Saturday, November 21, 2009

Klippel Rouge de Barr Pinot Noir 2005

Alsace is famous for its deliciously dry white wines, delicious by themselves or served with poultry and seafood. Last year I sipped to a Vendange Tardives, a sweet wine made from grapes harvested after the first frost. When offered a local red wine made from Pinot Noir, I had high expectations, but I was disappointed.

In Alsace Pinot Noir is used to make rosé wines and red wines called Pinot noir rouge. These wines are very similar to red Burgundy and Beaujolais wines and are consumed chilled. Prominent examples are Rouge de Barr and Rouge d'Ottrott. Pinot noir rouge is the only red wine produced in Alsace.

I do not like Beaujolais wine. To me it is closer to grape juice, high in fruits but very low in other, more interesting aromas. The Klippel Rouge de Barr Pinot Noir 2005 was as dull as a Beaujolais and hardly worth ordering.

So if offered a Alsatian red wine, be sure that you like Beaujolais, before ordering. In my mind, there are so much better wines made from Gewürztraminer or Riesling grapes. These white wines have much more character and better served cold, than the red Pinot Noir.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brussels - the warm heart of Europe

View Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2009 in a larger map

Brussels, the capital of a deeply divided country, and the beating heart of Europe has so much to offer a tourist. I have lived there, and worked in the European Union a short period, and found a wide range of reasonably priced restaurants. During weekends you can wander through the antiques market at Sablon or Jeu de Bal, and end up at the large market at Gar du Midi.

I am happy to say that I will soon walk over Grand Place and write more stories from the Belgian capital. So stay tuned for sights, restaurants, food and travel stories from the warm heart of Europe.

A weekend is not much to experience the European counterpart to Washington DC. We have booked room at the luxurious Hotel Conrad Brussels*****, one of Brussel's most exclusive hotels, located by the fashionable Avenue Louise.

I have started to do some research to find out where to eat. This as a few of my favourite restaurants and bars are out of business.

The rustic bar La Terrasse, then located close to the flat I rented at Mérode, and The Old Inn located in a side street of Avénue Louise have sadly both closed down. I will certainly take a beer at another favourite I always return to, Le Cirio, an old tavern located by Le Bourse.

My research for new restaurants have certainly found a few new restaurants to discover. One is In 't Spinnekopke, at Place du Jardin aux Fleurs 1. Here you may order from a menu based on an authentic Belgian beer cuisine. In 't Spinnekopke is a classic local cafe, which was originally a inn built in the mid-1700s.

Another alternative is De l'Ogenblik, a traditional French bistro located in beautiful Galeries Royales St-Hubert.

Another popular choice is Au Vieux Saint Martin at Grand Sablon 38. The short menu consists of Brussels specialties, and you get much for a reasonable price. The owner serves equally good wine at a low price, by the glass or bottle.

More Brussels stories on Enjoy Food & Travel

Brussels: Where Arthur Rimbaud shot Paul Verlaine

Two great restaurants in Brussels

Stately living in Brussels: Hotel Metropole

Staying at the Royal Windsor Grand Place Hotel

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A delicious dinner

I have shared the menu for last Saturday's anniversary dinner cooked by my friend Dagfinn Skoglund. I can say that it was a culinary feast, as always. Here is a short account of the food.


Doesn't it look great? A soup intensely coloured by saffron, and flavoured with the essences of fish and prawns bought at his neighbouring Asian deli. A feast for the eye, as well as the pallet.

I am happy to say that this soup was better than the one ordered in Marseilles. Delicately balanced, with sufficient sweetness, as well as salt. Fish and prawns perfectly prepared, tender, not overcooked.

Dagfinn had prepared the soup according to the instructions in his Larousse Gastronomique, his (and everyone's) food Bible. Recommended for your library!

When serving it, he placed thinly sliced bread to soak up some of the liquid, and I brought Rouille Provencale, spread on crackers and released onto the soup.

Poussins and Chorizo boiled in wine. Home mash with herbs and Parmesan cheese.

The Poussins, the innocent dinky little chicken were only allowed a short 28-day-glimpse of this world, before somebody chopped their heads off, froze them down and put them out for sale. I am extremely happy that they did.

What could go wrong with such an ingredient? A lot could, but not if somebody like Dagfinn deals with them.

The poussins and spicy Spanish sausages were sunk into a cauldron filled with wine, stock, vegetables and skilfully turned into culinary wizardry. As culinary sorcerers go, it is hard to beat the magic performed by Dagfinn.

Many aromas filled our mouths and the poussins were tender to the degree that the succulent meat just fell of the bone. Both the poussins and the home mash were so good, that I helped myseld to a second serving. I suffered indigestion through the night due to over eating.

Creme Caramel, or Karamellpudding, if you will

Then to the creme caramel, another dish carefully prepared according to instructions from the Holy Book of Cooking, Larousse Gastronomique. The title presented to us was completely different, but the dessert could be dedicated to all mothers great or small.

Delicious eggy-creamy pudding with vanilla. As the spoon tucked in and scooped out the creme caramel, the most delicious sweet runny brown caramel sauce created a little puddle, and you could pour the delicious sweet sauce over the pudding.

Served in hallucinatory coloured bowls it looked great and tasted even better. Another magic desert from Dagfinn's hand, as I am not normally fond of puddings I would gladly eat any puddinh created by Dagfinn.

And from all of us to you!!!

Happy 50th Anniversary from me, and I am sure that my fellow guests were as happy for a great dinner.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cheap fare with Ryanair? Not without boarding pass

Oops! He did it again, the self proclaimed king of budget airfare, Michael O'Leary. For Ryanair's boss is the king of extra fees, as well. If you have forgotten one important thing you can say goodbye to that idea of a low price ticket, if you have remembered all the other things YOU have to do (and pay for) before leaving, that is.

Let's face it. To get that particular budget flight with Ryanair, we are all booking our own tickets on the net, squeeze our belongings into ONE small and underweight carry on piece of luggage, and are flown to airports far off the beaten track.

Soon we will be allowed to stand for nothing, and will have to pay to go to the bathroom. Now, he will raise the penalty for those of us that has forgotten to bring the boarding card (that we have printed ourselves) to the total sum of €100. What is the matter with us??

With you, rather. I do not fly Ryanair anymore, as I do not like to face any surprises, that may take large additional chunks of my travel budget, and Ryanair have a fair share of fees that may increase the price of the ticket if you do not watch out.

Here are a few points to look out for!
  • When booking online, make sure you write your name correctly, as changing it will cost €100-150.
  • When booking do remember to print boarding card and take them with you. Failing to do so, will cost you €40. To make travelers comply, Ryanair threatens to increase this fee to a whopping €100.
  • When traveling, do bring one piece of hand luggage weighing under 10 kilos and measuring 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. If you exceed any of these criteria, be prepared having to pay for check-in or overweight. Additional checked in luggage may cost you from 15-70 EUR.
  • Make sure that your duty free goods may be squeezed into your hand luggage, as Ryanair enforce a strict one piece of hand luggage only!
Have a nice trip with Ryanair!!

Wonder what other traps Ryanair has set out for you?

See the complete Ryanair fee list here

More Ryanair stories on Enjoy Food & Travel

Eat you heart out, Michael O'Leary

Ryanairs O'Leary asks travelers to hold water during flights

Ryanair: Higher luggage fees from October

Beware - airports off the beaten track!!

(Photo: Arpingstone)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Through four centuries at Tant Bruns kaffehus

Sigtuna is a quiet, quaint town an hour away from Stockholm. This hamlet is, however, another world compared to the busy suburban life. This is felt clearly when you enter the backyard of Tant Bruns Kaffehus, located in the oldest building in the town center.

This small café is named after a character created by Elsa Beskow, the famous author and illustrator of children's books. Tant Grön, tant Brun och tant Gredelin were three spinsters, taking care of their nephew Petter, niece Lisa and Prick, the pudel (meaning dot, in English, omit any other indecent meaning to the word).

They all lived in a small town, like Sigtuna. Many Scandinavian kids, me included, grew up to the TV series depicting the life of these two children.

Tant Bruns kaffehus, is a small little café, located in a small side street. When you enter, you can see the old age of these buildings. They are built around 1600 and there is hardly no right angle, and the whole construction is made from massive timber.

I was not hungry, rather peckish, and found that you could choose cakes or open sandwiches from the little menu. I ordered one of their prawn sandwiches and a bottle of Ramlösa, Swedish sparkling water.

Then I looked around. I was not alone in this backyard. There were a group of youngsters speaking English, as one or more of them were either American or English. The whole yard was enclosed by several, beautiful, very rustic buildings, and trees and bushes, provided additional shade for us guests.

The sandwich looked impressive enough, but I found, as in many other Swedish prawn sandwiches, that the heap of prawns rested on sliced, hard boiled eggs. Not as in Denmark, where they really offer a large amount of the delicious stuff.

At SEK 80 or a little under 9 EUR, it was hardly a rip-off. The prawns were nice and fresh, and served on a slice of rustic bread, so there were no need to complain. I left, completely satisfied, and with fond memories from the world of Elsa Beskow and her characters.

More on Sigtuna

See map of the town and the surrounding area here