Saturday, October 10, 2009

St Olofs Kyrkruin - Sigtuna


Sigtuna is today a small town with around 6000 inhabitants close to the Swedish capital Stockholm. Once upon a time it was one of few towns in a sparsely populated country. The most apparent signs of old glory are the number of churches. What small town of today could count 4 large churches! The largest is the remains of St. Olofs Kyrka, dedicated to the St. Olaf, the Patron Saint of Norway.

St. Olaf christened Norway and was killed at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. After his death, he was canonized - made a saint, and his grave at the legendary Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim became an important site for pilgrims in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. A number of other churches were dedicated to his memory, and one of them is found in Sigtuna.

It was built in the 12th century in stone, shaped as a cross with a tall central tower. It is located close to Mariakyrkan, the only Medieval church that survived the Middle Ages, and these two churches were part of a large complex that also included a Dominican Monastery.

King Olaf had some connection to Sigtuna. King Olaf Skötkonung made Sigtuna an important centre in his kingdom. Olaf Haraldsson wanted to marry Olaf Skötkonung's daughter Ingegerd, infuriating the Swedish king, as he was a sworn enemy to the Norwegian king. He is said to have called the Norwegian king "tjocken"- "fatso." Ingegerd was never made queen of Norway, but ended up married to Prince Yaroslav of Novgorod in Russia.

In spite of the bad blood between the two kings, a church dedicated to the "Eternal King of Norway" was built around 1100. There has been an even older church building within the present walls.

It fell into disrepair during th 17th century and works to secure the remains started in the late 19th century.

St Olofs Kyrka must have been a impressive sight, and still is, even as a ruin. Walking inside this once impressive building is a strange experience. It is absolutely worth a visit, even though the nearby Mariakyrkan gives a much better impression of what a Medieval church must have looked like.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Feel Air - a new long haul airline with a fresh breath



Oslo is a back water on long haul non-stop flights. Most times Norwegian passengers will have to change planes in Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, or Paris. The new Feel Air is determined to change this. Two planes will operate new non-stop flights from Oslo and Stockholm to New York and Bangkok starting 2010. We wish them luck! We need all the competition we can get.

The Swedish Norwegian duo Kai Holmberg and Otto Lagarhus have invested NOK 240 million, and will start with 2 Airbus 330-200, one based in Stockholm, the other in Oslo. They will operate on a flexible schedule, flying passengers from the two capital cities to New York and Bangkok. The two investors believe that the key to success is keeping the two vessels in the air as much as possible.

Around 3 million passengers in Norway and Sweden travel to these two destinations every year, and Holmberg and Lagarhus hope that they will get 350 000 passengers the first year.

See the Feel Air company website here.

Non-stop flights from Oslo Airport to Europe, Middel East, Asia and the US October 2009


View International non-stop flights from Oslo Airport - status October 2009 in a larger map

On special maps you find non-stop flights operating from Europe to the largest Norwegian airports. Here you have non-stop flights from Oslo Airport to destinations in Europe, Middle East, Asia and the United States.

On these maps you will find markers that display status on different non-stop flights to Norway. A red marker means that flights is seasonal and not in operation or that an earlier non-stop flight has been canceled. A green marker shows that there is a new non-stop flight planned to this destination. A yellow marker means that there a seasonal flight still operating to this airport. An airplane button means that service is in operation all year around from one European destination to Oslo international airport.

Non-stop maps now available for following airports:
(Photo: Feel Air website)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cauliflower gratin

Fresh cauliflower is one of the treats of fall. It can be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes - a purée delicious to follow fried meat or poultry, or as a meal in itself. A delicious cauliflower gratin is a filling and appetizing dish.

As usual I made my dish with no exact measurements, but the whole idea is to make a béchamel sauce from the stock used to boil the cauliflower and add milk - or even better - double cream. Add cheese to the sauce, and this mild dish may take stronger varieties as cheddar and even blue cheese.

Take the béchamel off the burner and add 3-4 beaten eggs. In order to make a genuine gratin, you are supposed to separate egg whites and yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff. First add the lightly beaten egg yolks then gently fold in the whites for extra lightness.

I cheated as I did not separate the eggs, but beat them and added them to my béchamel.

I had boiled the cauliflower bouquets in a good stock and allowed them to cool. I placed them in a baking tray. I finely chopped a French salami that had passed its best-before date, and sprinkled on top and then poured the white sauce over and added more cheese on top for taste and colour.

I placed the baking tray in a hot oven (200C / 400F) and baked the gratin for 35-40 minutes until the gratin was lightly brown and hot.

Delicious with garlic bread and a good salad.

Other related recipes:

Cauliflower purée - a good alternative to mashed potatoes

A comfort soup: Asparagus and broccoli soup with German Bratwurst


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The blue signs of Oslo


Many European cities have signs showing important sights from their long, and often dramatic history. If you visit Oslo, you'll see blue, oval signs telling stories from Oslo's 1000 year old history. Sadly, they are only in Norwegian, and therefore of no use for foreigners. Here is a guide to some of the monuments and a map to find them. The location of the blue signs is marked by an I. More stories will follow on the blue signs of Oslo.

SKREDDERGÅRDEN (1894 ABOVE)

OPPFØRT 1894 FOR SKREDDER CARL HANSEN. ARKITEKT CHRISTIAN REUTER. FASADENS FRESKOMALERIER TROLIG UTFØRT AV ARNE FLADAGER. FREDET.

BUILT 1894 FOR TAILOR CARL HANSEN. ARCHITECT CHRISTIAN REUTER. FRESCO PAINTINGS ON FACADE PROBABLY BY ARNE FLADAGER. LISTED.

AKSISEHUSET

OPPFØRT CA. 1930 SOM VAKTSTUE VED BYGRENSEN FOR INNKREVING AV BY TOLL PÅ FORBRUKSVARER. AKSISE AVSKAFFET 1842

BUILT AROUND 1830 AS A CHECKPOINT BY THE CITY BORDER FOR CLAIMING CITY DUTY (AKSISE) ON COMMODITIES. AKSISE ABOLISHED IN 1842

Read more on Aksisehuset here

MANGELSGÅRDEN (1698)

OPPFØRT 1698 SOM LANDSTED VED AKERSELVA. OMBYGD 1772 TIL NÅVÆRENDE UTSEENDE. PRINDS CHRISTIAN AUGSTS MINDE ARBEIDSANSTALT 1819-1915. FREDET

BUILT 1698 AS COUNTRY ESTATE BY AKERSELVA RIVER. EXTENDED TO PRESENT BUILDING 1772. PRINDS CHRISTIAN AUGUSTS WORK HOUSE 1819-1915. LISTED

Reads more on Mangelsgården here

PILESTREDET 30A-B

EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944) BODDE I PILESTREDET 30A OG B 1868-1875. ERINDRINGS- BILDER ER BRUKT SOM MOTIVER I HANS KUNST.

EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944) LIVED AT PILESTREDET 30A AND B 1868-1875. IMAGES FROM HIS LIFE HERE ARE USED AS MOTIVES IN HIS ART.

Read more on Pilestredet 30 A-B here


FATTIGSTUEN VED KROHGSTØTTEN SYKEHUS

FATTIGSTUEN VED KROHGSTØTTEN SYKEHUS OPPFØRT 1859. KOMMUNAL LEGEVAKT 1900. ARKITEKT CHRISTIAN GROSCH

POOR HOUSE BY KROHGSTØTTEN HOSPITAL. BUILT 1859. MUNICIPAL EMERGENCY ROOM 1900. ARCHITECT CHRISTIAN GROSCH.

Read more on Fattigstuen here

Monday, October 05, 2009

SATA introduce non-stop flight Oslo to Azores 2010


There are good news for Norwegians eager to explore another exotic destination. From April to October 2010 travelers may fly weekly non-stop Oslo to Ponta Delgada at the Azores.

The air carrier SATA Air Açores, based on the archipelago, operates services between the islands, and to a number of destinations in North America and Europe. As I took off from Boston September 27th, I discovered a SATA vessel bound for the islands in the mid-Atlantic.

These islands enjoy a mild climate ranging from an average high of 25,6 C (78F) in August, to an average low of 16,8C (62F) in February.

Travelers from Norway have had, until now, to change planes in Lisbon to travel to the Azores. The trip will take 4-5 hours and a round trip ticket will cost from 4000-5000 NOK (EUR 470-587). It will start April 29th and last until October 7th. This means that travelers may not travel non-stop to Ponta Delgada to escape the inhospitable Norwegian winter.

A pity really - we would need it!

Non-stop flights from Norway to destibations in Europe, Middle East, US and Asia:

Non-stop maps now available for following airports:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Pizza Taco-rama - the ultimate junk food!



I love junk food, and what could be more junk, or even - trash, than a pizza taco-rama. A thin crust pie topped with tortilla chips and much, much more! Baby, won´t you light my fire!!

Fire, as this pie is a fusion between Italian and Tex-Mex cuisine with a kick from fiery green jalapeños , and you use only premade ingredients. Making it is more than an assembling job, rather than genuine cooking. Here is what you need, and remember - you can use what you want.

Pizza Taco-rama (Serves 2 hungry people)


1 sheet of pizza dough
1/2 glass pizza or taco sauce
Pepperoni sausage, thinly sliced
Tortilla chips
Jalapeños (optional - but try it!)
Grated cheese (ideally mozzarella and/or cheddar or Monterey Jack)

Roll out pizza dough. Place on baking paper or use oil if placed directly in baking tray.

Spread sauce on pastry, then add sausage, chips and jalapeños. Adjust the amount of chillies to please you own pallet. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake in a hot oven 200-225C (400 - 440F) for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Serve immediately, piping hot! A good sour cream dip makes it even more scrumptious!!