaurant, and you just had to ask the question whether the cook just had a bad day?

Location: BBBB+

Brasserie Flo is located in rue de l'Outre, easy to find in a narrow old street close to Place Kléber in the heart of Strasbourg.

Atmosphere: BBBBB-

The restaurant was opened in 2007 and is decorated as a traditional French bistro in Art Nouveau style. Glass decorations on the walls and ceilings, large palm trees, tables and chairs in dark wood, comfortable leather benches. The interior was perfect, maybe too perfect. It did not have the patinated charm of a 100 year old traditional bistro, but this will come in time - if it survives..... for a century!

The tables were perfectly set with white table cloths and napkins, cutlery, and wine glasses.

Price level: BBBB

€20 per person for a three course dinner, wine and an aperitif is decent, but it did not reflect the overall quality of the food.

Service: BBBBB

Very good service from the waiters. We did not have to wait long to order or to be served.

Food: BBBB

Aperitif and amuse bouche: BBBB+

We were served two small spoons with a salad - chopped vegetables and boiled ham mixed with mayonnaise. Delicious bonus!

The aperitif of the day was a sangria, red, sugar on the rim of the glass. This was however no regular Sangria. Whatever, it tasted great and had a good alcohol content - believe me!!

Salmon Terrine: BBBBB

I got very happy when the salmon terrine was served. A large slice with bright red chunks of salmon.

The salmon terrine was as close to perfection as it could be. It had the most delicious creamy consistency. The taste was terrific, a mild well balanced and seasoned salmon taste.


Braised beef with sauteed vegetables and baked potato: BB

The way from perfection to disappointment was short at Brasserie Flo. The braised beef was well presented, but it all ended there.

I had asked to have my meat medium done, what I was served was bien cuît, well done. Apart from this, it was tough and badly seasoned. I hate tough meat and I had to use considerable energy to chew through and digest the meat served.

The vegetables were all right, the potato likewise, good consistency, not much taste, though. My thoughts went back 48 hours, to the meat served at l'Eveil de Sens, so succulent, tender, and tasty.

Selection of cheeses: BBB+

As we were filled up, we decided to share a plate of cheese. We got a plate with a brie/camembert variety, a semi soft cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

When serving cheese, the right temperature is essential. The cook had not allowed the cheese to reach room temperature. The cheese was decent enough, but I have to admit this was one of the more disappointing cheese plates I have been served lately.

Rating the Brasserie Flo experience: BBBB+ (4,38 points)

Culinary experiences ranging from perfection to decent, down to disaster. The Brasserie Flo has to do better than this in order to stay in business in one of the culinary centres in France.

Brasserie Flo
8, Rue Outre
67000 Strasbourg, France
Phone:03 88 52 03 03
Fax: 03 88 52 01 00

Friday, August 08, 2008

Al Fresco revisited

Last year we had a great lunch at Al Fresco, and as we visited Sitges this summer, we wanted to do an encore, and try another delicious dish. Al Fresco is a charming restaurant located in a narrow street of the old part of the city. Here you find a lunch restaurant at street level and a gourmet restaurant with the same name in the basement.

Last year I fell in love with the rustic interior and the informal atmosphere here. It reflects the informal and alternative life style found in this charming Spanish coastal town.

As we ended up for a lunch, I will not give it a full review here, as this requires at least two dishes, at best three dishes in order to get a proper impression of the food. I am certain, however, that Al Fresco would have made it to the upper part of the barometer if reviewed, as the food is well prepared made from good ingredients.

This year, as last it was lamb on my menu, and as last year, it had a Moroccan feel to it - lamb with couscous and vegetables. The meat was cooked tender to perfection; seasoned with a range of different spices it certainly had created the same North African character to the dish. The vegetables were soft and had soaked up all the delicious of the aromas of the stock.

My friends ordered a dish based on a genuinely Nordic ingredient – baccalà, dried and salted codfish, served with an ordinary and wild rice mix. As a contrast to the Bacalao – the dish prepared in Norway, where the dried cod would be simmered in a rich tomato sauce with onions and potatoes, it it was served with just oil and vegetables.

If you visit Sitges, Al Fresco is highly recommended by Enjoy Food & Travel to enjoy one good lunch. We will certainly come back in 2009.

Al Fresco Café
Address: Carrer Major, 33, 08870 Sitges
Fax: 938 114 017
Phone: 938 113 307

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Les Rendez Vous des Gastronomes, Lyon

Les Rendez Vous des Gastronomes in Lyon was hardly a culinary experience to speak of. A strange interior, slow service, and tasteless food left me disappointed. Is this really the meeting place of the Gastronomes? If yes, I really doubt that they have the skills necessary to enjoy good food and wine.

Location: BBBB

Le Rendez Vous des Gastronomes is located in Rue de Terme in the historic Terreaux district at the east bank of the river Saone, facing a small square.

It is easy to get there. Take the metro line A direction Vaulx-en-Velin, and leave at Hôtel de Ville / Louis Pradel (5th stop).

Atmosphere: BBB+

Of all restaurants visited in my life, Le Rendez Vous des Gastronomes had the strangest interior I have ever seen. Strangely looking forests filled with jumping frogs seemed to be the special love of the person than once made the interior design here. And the colours! Light shades of green and pink made this an extraordinary experience. Did I like it? I am afraid not.

Price: BBB+

€ 20 for two course lunch with half a bottle of rosé wine is not expensive. Still, the low quality of the food does not make the meal a bargain.

Service: BB

What service? I waited to get the menu, waited to order, and waited for the food. Le Rendez Vous des Gastronomes has so much to improve on service. As I was there were hardly no guests, but I had to wait to get any attention from the staff. This was absolutely not good enough.

Food: BBB-

Cold grilled peppers with vinaigrette: BBBB-

I ordered grilled peppers with vinaigrette and garlic bread. Looked great. The peppers were well prepared, good texture, delicious sweet taste. The vinaigrette had too much vinegar, and very strongly seasoned. In fact I nearly lost my breath in a few of my mouthfuls.

All in all the grilled peppers did not make me tick.

Chicken breast with mustard sauce and dauphinoise potatoes: BB

I looked forward to tender chicken in a sauce seasoned with Dijon mustard, sweet and hot. It looked delicious, but the culinary experience ended there.

Food shall be eaten, after all, and even the most tender pallet would hardly loose its breath over this dish. I saw the mustard seeds, but the taste was not there. In fact the chicken did not taste anything. I had to add pepper and salt to create any kind of taste.

The dauphinoise potatoes were equally tasteless and boring. What a waste of resources!!

Wine - Cuvée du Golfe de Saint Tropez: BBBB

The wine was the best part of the meal. Fruity, well balanced sweetness, as most of the other rosé wines I enjoyed during my time in Lyon.

Rating the Le Rendez Vous des Gastronomes experience: BBB-

This was a restaurant visit I would certainly not have chosen, if I had known. Ye be warned. If you would enjoy tasteless food in a pink green froggy forest and bad service - have a try!

Le Rendez Vous des Gastronomes
20, Rue Terme
F-69001 Lyon
+33 4 78 30 86 44

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Coming up on Enjoy Food & Travel in August – Schwerin, Germany

The second round of Urban Portraits, an exhibition of paintings by Malin Kjelsrud and sculptures by Kristin Rasmussen opens in Schwerin Thursday 21st 2008. As one of the paintings on display is of me, I have invited to the opening. This means I will travel to Germany, departing August 20th from Oslo to Hamburg returning August 23rd.

Travelling with Norwegian Air Shuttle mid week, you may really get a bargain flight, and I did. For only NOK 348 (EURO 43) I got a flight leaving Oslo 12.25 PM, arriving in Hamburg 2 PM. Finding a bargain for the weekend is much worse. The return ticket on Saturday 23rd operated by SAS with stopover in Copenhagen was pricier, but not expensive, NOK 1401 (EURO 175).

We will during our visit stay at InterCity Hotel Schwerin at Special Price 74 EURO per night, including breakfast. Review of the hotel will follow.

Schwerin is located in the Lake District in Vorpommern, and has a population of a little under 100 000 inhabitants. It has a history is spanning the last millennium starting with a settlement in the 11th century.

Of sights you have:

  • Schwerin Castle, located on an island in Schweriner See, for centuries the residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg and today is the seat of the Landtag (state parliament).
  • Schwerin Cathedral, built in 1260–1416 in Brick Gothic style.
  • The Alter Garten (Old Garden) square, surrounded by buildings such as the 18th-century Altes Palais (Old Palace), the neoclassical Staatliches Museum Schwerin (State Art Museum), built in 1877–1882, and the Staatstheater (City Theater), erected in 1886.
  • The town hall (18th century)
  • Schelfkirche (Saint Nicolai, originally built 1238, but rebuilt in 1713 after destruction by a storm

I look forward to see this old Historic city and stories will follow on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bargain prices to North America on Icelandair

I booked my flight to North America last week, and discovered that certain departures from Oslo were extremely cheap. I could have booked a ticked priced at EUR 300 roundtrip + tax. As I have told you earlier Icelandair is definitely my favourite airline and Keflavik my favourite hub for North American flights.

My ticket leaving Oslo September 12th to Boston, returning September 21st was priced at 3811 NOK (Around 475 EURO), excluding tax it was around NOK 2500 (EURO 310). Be aware that these prices go up and down. The day after I booked (July 24th) the airfare for the same dates had risen with around 125 EURO. You could, July 24th, however get airfare at en even lower price, EURO 350, leaving Oslo Tuesday September 15th with a return, September 23rd. This shows that if you plan your travel and find a bargain, do not wait – buy immediately.

Funny enough, prices do not seem to get any lower than this lowest price in either October, November, and rising a little in December. Still the lowest tickets available were, July 24th, around the 375 EURO mark. If you are planning to use Icelandair for Christmas, be aware that some tickets are already sold out, so you better hurry.

The lesson is. Check Icelandair every day and look for the cheapest airfare around your planned trip. Then you should buy immediately, if you find something very cheap and plan accordingly. That is; if you are one or two, unattached, and may plan travels outside seasons and holidays. If you are not, you may have to settle for much pricier tickets.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bus ride from hell

By guest writers Susanne and Per Koch

We found this monster parked in a street nearby our home the other day.

This is "Das rollende Hotel" from Hell. The German company Rotel Tour is responsible for these "rolling hotels", combinations of regular buses and beehive style sleeping cubicles.

On their web site Rotel tells us that there are both single and double cabins available. There is no information on how big the cubicles are, however, although the picture below may give you an idea.

Rotel seems to send their buses all over the world, including -- as we have proved -- exotic Norway.

We find it very hard to imagine how it is to take part in such a journey, but then again we are pretty spoiled, being accustomed to private bathrooms and the like. Imagine traveling through the Australian outback or the Egyptian desert in a tin can (admittedly an air conditioned tin can).

On the bright side it is probably a greener option than air travel. What it does for the sociocultural environment in the bus is another matter.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Scandinavian Travel News

Here are a few pieces of travel news from Scandinavia. Now you may enjoy a better and more comfortable train service from Oslo to Stockholm, as SJ the Swedish Railways get competition from UnionsExpressen on the railway.

As Ryanair close down three services from Torp Airport Sandefjord, they are opening a new to Düsseldorf this fall.

More comfort and proper restaurant on new Scandinavian train service

Scandinavia has been a backwater in Europe on offering new and better train services to the travellers. This is particularly the case for Norway, whose geography, long distances, and scattered population have made air travel more popular and convenient among travellers than train services. At one point the daily train service between Stockholm and Oslo closed, only to be reopened in February 2007. The non-stop service from Oslo to Copenhagen is now permanently closed. Now you have to change trains in Gothenburg.

UnionsExpressen opened its service from Oslo to Copenhagen in May 2008, and offers one way tickets for the five and a half hour train ride at a fixed price of 424 NOK (€53). SJ, the competitor has a flexible price system depending on demand. Here you may get tickets down to NOK 80 (€10), but you may have to pay even more than UnionsExpressen during peak season.

As SJ runs a standard service, UnionsExpressen wants to provide the traveller with an old fashioned style, and a good restaurant. They have wanted to provide a little of the atmosphere found in more famous and exclusive train services, as the Orient Express and the South African Blue Train. There are fewer seats in a newly restored retro interior, and those that have travelled with UnionsExpressen this far, have been very satisfied with the comfort and restaurant.

Chef Roger Johanzon has composed an à la carte-menu based on Scandinavian ingredients and created food with a genuine continental character. You may also choose red, white, and sparkling wines from their wine menu.

So maybe UnionsExpressen would be a good idea for those of you travelling to Scandinavia this summer or fall?

Ryanair closing three and opens one new destination from Torp Airport Sandefjord

The budget airlines operating from Scandinavia close and launch new destinations in such a speed that it is difficult to keep track of the developments. Earlier this spring, Ryanair decided to close its flights to Marseille, Pisa, and Madrid this fall. Now it launches a third destination in Germany. The airline operated one service to Frankfurt Hahn and one to Bremen, and will open another service to Düsseldorf Weeze, from October 27th.

Düsseldorf is an important hub for the airline and it operates services to 30 destinations in Europe from Weeze. The airline will also increase flights to London Stanstead from three to four a week.

So now is the time to look for cheap tickets, as Ryanair usually offers a great number of low price tickets when launching another destination.