Saturday, January 03, 2009

A New Year Brunch

The first day of the year was celebrated by a traditional brunch. What is more traditional to serve in Norway than open sandwiches, seasonal Christmas beer, and shots of aquavit. The open sandwiches were inspired by the ones I have enjoyed in Denmark, with topping in abundance, but I made my little personal twist to them as well. I served Danish and Swedish aquavit. Here are the recipes of the sandwiches I made.

Open sandwich with prawns and spicy mayonnaise on rye bread (Serves three)

Open sandwiches with large prawns with mayonnaise are served all over Scandinavia. I used fish seasoning containing garlic, dried lemon, herbs and added Spanish paprika to create a spicy mayonnaise as an interesting contrast to the prawns. Truly a success, according to my guests.

For three sandwiches you'll need

3 slices of rye bread (1 cm /1/2 inch thick)
500 grams of large prawns, peeled
5 tbsp Hellmann's mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp fish seasoning with garlic, pepper, and lemon
2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder

Mix mayonnaise with fish seasoning and paprika powder. I used Tone's Salmon and seafood seasoning, but if you do not have this mix, make your own. Then use a generous amount of garlic, pepper, lemon, dill, and paprika powder. If you use dried spices and herbs, I recommend a pestle and mortar to grind the seasoning into a fine powder. This will draw more of the essences from the spices into the mayonnaise. Allow mayonnaise and herbs mix to infuse in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Peel the prawns, and clean them in cold water. (Do not throw the shells away. Boil in water with stock cubes for 20 minutes to make a stock great for soups and sauces). Spread equal amounts of mayonnaise on the rye bread and add prawns in abundance on each slice of rye bread.

Open sandwich with akvavit marinated juniper smoked salmon with creamed scrambled eggs with Dijon mustard and tarragon. (Serves 3)

I used juniper smoked salmon from Lofoten producer. I mixed cold scrambled eggs with a sauce made from tarragon, mustard and mayonnaise. When assembled I poured a glass of Aalborg Jubileumsaquavit over the salmon, an idea derived from Ida Davidsen in Copenhagen.

For three sandwiches you'll need:

3 slices of rye bread (1 cm /1/2 inch thick)
200 grams / 7 oz smoked salmon or trout, very thinly sliced
4 eggs
3 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp Hellmanns mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp dried tarragon, finely ground
6 cl Aquavit

Mix Hellmanns mayonnaise with tarragon and mustard. Taste to find the right balance. Allow to infuse in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Make scrambled eggs from eggs and water. Allow to cool down. Mix in tarragon and mustard mayonnaise. Build up scrambled egg on the middle of the slice of bread. Cover the scrambled eggs completely with the thin slices of salmon. Pour 2 cl of Aquavit over the salmon.

Open sandwich with warm pepper paté, crispy bacon, fried mushrooms and pickled cucumber on rye (Serves 3)

A truly Danish specialty. I used Belgian pepper paté but most patés will do.

For three sandwiches you'll need

3 slices of rye bread (1 cm /1/2 inch thick)
6 1/2 inch slices of cold pepper paté
6 slices of bacon
4 mushrooms, finely sliced
3 cl brandy
Soy sauce to taste
6 slices of pickled cucumber

Fry the slices of bacon on a low heat in a dry titanium pan with no fat until golden and crisp. Allow to cool down.

Slice the mushrooms finely, and fry in excess fat in pan on a low heat. Add a little more butter if necessary. Add brandy and soy sauce to balance taste, and allow all liquid to evaporate, then add a little more butter and fry lightly. Allow to cool down in refrigerator.

Then start to assemble the dish. Place to slices of paté on the slice of bread. Add the cold crisp bacon, and mushrooms. Place in oven on a low heat (100C / 210F) for 10-15 minutes. Place cucumber on top when serving.

Friday, January 02, 2009

UPDATED OCTOBER 2010 - CLOSED: Bangkok Thai, Oslo

Updated October 6th 2010: Bangkok Thai Restaurant, Oslo, is closed for business.

(Reviewed December 17th 2008) Bangkok Thai has served Thai food for a long time for the citizen of Oslo east end. Located in my neighbourhood, I visit Bangkok Thai 3-4 times a year, and never leave disappointed.

Location: BBBB

Located at Grønlandsleiret in Oslos East End, once a run down, working class area, now a revived and trendy area of the Norwegian capital. Easy accessible, 5-10 minutes away from Grønland Subway station.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBBB-

Traditional thai interior, bright red walls, thai nick & nack, plastic flowers (!) separates the tables. Tables and chairs in light wood.

Not the most creative of interiors.

We were placed by a small table with a plastic jungle on my left. Very little space and very close to the next table.

Service: BBB

Very kind welcome from the Thai staff, but the service ended there. It was very difficult to get anyones attention, and when ordering it took a long time even to get entrée. It was equally difficult to even get the bill. And the restaurant was not under staffed, so there were no excuse for the service.

Food: BBBB

Entrée: Chicken skewers with Satay sauce: BBBB

Three skeewers topped with creamy peanut sauce. Presentation: Room for improvement. Consistency: Good - very tender chicken meat in a smooth velvety sauce, crunchy salad aside. Taste and balance: Great peanut taste, but the sauce was a little sweet, but this sweetness was balanced up by salad vinegrette. Price: € 8,50 / NOK 70.

Main Course: Fried duck with oyster sauce and pepper: BBBB

I love duck, and I have tasted several duck varieties at Bangkok Thai. Presentation: Delicate on a blue Chinese tray, with freshly cut cucumber and one purple orchid flower as main decorative elements.

Consistency: Woked vegetables with good crunch mixed with oyster sauce. I personally would have preferred a crispy duck prepared separately and served on top, as it the fat was soft, tough, and slightly unappetizing. Rice a little too sticky.

Taste: Well balanced food. The duck meat and vegetable tasted delicious, deep delicate oyster sauce and you were left gasping for air when chewing a hot red chili pepper and green pepper corn.

Beer: Ringnes on draught: BBBB

Local brew on draught is a perfect choice for Thai food. A little low on freshness, but the light bitterness and low temperature balance the sweetness and heat of the food. Nice price as well (€8).

Rating the Bangkok Thai experience: BBBB (3,77 points)

Recommendable in Oslos east end. Good food at decent prices, slow service.

Bangkok Thai
Adresse:Grønlandsleiret 27,0190 Oslo
Telefon: 22 17 70 03

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Alexander Nevskij Church in Copenhagen

I visited Copenhagen for the first time in 1972. My mother, sister and I stayed in hotel Esplanaden, at the end of the the impressive Bredgade leading from Langelinie to Kongens Nytorv. We had a room facing the towers of Marmorkirken and the golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevskij Church, a strange and exotic silouette on the Copenhagen skyline.

It was a wonderful sight for a little boy as me. As I walked down Bredgade April 23rd 2008, I stopped to admire this beautiful building once again.

Here is a little bit of its history.

The church is dedicated to Prince Alexander Yaroslovich Nevskij of Novgorod and Vladimir in Russia born 1220 and died in 1263. Alexander Nevskij is regarded as one of the key figures in Russian medieval history and was recently voted the greatest Russian that has ever lived beating the infamous communist dictator Stalin.

There are a great number of other church dedicated to this saint, the most famous being the main cathedrals in Sofia, Tallinn, and churches in Belgrade and Tbilisi.

The Danish royal family was closely linked to the Russian Tsars in the late 19th century. Princess Dagmar of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Denmark (26 November 1847 - 13 October 1928) married Tsar Alexander III of Russia in 1866.

The tsarina known as Maria Feodorovna was the mother of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, killed by the communists together with family in Jekaterinburg in 1917.

Her father-in-law Tsar Alexander II was killed by a bomb on the morning March 13th 1881, making her the Empress of Russia. The official crowning took place in 1883, the same year the Alexander Nevskij church in Copenhagen was finished. It was designed by David Ivanovich Grimm, a famous Russian architect and educator.

Later in 1883 Tsar Alexander and Tsarina Maria, and their daughter Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna travelled to Copenhagen to be present at the consecration of the church. Her son Nicholas became tsar in 1894 when his father died, and Maria stayed in Russia until 1919, when she went into exile in Copenhagen. She died in 1928 and her ashes were buried in Roskilde Cathedral, the burial church of the Danish royals.

In 2006 her ashes were removed from Roskilde to be brought to rest by her husbands side in Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Back then there was a honorary procession that took her ashes to the Alexander Nevskij Church on her way back to Russia.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year from Enjoy Food & Travel

The Enjoy Food & Travel team will wish all readers around the world a Happy New Year celebration as we enter the year of our lord Two Thousand And Nine.

We in the far north experience sub zero conditions. The forecast for Oslo for December 31st is fair skies and -8 degrees Celsius or 17,5 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.

I will spend the evening with friends in a rooftop apartment at Oslos west end, with a view to the fireworks set to go off at midnight.

I will be back with new stories from December 1st, when I will tell the story of a Russian Orthodox Church in the heart of Copenhagen and its connection to the last Russian Tsars.

So stay tuned for new and interesting articles here on Enjoy Food & Travel.