Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crema de Langosta à la Knorr

I do not know whether buying a package of Knorr soups is the right thing to do, when shopping for culinary memories. Whatever, one package of Crema de Langusta, lobster cream soup à la Knorr ended in my trolley the last day I went shopping at the Canary Islands. Why? I may have been under the illusion that a multi-national corporation would try to encapsulate the tastes of Spain. This Friday I discovered the opposite, but with the necessary adjustments it ended up satisfactory.

When visiting our summer home, my good friend Ketil had ordered fried mackerel, and I delivered. 4 fillets of the fish served with boiled potatoes and sour cream. I assembled shells of the King Crab we had enjoyed for lunch (with aïoli), and the shells from a half a kilo of boiled fresh shrimps, and they ended in a casserole with 100 cl of water, no stock or salt as I presumed that the soup base contained much salt (they usually do).

I boiled the scraps and pieces for 20 minutes, separated the shells from the stock. I mixed 50 cl with the soup base, used a hand mixer to avoid lumps. Then I poured them into a smaller casserole, added more stock and white wine, in total 75 cl.

Then I tasted the soup. Salt, no sweetness or acidity. Added sugar until it had balanced the salt, and a little white wine vinegar to get the necessary acidity plus Tabasco Chipotle to get a little bite. Allowed the soup to boil for 5 minutes, stirring.

A seafood needed seafood, a piece of cod diced and 10 scallops divided into four went into the casserole with an additional 25 cl cream (20%). The soup was allowed to infuse for 3-4 minutes on very low heat.

Una Crema de Langusto Autentico? I do not know, but much, much better than the initial instructions by Knorr. I served the soup with small crostinis with aïoli, set afloat on the pretty pink soup.

Read what else I brought home from Gran Canaria

More culinary shopping bags

A Danish shopping bag - poultry

A German Shopping bag

Gourmet shopping at Alexanderplatz

Bush Tucker!

More Knorr stories

Stress free chicken stew

Chicken Coriander Soup & Crispy Crunchy topping

Easy and good food after a busy day

Eat green food – or another colour

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Copenhagen - Danish Pastry Heaven!

Danish Pastry. A word, mostly used to describe puff pastry delicacies with custard, jam and frosting. When walking around the Danish capital you see bakeries displaying an abundance of different breads and rolls. The Danes are masters in the art of baking many different pastries, sweet or savory, as well as fine wheat or full grain. Here are a two stories from my visits in Copenhagen.

Delicious displays at Illum's bakery.

One of the most delicious displays of all kind of pastry is found at Illum's, located at Strøget, Copenhagen's famous pedestrian precinct.

Located by an equally impressive florist shop, you find a large window, and a bread junkie get a strong urge for instant carbohydrates when faced by the abundance under offer here. The fantasies of crispy crusts and white fluffy wheat underneath runs through your mind.

As these pizza rolls, with cheese, a little tomatoes and Mediterranean herbs, a whole meal in itself, or used an ordinary roll with cheese, ham, or any other of your favourite spread.

If you want something more plain, there are plenty of rolls to choose from. You can pick rustic rolls with whole grain (above) or fine rolls.

If find it very satisfying to go to the bakery and buy fresh pastry. In this way, you do not only enjoy the best product every day, but you also waste less, as you only buy what you need for the day, leaving no bread to go stale in you kitchen drawers. Waste not, want not!

Illum's: See story Lunch for breakfast here

Fusion scones at Cascabel

Walking down Store Kongens Gade, close to Amalienborg Palace - the home of the Danish queen Margrethe, you find Cascabel, a up scale foodshop run by Bernard Berthier.

Here you can buy home made chocolate, cakes and petit fours as well as nougat Montelimar, and other sweet treats that can make your mouth water. The shop is also offering fresh salad and pastry.

I was captivated by the scones offered at Cascabel, hardly resembling the traditional British counterparts, but true fusion baking, inspired by the new global village.

As these, creatively flavoured by tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, cheddar cheese, and curry (right) or scones with carrots, cheddar cheese and coriander (below right).

These scones are a far cry away from those served at traditional cream teas with jam and clotted cream. These fusion scones are better enjoyed with well matured cheese and cured ham and a good glass of red wine.

Copenhagen is a haven for carbohydrate hungry junkies, a race under persecution from nutritionists advocating low-carb diets.

These are only two outlets out of many selling tempting pastry delicacies in "Kongens By", so I do recommend those of you passionately in love with good pastry to travel to Copenhagen!

You will not regret it!!

More pastry stories:

Serving Danish pastry to the citizen of Copenhagen since 1879 - see story here

In the land of the Danish Pastry

More Copenhagen stories see:

Copenhagen from A-Z 2007-2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

87 Mount Vernon Street

Beacon Hill is a quiet, exclusive neighbourhood in downtown Boston. In spite of being in the middle of this busy metropolis, the shade and quietness found in these streets combined with the beautiful colonial architecture makes this a place to visit during your stay in Boston. Many of the 18th and 19th century buildings here are inspired by the famous Boston architect Charles Bulfinch, but only a few are designed by him. One of those is 87 Mount Vernon Street.

Charles Bulfinch was born 1763 in Boston, son of Thomas Bulfinch, a prominent physician, and his wife, Susan Apthorp. Educated at Harvard 1784, he went to Europe where he was inspired by masters as Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Adam and William Chambers.

He has left behind a rich architectural legacy through a large number of buildings throughout the East Coast of the US, among them US Capitol, the State Houses in Maine, Connecticut and Massachusetts and the University Hall at Harvard.

Number 87 Vernon Street was designed 1805 for Stephen Higginson jr. and bears a strong resemblance to number 85, the Harrison Gray Otis House built in 1800. The same design was used on four other houses in Park Street the same year he designed number 87. They have all been torn down.

Other houses of Beacon Hill

Here stood the residence of John Hancock.....
Acorn Street - the rich men's backyard

More Bulfinch Houses

Fanueil Hall - the Jewel in the Crown

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flying Icelandair Fall 2009

I traveled Icelandair from Oslo to Boston over Reykjavik, leaving Oslo September 17th, returning September 29th. Even though the airline still offers value for money, it offers less in 2009 than last year.

Check in: BBBB

Check in started 40 minutes prior to departure, and went very well. We were fully embarked with good margins to our departure.

Take off: BBBB

Take off on time from all airports on each flight.

Hospitality: BBBBB

The Icelandair staff was very kind, performing all their duties with a smile.

Service: BBBB

Serving from trolleys with soft drinks, wine, liquors, and food took place less than an hour after the vessel had reached maximum cruising altitude and fasten seat belt sign had been switched off.

Complementary goods: BB+

I was disappointed by the fact that only soft drinks was included in the price. Neither wine, spirits, nor food was free, even on the transatlantic flight from Reykjavik to Boston. I had expected not to have to pay for a meal from Europe to the US. I suppose it may be caused by the rotten financial times Iceland is going through this period.

The only comfort was that what was under offer was not expensive. €4 for a warm roast beef and onion sub was hardly a steep price to pay, and wine and spirits had the same price.

Leg room and comfort: BBBB

The worst flight I have had, lately, was the Spanair flight from Munich to Barcelona in June, as my knees went deep into the seat in front of me. Icelandair offered so muc hmore, when talking leg room and comfort. Over 80 cm, meant that, even with the pouch in front of me filled with paper, my knees did not touch the seat in front.

You had an entertainment system in the back of the seat in front of you, but you had to buy air phones (OUCH!) to enjoy the entertainment.

Flying time: BBBB

The total flying time excl. the change at Keflavik Airport was 8 hours and 30 minutes and even less on the way back. This means a much shorter flight than e.g. from Paris, Frankfurt, or even London. The only non-stop flight that may compete with Reykjavik is the Air Lingus service from Boston to Shannon, Dublin.

Duty free selection: BBBB

A good selection of duty free spirits, accessories, fragrances, and other articles available at reasonable prices.

Arrival: BBBBB

All arrivals were either on schedule or early. The flight time back from Boston to Reykjavik was merely 4 hours 30 minutes, making it one of the fastest transatlantic flights I have experienced.

Disembarking: BBBBB

Went smooth at all airports.

Price: BBBB

I paid NOK 5161 (611€ /$ 819) round trip including taxes. Not the cheapest ticket on the market, as other European carriers offered cheaper fares for the same period.

Rating the Icelandair experience: BBBB (4,13 points)

Some of the Icelandair glam is gone. No free food and wine/beer, a little pricey compared to other airlines, but still the most comfortable way to travel Oslo-Boston. Smooth boarding and disembarking and top punctuality

Other Icelandair stories

Comfortable transatlantic crossing

Bargain prices to North America on Icelandair

Icelandair losing out on Transatlantic flights?

Icelandair - a great choice to the United States

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Las Palmas' food market

I have roamed through food markets in Barcelona, Marseille, Florence, and Gothenburg. The capitol of the Canary Islands, Las Palmas has, as every Spanish city with respect for itself, a great food market. Here there are an impressive selection of fish, meat, and vegetables under offer, as well as prepared food. I am envious of the citizen of Las Palmas. If I had a market like this close by, I would have been a regular guest! February 12th, I walked through this market, and here is a little of what I saw.

Jámon, jámon.......

The film Jámon, jámon, from 1992 directed by Bigas Luna, encapsulates the Spanish passion for ham. The film ends with a violent clash between two of the main characters where they fight with a whole ham as weapons.

Believe me, ham is serious business in Spain and Italy and a symbol of pride. In Spain, different qualities of Jamon Serrano, or the legendary Pata Negra are sold at staggering prices, and the best just melts in your mouth.

This craving for a noble pig, can even be met at Las Palmas, where you will find these specimens to be purchased. At what price? I do not know - I never asked!

My nephew Hans Ørnes visited ham heaven when staying in Barcelona. Read hist story here.

Squid in Salsa, and much more.....

Here is what you can buy for dinner, if you do not care to make anything from scratch.

Ropa vieja shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base priced at €9,95 per kilo. This dish has its origins on the islands but has spread to much of New World.

If you want seafood you can switch to Chocos en Salsa, squid in a thick sauce priced at €14,95.

If you want something less pricey, why not choose a delicious "tortilla" a potato omelet at around €5.

Tortilla de Patatas - Spanish potato omelet and other tapas served at a 50th anniversary. Read story here

Tuna in Adobo and Fidelia

Adobo is the Spanish word for seasoning.

Adobo is prepared in regions of the latin world, including South America and the Philippines. Pork, spices, and especially red pepper are used.

At the Las Palmas Food market I found that this marinade is even applied in fish like this Tuna dish.

Another dish under offer was a pan with something called Fidelia, but I have not been able to find what this refers to. It looked like a pasta dish and it had the same saffron and tomato colour as most of the prepared food for sale at the market.

Abundance from the sea

Walking among the fish mongers you are struck by the abundance of fresh fish under offer.

Here you see the local names of the different species. The sign by the colourful fish, viejos, refers possibly to Sparisoma cretense (wikipedia), a fish living by the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

Another species, called Romeres, has not been possible to identify, and what could be better than large prawns on a paella or as a starter.


Other food markets here on Enjoy Food & Travel