Friday, January 30, 2009

Hvide Lam anno 1807

I love old taverns, and in Copenhagen they are out of numbers. At Kultorvet, or the coal market you find one that has be open for business over 200 years. 1807 was a turbulent year. Napoleon I attacked Russia, slavery was abolished by law in the British empire, and the first steam boat service was launched on the Hudson River by Henry Fulton. One day in this year the first proprietor of Hvide Lam opened the doors for business.

Hvide Lam is truly a brown tavern. It has retained some of its run down charm, as its interior has escaped interior decorators attention for a very long time, and should remain so. Its walls, ceiling, and floor, is wonderfully politically incorrect, as generations of smokers have left a brown patina over it. Most of you may find this unappetizing but I, in spite of being a non smoker, do not.

I ordered a pint of Danish beer and a Gammel Dansk bitter, and took a glance of the relatively empty room. I have found that Hvide Lam is better to visit when the locals flock to one of their legendary jazz nights (6 times a week)

They do recommend their sandwiches s.k. håndmad, priced at DKK 48. I did however happen to see one of the compulsory (framed) reports left by the Danish Food Safety authority, where they award a smiley to serving establishments. When controlled in February 2008, the authorities had remarks, whereas the control report from October 2008 ended with none, and Hvide Lamb was awarded with one large smiley.

The sandwiches at Hvide Lam is not prepared at the bar. If you would like to enjoy one of these treats in an authentic tavern, I would recommend Skindbuksen, where they prepare the real thing from scratch.

But a visit to Hvide Lam is worth while, to experience the Danish kneipe, one of the trade marks of this genuinely relaxed country.

Hvide Lam
Kultorvet 5, DK-1175 København K
Phone: +45 3312 6502

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dunkin' Dounuts - an American food story

American runs on dunkin' is the slogan of the Dunkin' Donuts company. You will find this brand all over the US and in countries all over the world. They have not established themselves in Scandinavia - yet! I am, to be quite frank, not very eager to get theme here either, as they do not offer food that I like, rather the opposite!

My Dunkin' is located in my summer paradise - New England. I have ordered coffee and an occational bite from one of their restaurants in Scituate MA and in Seabrook NH. I like their coffee, but I have grave reservations to their concept of food.

A genuine New England company

Dunkin' Donuts has its roots in New England. William Rosenberg started to serve customers lunch snacks in Providence RI in 1946, and opened their first Dunkin' Donuts in Quincy, outside Boston in 1950. The Dunkins' brand was bought up by Allied Lyons in 1989, and is currently jointly owned by The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The mother of all Dunkin' Donuts at 543 Southern Artery in still in business. From this humble start the mother of all Dunkins' has hatched out close to 8000 restaurants in 30 countries all over the world, and it is still expanding. The company will try to double their number of restaurants in the US within 2015.

I have to say that I have no sweet tooth, in general, so their main product, doughnuts with several different frostings, do not appeal to me. I build my latest experiences on their different breakfast sandwiches, with or without bacon, eggs, cheese, sausage or ham.

Breakfast sandwich (September 18th 2008)

My latest Dunkin' Donuts experience was in their shop in 12 Ocean Blvd, Seabrook, NH. I ordered a breakfast sandwich with eggs, cheese and sausage and a medium coffee with milk.

I cannot use another word of what I was served than boring. Eggs and sausage with no taste to talk of, and with a consistency of rubber. I do not care for the quality of the bread either.

I have no idea why it should end up like this. ‎When having cheese, eggs, and sausage, it is, with some skill, quite easy to get a decent result.

The answer must be that brands like Dunkin' Donuts produce food in such quantity, and combined with factors like preparation time (fast food) and low price they end up serving food equally bad over the whole world.

What (not) to choose at Dunkin' Donuts

If you have to resort to a Dunkin' product there are some I would recommend to others. Stay away from their different breakfast sandwiches or try them once, to prove me wrong.

The decent thing to buy for breakfast is their bagels. The staff will toast them for you, and you may choose regular cream cheese or seasoned, e.g. with chives in a small cup to follow.

Take out you plastic knife and spread the cheese over the bagel, when still warm - then even Dunkin' Donuts will have a good place in your summer memories. I took mine and sat down one early morning on a bench over the sand dunes and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic.

In most cases, though, my experience with Dunkin' Donuts, McDonalds, Burger King, and TGI Friday's in the US and overseas, cannot be compared with what you get at local diners as the A1 Deli in Haverhill. You get proper good home made food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the spot at a reasonably low price.

So the next time you are considering a Dunkin' Donuts experience, try to look for a local diner instead of wasting your money!

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aqaba: Exotic and friendly

Flying in toward Aqaba International Airport, you cross a seemingly endless expanse of desert and mountains, mountains and desert. Then you see the town by the water – once an important stop for pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

By guest writer Susanne Koch

In the summer time, it gets extremely hot here, but in December, it’s very comfortable: 25 degrees Celsius in the day 12 degrees in the evening, and the sea holds 22-24 degrees. It’s the perfect place to warm my chilly bones and to soak up some exotic impressions.

Aqaba is Jordan’s only port. The Jordanian coast line is not many kilometers long: From my hotel window, looking out on the Aqaba Gulf, I can see Israel and Egypt to my right and Saudi Arabia lies behind the hills to my left.

The Old Town

The New Town has hotels, shopping centers, restaurants and even an Irish pub. The New Town is worth a look, but the Old Town is the real attraction: After sunset, the narrow streets come to life.

Walking the narrow streets of the Old Town you pass little cafés and get a waft of the sweet, perfumed aroma from the water pipes (called hubbeli-bubbelies) or you are tempted by the sight of succulent chickens roasting outside one of the local diners.

Busy housewives come to shop – there is a wide variety of stores selling spices, nuts, coffee and tea. How about green Bedouin tea with cardamom? A special bazaar sells meat, fruit and vegetables, and an old man with a pavement stall sells tailor made perfumes, mixed from an arsenal of little bottles.

The Jordanians and their customs

Jordanians are very friendly and a bit curious about blond tourists, a novelty in this town. Smilingly, they will invite you into their shops and offer you sweet tea in tiny glasses. Offering tea is an important part of the hospitality that is so essential to Arab culture. Don’t be afraid to accept – it doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Sipping the tea and browsing the shop’s selection of goods, you have a great opportunity to chat with the shop keeper, tell him about your home and learn some facts about Jordan.

The people of Aqaba are mostly Muslim. This means all of the ladies will be wearing a hijab (a scarf covering all of their hair and in many cases much of their torso. Some will be dressed in wide black garbs from head to toe, some even wearing a niqab (a veil covering their face so all you see are the eyes). Dress code for the gentlemen is less strict, but it is not unusual to see them in long robes.

As a tourist you are free to dress how you like. Jordanians are extremely polite and they won’t let you know if you offend them. But they aren’t used to Europeans and our ways. Here are a few things to remember to make the right impression and avoid offence: Always wear clean clothes without tears or wrinkles. Ladies should not show too much of their décolletage. They should wear blouses with long sleeves and skirts or trousers that go well beneath the knees.

Impressions of Aqaba

What will I remember from Aqaba when I return to the almost arctic climes of December Oslo? Some sensory impressions that stand out and seem to hold essence of this very charming place: The strong aromas you catch walking past the hole-in-the-wall store selling 30 kinds of coffee beans, the sound of the call for prayer echoing off the mountains, and the mountains themselves – partly obscured by a mist rising from the Gulf – colored in every hue of blue just before sunset.

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Town anno 1638

TOWN 1638.

You find this sign at Harvard Square on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Dunster street. It marks the first settlement of what was meant to be the capital of the new colony.

The leader of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Thomas Dudley was born into a powerful and noble family in 1576. The Sutton family were the barons of Dudley, and one of its first members was John Sutton III (1339-1370) married to Catherine de Stafford (1340-1361).

Thomas Dudley got his name from Dudley Castle that was built just after the Norman conquest in 1066, and taken over by one of his ancestors, John de Sutton in 1321.

Thomas Dudley became a puritan as a young boy, and traveled to the Americas in 1629 where he served as a deputy governor and governor of the Bay state. In fact it was here, just on Harvard Square, that the New Towne was located.

Thomas Dudley has many descendants in the United States. Among them are senator John Kerry, president Herbert Hoover, socialite Edie Sedgwick, actor Humphrey Bogart, playwright Tennessee Williams, and the actors Christopher Reeve and Bill Cosby.

What about the name of Dunster street? Well Henry Dunster (1609-1659) took over as leader of Harvard College after Nathaniel Eaton 1639. He, John Harvard, and Nathaniel Eaton were educated at Cambridge University, so it is not strange that they chose the new name of New Towne in 1637.

The first printing press of the Americas 1638

Harvard Square is packed with history. On the same house as the plaque above you find another that says:


Stephen Daye was born in London 1594, and moved with his wife Rebecca, his children and servants to Massachusetts. He set up a printing press in reverend John Glovers house in 1638, thus being the first printer in the new world.

Houses of Nathaniel Eaton and Edward Goffe


This sign is found on one of the gates to Harvard Yard from Massachusetts Avenue. It marks the spot of two houses that once were found here. One belonged to the first school master at Harvard Nathaniel Eaton, the second belonged to one Edward Goffe. We know much about the first, and less of the second.

Eaton was born 1610 in London, and was educated at Westminster School, a prestigious independent school founded in the 12th century located by Westminster Abbey. He met his good friend John Harvard at Trinity College in Cambridge, before leaving to study at University of Leiden.

He left for the new world between 1634 and 1637, and became the first school master. During these years there were serious tensions between the puritan community, lead by John Winthrop and many of the colonists. This effected Nathaniel Eaton severely. He was dismissed from his job 1639, as he was accused of having punished one of the pupils too harshly, and his wife was supposed to have served Hasty Pudding with goats dung in it (!).

He fled to Virginia and sent for his wife and children, but they disappeared on the boat that were to bring them south. Eaton remarried, and returned to England and ended in 1669 up as rector in Bideford in Devon. He died four years later.

The other house belonged to one Edward Goffe and was acquired by Harvard College in 1654. It was later used as a dormitory and kept the name of its former owner. He was born 1594, in Ipswich, England.

Edward Goffe was a resident of Cambridge and owned land here and in nearby Watertown. He married his first wife, Joyce Cutter in England 1624. She died in 1638 having given birth to two sons and one daughter. He married his second wife, Margaret Wilkinson in 1638 / 1639. They had two sons and two daughters.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First Nespresso outlet opened in Oslo

I am the member of the Nespresso Community. I am the proud owner of a designer espresso machine that makes designer coffee from small multi coloured metal capsules. I have until now I have had to order my designer coffee over the internet, as Nespresso has had no outlet in Oslo. Until now - as they have opened their first shop in downtown Oslo.

Hello Shop - Goodbye internet!!

Some Norwegian entrepreneurs have defied the odds and are building a brand new shopping centre housing the retailers of the worlds most exclusive designer brands.

Eger Karl Johan is marketing itself as Norways new trendy shopping centre where you will find leading brand names within different product categories as - Nespresso!

Two weeks ago I booked my latest batch of coffee, capsules of caramel flavored, Guatemalan, Italian and decaffinato intenso espresso (the latter if you happen to urge for some coffee in the evening). I am pleased to say that having to wait when getting low on your favorite coffee is now history. With a Nespresso outlet nearby you can just go and buy the needed quantity directly.

Serving Nespresso in style

Your nearest Nespresso boutique offers a range of other products than the machine and the coffee. A definite must for the espresso lover is proper espresso cups.

Until Christmas I served my coffee in very strangely hand crafted cups. Even though very posh, the only snag was that they were a little too big, so you did not get that good, concentrated espresso taste.

When my sister and I visited Copenhagen in October, she beat me to a charming set of espresso cups in a second hand shop. At an unbeatable price of DKK 10 (€1,20), my sister (who has black belt in shopping), saw the potential. Well little did I know that the 8 cups and saucers were her gift to me for Christmas. I love her!!

So now I can sip my designer espresso in cups worthy Marie Antoinette, small cream, red and gold leaf cups - and the nespresso tastes perfect - finally!!!

Nespresso boutique

Karl Johans gate 23B
0159 OSLO

Opening hours
Weekdays: 10 AM to 7 PM
Saturdays: 10 AM to 6 PM

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Trøffelheltens" appetizer

A fellow friend and fierce culinary competitor Dagfinn calls me "Trøffelhelten", meaning truffel hero. He is here toying with the Norwegian word "tøffelhelt" meaning "door mat" as in "her husband was a door mat". Whereas the latter has a negative connotation the former is a word of honour, as I love truffles, and here is an appetizer to prove it.

I bought a glass of sauce with white truffles from Piedmont in Berlin 15 months ago. As I expect dinner guests, I checked whether I had some yummie to serve, I discovered this hidden delicacy in the back of my “foreign food shelf” in my refrigerator. My heart nearly stopped beating. Had its use by date expired? I am pleased to say that it had not.

The question I asked myself was how to use this sauce. I opened it up, and had a taste. It was definitely a culinary bombshell, deliciously creamy, packed with those pungent truffle aromas.

You are well adviced not to mess around with this precious sauce with ingredients that will compete with these delicate aromas. I decided to buy a packet of Italian raviolis filled with another famous mushroom, the porcini. I planned to warm the sauce, pour it over a small portion (4-5) boiled raviolis and, sprinkle a little truffle oil.

I followed my own culinary intuition and found that it was a clever idea. The sauce was very thick so I thinned it with a little single cream, added some dried porcini mushrooms that my brother has prepared, balanced the taste carefully with some sugar, salt, and enhanced it further with some white truffle oil.

It was served in my 160 year old Staffordshire dinner set. The ingredients released its subtle, yet exceptional aromas - a sensational taste experience.

Sadly the glass of white truffle sauce is now history. I have to go back to Berlin and buy some more.

And then the main dish……..

Chicken Cordon Bleu is a dish I have prepared before, and you will find the recipe her on Enjoy Food & Travel.

In short it is a stuffed chicken breast with Dijon mustard, cheese and boiled ham, rolled in bread crumbs and baked in the oven. A real treat. I altered the recipe slightly. I took 2 teaspoons dried tarragon and mixed with 4 tbsp Dijon mustard, making enough for the chicken as well as for a sauce.

I prepared the chicken with the perfumed mustard, and made a sauce using one onion, finely diced fried until golden in butter. I then added 1 teaspoon flour stirring well before adding 10 cl water, salt, pepper, the rest of the mustard and 10 cl single cream (20%).

This created a mustard-tarragon theme throughout the dish, and a dash of truffle oil created another bridge from the starter to the main dish. The chicken with sauce was served with rösti potatoes and baked asparagus.

Great grub!