Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stress free chicken stew

I am at work at 6.30 AM, and arrive home at 4.30 PM totally exhausted after a long day. During the working week I find it so easy to be tempted to buy unhealthy ready made food. That is often a bad option, as ready made food may be fast, but do often contain too much salt, trans fats, and additives. Have no fear! You can prepare healthier and tastier food as quickly! Try my stress free chicken stew made from packet of Knorr Soup, frozen vegetables, chicken and cheese. It tastes better too!
If you eat by yourself, eat just one half, and you do not have to prepare dinner the next day.

For 2-3 servings you'll need:
  • 300-400 grams chicken meat, diced
  • 1 packet ready made Knorr Soup (50 cl / 0,9 pints)
  • 600 grams frozen vegetables (I used 300 grams of green beans and 3o0 grams frozen mushrooms)
  • 200 grams grated cheese
Use any kind of soup you'll like. Even though these ready made soups may contain much salt they will be less concentrated when used with vegetables and meat, but do not add extra salt!

I love the Curry soup with chicken and coriander from Knorr, but you might as well use Campbell chicken or mushroom soup, or another brand you like.

Place half the vegetables in an oven proof tray, then a layer of chicken meat. Pour half the chicken soup over and sprinkle half the cheese on top. Then make another layer of vegetables, chicken, soup, and cheese.

Bake in a hot oven (180 C / 360F) for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is golden and liquid is bubbling.

Serve with rice and a salad.

Friday, May 29, 2009

600 years of Alchemy - Auberge Nicolas Flamel

One of the places that I dream to dine, is in Paris. In Rue de Montmorency in the Marais district you may eat in a house that once belonged to one of the greatest alchemists in the world - Nicolas Flamel. He was born 1330 and died 1418, or did he? He was rumored to have found the Philosopher's Stone, and he and his wife were said to live eternally. Legend or not, his house is left behind, and a colleague visited and had a great meal there.

I have written on the the house and its history as tavern before. It is only one out of many that have been (or claim to have been) serving food and drink to guests in same building for hundreds of years.

The history of Auberge Nicolas Flamel is authentic enough. It was built, according to legend, as a place where poor people in Paris could have one night's sleep and a meal to pray for the alchemist's soul.

Do you want to know where crusaders once enjoyed their ale....? Read the story here

Menu Gourmand

My colleague and his friends enjoyed the menu privilége, and the menu Gourmand.

From the Menu Gourmand you can choose one out the following dishes for 31 EUR:

  • Salmon tartare marinated in citrus fruits and fines herbs, sesame and crusty vermicelli
  • Ratafia flavoured duck foie gras and knuckle of veal paté, rhubarb chutney with pine nuts
  • Red mullet tart on a bed of grilled vegetables, tapenade à la provençale and mixed green salad, parmesan
  • Fillet of gilthead (bream) with courgette scale, coriander virgin sauce and nutmeg flavoured leek fondue
  • Supreme of guineafowl stuffed with cep and its rosemary gravy, saffron flavoured creamy risotto
  • Roasted veal medallion with its Armagnac (brandy) flambé duck foie gras sauce, baby sauteed potatoes with parsley and garlic sauce
  • Cheese plate with green mixed salad and nuts
  • Chocolate cake with melting middle and violet sorbet
  • Almond mascarpone cream verrine, red fruits marinated with basil
  • Williams’s pear and gingerbread flavoured shortbread, cinnamon light cream
Menu Prestige:

From the Menu Prestige you can choose one out the following dishes for 46 EUR:

  • Caramelised royal gala apple tart with fried duck foie gras and reduced Port sauce
  • Aubergine and roasted lobster crumble, condiment of the South, emulsion of rocket with pine nuts
  • Scallops and langoustine aumônière, crayfish gazpacho
  • Porterhouse steak with morels, pan-fried polenta and vanilla flavoured celery mousseline
  • Seven-hour lamb served with seasonal vegetables, shoot of fennel
  • Turbot with lobster cooked butter, black truffle creamy sauce, tender chicory (endive) and parmesan
  • The tasting Selection of the Chef’s favourite desserts
  • The Nicolas Flamel chocolate Lingot d’or, mousse and harelnuts and liquorice flavoured ice cream
  • Passion fruit with a cloud of coconut and marc of Champagne flavoured sorbet
Gourmet food at budget price

Referring to their bill, showing that 5 three course dinners with wine, coffee / tea, cost a little under 300 EUR. I would call this a bargain, and I cannot wait until I get the chance to eat there. For those of you traveling to Paris, it looks like the place to go. Do book, however, as places like these may be very popular.

Auberge Nicolas Flamel
51, rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris (Metro: Rambuteau ou Arts et Métiers)
Phone: +33 (0)1 42 71 77 78
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 77 12 78

(Photo: Restaurant website)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strasbourg - getting there

Strasbourg is located in the heart of Europe. If you have direct flights to the city, it is easy to get to. As Norway is on the periphery, you need to change at one of the main airports to one out of several other means of transportation to get there. I did, in my opinion find the cheapest and shortest way from Oslo to Strasbourg.

The French connection(s), slow and expensive

There are to options if traveling from Oslo. You may travel to Paris by SAS or Air France and either change to a connecting flight to Strasbourg airport, or take the TGV, the high speed train service from Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

The first option means that you will have to change from an international to a domestic flight. I checked the connection, and found that you had to wait for 2-3 hours for your flight to Strasbourg.

The other option was not much convenient. I found the schedule, and according to this, you may have to wait unnecessary for one of the few trains that stops at the airport. Either that or you would have to travel to Paris in order to get a train.

Besides this wou would have to pay for either the connecting flight or the TGV, the latter being rather expensive.

I prefer the German connection

I have found that the easiest way to get from Oslo to Strasbourg is to take a Lufthansa bus from Frankfurt International airport.

Check the schedule and find the bus that is best for your plane. We had to wait for 2 hours, but we could just sit down, have a nice meal and a glass (or two or even three) of good red wine.

When on board you will be brought to Strasbourg, entering Alsace by Wissenbourg in the north. It is is not the most fascinating of trips, and it takes around 2 1/2 hours.

Do book a seat to the bus in advance, as there is no guarantee that you will be left on board, if it is fully booked. You may book you ticket on the Lufthansa website. There is no online options but you call a phone number to book. It will cost you €80 for a roundtrip ticket.

It is easiest to leave at Boulevard de Metz, by the Railway station. From here it is a 10-15 minute walk to the city centre.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Norwegian Air Shuttle squeezed out of the Russian market

(Source: Aftenposten, May 19th 2009) Whereas Norwegian Air Shuttle may offer us cheap air fare to continental Europe, there is no such options to the Russian Federation. Why? Because it was forced to sell tickets at the same price level as the Russian air carrier Aeroflot, even though it could offer travelers much cheaper fare to and from Moscow. This shows the unequal terms international firms are offered in Russia, compared to the rest of Europe.

Air carriers may not seek any permission when opening new services within the EU. This opens up to competition on equal terms, giving us travelers a wide range of possibilities when booking tickets. Norwegian Air Shuttle has opened up flights to many new and exciting destinations these last years.

In 2007 Norwegian started flights from Oslo to Moscow offering competition to the Russian Airline Aeroflot that has had direct flights from Oslo for 40 years. Norwegian soon discovered that there was one set of rules for Europe, and a completely other set of rules in Russia.

When the airline offered low price tickets to Moscow, Russian authorities soon demanded that Norwegian should rise the price of tickets to the same level as Aeroflot. As the airline wanted to be a cheaper alternative to Aeroflot, and was not allowed to offer real competition, Norwegian decided to stop flights to Russia.

There is considerable confusion on terms of flights to and from Russia. Whereas Russian Authorities on one hand claim that there are no unequal terms for air carriers, on the the other they refer to a valid negotiated settlement between Norway and Russia from 1950 that sets a minimum price of air fare between the two countries. And when Norwegian Air Shuttle claims that the demand to sell over priced tickets were the reason why they abandoned the Russian market, Russian officials deny that they have made such a demand altogether.

Whatever facts or fiction in this case. With one airline flying Oslo-Moscow, travelers risk paying up to EUR 500 for a round trip ticket. Seeing the prices Norwegian Air Shuttle offers on similar destination, the only looser is the traveler.

Other Norwegian Air Shuttle stories:
(Photos: Company website and Arpingstone)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coming up in June: Hotel Acta Millenni - Barcelona

In June we will spend an additional two nights in Barcelona, before we head off to Sitges. I have stayed in several hotels in the Catalan capital. The standard has been overall good, but we have ended up more than a walk away from the city centre. This time we wanted to stay within walking distance from the old town, La Rambla and Placa Catalunya. After browsing through, I found Hotel Acta Millenni. It had all we wanted. Good location, four stars, low price, and individual air conditioning on all rooms.

The last point was found to crucial when we stayed at the Sunotel Aston Hotel June 2007. The hotel turned the air conditioning OFF during night, and we stayed in an extremely noisy area, and we ended up sleeping badly or not at all during the week we stayed there. There were other flaws as well, one of them being that we had to travel by the metro to get home at night.

It is just 700 metres away from La Rambla, so now we can walk back when being out instead of taking the subway. The hotels have most modern commodities and the rooms have according to the hotel:
  • Soft modern decoration: wooden floor, Venetian stucco and light colours combination - great for us that react to carpets
  • Interactive 21" TV
  • Pay per view movies
  • Balcony or wide window with natural light and double glass - reduce noise from the outside traffic
  • Heating (winter) and air conditioning (summer)- are we not happy!!
  • Iron & board on request
  • Free safety box- one feature that comes very handy when you stay in a large city with a lot of crime
  • Minibar (bottles of water are free daily)
  • Telephones
  • Free wireless internet for your portable computer - for us that blog regularly this is just bliss
  • Non smoking rooms available
  • Room service during day
  • Bathroom in marble
Doesn't it sound good? I think so. We are looking forward to our stay. Acta Millenni will be reviewed after the bargain standard here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

More hotels in Barcelona - se reviews here on Enjoy Food & Travel:
(Photo: Hotel website)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tourist trapped at Nyhavns Færgekro

After three slices of håndmad at Hviids Vinstue, I was still hungry! I went down to Nyhavns Færgekro and was tourist trapped!!

Location: BBBBB

Nyhavns Færgekro is located at Nyhavn, by Kongens Nytorv. These are among the most popular areas of Copenhagen among tourists with many restaurants that serve traditional Danish food accompanied by "en bayer" - a glass of cold beer.

Service: BBB

I was warmly welcomed by the waitress, and given a table. It took ages to order, but it was served quickly. Then I waited patiently to pay, and I waited and waited....

So - the service was painfully slow at Nyhavns Færgekro.

Interior & atmosphere: BBB+

The houses in Nyhavn are very old and beautiful and up to 400 years old. Nyhavns Færgekro is located on the ground floor and basement in one of these houses, at Nyhavn 5.

The interior is a mix of old and new, yellow walls, partly chairs, partly benches with leather seats. I did not like the interior and personally found the it a little uninviting.

Tables with white table cloths, cutlery, wine and akevit glasses. As I was alone. I was seated by a small table for two. Very small and uncomfortable, and unpleasantly close to the neighbouring table, luckily not taken.

Food: BBB-

Sandwich with prawns homemade mayonnaise on rustic bread: BBB-

I decided to try the shrimp sandwich described as:

"Nyhavns Færgekro’s rejemad af store flotte rejer anrettet på speltbrød med friskklippet dild og hjemmerørt mayonnaise."

Translated to: Nyhavns Færgekro's shrimp sandwich made from fine large shrimps on spelt bread with fresh dill weed and home made mayonnaise.

Presentation: Sounds nice, doesn't it? It looked good too, when served, a large mound of shrimps on a rustic slice of bread with yellow mayonnaise, garnished with a twig of fresh dill. My, how disappointed I was, when taking the first bite.

Consistency - strange as the shrimps were not fresh at all, either potted in brine, or shelled then frozen. The bread was tough, not crunchy and very hard to chew.

Balance and taste: Hardly no balance nor taste to talk of. I am highly surprised how a kitchen could offer something so tasteless to serve their guests. The shrimps had no reassuring taste of salt sea, the mayonnaise, if homemade should have had a slight bitterness from lemon and mustard, but had not. This was a disappointing experience, to say the least.

The price, DKK 69 (9,43 EUR), was a high price to pay for this experience.

Beverage: BBBB

The bottle of Carlsberg beer, was the only experience worth the price at Nyhavns Færgekro. (DKK 35 or EUR 3,30).

Rating the Nyhavns Færgekro experience: BBBB- (3,71 points)

Totally tourist trapped in Nyhavn. Read my warning on where not to eat, and you will find that Nyhavns Færgekro had many warning signs, that I did not see. If dining in Nyhavn, check where to eat. Café Zeleste is the one I would recommend: