Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three menus at Le Crocodile

One priority on my next visit to Strasbourg will be to enjoy a meal at Le Crocodile, one of the most famous restaurants in this culinary centre in Eastern France.

When standing in front of this gastronomic Mecca last July, my eyes fell on menus displayed in front of the restaurant. They were so intriguing, that I took up my camera and took photo of each menu in order write on them later.

Eating at Le Crocodile does not come cheap, but for €200 - 300 for two you will get a unique culinary experience with wines. In spite of this price tag, it will most probably bring you to the tastes and smells of nirvana.

Wonder what they offered in July 2008? Here are the three menus!

Menu of discovery
Price €252 for 2

Roasted zander with roe of carpe with green asparagus. Creamed polenta
Piece of beef from Volay. Fried chantarelles
Potatoes and fava beans
Duo of cheeses
chosen by Cyrille Lobro, MOF
Almond tarte with pineapple and banana
Petit Fours

Aperitif Muscat d'Alsace (one glass per person)
Riesling Altenberg Grand Cru 2006,
Anne-Marie Schmitt à Bergbieten (1/2 bottle)
Saint Aubin Les Castets 2005, Hubert Lamy
(1/2 bottle)
Gewurztraminer 2005 Réserve Émile Jung (1 glass per person)
Coffee, Mineral water, and Digestif

Menu "Coup de Coeur"
€300 for 2 persons

Goose liver cooked "au Naturel"
Spiced Melon Chutney
Cod in Lemon Confit
Baked apple mash
Purple olives and rocket
Rack of Lamb in herb crust
Vegetable confit
French Cheese
Fried peach with rosemary
Ice cream from almond milk

Aperitif Muscat d'Alsace (1 glass per person)
Pinot Gris Fondation 2004, Joemeyer of Wintzenheim
(1 glass per person)
Sancerre 2005, Comte Lafonde (1/2 bottle)
Château Parde de Haut Bailly 1998,
Pessac Léognan (1/2 bottle)
Gewurztraminer 2005 Réserve Émile Jung (1 glass per person)
Coffee, Mineral water, and Digestif

If these menus do not make your mouth water, what will? For a collection of such delicatessen, it does not seem too much. Food prepared from the most exquisite ingredients and wines carefully chosen to please the pallet. Le Crocodile will be on my list of restaurants to visit on my next trip to the Alsatian capital.

Le Crocodile
10 rue de l'Outre France
F-67060 Strasbourg-Cedex
Phone: +33 03 88 32 13 02
Fax: +33 03 88 75 72 01
Official website:

Another hot restaurant in Strasbourg

Read my review on an exquisite dinner at L'éveil de Sens

Friday, November 14, 2008

Designer tapas at Bianco

Designer tapas - another trend? Well I do not know, but the closest encounter I have had with trendy tapas took place at Bianco Restaurant in Sitges in June. It was a far cry away from garlic shrimps or spicy sausages once served in noisy bars throughout the Iberic peninsula. Here you had the traditional stuff with a twist, at least the calamaris.

Bianco is located by the main beach, not far from the church. Here you may enjoy trendy food facing the Mediterranean, and I did just that at lunch time June 20th.

I was not very hungry (I had a little more than usual for breakfast), so I decided to try two tapas. That was a treat, but it was expensive. Close to €20 for the meal with wine was expensive, but the tapas were fab!!

Calamaris with sweet red onion marmalade and truffles

This was truly an original twist to the traditional calamaris, that are rolled in batter and deep fried. No excess fat here.

Two squid, no tentacles, quickly fried and served on an extremely aromatic onion stew. Delicately balanced, and the truffle aromas, distinct but discreet in the background.


More truffle stories?

What about a truffle risotto from Piedmont?

Croquetas de Jamon

Sorry more croquetas, they are my favourites and I eat as much as I can while being in Spain. The specimen served at Bianco Restaurant looked as any other served during my week in June, but they were definitely better, packed with all those yummie jamony tastes.

The designer element was a square glass plate and lettuce to improve digestion.

And what to drink? Dripping cold rosé wine, delicious to meat as well as fish - a perfect choice in the hot weather.

Restaurant Bianco was expensive, but they served delicious, delirious designer tapas.

Do try 'em!!


Bianco Restaurant
Pg de la Ribera, 34, Sitges

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goodbye, Feedburner! Hello Google Analytics!

Enjoy Food & Travel has switched from Feedburner to Google Analytics as our new statistics program. This as we experience Feedburner as an increasingly unreliable source for our visitors.

The number of registered visitors has suddenly decreased by 50 % the last week, and the health of this service does not seem to get better. The communication, or rather the lack thereof, from the owner, Google, has been another main concern. This is certainly not the way to act towards your customers!

The switch to Google Analytics will mean that the Enjoy Food & Travel reporting on visit around the world will change.

I have enjoyed the fact that Feedburner has provided me with the location of my visitors. I have shared this to my readers through a service where I have registered all location on a google map. I will see how I will report on the visits around the world at the beginning of December.

Meanwhile - do come back to Enjoy Food & Travel.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sitges: Greasy at La Oca

June 20th 2008: One very difficult choice - where to eat dinner today. It is funny how vacation manage to move your focus from theoretical problems to rather easy choices. We were recommended to try chicken at La Oca, located in one of the narrow streets of Sitges, close to the beach. We will not recommend La Oca, it is as easy as that.

A classic Spanish bodega style interior. We have seen them before. The fact that the restaurant was nearly empty should have made the alarm bells ring. It usually doesn't when visiting Spain, as Spaniards usually eat much later than Scandinavians.

We were not the only Northern European visitors in Sitges this week though, so normally it should have been more people there with our habits.

Fried chicken breast with bearnaise sauce, French fries, baked red peppers and mushrooms

It sounded well, but when served it was greasy, greasy, greasy.

For God's sake it does not have to be that way!!

When rolling a chicken breast in bread crumbs, then frying it, place the breast a short moment on a kitchen paper. This removes excess fat. Do the same thing with french fries.

The guest should not have to digest so much unnecessary fat. Remember that the bearnaise sauce in itself is butter based and very rich.

The baked red peppers and fried button mushrooms provided some relief from all the fat.

Be sure - La Oca is a place that I will never visit again!

Restaurant La Oca
c/ Parelladas nº 41
08870 Sitges (Barcelona)
Phone + 34 93 894 79 36

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cinderella, cinderella........

When driving to and from our summer home at the southern coast of Norway, there is a striking absence of good places to eat by the road - with one exception. Cinderella café and restaurant at Brokelandsheia is known for its good food, and has been there for years. First at Fiane, another location by the old E 18, then by the newly built main road further inland.

We have stopped there twice, lately, to eat dinner on our way back to Oslo. You pay one price, close to NOK 200 (€25), and then you may eat as much as you want from the buffet.

Plate 1 - surf and turf

When approaching a buffet, you are often tempted to mix everything. I am afraid I was tempted to make a little surf and turf on this plate. Thinly sliced, fried beef, deep fried shrimps, baked, creamed rice with onions and cheese, onion rings and a few dauphinoise potatoes.

Very filling and appetizing - indeed!

Plate 2 - lasagna al forno and sausages

Garfield the cat is not the only one that loves a creamy lasagna - I do!

Lasagna is the ultimately comfort food, and in spite of the missing bechamel sauce, this lasagna was de-li-ci-ous! Many caterers and restaurants forget that a proper lasagna must have separate layers of tomato sauce and white creamy bechamel sauce.

I also picked a few bites of fried sausages, and with a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and a good dressing you left the table content and ready to drive on.

Cinderella Cafe & Hotel AS
Brokelandsheia, N-4993 Sundebru
Phone: +47 37 15 70 00
Fax: +47 37 15 70 24

Roadside food in South Africa? Read my story here!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quality Spa & Resort Son

Quality Spa & Resort Son is located in a small quaint community by the Oslo fjord and less than an hour away by car from the Norwegian capital. It is a brand new hotel, opened on November 1st. This means that there are no wear and tear, as less than a dozen people have slept in your bed and taken a shower in your bathroom for the night. If you think that this is a good thing, I would say yes and no. The house and its interior may be brand new, but the risk is that the personnel is equally new and inexperienced. They were, and that made the difference.

Location: BBBB

Quality Spa & Resort Son is located by the fjord and close to the idyllic Son community. This is a beautiful spot, with small islands and the fjord just in front of the hotel. The only thing disturbing is the smoke from the chimneys of Hurum fabrikker a paper mill clearly visible on the other side of the fjord.

Quality Spa & Resort Son is easily accessible by car, as Oslo is only 50 kilometers (31 miles) away, and there are parking connected to the hotel.

If you rely on public transportation getting there is much worse. Take the suburban train from Oslo to Moss and leave at Sonsveien station. Check whether you may book a taxi, as the hotel is a 10-15 minute ride away from the station.

Service: BBB

The service at Quality Spa & Resort Son varied from good to quite bad. The receptionists were kind, attentive and professional. My experience when seated in the bar was quite the opposite.

I sat down in the trendy bar area and it took the bartender 10 minutes to approach to ask me whether I wanted something to drink. She was clearly inexperienced, but it is important for the hotel management to train the personell properly to be attentive.

The waiters in the restaurant were equally inexperienced. I will return to this when reviewing the food later.

Room: BBBB+

Medium sized bed- and bathroom. Two very comfortable beds, rather small, barely 80 cm (a little over 2 feet) wide.

Smart interior, as a comfortable large desk was built into a wooden wall that worked as a bed end.

Pleasant colour coordination. White walls, light wooden floors matching the furniture. Pleasant, but a little boring and unadventurous. The wooden floors are a bliss, carpets are very unhygienic as they are very hard to clean and maintain.

Style? I would call it designer, but this was more the case for the hotel than the room. There were some details that a designer somewhere thought were clever.

I refer to a plastic, steel rocking chair - a strange, not very comfortable piece of furniture. I would suggest that the hotel changed this piece with a more comfortable chair for the guest to sit and relax in after a refreshing spa visit.

Quality Spa & Resort Son was a brand new hotel, this meant absolutely no wear and tear, the room and bathroom were immaculately clean and well maintained.

Other details. No mini bar, hair drier or coffee machine. A very smart adjustable flat screen TV with remote control to watch as you try to sleep in.

Breakfast BBBB

Quality Spa & Resort Son offered a decent breakfast included in the price - hooray! Bacon, eggs, beans in tomato sauce.

Several kinds of breads and rolls. Cheese and boiled ham.

Fresh fruit, yogurt, coffe and tea as well as apple and orange juice.

Eat and off to enjoy a spa.

Facilities: BBBBB

As you are off the beaten track at Quality Spa & Resort Son the hotel offers an indoor restaurant and a bar area. The food served varied a little in taste and quality, but this may improve by time - I certainly hope so. The restaurant and bar is located in a large open room that feels a little sterile and cold.

There are exercise and well being facilities in abundance. A 19 meter swimming pool, a pool with cold water, as well as in- and outdoor jacuzzi. You may also enjoy an outdoor hot tub with a Finnish sauna.

The Magic Circle is a separate area with waterfall, foot bath, eventshowers, relaxrooms, and different saunas; steam, Finnish and caldarium with light therapy, foot sauna and mistroom.

Quality Spa & Resort Son has air conditioning, and WIFI zone for the customers. There are large areas to sit down and rest on the ground floor facing the fjord. I personally missed a few smaller and more secluded zones, as it felt as sitting in an open, sterile and bare hangar.

There are parking facilities directly connected to the house.

Quality Spa & Resort Son is extremely well maintained and cleaned, but it had barely been in use when we visited it.

Price: BBB

A Spa packet costs NOK 1895 (€ 235) includes double room, bath robe + slippers, full pension, incl. 3 course dinner, access to the Spa department on the ground floor.

I know that the price includes full pension, but this means per person. 3800 NOK per room is very much to pay, and this does not state whether a standard massage is included in the price or not. The website says access to spa department, nothing more.

Rating the Quality Hotel & Resort Son experience: BBBB- (3,87 points)

Quality Spa & Resort Son is an immaculately clean, new designer hotel, with an unexperienced staff. A modern, but a bare, rather cold interior, at a wonderful location by the Oslo fjord. There is much potential here, but the price is per person and rather steep.

Quality Spa & Resort Son
N-1555 Son
Tlf.: +47 64 98 48 00
See Official website here

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Breakfast in America

Breakfast in America can be serious stuff. Bacon, eggs, harsh browns, pancakes, and maple syrup. Truckers tucker that may energize you until late lunch or early dinner time. In June I started a new and better life that seriously altered my breakfast habits. Bread, cheese, and coffee were switched to yogurt, fresh fruit, and fruit juice. This regime has meant 7 kilos (15 lb’s) less to carry, and a good appetite to lunch - fresh salad.

Breakfast in America in September bore the mark of my new life. I roamed through the supermarkets hunting for my favourite fruit, but first I tried some interesting new yogurts, as this large container of vanilla yogurt enjoyed during my days in Scituate. My cousin Erica knew that the organic vanilla yogurt from Stonyfield Farm meant quality and it really did.

Creamy, tasted like custard, and low in calories, meant breakfast time equalled pudding time. Tartness of berries contrasted by soft, sweet, vanilla velvet.

Dairy innovations - brought to you by Dannon

If there is something called dessert innovation, I had my innovation encounter when staying with my cousin Anne in Salisbury Beach, further up the coast, but still within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Innovation brought to you by Dannon (or Danone in Europe).

Dannon is a well known brand in Europe. I know it from my own supermarkets as the creator of the probiotic lines Actimel and Activia, dairy enforced with good bacteria, to improve digestion and immune systems. Dannon in the US has product the dairy product concept one step further with an exciting new line of smoothies.

Frusion - Smoothies, delicious blends of fresh fruit, fruit juice and yogurt, are getting increasingly popular. Delicious fresh fruit and the good thing that it is healthy for you, unless you add a lot of sugar to them, that is.

My cousin was rather addicted to these small bottles, and she bought a wide range of tastes. I LOVED the pinacolada taste. Even without alcohol it tasted like the real thing. This one, with wild fruit and strawberries was poured over my fruit.

Back to the fruit. Large, succulent strawberries and blueberries the size of large bullets, packed with antioxidants ready to protect you against all evil. I indulged in the stuff, as these berries are my favourites, and I do feel that people should eat what they like. Strawberries sliced in two, blueberries and Dannon smoothies.

What an easy way to loose weight!!