Saturday, April 25, 2009

Meatballs cosa nostra




I was craving for Italian-American meatballs, the other day. Succulent and spicy, immersed in a rich sweet tomato sauce with garlic, onion, herbs, cheese, and lots of olive oil. I decided to try to make my own twist, and created my own special meatballs and named it after the cosa nostra, the infamous Italian mafiosos. This ended up as a real treat - a dish to die for!

For 3-4 people you'll need:

400 grams / 15 oz ground meat
50 grams / 2 oz dried or fresh onions, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
50 grams / 2 oz dry bread, crumbled
Italian herbs after taste
2 teaspoon salt
75 grams / 3 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
75 grams / 3 0z Mozzarella cheese, finely grated
Olive oil
Ready made, sweet tomato sauce

Mix ground meat, most of the onions, eggs, dry bread, salt and seasoning in a food processor until smooth.

Make into small meatballs, and place in an oiled baking dish. The bottom of the tray should be completely covered with meat balls. Sprinkle over olive oil, half of the cheese, and Italian herbs. Bake in a medium warm oven (160 C / 320F) for 10-15 minutes.

I bought a pouch (250 grams) Del Monte Italian style Spaghetti sauce. It was a perfect choice for this dish, as it was relatively sweet and mixed with the other seasoning you got that genuine Italian taste. Pour spaghetti sauce over the meatballs until completely covered.

Add the rest of the cheese and Italian herbs and as much olive oil as you want. Place back in the oven for 45-50 minutes until cheese is golden.

Serve with bread and a salad or pasta.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fond Restaurang – Göteborg




















Reviewed by Tor Johnsen and Susanne K. Koch.

When planning our trip to Gothenburg, our eyes fell on a restaurant awarded one star in the prestigious Michelin guide. When browsing its website and exploring their smaksmeny, or "menu de dégustation" as the French would call it, we grew determined to try it. At a price of SEK 1150 (EUR 105), wines included, it sounded too good to be true. Our meal at Fond was way past the average, but in no way perfect.

Location: BBBB+

We walked down Kungsportsavenyn, in our quest for the Fond Restaurang. We ended up at its end, still confused, and had to ask for directions. When asked, it was obvious that they knew of the place, and we were directed towards a small round building connected to a Mastodont of a building.

Be not confused, dear reader. In spite of the fact that Gothenburg has close to a million inhabitants, the distance travelled was a mere 15-20 minutes. The area, though, is not of the most charming. It is to remember that the city is young, only 4 centuries, and the city centre has undergone large transformations.

Service: BBBBB

Visiting Fond Restaurang, you easily recognize good service. We LOVED being guests. We were faced with a a staff that were determined to make our meal memorable. This was done in our presence, but as I observed the staff waiting on our neighbouring table, I discovered that it was more to it than that.

They taste the wine, themselves, before offering it to their guests to taste, then they poured it into a glass decanter. There were at least one, but often two or even three waiters, that oversaw that everything was to our needs.

Preparing to write this review, we were, in all friendliness, of course, demanding customers. We asked questions, and our terrific waiter answered them there or then, or visited the kitchen to get information. Fond Restaurang deserves its star for its service alone.

Interior & atmosphere: BBBBB-

Fond Restaurang is dedicated to Scandinavian Nouvelle cuisine, mainly based on locally produced ingredients and inspired by local traditions. This theme is easy to spot when entering.

The wall of the adjoining building, large dark stones, make up the back wall of the restaurant. The use of materials underlines the Scandinavian inspiration: natural fabrics, birch wood, and chrome.

We were placed at a table by the large curved window. It was beautifully set with wine glasses, napkins in light fabric, modern Scandinavian china and designer cutlery. Good distance to our next table.

As you see, dear reader, Fond does not achieve a full score when it comes to atmosphere. We found the interior to be a little cold, as many designer restaurants tend to be. In addition to this, we found the table too small for the two of us. We were served on plates that took up much of the table top, and we were left with too little space to feel comfortable.


The food: BBBBB-

First serving - Celery soup: BBBBB

One thing that separates the extraordinary from the ordinary restaurants is the amount of extras. We were served a small cup of celery soup as a pre-dinner dish. A light, nearly caffe-latte coloured soup served in a simple white cup.

It was an exquisite starter, deliciously creamy consistency, perfectly balanced seasoning, and enough to act as a mere taste, made from good stock, the semi-sweetness of the celery was perfectly balanced with salt and bitterness.

This would have been too pungent, if served in larger quantities, but as a taste, it was delicious.

Second serving - Smoked and gravad salmon with sweet dill mustard: BBBBB

At this point I discovered I was relieved to see the quantity. We were to enjoy 7+1 dishes with wine.

The two varieties of salmon were presented to us on a long white plate. A small slice of each served on a bed of salad, one garnished with a thin slice of radish.

Delicious texture, tender, fat salmon on very crispy salad. Well balanced, but taste of the two varieties were not easy to desinguish. In spite of the fresh dill mustard, we had expected a little more taste.

Third serving - Terrine of Swedish chicken liver with apple and porcini: BBBBB

This was clearly one of the highlights of the evening and clear hit.

The terrine was exceptionally smooth and creamy, and the contrast to the crispy caramel and the waxy structure of the cinnamon flavoured apple was as close to perfection as possible.

Even the balance of the tastes had ascended to a divine state, a very aromatic and perfectly seasoned terrine, and two apple flavors one intensely sweet, the other slightly bitter from the cinnamon. This dish explains why Fond Restaurang has achieved on star in the prestigious Guide Michelin.

Fourth serving - Codfish Skagen with oyster and mussel stock: BBBB

This was the only dish that did not meet our expectations at all. One piece of codfish in an oyster and mussel stock garnished with crispy breaded scallops and shrimps and lightly boiled samphire.

Presentation - a circular piece of fish, immersed in a froth. Texture: Perfectly prepared fish, delicate airy broth, crunchy samphire, the prawns and scallops were a little soggy.

We were concerned when we tasted this dish. Something had gone slightly wrong, as both the fish and the broth were salt, very salt. It overpowered the other taste elements found in the ingredients. We both agreed that either the fish or the stock could have been salt, and the other should have been balanced either by a slightly sweet or a sour taste, e.g. lime or lemon.

Fifth serving - Lamb Fond 2009: BBBBB-

The fifth dish did confirm Fond as a high-class restaurant .We were served one slice rack of lamb with a lamb sweetbread, and glazed echalotte presented on one long designer plate.

Delicious in texture, the lamb was perfectly prepared and sensationally tender and accompanied by rich potato fondant with a dense structure and slightly crunchy onion.

I had never tasted sweetbreads before. It had been breaded and fried, crunchy on the outside, with slightly tough and rubbery texture.

The dish was perfectly balanced, sweet, sour and salt in harmony, and all tastes blended into a higher union.

A piéce de resistance - parfait!!!

Sixth serving - Cheese from Vilhelmsdals farm dairy: BBBBB

Two delicious slices of cheese from Wilhelmsdals Gårdsmejeri. This is a small dairy located close to the city Simrishamn in Skåne county in Southern Sweden.

The cheese was served on an elegant white plate - with jam and two crisp bread with goat's butter. Aromatic artisan cheese was well balanced by pungent sweetness.

A perfect end of the savoury part of the meal.

Seventh serving: Small creme brulée: BBBB+

Our first dessert - creme brulée, with a caramelized lid is a classicm but in the company of o many great dishes, we found this dessert a little boring.

It was served in a white bowl. The lid had a lovely crunch and and underneath you find a pale creamy custard.

All in all, we found the taste of the custard a little bland.

Eight serving: Hazel nut, browned butter cream and apple: BBBB

We were at the end of our meal, or nearly, as we were served our second dessert. On a base of a "biscuit", an apple sorbet with a flake of caramelized sugar.

Beautiful presentation: The base of the dish - the rich, sweet hazel nut brown butter biscuit was quite tough, and it was in fact, an effort to try to cut into it.

The taste was good and balanced, the sorbet was delicious, and a great contrast to the very sweet caramel and the cake.

Wines: BBBBB

To 2nd, 3rd, and 4th serving - 2007 - Riesling Trocken, Weingut Keller, Reinhessen: BBBBB

This is a wine produced by Weingut Keller, an estate in Flörsheim- Dalsheim in Rheinhessen that has belonged to the Keller family from 1789.

It is made from 100% Riesling grapes. It was an eminent wine, in all ways very suitable to the dishes it was served to. A well balanced wine with a great mineral touch and complex fruit characters of citrus, peach and flowers.

To 5th and 6th serving - 2005 Le Coteaux, Mas Belles Eaux, Languedoc-Roussillon: BBBBB

This wine is produced by the fabulous Mas Belle Eaux les Coteaux. The owners of Quinta do Noval and Chateau Pichon-Baron has created a wine , that even the wine guru Robert Parker has awarded a stunning 91/100.

It is a blend of Syrah (70%), Grenache (20%), and Mouvedre grapes (10%).

This was a wine with an amazing body. It had rich aromas of black fruit and spices. It was a wine that was extremely well chosen to our food.

To 7th serving - 2003 Late Bottle Vintage, Graham´s, Douro: BBBB+

This wine is produced under the Graham's brand - owned by the Symington family. It is a blend of the following port grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Oriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cao.

Deep and almost opaque ruby colour. and an intense nose of red and black fruit aromas. It is a full bodied and robust wine leading to a complex and fruit-driven finish.

In spite of this, it did not make us ecstatic. I personally, am not a great fan of ports, and it followed two amazingly good wines, so I suppose it had a drawback as well.

The 8th serving - 2005 Château Rondillon, Loupiac Bordeaux: BBBBB

I love the sweet wines from Sauternes, and I lived too long with the illusion that the wine growers in this region were the only that could produce sweet wine of such an outstanding quality. The 2005 Château Rondillon originates from the commune of Loupiac in the Departement Gironde. It was a rich dessert wine with intense sweet aromas of tropical fruits, peaches, and honey.

Rating the Fond Restaurang experience: BBBBB- (4,7 points)

Fond is a restaurant that deserves its Michelin star for a creative and interesting menu, excellent service, and elegant interior. We had a great meal at at very decent price, but found that the cooks did not manage to keep the same high quality and finesse through the whole menu.

The over salted cod and the tough base of the hazel nut brown butter cream and apple did effect our total score. But Enjoy Food & Travel totally enjoyed the evening, and would like to thank the professional staff for the best service ever. We highly recommend a visit to Fond Restaurang, and the tasting menu and small wine menu at €105 is a bargain.

Address:

Fond restaurang, bar & café
Götaplatsen, 412 56 Göteborg
Phone: +46 (0) 31 81 25 80
Fax: + 46 (0)31 18 37 90
Official website: http://www.fondrestaurang.com/
E-mail: fond@fondrestaurang.com

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coming up: Castellammare del Golfo and Palermo

















Sicily is for many of us associated with organized crime through the infamous Sicilian mafia. My good friend, and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer, Ketil Zahl and his wife Astrid stayed on the island during Easter. What they experienced, left a completely different impression. Good food and wine, intriguing historic sights, sun, sea and heat.

Castellammare del Golfo

They stayed in Castellammare del Golfo the first part of the vacation.

Castellamare del Golfo means the Sea Fortress of the Gulf, after the medieval fortifications at the old harbour. In ancient times it served as a harbour of Segesta, the main centre of the Elymian people.

It is also known of the cradle of the American mafia. Figures as Salvatore Maranzano, Stefano Magaddino, Joseph Ristuccia, Michael Monte and Joseph Bonanno were born in the city. Also Sylvester Stallone's father Frank Stallone Sr. was originally from Castellammare del Golfo

Ketil and Astrid stayed at Punta Nord-Est Hotel, located on a cliff overlooking the old city and the Mediterranean.

Ketil will share impressions of Punta Nord-Est hotel and the city here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Palermo

Palermo is a modern metropolis, with more 1,3 million inhabitants.

It was founded by the Phoenicians 2700 years ago, and Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Norman cultures have left a important historic sights and an exciting cuisine.

Enjoy Food & Travel Ketil Zahl visited the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, Palermo, catacombs where Sicilians were buried. Many were enbalmed before burials, and others ended up naturally mummified, due to the conditions found in the catacombs.

The catacombs were in use from 1590 and way into the 20th century. One of the most famous is the enbalmed corps of two year old Rosalia Lombardo that died in 1920.

Another major sight is the Cappella Palatina, the ornate chapel of the Norman kings, located in Palermo palace (right).

They had a double room at Hotel Cortese, located the historical center in Palermo in a typical 18th century villa. Ketil will share impressions of Hotel Cortese and the city here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

(Photo: Castellammare: Mac9, Palermo: Mac9, Palermo Palace: Bjs)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New non-stop flight from Oslo to Bangkok

From June 15th you may travel directly from Oslo to Bangkok five times a week with Thai Airways.

- After 30 years in Norway, we are happy to offer our Norwegian travelers direct flights to Thailand, says Hilde Hirai, a Thai Airways spokeswoman to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.


Thai Airways will fly an Airbus 340-500 from Oslo with 215 passenger seats, 60 in business class, 42 in premium economy class and 113 seats in regular economy.

130 000 Norwegians traveled to Thailand in 2008, and this new service from Thai Airways, signals an optimism that the number of travelers to Thai destinations may increase further the coming years, both for leisure, but also business and particularly the Norwegian oil industry.

Three hours less traveling time

The flight will leave Oslo International airport at 2.55 PM local time, and land at Suvarnabhumi Airport around 7.30 AM the next day, local time. Estimated flight time will be 14 hours and 55 minutes. This will reduce travel time with 3 hours, if compared with the non-stop service offered by Finnair from Helsinki, used by many Norwegians.

More flight news

Read more flight news articles on this site here

(Photo: Terence)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recession hits SAS transatlantic flights hard






















(Source: Aftenposten.n0, April 16th 2009) The current recession has hit the international air traffic. Fewer are flying, both in business or for pleasure. This is particularly the case for the once so lucrative trans-atlantic flights. As demands are sinking, air carriers either sell tickets at bargain prices or cancel future flights. The last air carrier to feel the effect of the current crisis is Scandinavian Airlines.

Scandinavian Airlines will axe 85 non-stop flights with 14 200 seats from Copenhagen and Stockholm to New York, Washington DC, and Chicago, this summer season. From July 31st the airline will stop its non-stop service from Copenhagen to Seattle.

The airline will cancel the following flights:
  • May 2009 - 28 flights
  • June 2009 - 11 flights
  • July 2009 - 14 flights
  • August 2009 - 8 flights
Fewer bookings and increased competition

The airline has canceled departures where the booking has been low. Fewer travelers that cross the herring pond is only one part of the explanation for the airline's troubles.

The other is the increasing competition across the Atlantic. Icelandair operates a highly attractive service from Scandivaia to cities in the US, at low prices and shorter flying time. Other airlines are also planning new non-stop services, as US Airways new non-stop service from Philadelphia to Oslo being launched May 21st.

More flight news

Read more flight news articles on this site here

Monday, April 20, 2009

Instant gourmet essence!

There are few ingredients that may create an instant touch of gourmet taste to a dish. One is a small bottle of oil infused with white truffles that I buy at my local supermarket. It is a culinary magic wand that lifts soups and sauces from good to fabulous, with one light touch.

I discovered the marvel of truffle infused oils, when a friend bought me a bottle as a gift. In spite of its size, I can assure that a few drops of the white truffle essences go a very long way.

This small bottle, is a good investment for those who like to prepare good food. I have, with great success, added oil to soups and sauces that have been promising, but where I have not totally succeeded to find the right balance. Later, at the meal, you always get that baffled expression in guest's faces, as they sense the truffle aromas, and they end up asking; What is that taste…..?

I have one personal favourite. When I was served Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke with smoked duck breast and white truffle oil, I ascended to culinary heaven. The nutty, sweet taste of the root, the smoked salty duck, the rounded taste and velvety texture from double cream, and the truffle – you just have to try it!! You will find the recipe below.

I indulge in these drops, added to freshly made soup, when served, and due to the pungent truffle aromas, not much is needed.

I know that one should not share culinary secrets, but this one is too good to be true, and is true. Run out and try it yourself, and let me know whether you agree.

In Norway this truffle infused oil, produced in Umbria by Tartufi di Paolo, is available in well stocked supermakets priced at around NOK 60 or around 7 EUR.

More on truffles on Enjoy Food & Travel

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Great bargain in a bag - DC Black Granite Shiraz 2007

Once upon a time, buying wine in bags, was completely politically incorrect. The quality was not good either. Since then bag in box-wines have come a very long way. My principles of bottled wine only has disappeared. Now you can get some very good wines in 300 cl boxes. One new discovery is the DC Black Granite Shiraz 2007.

Those of you that have followed Enjoy Food & Travel for a while, will have discovered South African wine. It existed before my 2007 visit to South Africa, but the visit turned my attention to all what this great wine producing country has to offer.

I am also very fond of the Shiraz and Merlot grapes. With all these elements embodied in this black box, what could go wrong. Nothing - and it didn't. DC Black Granite Shiraz 2007 is a bargain!!

DC Black Granite Shiraz 2007 is produced by the Darling Cellars in Darling in the Western Cape province. The estate has produced wines since 1948. The current firm was established in 1997.

The DC Black Granite brand was launched in 2005. It is a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Merlot grapes. It has a deep violet red colour. It is a amazingly good wine, rich and full bodied, and with a warm and complex character. The aromas contain elements as caramel, burnt wood and blackcurrants. For those of you that like a distinct aromas derived from aged French oak barrels, this is definitely your wine.

Here in Norway, the DC Black Granite is available at Vinmonopolet at NOK 325 or €35, and this is not much for a wine of this quality. I highly recommend DC Black Granite to beef, lamb and game, or enjoyed by itself.