Saturday, May 02, 2009

New international non-stop flights to Oslo

Several new international air carriers are introducing new non-stop flights to Oslo this season. The latest are Swiss and Egypt Air.

Non-stop from Oslo to Kairo with Egypt Air

Egypt Air will, in co-operation with Scandinavian Airlines, launch one new weekly non-stop flight Oslo-Kairo from September 29th. The flight will leave on Fridays with a return the same day.

Flight time will be around 5 hours, and it will have one landing in Copenhagen to pick up Danish passengers, before heading south, for Egypt. The flight will have two classes, and lowest price round trip will be around NOK 4000 or around 460 Euros.

From Cairo, Egypt Air offers flights to other destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

There will be a trial period for these flights until Spring 2010. If a success, non-stop flights will set up from Oslo on a permanent basis.

(Photo: Arpingstone)

Swiss in competition with Scandinavian Airlines on flights from Oslo to Zürich

Swiss will launch two daily non-stop flights Oslo to Zürich from the middle of June.

Until now, SAS has been the only air carrier on this destination, and Norwegian Air Shuttle has one non-stop service from Oslo to Geneva. The new service from Swiss will mean lower prices to Switzerland, and to other destinations via Zürich.

(Phot: Magnus Manske)

Other current flight news reported earlier on Enjoy Food & Travel

Friday, May 01, 2009

Catacombe dei Capuccini - The city of the dead

By Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers Ketil Johan Zahl and Astrid Meling

For four centuries members of the clergy, as well as citizens of Palermo, have been buried in the Catacombe dei Capuccini. These passageways are open to the public. For those of you that are too afraid of skeletons, I would recommend you to visit one of the many other sights Palermo has to offer. For those with no such fears, visiting this necropolis is by no means a scary experience, but gives you a whole new perspective to life and death.

In 1590, the Capuccinis, a branch of the Franciscan order, had grown out of their cemetery and started to dig catacombs, subterranean passages, to bury their dead. We decided to visit these catacombs, and we were truly in for a fascinating experience.

We descended into the catacombs through a gateway. They are wide and tall enough, so you will have no difficulties walking through them. Alongside, and separated by fences, you can see up to 400 year old corpses. Some of them are embalmed and life like, others are mere skeletons.

Remains of the clergy are dressed up in their brown robes, carrying ropes, as symbol of penance. Seeing these skeletons dressed as friars is certainly a powerful experience.

One of the main attractions is the life-like body of Rosalia Lombardo. She was one of the last people to be buried here, and died December 6th 1920, only two years old, of pneumonia. Rosalia's father was so heartbroken from the loss of his little daughter that he asked a famous enbalmer, Dr. Alfredo Salafia, to preserve her for the past. She rests in the catacombs, and after 90 years, she looks like she is sleeping. How Dr. Salafia managed to preserve her in this state, is still a mystery. Seeing Rosalia is a touching experience.

For those of you, that think the photos here are taken of us, think again. We have copied this from wikimedia. Taking photos in the catacombs is strictly forbidden, and we would never have dreamt of disturbing the dead in that way. Still we saw tourists that took pictures, and we thought it disrespectful. So to those of you that visits these narrow passages – see and feel, but respect the dead!

(Photos: Maria lo sposo and Tessier)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Guinea fowl with Italian pancetta and shitake mushrooms

This slightly blurred picture is taken at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. Staying at Aintree Lodge in October 2007, I discovered that the grounds outside the fence were packed with Guinea fowl. I had to run after them to get a picture, and nearly all of them ended up being so blurred that they had no value as documentation, except this one. On last Friday, I prepared Guinea fowl for the first time - a great success to be immodest.

When visiting Copenhagen, I always visit the food hall at Magazin du Nord. This is the place to go, if you want to get fresh delicious foods.

Food halls, as the one found in Copenhagen, is rarely found in Norway. In Denmark, you experience that the free market within the European Union works, as it provides the consumer with an abundance of fresh products. What is found in freezers in Norway, is under offer fresh in Copenhagen.

This Fowl was produced in France by P'tit Duc de Savel. Internationally produced poultry is extremely expensive in Norway due to heavy taxation. In Denmark, it was cheap - only DKK 93,86 or around €12,50 for a bird of around one kilo.

Guineafowl with italian pancetta and shitake mushrooms

For three people you'll need

One guinea fowl (1,1 kilo / 2,2 lb)
1oo grams / 3,5 oz. Italian pancetta, sliced
Juice from two whole lime
100 grams / 3,5 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 large onions, roughly cut
10 potatoes, peeled and cleaned
Fresh asparagus
One glass dry white wine

Dress a baking tray with tin foil. Place the bird in the tray. Squeeze lime juice over the guinea fowl, and add salt and pepper. Stuff the fowl with as many shitake mushrooms as you can squeeze in.

Dress the bird with thin slices of Italian pancetta as shown on the picture.

Place the potatoes, onions, and the rest of shitake mushrooms in the tray. Season, sprinkle some good olive oil over, and add a glass of dry white wine.

Place in a medium hot oven (185C / 360F) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check regularly to prevent the bacon from burning. You may cover the bird with tin foil for parts of the baking time.

Add the asparagus for the last 20 minutes of the baking time. Allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lyon - remains of a tower

What fascinates me with old cities, is the remains from all ages standing side by side. Lyon has two thousand years of history and through these millenniums people have lived and worked, and bridges, churches, palaces and houses are left behind as memories of the generations that once were there.

I found a very interesting example close to my hotel. This narrow building squeezed in between two apartment blocks is much older than the buildings surrounding it, maybe 700-800 years older.

I do not know whether it is a part of a building that once were there, maybe it was a tower. It dates, for sure, back to the Romanesque period, the style in architecture that dominated Europe from the 1oth to the 12th century, when the Gothic style took over.

What differentiates the Romanesque from the Gothic style is the rounded arches, and a massive solidity and strength. It is the counterpart of the Gothic architecture, simple and solid.

This is seen on this door. Whereas Gothic doors are surrounding by statues and ornaments as delicate as lace, this portal have one ornamental line on the top.

The different coloured stones remind you of the byzantine architecture. Two Corinthian style columns are flanking the wooden door, very different in style from its surroundings. The door is in rococo style, and over it you see a bishops head cloth - a tiara over two crossed keys.

The keys represent Saint Peter, the Apostle. He was Saint Peter, the rock, on which Jesus would build his church and who guards the entrance of the heavens.

The more I think of it, I am convinced that this once was a tower of an earlier ecclesiastical building. Over the door there is a very narrow window and a decorative border on the top of the building. Maybe the tower continued from here and further up, who knows?

Maybe you know of this building. If so, let me know, so I can continue this story.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CLOSED JANUARY 2011: M3 Mat & Bar - decent, honest and brilliant

(Reviewed January 18th, January 23rd 2009 and April 26th) M3 Mat & Bar is absolutely one of my favourites in Oslo, and definitely the place for tourists to enjoy Scandinavian cuisine. It has one of the most dedicated staffs I know with a total focus on quality, carefully choosing their ingredients from the best retailers. This quality is reflected in the food. I have had several meals there, and I will most certainly return, so this is the first of several reviews.

Location: BBBB+

Area: M3 Mat & Bar is located on the corner of Maridalsveien and Møllerveien close to the trendy Grünerløkka area and the old wooden houses at Damstedet / Bergfjerdingen. The house has roots going back as 1669, and Christiania Brewery took over the house in 1810.

Accessability: Easily accessible by bus 34 and 54 from Oslo Central station.

Service: BBBBB

Very good service from the Swedish born proprietor, that is extremely dedicated to his restaurant. Very skilled and professional.

You have to wait medium long time for the food, but it is definitely worth it.

Atmosphere: BBBBB-

Style: M3 Mat & Bar is located in an old brewery, built in the late 19th century on foundations going back to 1669. It is a massive structure with thick walls, and a vaulted ceiling resting on large massive columns. In the middle of the room you have a large curved bar, where you may sit down on high chairs enjoying a glass of beer and meals are also served in the bar.

The room has lots of character, with dark wooden panels along the walls and chairs and tables in matching wood. There is particularly one interesting decorative element in the room, in the form of the death mask of the famous artist Edvard Munch. It may be a new restaurant, but it is located in an old buildings that has seen many years and different crafts go by.

Table: Comfortable seated around a classic dark wooden table. Windsor chairs and benches with dark leather is placed with a generous amount of space to separate them. When arriving there is a paper serving napkin with either historic recipes or even better, it tells the story of the house and the area. There are no formality by the table. No cutlery, glass or napkin - only the bare necessity. In many ways a formal table would not have felt natural here.

Food: BBBBB-

Main course - Swedish meatballs with gravy, pickled cucumber, lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes: BBBB+

Meatballs is an important Swedish signature dish. Not like the Norwegian ones, larger shaped like hamburgers, but small and neat. The proprietor buys his meat, fish and vegetables from selected firms and this is certainly reflected in the food.

Presentation: A dish with no riff-raff. For those of you looking for towers, fancy drawn lines of pesto or balsamic vinegar, M3 Mat & Bar is definitely not the place. Here you are served dishes with a traditional, unpretentious and rustic presentation, in Scandinavia this simply means, each element placed separately on plate.

Texture: Texture tells you that this is honest, decent traditional food. The meatballs, are prepared from ground beef, not under- or overcooked but perfectly prepared - chunky and very, very succulent. The huge portion of mashed potatoes is partly creamy partly chewy chunks of potatoes. It is served with lingonberries and traditionally perpared wafer thin slices of crunchy pickled cucumbers, sauce very smooth.

Balance: The whole dish has an overall good and balanced seasoning, good and rich, enough salt and with a distinct umami character. The lingonberries and the pickled cucumbers provides an interesting sweet, peppery and spicey contrast to the salt.

Ingredients good taste: The meatballs had a meat flavour of abundance, as it is made from good quality meat.

Price: NOK 127 (14 Euro)

Main course: Biff Lindstöm with fried potatoes, pickled cucumber and gravy: BBBBB-

This Swedish beef dish is thought to be named after an army officer, Henrik Lindström, that brought it from Russia to Sweden.

He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and Swedish food lore has it that he brought the recipe to the Hotel Witt in Kalmar, Sweden, around 1862.

The original recipe contains beets and capers and this may indicate Russian origin or influence.

Presentation: Equally rustic presentation as the meatballs. A large dollop of ground meat, generous amount of fried potatoes, thinly sliced pickled cucumber and dark glistening gravy on a white plate.

Texture: The fried potatoes were a little soft, cucumbers with good crunch. The Biff was perfectly prepared - the meat were medium rare with good chunks of meat.

Balance: Salt, sweet and sour. Wonderful rich sauce with umami in abundance, and a touch of bitterness, wonderful fresh pickled cucumber as a contrast.

Taste: This is a perfect dish. Great meat flavours mixed with red beets.

Price: NOK 97 (€11), a very good meal at an unbeatable price!!

Main course: Salted sliced pork with boiled potatoes, onion gravy and green peas: BBBBB-

This is a Norwegian and Swedish dish. Salted thin slices of fat pork, served in a rich gravy. Where I come from it is served with fried onion and a white sauce. Here there is another twist, with a sweet onion gravy.

Presentation: Rustic presentation. Succulent slices of pork immersed in a thick and velvety sauce. Unpeeled boiled potatoes and green peas on side.

Texture: Perfect boiled potatoes. Salted pork could have rested on some paper towels to get rid of excess fat and to get that extra crunch. I found them too soft and greasy.

Balance: Gravy was perhaps a little too sweet, but matched the salted pork when I added a pinch of salt to it.

Taste: A great filling meal.

Price: NOK 127 (€14), a very good meal at an unbeatable price!!

Wine: Pasión Roja 2006: BBBBB-

The proprietor of M3 Mat & Bar has an excellent knowledge of wine, and did not hesitate to recommend the wine of the house to us, and it was a great choice.

Pasión Roja 2006 comes from Navarra and made from Tempranillo and Grenache grapes. It had aromas of dried fruits, spices and a hint of vanilla, and that distinct oak character.

A bargain at 298 NOK (€33).

Rating the M3 Mat & Bar experience: BBBBB- (4,69 points)

Great traditional food and wine at a restaurant with great character. Highly recommended in downtown Oslo. A must for those of you that want to enjoy traditional Scandinavian cuisine.

M3 Mat & Bar
Maridalsveien 3 - 0178 Oslo
Phone: +47 23 69 73 35

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coming up: Copenhagen spring 2009

If you are not in a hurry, taking a boat to Copenhagen is the best way to get there. You may enjoy a night in comfort on board a large ferry, eat a good dinner, take a few drinks in the bar before going to bed. Then you wake up the next morning, ready to explore all what the Danish capital has to offer. I look forward to the experience the coming week, and the week after, I will do the same trip again!!

It is a year ago since I took this trip. Then as now, I am not doing this for pleasure, but business. I am attending a conference on Security with lectures the whole first day, when anchored up in Oslo, then a whole day in Copenhagen is followed by another round of lectures the coming evening. It is a learning, networking experience attended by professionals from different fields.

An important part of the experience is the social contact. Two good three course dinners are included in the price with wine. I will describe what we ate and drank. Lunch in Copenhagen is also included, and I hope we get a Danish treat.

Then the week after, I will cross the Kattegat again. This time I will travel with my sister, and we will stay in a economy class cabin.

This was a real bargain at just NOK 198 or 23 Euro for a roundtrip ticket. I have traveled economy earlier, and this will be a completely different experience, but you cannot expect more, when traveling at this price.

I will certainly describe the dining experience for you and also the cabin in which I stay.

So stay tuned here on Enjoy Food & Travel for another Copenhagen experience. I hope you are not bored.