Saturday, May 16, 2009

Economy Class - M/F Crown of Scandinavia

M/F Pearl of Scandinavia
, and its sister ship M/F Crown of Scandinavia that operates from Oslo to Copenhagen are large floating hotels with a conference centre, restaurants, several bars, night clubs, and shops. My sister and I decided to travel economy last week of April. We paid next to nothing for our ticket, and we were pleasantly surprised.

Location: BBBBB

Accessibility: Getting to the ferries is easy, both in Oslo and Copenhagen. Oslo is only a 15 minute walk away. In Copenhagen you can take buse 20E, a free shuttle bus bringing you from the terminal to Kongens Nytorv in less than 10 minutes.

The crossing from Oslo to Copenhagen offers travelers great value. You may enjoy a magnificent view while traveling out the Oslo fjord and next morning when entering the strait of Øresund with the Swedish coast on your left and the island of Sjælland on your right. And when the weather is great, what could be better than this.

Service: BBBB

The service was overall good. The staff at the reception and the crew on board was very helpful and kind.

Room: BBB

The cabin was in the interior of the ship. It had a neutral and pleasant design - off white walls, chairs with red upholstery.

It was very small, in fact only two beds, one sofa that could folded out to a bed, the other over the sofa folded up . One tiny desk, two small chairs. It had a rather a Japanese feel to it, but it was cozy. Two tidy people could enjoy a comfortable crossing on board.

The beds were very good. There were little space for other normal activities.

It was well maintained, no spots or cracks. The bed linen was clean, and the beds were good to sleep in. It felt well cleaned.

The bathroom was equally tiny, toilet, sink and shower crammed into a small space, but was well maintained - no cracks or spots, and well cleaned

Breakfast: n/a

Breakfast was, at this low fare, not included in our price.

Facilities: BBBB

- Inhouse restaurants: Four restaurants serving food on different price levels and one cafeteria.
- Inhouse bars: One pub, one winebar, one disco and one night club
- Inhouse leisure and exercise facilities: None
- Well being: Good individually controllable air conditioning in every cabin. Free wireless zone by reception and in cafeteria. Tax-free shops.
- Maintenance and hygiene: Overall good
- Other services: Free shuttle bus in Copenhagen

Price: BBBBB

NOK 198,- (23 EUR), is an unbeatable price, and standard offered is completely acceptable.

Rating the economy class experience: BBBB+ (4,29points)

Traveling budget in Japanese style. Tiny, but well organized room, at a low price. Good bargain for money.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Non-stop flights Oslo - Olbia this summer

(Aftenposten, May 7th 2009) Norwegian Air Shuttle launch one weekly flight from Oslo to Olbia on Sardinia this summer.

Sardinia has been popular a popular destinations for Norwegians for a long time, and Olbia is a great place to explore the island and to travel on to the mainland. From July 2nd to August 13th Norwegian Air Shuttle will have one weekly flight from Oslo Airport to Olbia on Sardinia.

The flight will leave Oslo 7.10 AM and arrive at Olbia 10.25 AM. The return will be 11.05 AM, arriving Oslo Airport 2.20 PM. Price range one way from NOK 399 (46 EUR) to NOK 1514 (175 EUR).

If you do not want to explore the island, you may travel by ferry to Livorno, Genoa, or Civitavecchia on the Italian mainland.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Delicious crostinis on the way to the opera

My friends Øyvind and Stian had tickets to see Carmen in our new opera house May 2nd. They arrived in a rush and I had to have a quick bite ready to serve before they went , and I decided to make some crostinis - Italian toasts. A good idea, according to them both, and the sparkling wine immediately set them in an artistic mood.

Crostinis with duck confit and truffle oil, serves 2 (Yum!!)

Six thin slices of baguette
Duck confit, thinly sliced
Truffle oil

Toast the slices until golden brown and crisp.

Spread some of the fat from the confit on the warm toast.

Arrange thin sliced confit on top. Finish off with truffle oil.


Crostinis with blue cheese and jam (Serves 2)

Six thin slices of baguette
Blue cheese, crumbled
Fig conserve or apple jelly

I used Selbu blå, a mild Norwegian blue cheese, but you may use a good Gorgonzola, Roquefort, or Stilton cheese.

Most jams will do, except those from red berries as raspberry or strawberry. You can also drink a sauternes or a late harvest wine and skip the jam, alltogether.

Toast the slices until golden brown and crisp.

Crumble blue cheese on top, then add jam.

Crostinis with red pesto and parmesan (Serves 2)

Six thin slices of baguette
Barilla red pesto
Parmesan cheese, sliced

Toast the slices until golden brown and crisp.

Spread red pesto on the hot toast.

Place thinly sliced parmesan on top.

Crostinis with marinated cherry tomatoes (Serves 2)

Six thin slice of baguette
10 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Italian herbs

Mix thinly sliced crostinis with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Allow tomatoes to marinate in oil at room temperature for one hour.

Toast the slices until golden and crisp.

Brush a little of the oil on crostinis, place cherry tomatoes on top and serve immediately.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Danish shopping bag - poultry

I went to Irma food hall, in the basement of Illum in Copenhagen to buy groceries to bring home. Here is a part of my shopping bag. It has one main theme - poultry.

Duck thighs

The thighs are, in my opinion, underrated parts of poultry. Whereas the breast meat is the most tender part of the bird, the thighs are less tender, but have the most succulent meat.

Duck thighs are cheap, compared with the duck breast. If prepared correctly it may be as tender and delicious, with minimum effort, but as they need to roast on very low heat, you will need much more time.

I decided to buy four duck thighs at a bargain price of DKK 25 or €3,35 for two. One reason for the low price was the use by date, May 2nd. Two out of four thighs are now stored in my freezer, to be used later.

These thighs, with skin and bone are produced in France by the Gastronome group

Long roast duck-thighs in orange and thai chilli - a great recipe on Enjoy Food & Travel

Duck breasts

I really needed to buy some duck breasts as well. Fresh berberi duck manufactured by the Gastronome group, at a bargain price of DKK 60 or €8 for two! As they also had May 2nd as use-by date, even they ended up in my freezer.

Tender, and succulent, they must be fried in their own fat, until pink in the middle. My good friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Øivind Grimsmo, taught me to prepare this meat properly. He used a dry non-stick pan, and slow heat in order to achieve his delicious result.

The French prepare duck with orange, a former colleague used Cointreau as one seasoning when preparing breasts. Another classic way is to use black cherries.

See how to prepare a perfect duck breast here

Mousse de Canard

Mousse de Canard, or Duck Liver Mousse may be as good as the more expensive Goose liver. This container can be used until June 1st, and may be frozen down if you do not manage to eat it up all.

Use it the same way as Duck liver - serve cold on toast with a dessert wine as a Sauternes or a late harvest wine. If you do not have any sweet wine, you can serve the mousse with a red onion marmelade.

225 grams, priced at DKK 45 or €6 - a real bargain!! Producer - Brocéliande in France.

Foie gras de Canard - as served at L'éveil des Sens in Strasbourg

Foie Gras by Georges Thiol

I am used to goose liver in small expensive tins. Imagine how surprised I was, when I found 650 grams (over 1,4 lb's) priced at only 145 DKK (19,45 EUR). Another good thing was that it has been produced in a manner not cruel to animals.

Producers of foie gras has rightly been accused for cruelty to animals, as the ducks and geese have been force fed large amounts of corn in order to get that fat liver. This bloc is not produced that way. I hope it tastes as good as the cruelly produced goose liver.

The reason why I ask this question, is that this is extremely cheap. My sister and I, were in fact very suspicious- The other question is what to do with 650 grams with June 1st as use-by date. Trying to digest such an amount in a short time is not particularly tempting.

Firstly, my sister and I decided to split the package, and I will divide it into 1/2 - 1 inch slices and freeze them in separately. I will do that when visiting our summer home coming weekend. The secures some culinary high quality moments for us both this season.

A great wine to serve to Goose liver: Donnefugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria 2006

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library

Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library is a cornerstone of Harvard University. It is connected to one of the largest tragedies at sea, the Titanic disaster.

Harry Elkins Widener was 27 years old, and a Harvard graduate when he entered the Titanic in Cherbourg, France with his father and mother.

His father George Dunton Widener was a successful business man from Philadelphia and resided at Lynnewood Hall a 110 room mansion outside Philadelphia.

It was to be the first and last journey of the large Atlantic steamer and it tragically split up the Widener family. As the ship hit the ice berg, George Widener placed his wife and her maid on one of the life boats. They survived, whereas Georg Dunton and Harry Elkins Widener went down with the Titanic.

As her soon was a book collector, Eleanor Elkins, made a $3,5 million donation to Harvard University to build a library commemorating him. It was designed by the prominent Afro-American architect Julian Abele and was opened in 1915.

It is a vast building, larger than most other buildings at Harvard. One main facade face Harvard Square, the other Harvard Yard. It is designed as a classic temple dedicated to the book. The Widener Library is a part of Harvard University Library that holds over 15 million volumes, and is the home of many treasures, including one of 48 remaining bibles printed by Johann Gutenberg.