Saturday, April 04, 2009

A living memory from Gran Canaria

You can prolong your vacation by shopping souvenirs and food to bring back with you. Nothing is as fascinating than bringing a living memory back home. The best way is to buy seed packets on your destination, or harvest seeds yourself. I did both at Gran Canaria. I sowed the seeds when I returned home, and now the first living organism has sprouted.

There are a few things to remember, however. If you live outside the European Union (as we in Norway do), there are restrictions on bringing live plants home. This to prevent the spread of plant pests to new areas. Bringing seeds is therefore a good idea, but growing them may take a very long time, so be patient.

There are similar restrictions on food. Within the EU there are few restrictions, unless there are outbreaks of plant or animal pests. If traveling to countries like the US or Australia, you must check before you decide to buy something to grow or eat.

This small tree (above) is an acasia subspecies and is found outside the Yumbo centre in central Playa Del Ingles. This is a very robust species and will sprout relatively easy, as I found out.

Look at this little plant (right). It is an offspring of the tree by Yumbo centre, that I planted in a large pot in my kitchen window, shared with an agave americana.

It took only two weeks to sprout. I have had this species before, and I know that it grows very quickly and is very hardy.

So now I have one living memory from the Canary Island. I wonder what else will sprout? I will keep you posted.

More on these subjects?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stora Saluhallen, Göteborg

Stora Saluhallen is one of Göteborg's biggest attractions for us foodies. It is by far not less impressive than its counterparts in Italy, France, and Spain. Here you may wander along stalls offering beef, poultry, dairy-products, seafood, vegetables and sweets prepared after different culinary traditions. Sweden as an international community is clearly visible here, but all products I saw looked fresh, home made and of high quality. I will guide you through a little of Saluhallens history and character. More stories of what to buy here will come up later on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Kungstorget - from market square to food bazaar

When you enter Stora Saluhallen, you are struck by its similarity of a large railway station. It is a large hall with a curved ceiling held up by iron structures.

Kungstorget, the square where Saluhallen is located, was the main market where the citizens of the city were offered meat, cheese, butter and flour from 1848. In 1850 a crescent shaped bazaar building was constructed and it was in use until 1966, when it was torn down.

Stora Saluhallen was designed by architect Hans Hedlund and was finished 120 years ago. Göteboks Mekaniska Verkstadsaktiebolag was in charge of the construction. I was opened February 1st 1889.

Food from all corners of the world

When you enter you will find 4-5 rows of stalls separated by passages. Here you may go to buy traditional Swedish products as well as those made in Continental Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East.

And as elsewhere in Europe, you may enjoy something to eat either in restaurants as Till Salu or Kågebaren, or do as we did, enjoy an Italian espresso balanced by a piece of sweets.

Coming up from Saluhallen on Enjoy Food & Travel

COMING UP: The following food stories from Saluhallen on Enjoy Food & Travel.
  • An abundance of cured meats
    A story of ham, bacon, and sausages prepared after different culinary traditions.
  • Capris - the Italian Food House
    Offering a wide range of mouthwatering high quality products from Italy, including the most exquisite parma ham.
  • Dairy delights
    Foreign and domestic cheeses and French butter!
  • Flickorna Kanold
    Chocolate producers since 1901 with a very impressive range of truffles with the most unusual flavouring.
  • Tripe for sale
    A very unusual ingredients loved on the continent but nearly not heard of in Scandinavia.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sitges - Monument to El Greco

In Siges, down by the beach, where Carrer de Sant Pau meets Passeig de la Ribera, you find a magnificent statue of the painter Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known as El Greco (1541-1614). This does not mean that El Greco once lived, or even were here. The statue is a memory of the time when the Art Nouveau style hit the city at the end of the 19th century.

The sculptor Josep Reynés (1850-1926) was commissioned, by the town of Sitges in 1897 , to build a monument commemorating the famous painter. He made sculptures in Art Nouveau style and has also created the Monument to Doctor Robert in Sitges as well as other artworks in Catalonia.

Reynés is particularly famous for the relief "Barcelona rep les nacions" (Barcelona welcome the nations), a sculptural frieze on the Arch of Triumph of Barcelona (1887) and for another frieze of Llimona in the opposite part of the arch.

The idea of paying homage to an artist with no connection to the city came from Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931), an Art Nouveau painter and writer that regularly stayed in his house at El Cau Ferrat in Sitges. He frequently hosted Art Nouveau festivals in his home and he grew deeply fascinated by the art of El Greco.

He had, as painter, a strong influence on another world famous artist, Pablo Picasso. Through his love for the Art Nouveau style, he left his mark on Sitges, far beyond the statue of El Greco.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Cactus Eck, Playa Del Ingles

(Reviewed February 9th 2009) Our lunch at Cactus Eck was our first and only lunch on the beach. The only good thing with this place was the location, the price and the beer. The rest of the meal was nothing to mention. So for those of you looking for a decent place to eat on the beach at Playa Del Ingles, pass Cactus Eck!!

Location: BBBB

Playa Del Ingles has a very short beach promenade. Most of the beach is a beach of the desert that make out most of the coast line of this resort.

Cactus Eck is located on the eastern part of Playa Del Ingles, the only part with direct contact with the beach. Great location for a restaurant and easily accessible by foot from the central parts of the resort.

Service: BBBB

Generally good service from a nice staff. You did not have to wait for the food to be served. For my part, I would gladly wait another 10 minutes for better food.

Interior and atmosphere: BBB

It is so sad to see that those allowed to open a restaurant in such a location do not see the potential to create a nice place to eat.

We were seated in pink plastic chairs, by one bare table, only, and there were little space to those sitting by the next one.

We should have moved on......

Food: BBB-

The biggest problem with the food at Cactus Eck was that the food tasted too much, or nothing at all. My traveling companion Terje ordered a pasta dish with a cream sauce that did not taste anything at all, at least not when it had left the kitchen. Pepper and salt did give some taste to the dish. I experoenced the same thing with my pizza..... The good thing was that you did not pay much to eat here. Much of the food was priced at less than €10.

Starter: Prawns in garlic: BBBB-

Presentation: This was actually not bad. Nicely presented in a brown ceramic bowl, sizzling hot from the kitchen.

Texture: The prawns were perfectly cooked, still crunch and not over cooked and touch.

Balance: A little boring - no contrasting seasoning except the garlic, that had been added in abundance.

Taste: The taste of the prawns were a little tame, but I usually find prawns served in latin cuisine a little low in taste compared to those caught by the North European coasts.

Pizza with chorizo, ham and anchovis: BB

Presentation: Look at this pizza! Doesn't it look good? It looks good, but the taste was very unequally placed on the piece of dough.

Balance and taste: When you have ingredients as chorizo, ham, anchovis tomatoes, and cheese you expect them to taste something and that they are used on one dish provide a culinary impression to you.

Spanish chorizo is usually packed with different flavours as garlic, salt, pimentos, and olive oil, but these colourful slices were tasteless. This was the case for the other ingredients, except the anchovis. They were exceptionally salty, and overpowered your tastebuds. The only nice thing with this dish was the price. I am happy to say that it was priced at less than 10 Euro, so you did not ruin yourself on bad food.

Beverage: BBBB

A delicious cold pint of tropical - finally something to appreciate at Cactus Eck. Fresh, refreshing in the scorching sun. A good choice, but maybe a glass of white wine to the seafood and a glass of red to the pizza would have been more appropriate. But what is better under the hot North African sun than this kind of brew?

Rating the Cactus Eck experience: BBB- (3,72 points)

Great location, good beer, medium service. Very uneven quality on food. I will never return here to eat!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 on Enjoy Food & Travel - Wines from A-Z

To make it easier for you, I have compiled all the wine reviews on Enjoy Food & Travel for the year 2009 on this page. Enjoy!!

Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru Classé 2002 (Saint-Emillion)
- Klippel Rouge de Barr Pinot Noir 2005 (Alsace)

- Marcus Molitor Riesling Trocken 2007, Rheinland-Palatinate

- Villa Puccini Vin Santo, Tuscany

DC Black Granite Shiraz 2007, Western Cape

Monday, March 30, 2009

Madeira - a paradise for fish lovers

By guest writer Dagfinn Sigridsson Skoglund

Those of you who have been to Madeira, know what I am talking about, but for those of you that haven't, I can only say: If you want a real VACATION, i.e. forget all the fuzz at home and just relax and enjoy life, Madeira is your destination.

First and foremost it is the same temperature all year around, never too cold, and never too warm and it is green and beautiful and you find an abundance of floral beauty. Take it easy, while being here. You may sit on a café, stay in bed for the day, or slumber on a sun bed with a good book or just walk around.

The price level is relatively low and the standard of hotels are generally high, and then it is the FOOD! Madeira is located in the middle of the Atlantic and getting fresh fish is no problem, and Madeira is a paradise for fish lovers.

When you are used to staying by the Mediterranean where fish are on the size of those swimming in your living room aquarium, and have the same ratio between price and weight, Madeira is a pleasant surprise. Here fish is inexpensive, very fresh and found in abundance.

The most common fish is espada, a black and satanically ugly deep sea fish with a snow white and mild meat. It is served in a wide range of ways, steamed, boiled, grilled, and fried, and the fish is delicious in any way it is prepared.

Espada must not be mistaken for Espadarte, the Swordfish that has a drier tougher meat. It is also widely available, most often grilled. In addition to these two species you find all sorts of fish found in the Atlantic as the parrotfish and sea bass, often available as the catch of the day priced per 100 grams on the restaurants.

Another well known fish available is the salted , dried codfish or the Bacalao, as it is known locally. The genuine bacalao is imported from Norway, but other similar products are made from other fish than cod. There are more bacalao recipes than those made from Espada, so you just have to start from the top and eat down the menu.

I want to say to those not fond of fish that you may get other dishes than those made from fish at Madeira.

I will mention one dish, in particular, and its name may easily be mistaken for the two main species of fish I have told you about. I am talking about Espetada, meaning skewer, made from diced beef marinated in garlic, bay leaves and olive oil, and grilled on large iron skewers. It is served on stands on the table and you eat as much or as little you want. A real treat!!

Conclusion: Espada and Espadarte are fish while Espetada is meat. Confused?

Dagfinn Sigridsson Skoglund is 49 years old (forever) and is living in a studio apartment in downtown Oslo. He is working as a designer and art teacher, and is an excellent cook.

Dagfinn is a passionate lover of music, botany and is an experienced traveler - and he hates popcorn!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Danish crown jewels

In the vaulted cellars of Rosenborg Palace, you may admire the Danish crown jewels. Here you find small and larger objects in gold and precious materials created by craftsmen during four centuries. Among them are the three royal crowns, the centerpieces of the Danish Crown Jewels and the insignia of power of the Danish Royal house.

Christian IV's crown

Christian IV (1577-1648) was the renaissance ruler of Denmark-Norway for 60 years.

He constructed Roseborg Palace as his summer residence and left his mark all over the two countries. He founded cities that bear his name as Kristiansand and Kristianstad and built and rebuilt many important landmarks in the two countries.

Here you see the beautiful golden crown he once owned as the symbol of his power, studded with large pearls and beautiful square cut gem stones.

Christian V's Crown

It is also known as the Crown of the Absolute Monarchs, used successively by the lineage of Danish kings during one century, from king Christian V (1646-1699) to Christian VIII (1786-1848).

It was crafted by the goldsmith Paul Kurtz in Copenhagen in the years 1670-1671. It is made out of pure gold inlayed with enamel and table-cut stones and weighs a massive 2080 grams.

It is set with 2 impressive garnets and 2 sapphires and the largest is believed to date as back two centuries to his predecessor king Frederik I (1471-1533).

The Queens Crown

The Queen's Crown was made for Queen Sophie Magdalene, daughter of Margrave Christian Heinrich of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. She married the later Christian VI in 1721 and became queen in 1730.

Her crown was made by court jeweller Frederik Fabritius in 1731. Some of the table-cut stones are believed to have come from Queen Sophie Amalie's crown from 1648.