Saturday, May 09, 2009

Food turned into decorative plants



























The next time you are at your green grocer, you might as well think of your garden or your apartment when buying vegetables. From seeds or root vegetables you may create an interesting flower bed as well as getting ingredients for your next dish. Here are a few ideas for decorative plants and flowers that may be supplied by your local green grocer.

Taro

Taro (right and top), is a starchy bulb found in many oriental shops. It originates from East Asia and both the bulb, stems, and leaves may be used in cooking.

My good friend Dagfinn Skoglund told me that buying a taro bulb or two would be a good idea if I would get a decorative plant for my window.

I just took the bulb, placed in a shallow container (that used to hold 500 grams of mushrooms), covered it with soil and watered moderately.

It took three weeks for it to sprout. Now it has four large leaves, and to or three other shoots are peeping up through the soil. If you afraid of over watering, this is probably one of the plants not to worry about. It is growing in very wet conditions where it is cultivated.

Sweet potatoes

When I visited my cousin in the US last fall, I discovered that sweet potatoes are not only good to eat, but are decorative as well, when placed in a pot.

Sweet potatoes were thriving in pots everywhere, some had purple leaves and beautiful flowers, and were cultivated more for its value as ornamental plant than for food.

So this year, I decided to buy a medium sized sweet potato to plant in my garden on the south eastern coast of Norway. It is now placed in a small pot in my window in Oslo, but will be placed out in full sunshine when I see the first leaves.

'll keep you posted.

Capsicum or pepper

My mother used to sow seeds from Spanish peppers or capsicum in her window. I bought a capsicum the other day, to get seeds, as I remember her success with these plants. They were surprisingly easy to grow and she even got large red peppers on them, without any effort.

I planted them a week ago, under cling film, to keep them hot and moist. We'll discover whether only my mother had that magic touch or if they really are easy to grow. If I succeed, they well be planted out in my lovely garden by the coast. (Photo: Matti Paavonen)

Ginger

I once planted a small ginger, and I was surprised to find that it peeked up. It took a long time to grow, and I had nearly forgotten the plant when I saw the first green shoots.

It was a rather boring and unattractive plant, it looked like grass. I think this disappointing appearance, made me neglect it, as it did not have a long life in my window.

Other plants to grow from seeds and bulbs
  • Orange - from seeds. I did that as a kid, and it thrived for many years growing into a decorative little tree.
  • Grapes - a friend of mine grew a grape vine, by just placing seeds in soil.
  • Kiwifruit - my cousin on the south eastern part of Norway, once sowed seeds taken from a kiwi. Now it grows over her roof.
  • Lemon grass - place one or two in water until roots appear - then place in pot.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Smile to the camera - you're on Tastespotting!!



















Taking pictures of food is great fun. Tastespotting is a site that has inspired me to develop my creativity in this field, and I have managed to get a fair number of my gastronomic photos accepted on this great site. I owe much of the attention to my site to Tastespotting, as the first entrance marked the start of a remarkable growth in interest for Enjoy Food & Travel.

Who says that culinary photography cannot be indecent. I categorize this art form as gastro pornography, passionate close ups of steamy, succulent dishes taken by passionate food lovers.

So for those of you that has not discovered Tastespotting yet, click on the link below.

See all Photos on Enjoy Food & Travel posted on Tastespotting

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Two new non-stop flights from Haugesund Airport




















(Source: Aftenposten, April 24th 2009) Scots and Spaniards, look out! This summer Ryanair will launch two new non-stop flights from Haugesund Airport to Edinburgh and Alicante. From Haugesund you may explore the splendor of the Norwegian fjords to the north and Stavanger, Norway’s oil capital to the south.


Ryanair has Torp airport, Sandefjord, as its main base for traffic to and from Norway. The airline is also currently operating flights from Haugesund Airport, on the Western coast, to two destinations, Bremen and London Stanstead.

From mid July through October travelers from Spain and Scotland can fly non-stop from Alicante and Edinburg on two new non-stop flights to Haugesund. Flights will go twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays and depart from:
  • Alicante, 6.00 AM arriving Haugesund 9.45 AM
  • Haugesund, 10.10 AM, arriving Alicante 1.45 PM
  • Edinburg, 6.20 GMT, arriving Haugesund 8.55 AM CET
  • Haugesund, 9.20 CET, arriving Edinburg 9.55 GMT
Through this expansion, the airline expect the number of passengers to increase from 90 000 in 2008 to 100 000 in 2009. If the public responds well to the new flights, the airline may continue the flights into the winter months, according to Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Director Ashley Casey.

More Ryanair stories:
(Photo: WexCan)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Spring 2009 - more hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel

The 2009 season is already filled up with wonderful traveling experiences. The choice of destinations show that I am a highly ritualized traveler, as I am traveling back to the places I have been before. I certainly hope that you are not too bored. I will try to give interesting stories by staying in new hotels, enjoying new restaurants and new historic sights. Here are a few hotels that will be reviewed here at Enjoy Food & Travel the 2009 season.

Punta Nord-Est Hotel - Castellammare del Golfo

My good friends Astrid and Ketil stayed in this hotel, on the north eastern coast of Sicily, located with a great view to Castellamare del Golfo.

They have promised to review this hotel so I can provide travelers to Sicily with enough information whether this is a place to stay or not. Based on my impression, I think they may recommend it to others, so we'll see. (photo: Hotel website)

See Hotel website her


Hotel Cortese - Palermo

Hotel Cortese was the second hotel my friends stayed in. This old world hotel is located the historical center in Palermo in a typical 18th century villa. This was a completely different hotel experience, compared to Puntra Nord-Est Hotel. Old fashioned, but full of charm, for those of you that are looking for just that.

See Hotel website her

Commodore Class - Pearl of Scandinavia and Crown of Scandinavia

The large ferries that travel between Oslo and Copenhagen are giant floating hotels. I will have two floating hotel experiences in April, in two different classes.

From the Commodore class, on board the Pearl of Scandinavia, comfortable double cabins with a view to an economy class cabin in the interior of the Crown of Scandinavia.

The Commodore class cabin is extremely expensive, and you may ask yourself whether it will be worth the price. We will tell you!

Staying in the second cabin, is equally inexpensive, only 23 Euros. What could possibly go wrong here. Well, you'll find out if you stay tuned here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

See earlier review of economy class on M/F Crown of Scandinavia here


Read more on the DFDS Commodore De-Luxe Cabin Experience on board Pearl of Scandinavia 2008 here

Hotel de Cathedrale - Strasbourg

In May I will travel to Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. The last time I stayed in a charming 17th century roof top apartment.

This time I will stay in the heart of the city. The Hotel Cathedrale is located in a renaissance building facing the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral.

I am very excited to stay in a hotel dating back 4 centuries. I hope I will wake up to the sounds from heavy bells of the old Gothic church. I will let you know whether this is a hotel for that romantic weekend in Strasbourg.

See Hotel website her


Sitges - Santa Maria Hotel

In June it is the time of the year when we turn our noses towards Spain. Our plans in 2009 are to stay two nights in Barcelona, and then a week at Santa Maria Hotel, for the 2nd year.

We have not booked our hotel in Barcelona yet. I will keep you posted when we have booked. We do look forward to stay at Santa Maria Hotel. It is an old style hotel with a magnificent location at the beach. You can take on your swimming gear, cross the street for the swim before breakfast.

As much as we loved our room last year we decided to change room this year. The view to the palm trees, the beach and the sea was wonderful, but we were both bothered by the noise from the street. This year we have booked a room away from the beach, a so called mountain view room. It will certainly provide more shade and more peace and quiet, so we can enjoy a good night's sleep.

See earlier review of hotel here

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Strasbourg A-Z 2008-2009


Vis Enjoy Food & Travel in Strasbourg 2008-2009 i et større kart

In May I leave for Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. Strasbourg is not unknown to me, as I have been there before. In fact it is the 4th time. The first time was nearly 30 years ago.

In 1980 I and four other students at my local high school was invited to attend a EU / Council of Europe seminar starting at Jugendhof Scheersberg in Schleswig-Holstein, ending with a visit to Strasbourg. That time we stayed in a small village, Kork Bei Kehl, in a old hostel, crossing over the Rhine into France to visit different European Institutions.

I returned to the city in July 2008 to visit my friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Øivind Grimsmo. This time I do not travel alone but with my good friend Ketil. We have booked three nights at Hotel le Cathedrale by the main square, a hotel with roots going back to the renaissance.

The city has so much to offer. Here is a map of food stories, restaurants, sights and a list with links to stories on Enjoy Food & Travel from the visit to Strasbourg last year.

Food Stories:
Hotels:

Recipes:

Restaurants:
Sights:
Read stories by guest writer Øivind Grimsmo here on Enjoy Food & Story

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sands of the Saharas




















At Playa del Ingles you quickly discover that the Sahara desert is close by. The resort has its own private desert, and you may even ride a camel there, if you want…..


The first time I visited Playa del Ingles, I was fascinated by the large desert that covers the central part of this resort. It is, in fact, a nature reserve, and when you walk through it, leaving the busy city behind, you feel moved far away, to the heart of the African continent.

You enter, either by walking along the beach or through the gate by the Riu Palace hotel. This large, white luxury resort overlooks the desert below as an Arab mansion.

You step down a rocky path, and suddenly you have the smoothest, finest warm sand between your toes, and a view to elegant sand dunes with the blue sea in the horizon. The sand is surprisingly fine, and you have a hard time walking it as you glide into it for every step you take.

The vegetation here is adapted to the harshest conditions. Small succulent plants that conserve every drop of water available in these inhospitable conditions.

Cypresses or conifer trees, low, with dark green brown needles that struggle to survive in the scorching heat, and on and off you see a palm tree. Then you really feel you are close to an oasis in the Sahara Desert.

If you are lucky, you might encounter camels, that take tourists for a ride through the dunes. I personally think that this would be over the top. I’d rather take a camel ride when visiting Tunis or Morocco, where these animals are vital part of the culture.

I personally enjoy walking through the dunes on my way to the wide beautiful sandy beach that awaits you on the southern tip of Gran Canaria. You stop to take a look of the flora that grows by your path. What conditions they live under and how well adapted the different species are to live here, under the hot North African sun.

It is reassuring, though, to know that behind the dunes you will find a bar, where you can be served a freezing cold beer after your walk through the dunes. That is the best end to any desert experience.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

John Harvard's Brew House - Cambridge MA



















(Reviewed September 21st 2008) My feelings for John Harvard's Brew House go way back. I have been a regular guest there for over 20 years, and I always return for a meal, every time I am visiting Boston. The restaurant provides atmosphere, good food and service in a charming area. Since my first visit, John Harvard's Brew House have opened other brew houses at locations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut.

Location: BBBBB-

John Harvard's Brew House is located in Dunster street, a narrow passage at Harvard Square, It is a charming with shops, cafés and historical buildings. Here you are on the location of New Towne, one of the first settlement in the Boston Bay area.

It is easy to get there. Take the red line from downtown Boston, direction Alewife and leave at Harvard Square. John Harvard's Brew House is just 5 minute away from the T.

Service: BBBBB-

You are waited by very nice and professional staff, and you do not have to wait very long to get your food.

Atmosphere: BBBB+

John Harvard's Brew House is located in a basement, a charming dark brown traditional pub interior. A brightly coloured light is filtered through stained glass windows.

Take the virtual tour of the restaurant here

You are seated on rustic chairs by rustic wooden tables. There a generous space between the tables. If you are looking for white napkins, wine glasses on the tables you have to go elsewhere. You get what you need when you order.

Food: BBBB+

First dish - New England Clam Chowder: BBBB+

One definite favourite, when I am visiting the Eastern seaboard. New England Clam Chowder is a soup that the first immigrants brought with them from the old world. Key ingredients are potatoes, onions, bacon, clams and good fish stock.

At John Harvard's Brew House they serve a decent clam chowder, not the best I have tasted, but definitely worth the price. I chose the soup as one out of two appetizers.

Creamy consistency, mild, creamy and smooth, served in a cup at $4,29 or in a bowl at $4,99.

Second dish - Boneless chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce, with blue cheese dressing, cucumbers and celery: BBBB+

A fire work of a dish, at $7,29. A generous portion of chicken strips in a very pungent buffalo sauce. You do not have to get your fingers sticky as you, in greed, eat away on small buffalo wings. Here you get meat all through, easy to eat the proper way.

You get much chicken as an appetizer, in fact equal to a normal European dinner serving, at least when you've had a cup of chowder to start. The amount of greens compared to meat is negligible, a few sticks of celery is more an alibi, than a contribution to a real meal.

The tenders were tender, the celery gave the reassuring crunch, and the blue cheese had soft nuggets of blue cheese.

But the tenders are delicious. Fire from chili, bitterness and sweetness - this really makes you sweat, but well balanced, and so much better than the tenders served other places. It could have had a little bit more sweetness. The celery gives more pungent tastes, but both tenders and celery is delicious in combination with the blue cheese dressing. Yum, yum!!!

Beer: BBBBB-

From one visit to another you can order different beer varieties, the whole range from wheat beer, ordinary blondes, to darker and over to black, to coffee coloured guinness type beer. I ordered a dark ale, sweet, rich and very refreshing.

Rating the Johan Harvard's Brew House experience: BBBBB- (4,63 points)

A charming basement brew house and restaurant with a decent kitchen. Try a few varieties of their home brewed beer, it is absolutely worth it.

Address:
John Harvard's Brew House
33 Dunster Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: +1-617-868-3585
Fax +1- 617-868-4341
See John Harvard's official website here