Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pre-reformation Art at Statens Museum for Kunst

Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish National Gallery is worth a visit during a stay in the Copenhagen. It house an impressive collection of art spanning the last millennium. When leaving it, you only feel you scratched the surface of the giant art collection. Here are a few art works from different European country from the 14th, 15th, and first part of the 16th century.

Virgin Mary and Child
Master of Città de Castello (1305-1320)

This beautiful image of Virgin Mary and child originates from an unknown master from the city of Città de Castello in Perugia. This city may date back to pre Roman times when the Etruscans lived in the area.

During Medieval times Città de Castello was ruled by local noble families as the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and by the Vatican itself.

The maker of this holy portrait worked in the city the first two decades of the 14th century. In style it echoes the way Eastern European icons are painted even today.

Painting the Holy Mother and her child is an ancient Christian tradition. Some scientists have suggested that the inspiration of these paintings may have pagan roots and go back to pre Christian times and may be inspired by depictions of another famous mother and child, the Egyptian Goddess Isis and her son Horus.

Saint Victor of Siena
Master of Palazzo Venezia Madonna (1350)

This beautiful image of Saint Victor of Siena was made by an unknown master in a truly dramatic year for Europe. The last years of the first half of the 14th century the Black Death brought death and destruction to Europe. This illness killed roughly 50 % of the European population in the 13th century, and in parts of Southern Europe the figure was even higher, up to 75 - 80%.

In these dramatic years an unknown painter called Master of Palazzo Venezia mixed his tempera paint and made this beautiful painting of Saint Victor of Siena. It is well preserved, the colour and gold being remarkably bright. He is dressed in a beautiful red and blue robe. Saint Victor of Siena holds an (olive) branch in his right hand and his left is resting on a magnificent sword.

I have tried to find out who this Saint was, without any luck, but the Master of Palazzo Venezia Madonna has left a beautiful piece of art for us to admire. The National Gallery in London holds two other portraits of this artist, one of Saint Mary Magdalene and one depicting Saint Peter.

Saint Benedict - the Annunciation - a kneeling nun

Unknown Italian Master (In style of Lorenzo Monaco) 1420

This brightly coloured Italian painting was created the first decades of the 15th century.

The style is inspired by the Florentin painter Lorenzo Monaco (born Piero di Giovanni) that worked the last quarter of the 14th and the first quarter of the 15th century.

It is, as the others, a tempera painting, made from colour powder mixed with egg yolk and painted on wood.

The Raising of Lazarus The Master of Saint Magdalene Legend (working 1486-1526)

This is a detail of an oil painting made the years around the end of the 15th and the turn of the 16th century - a period that would bring upheaval to Europe, through the Lutheran reformation and religious wars that would plague the continent for the next two centuries.

The oil on wood is made from an unknown called the Master of the Saint Magdalene Legend, a painter that lived and worked in Brussels.

It depicts the raising of Saint Lazarus of Bethany believed being raised from death by Jesus.

Christ as the suffering redeemer (Around 1500)

Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)

As we enter the 16th century I will present a painting from Andrea Mantegna, a Venetian master connected through marriage to the Bellini family boasting several masters in the 15th and 16th century.

A native of Isola de Carturo close to Padua he became a pupil of Francesco Squarcione in Padua and established a brilliant career as a painter in Venice. He was one of several pioneers at that time introducing perspective into paintings.

Andrea Mategna was also the leader of the most important workshop of prints in the city before 1500.

It is tempera on wood and depicts the suffering Christ on a throne, flanked by two angels one with blue, the other with red wings.

More stories from Statens Museum for Kunst
on Enjoy Food & Travel

- Two Dutch masters - Hals and Rembrandt (June 23rd 2008)
- Lucas Cranach - a German master from the 16th century (June 2nd 2008)
- Introduction to Statens Museum for Kunst (May 17th 2008)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Norway International Meeting and Travel Fair 2009

The annual Norway International Meeting and Travel Fair takes place at Norway Trade Fairs, January 8th to January 11th 2009. January 8th to January 9th the fair is for trade partners, exclusively, whereas the fair opens for the public January 10th and January 11th 2009.

The fair is arranged in co-operation with Norwegian and international sponsors, and can boast of an impressive list of domestic and international exhibitors providing a wide range of products.

Norwegian Trade Fair is located at Lillestrøm, outside Oslo.

You can read more on the Norway International Meeting and Travel Fair on Norwegian Trade Fair website

A Stilton story

I love Stilton cheese. When visiting the UK my sister buys industrial quantities, and when I arrived at my sisters house for Christmas she showed me a huge Stilton cheese recently purchased in London. Stilton is delicious in hot food or enjoyed with crackers and as the Britons do with a glass of port. I am glad to say that she gave me a large slice of Stilton to enjoy when returning to Oslo.

Stilton is a British blue cheese equivalent to the French Roquefort and the Italian Gorgonzola. As its counterparts it varies in taste according to maturity.

As Roquefort and Gorgonzola Stilton is a protected name. This means that it can only be produced in a very restricted area around this small British village. My sisters cheese was produced by the Tuxford & Tebbutt of Melton Mowbray creamery, one of a very few producers of this cheese. It has produced cheese since 1780

(Photo: uksignpix)

This cheese was milder than many of the others I have tasted in my time. My sister had bought a whole cheese and she had even got a free gift with it, a spoon specially designed to scoop out cheese from its soft core.

We were allowed a taste of Stilton after the Christmas dinner. My sister had (with great success) prepared a delicious succulent pork rib and she and I chose the blue cheese as an alternative to caramel mousse. We enjoyed the cheese with a glass of Sandemans port. The contrast between the salt, slightly bitter cheese and the warm sweetness of the port is sensational.

A Stilton treat

I had three large shopping bags of groceries when returning from Sweden. I usually buy small tins of Abba stews, as they are a great base for tasty meals. They come in reasonable sizes, perfect for one.

December 25th I returned home and discovered that my grocers were closed and I had no bread. I needed a treat and found a packet of Santa Maria taco tubs, small edible containers.

I opened up a tin of Abba mushroom stew, mixed in two tbsp of shredded cheese and two tbsp of crumbled Stilton cheese. To add a little kick, I added a tbsp of sweet chili sauce. A good idea is to add a beaten egg for more richness.

As the taco tubs easily burns, I decided to bake the tubs in a moderate oven (130C / 270F) until very creamy.

A perfect evening treat.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Arendal anno 1528

My home town, Arendal, entered into written history 480 years ago. In 1528 the name Arendal was mentioned for the first time in a document. During five centuries the city grew to become one of the largest shipping centres in Northern Europe in the late 19th century. The transition from sail ships to steam ships led to a large decline during the first decades of the 20th century. Arendal is now a vibrant city with around 40 000 inhabitants and the administrative centre of Aust-Agder county.

August 30th 2008 we enjoyed the last summer weekend on our summer home located 15 miles away from Arendal. We visited the city and we took time for a strole on Tyholmen, the oldest part of the city. Here you find wooden houses that are as old as 350 years. Here are a few of the houses we saw.

The old police station (Anno 1650)

Arendal old Police station is one of the oldest houses in the city going back 360 years. It narrowly escaped the fires of 1798, 1848, 1863 and 1868. Two of its neighbouring houses burnt down in the 70s, but even then it luckily escaped the flames.

During my childhood the house had started to sink, as its foundation rested on large tree poles rather than firm ground. This as the place where it now stands used to be below sea level.

As it was restored, the whole structure was elevated in order to create a more secure base for it to rest on. It is now beautifully brought back to its roots, and now you find restaurants and offices here.

Andresens hus or "Kilden" (Mid 17th century)

Andresens hus (right) and the nearby Løvolds hus (left) caught fire around thirty years ago. The oldest part of Andresens house dates back at least 300 years, the other was much younger. A walkway connected the first floor of both bouses.

Two irreplaceable buildings were lost that night.

After the fire it was decided to rebuild them. Much had changed as only ten years before Arendal city council had debated whether to demolish all the beautiful houses along Pollen, the old harbour, to make room for modern office buildings.

The citizens of Arendal were enraged and mobilized in protest to secure their heritage, and even my mother walked the street in protest that evening. Faced with this popular protest the politicians did the only decent thing, they let the buildings stand. Today they are the pride of the city.

The houses were rebuild and even the walkway once built to connect the houses were reconstructed. The house is now known as Kilden (The Spring or Source), and serves as a cultural centre.

The von Kampen House (Around 1700)

You find this beautiful house at Øvre Tyholmsvei, on the eastern part of Tyholmen. It belonged to the von Kampen family and dates back to the earliest part of the 18th century.

It is constructed as many of the houses of the wealthy families from the same era, and even in the US you find similar houses, with a long roof on the back and a short roof at the back.

Here is a drawing of a typical New England Saltbox house dating back to the 18th century. Our summer home is built in the same style around 1770, even though parts of it may go back to the reign of Elizabeth I or even further into the mist of time.

The von Kampen house house goes back 300 years and it is beautifully restored. The windows on the first floor are baroque, and there are many architectural features showing its age.

The Venetian Villa (Mid 19 century)

When you walk along the rocky eastern part of Tyholmen, you bump into this beautiful house. It more belongs to the area around the Mediterranean than on these northern shores.

The name is my invention, as it reminds me of an Italian/Venetian house.

I read its story once. The exterior is certainly the works of a sailor that wanted to recreate the sentiments of Southern Europe. I do remember that the house within is a much older wooden house.

It is a marvellous place with flowers in abundance. A large holly is growing by the stairs.

Go there and see it, if visiting Arendal.

Do you want to know more about Arendal?

- Lunch with Madam Reiersen (September 10th 2008)
- The streets of my childhood (June 17th 2008)
- A trip to Norway's southern tip (August 7th 2008)
- Arendal - the Venice of the North (October 22nd 2006)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Once here lived a child called Heinrich......

As we wandered along the the banks of Pfaffenteig in Schwerin August 21st we spotted a half-timbered gingerbread house so typical of Northern Germany. Built from red bricks broken up by dark brown or black beams and white painted windowns. A small memorial plaque caught our attention.



I picked up my camera and took a few photos in order to find out who this man was and write a story here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

I found that Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Seidel was an engineer, as well as a poet and a writer. He was born in Perlin in Mecklenburg and died in Berlin.

Heinrich Seidel graduated from the Polytechnikum in Hannover in 1862 and participated in the construction of the impressive Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin, the largest railway station in Europe when opened in 1880.

The same year Heinrich retired to start to work as a writer and poet, and became a member of the literary companies Akademischer Verein Hütte and Tunnel über der Spree. He wrote short stories and poetry from 1874 to his death in 1906.

He is particularly renowned for his Ode to the Engineer. Here it is:

Loblied auf die Ingenieure

Dem Ingenieur ist nichts zu schwer(e),
er lacht und spricht: "Wenn dieses nicht, so geht doch das!"
Er überbrückt die Flüsse und die Meere,
die Berge unverfroren zu durchbohren, ist ihm Spaß.
Er türmt die Bögen in die Luft,
er wühlt als Maulwurf in der Gruft,
kein Hindernis ist ihm zu groß,
er geht drauf los.
Was heut sich regt mit hunderttausend Rädern,
in Lüften schwebt, in Grüften gräbt und stampft und dampft und glüht,
was sich bewegt mit Riemen und mit Federn,
und Lasten hebt, ohn Rasten webt und locht und pocht und sprüht,
was durch die Länder donnernd saust
und durch die fernen Meere braust,
das alles schafft und noch viel mehr
der Ingenieur.

More sights from Schwerin here on Enjoy Food & Travel

- Grave of Georg Adolph Demmler, Schwerin (November 24th 2008)
- Headstones of the von Bülow family, Schwerin (October 24th 2008)
- Kunstdrechshlei Zettler, Schwerin (September 4th 2008)
- Schlachtermarkt, Schwerin (September 4th 2008)
- Schloss Schwerin, Schwerin (October 3rd 2008)
- Schlosstrasse 10, Schwerin (September 4th 2008)
- Schwerin Masonic Lodge, Schwerin (September 4th 2008)
- Schweriner Dom, Schwerin (October 24th 2008

Monday, January 05, 2009

Granary Burying Ground anno 1660

Only a stone's throw away from Boston Common you find the Granary Burying ground, the resting place for many prominent Bostonians since 1660. Once a part of Boston Common, it was established as the burial ground around Kings Chapel was full. Here rests a few of the heroes of the revolution as well as more anonymous citizens of Boston.

It is strange to find a cemetery in the middle of a modern American metropolis. It is actually one out of three grounds that was established in this area. You may visit the oldest, around Kings Chapel, as well. Here you have the graves of some of those buried here.

Here lieth.....

Mary Goose (1648-1690)


Mother Goose is a well known character in English and American folklore through fairy tales and nursery rhymes. She is an archetype of a country woman.

The two wives of Isaac Goose, Mary or Elisabeth are believed to be the inspiration for this character.

After Mary died Isaac Goose married Elisabeth Foster from Charlestown in Massachusetts, outliving her husband and giving birth to 6 children. Isaac had 10 children with Mary.

Elisabeth Peck (died 1757)


The theme of this head stone is the same as the one found on Mary Goose's, a skull flanked by two wings.

I have found several Elizabeth Pecks on the net, but not as the wife of Moses Peck.

Close by you also find the grave of their daughter.

Abigail Peck (1744-1751)


An American icon - Paul Revere (1734-1818)

REVERES TOMB are the only words on a stone marking the resting place of an American icon. Paul Revere was born in Boston as son of Apollos Rivoire, a French huguenot escaping religious persecution and Deborah Hichborn from Boston.

He is renowned as the messenger in the battles of Lexington and Concord.

His home, located in Boston North End, is built in 1680 and is the oldest building in Boston. It is now a museum and a stop along the Boston Freedom Trail.

Read more on Old North Church and the Paul Revere statue in Boston North End

Paul Revere was a freemason. Read story on the masonic role in the American revolution here

Samuel Adams (1722-1803)

BORN 1722 DIED 1803

If you go into a Boston bar you may order a freezing cold Sam Adams. This as the 4th Governor of the Commonwealth was a politician, writer, statesman, political philosopher - and a brewer.

He is one of the signers of the Decalaration on July 4th 1776.

Read more on the true Boston lager here

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Darbar revisited

(Review December 20th 2009) Darbar is a restaurant located in my neighbourhood. It has served Indian food for years, and is actually one of the better of its kind in Oslo. As it has been taken over by new Afghan owners, Afghan specialties have been added to the menu. Darbar has decent food at reasonable prices, but the interior may be in need of a makeover.

Location: BBBB

Darbar is located at Tøyen, a downtown area dominated by a large immigrant population. It is a quiet neighbourhood, less trendy than the nearby Grønland area, and has fewer good restaurants. This area is easily accessible. Just take one of the five eastbound subway lines, and leave by Tøyen Munchmuseet. The restaurant is only a five minute walk away.

Service: BBBB

We recieved a warm welcome from the staff, but the service was a little slow. After ordering, we waited 20-25 minutes for our meal to our table, even though there were hardly no visitors there.

Interior and atmosphere: BBB

Darbar has the atmosphere of a well established neighbourhood restaurant. This makes it difficult to decide whether the present interior is what it is supposed to be, or whether it needs a new look. Is it old charm or is it run down? Having thought this over I recommend the owners of Darbar to invest in a makeover, do not change the interior completely, rather the opposite. Build on what already is of old charm, but get new and more comfortable furniture, and refresh the colour scheme of the interior.

Food & Drink: BBBB

I ordered what was described in the menu as chicken with spinach and exotic spices (149 NOK / €16).

When asked whether we wanted our food mild, medium or strong we chose strong, described as Madras. You could order vindaloo as well, if you were looking for a strong experience.

We also asked for Garlic Naan.

The chicken was served in a metal container heated by a small candle placed under it. Not very creatively presented, basically a heap of food garnished with raw onions, coriander and topped with a green chili.

Chili served as a warning sign, as hot at Darbar is HOT!! I would never think of how vindaloo would taste. I would practically catch fire. In spite of the chili factor, aromas were well balanced, and the Chicken had a delicious creamy consistency. The meat was tender and vegetables had that reassuring crunch.

The garlic nan had an indecent amount of garlic - enough to scare vampures out of hell! YUM!!!

We ordered a pint of Cobra beer, to stop the fire and to be quite frank, this food would have killed any red wine. Cobra is a very decent beer, with a deep aroma and very fresh - a good contrast to the hot food.

Rating the Darbar experience: BBBB (3,87 points)

Good Indian & Afghan neighbourhood restaurant on Oslos East End. A little pricey, but you can eat worse Indian food else where. Darbar rarely fail to deliver good food. The interior needs a makeover.

Darbar Mat & Vinhus
Smedgata 49, N-0651 Oslo
Phone: +47
22 67 47 04