Friday, September 12, 2008

Coming up - Northern New England




















Today I am on my way to New England for a 10 day break. I leave at 2.45 PM from Oslo airport to Reykjavik, and will arrive at Logan International Airport at 6.25 PM Eastern Time. This is an annual event, and I hope to get the last week of summer heat on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.


Travelling to New England in September has its great advantages. The American Summer ends the Labour day weekend. That means that the beaches are relatively empty and life by the sea is distinctly calmer.

The average temperature for Massachusetts in September is 26C (79F) that means for us living in more temperate parts of the world - a good and warm summer - still.

I am happy to have good friends / relatives in both Scituate and Salisbury Beach in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I will bring you late summer memories from the Boston area, when I return September 22nd.

More on Boston and Northern New England

I visited Northern New England in September 2006 and March 2007. See map on Boston and surrounding areas here.


View Larger Map

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A German Shopping bag




















I love grocery shopping abroad. Looking for interesting products to bring home with you and prepare for your friends. In Schwerin I did my grocery shopping at Real Supermarket on the 3rd floor in Schlosspark centre. Here is what I placed in my trolley.


Delicious Spanish Serrano ham

Very thinly sliced tasty and tender Spanish cured ham is always a winner.

Good as contrast to sliced cantaloupe or served as it is, drizzled with a little olive oil.






Dried vegetables for bruschetti with olive oil, garlic and peperoncini.

Italiens love dried products, as mushrooms and tomatoes. At Real I found three packages for three different purposes.

This is a great product. Kattus has made a package containing dried vegetables to create your genuine Italian bruscetta. The only thing you have to do is to revive them with oil and water, then spread on hot bread.

Alternatively it may be used in a risotto or a pasta dish.






Pasta Penne all'arrabbiata

Dried ingredients for penne all'arrabbiata, a classic Roman pasta dish. Penne with tomatoes, garlic, basil and chili, a hot experience. Arrabbiata means angry - not a sauce for the fainthearted.

Once again dried, ready to be used.










Pasta Funghi

Italians love their mushrooms, and they have a religious attitude to porcinis, morels, and the expensive truffles.

One of the favourite ways to preserve them are dried. On every markets you'll find packages of different qualities of porcini mushrooms.

Kattus have once again dried vegetables for a classic pasta dish.







Bourbon Vanilla and Saffron

Bourbon Vanilla is a term used for vanilla produced on Indian Ocean islands as Madagascar, Comores or Réunion. These sachets of vanilla sugar are produced by Ostmann and recommended for cakes, sauces, or whipped cream

Ostmann Safran powder is a precious spice with a highly aromatic taste. Versatile ingredients used for fish, or crustaceas, meat, poultry, sauces or soup.

The ingredient in a bouillabaisse, traditional paella or risotto.





Hänchenbrustfleisch im eigenen saft

Tinned chicken breast in brine. Very interesting. I have never seen chicken preserved in this way. It will be interesting to see how it looks and tastes.

How to use it? I have really no idea. In a mayonnaise based salad with curry? In a chicken pasta dish? It all boils down to the quality of the meat.




Mortadella in a tin?

Italian mortadella - light meat sausage with white fat and ingredients as coriander and pistachios, thinly sliced - what could be better?

Here is one German variation - in a tin. Germans loves their preserved meats. You get tins or glasses with regular sausages or other meat products as Jägerwurst or Leberwurst. Very tasty. We had a few varieties on our breakfast table.

I am excited to see what comes out of the tin. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lunch with Madam Reiersen

Saturday August 30th: A wonderful late summer visit to my hometown Arendal. We had decided to eat lunch at Lindvedske Hus. Sadly it was under renovation. Would our favourite lunch restaurant change? Would we get our favourite warm sandwiches and favourite beer, Nøgne Ø, when it opens? We were deeply troubled, and were forced to find another place to lunch.

Madam Reiersen is located in one of the 19th century houses at Tyholmen, the old part of Arendal. I have had very different culinary experiences here, some very good, others very uninteresting. This May I had an excellent three course dinner, so I was eager to have another try. That was a good idea.

We were ready to eat mackerel later, so one dish would be enough.

Here is a presentation of what we ordered. Fish soup for me, Terje and Ketil. Salad with scampi for my friend Laila and salad with confit chicken from Stange gård for Astrid .

Madam Reiersen fish soup

I love fish soup and the soup served at Madam Reiersen was one of the better I have been served in a restaurant.

Creamy, maybe a little more fish or shrimps would have been a good idea. Well balanced, not too salt, as many fish soups tend to be, pleasant sweetness.

The bread had an abundance of dried herbs, salt and garlic. Very good!

Salad with confit chicken from Stange gård

Stange Gård produce gourmet chicken and duck. This chicken had been slowly cooked in fat, turning it very tender and succulent.

A large portion with an abundance of meat - a real treat for a late summer day.



Salad with scampi

Delicious marinated tiger prawns topping crunchy salad leaves, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and crunchy raw red onions.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Airlines drop destinations from Norway to beat costs





















Scandinavian, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Sterling and Ryanair cut destinations to beat high oil prices. Frequency on other flights are also reduced, meaning less competition and higher prices for the consumer.

Higher prices on fuel has increased the cost for budget airlines. This, and the fact that there are (too) many airlines that operate flights between Norway and the continent, have caused more and more destinations to close permanently or to be operated only during certain periods of the year.

So for those of you planning to travel between Norway and the following destinations; hurry up, as the last plane is leaving soon or has already left!

Closures:

Norwegian Air Shuttle
  • Oslo - London/Gatwick, last departure scheduled September 1st
  • Rygge - London/Stansted, last departure scheduled September 1st
  • Rygge - Warszawa, last departure scheduled August 29th

SAS Norge:

  • Oslo - Lyon, last departure scheduled October 29th
  • Oslo - Valencia, last departure scheduled October 19th

Sterling:

  • Oslo - East Midlands last departure scheduled August 31st
  • Oslo - Brussel, last departure scheduled September 10th

Lower frequency

Norwegian Air Shuttle:

  • Oslo - Orly/Paris, 2 to 1 daily roundtrip from August 29th
  • Rygge - Beograd, 2 to 1 weekly roundtrip from August 30th
  • Stockholm - Dubai, 3 to 2 weekly roundtrips

Ryanair:

  • Torp - Girona/Barcelona, 4 to 2 weekly roundtrips
  • Torp - Bremen, 5 to 3 weekly roundtrips
  • Torp - Dublin, 7 to 4 weekly roundtrips
  • Torp - Milano, 7 to 4 weekly roundtrips

Higher frequency

Ryanair

  • Torp - London Stanstead, 3 to 4 daily roundtrips

Winter closures:

Norwegian Air Shuttle:

  • Rygge- Athen
  • Rygge-Istanbul
  • Oslo - Palma
  • Oslo - Madrid
  • Oslo - Malta
  • Rygge- Sarajevo
  • Rygge - Valencia.

Scandinavian

  • Oslo - Bristol

New Destinations:

Ryanair

  • Torp - Düsseldorf/Weeze, from October 27th

Monday, September 08, 2008

Another disappointing Burgundy wine




















As I drink very little hard liquor, I have started to buy wines on duty-free. My choice is more or less done by random. The "less" is that I know what I like or what I do not like. To deviate from this has often been a bad idea. Especially when you are tempted to buy French wine.


The last choice I made is typical of what I experience when buying an expensive wine from Burgundy or Bordeaux. At Oslo airport I fell for a Grand Vin de Bourgougne, in a very impressive package.

Bouchard & Fils Reserve du Château had all the hallmarks of an exclusive choice, including the price. I was foolish enough not to list up the experiences I have had with wines from this region, and I certainly regretted it, as Bouchard & Fils Reserve du Château was a senseless waste of money.

It was opened and allowed to air itself. When you took the first sip it had neither richness, nor fruit. My guests and I asked the same question; why is this wine on sale? Did it lack the necessary age and maturity to it? We tried to decant it, pouring it into a designer jug – and it helped a little, but it remained flat and uninteresting.

If you like wines dull as dishwater, feel free to buy a bottle of Bouchard & Fils Reserve du Château. If not, try a wine from Rhône or Languedoc. Wines from these regions used to have less prestige, but now wines superior to many of the wines I have tasted from Burgundy are produced here. Even better, leave France alone and buy a Spanish, South African or Italian. Cheaper, better – more wine for the money.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mackerel on the barbie



















My brother in law is a keen fisher, and he loves every moment when he finds himself in the middle of a large school of Atlantic Mackerel. In July he managed to catch 400, and he offered me 12, filleted, ready to throw in the pan.


Large schools of Atlantic Mackerel hit the south eastern coast of Norway from spring to fall. If you are located in one of these schools you are able to catch industrial quantities of fish in no time. Locally they are either fried, pickled, or made into mackerel burgers, a real treat.

I placed mine in the freezer, as I know that friends are expecting a good mackerel meal the last weekend in August.

I was right. As we left Oslo, the mackerels were on everyones mind.

I thought I would prepare them traditional way. That means flour them gently, adding salt and pepper, then frying them in a pan, serving the fish with cold cucumber salad, sour cream sauce, and boiled potatoes.

Terje, one of my guests, had brought his gas powered Weber grill, and convinced me to put the fish on the barbeque, rather than preparing them the traditional way. Skin side down, lightly floured. He put the lid on and it was a success.

Perfectly cooked, crispy skin, served with boiled almond potatoes, sweet and sour cucumber salad and sour cream. A treat!!!