Saturday, December 05, 2009

Surf'n Turf - Omaha steak tips and spicy prawns

Omaha steak tips and spicy prawns was the menu during my first visit to Scituate this year. Great Surf ‘n Turf if you ask me.

My cousin Erica had filled up her fridge for my visit, and as she knows my love for tender high quality beef and seafood, she had real treats in store for me. Pre marinated Omaha Steak tips and large prawns is great food for hungry travelers.

Turf - Omaha Steak Tips

Omaha Steak is an Omaha, Nebraska based food brand selling high quality frozen beef, as well as seafood and poultry throughout the US.

You can see the wide range of products offered by the Omaha Steaks company of their official website

These products are, according to Erica, top shelf when it comes to quality, as I was to discover when she placed these steak tips on the sizzling hot grill.

The Omaha Steak tips were prime beef, exceptionally tender and with a delicious sweet and smoky flavor. So unlike much of the other stuff you put on the grill during the summer season, turning either extremely dry or tough, or both.

The trick here is not to overcook good meat. Products as Omaha Steak tips should be served medium. i.e. red to pink in the middle to preserve them moist and tender. Erica did a great job, she served boiled sweet corn with butter on the side. YUM!

More turf


Spiesbraten, a German specialty, is a marinated piece of steak roasted on an open pit over a wooden fire. See story here

Surf – Spicy prawns!

Another favourite food group is seafood. Erica had bought a bag of large prawns and asked me to prepare them.

Large prawns are often lower in taste than the smaller ones, and you may therefore use more seasoning when preparing them. One of my favourites is to prepare them in a creamy mustard and green pepper sauce.

In Scituate I decided to try a spicy sauce made from garlic, white wine, hot’n sweet chili sauce, fish stock and dill weed.

A sauce like this worked perfect as it balanced acidity, sweet and salt well, and the chili gave additional heat to the flavours.

More Surf

Scandinavian open sandwich with prawns and spicy mayonnaise on rye bread served on a New Years Brunch - see story here


Coconut shrimp with a sweet dipping sauce as served a La Bec Rouge, Hampton Beach N.H. - see story here

Friday, December 04, 2009

Barcelona Botanical Garden


I love botanical gardens, and in particular those that is located in warmer climates. Barcelona Botanical Garden is found on top of Montjuïc, with a spectacular view of the city.

Montjuïc rise 173 meters (567 ft) up over the city centre. Here you find many major attractions as the former olympic stadium and olympic museum, the Miro Museum, the museum of ethnology, and the Catalan museum of archaeology (housed in the 1929 exhibition's palace of graphic arts).

To find the Botanical Garden you have to pass the impressive Olympic stadium and walk up the hill above it. Here you will find a Garden of Eden appear in front of you eyes. The current garden was established on the grounds of the Olympic games in 1999.

History

The garden at Montjuïc is by noe means the first of its kind in the Catalan capital. Already in 1723, Jaime Salvador i Pedrol created a Botanical Garden in Sant Joan Despí. What is now known as the Historic Botanical Garden was created in 1930 by Pius Font i Quer on the site known as Els Sots of la Foixarda on the slopes of Montjuïc.

The construction of the new Olympic facilities in 1986 undermined the stability of the Historic Botanical Garden and this resulted in a proposal to establish a new Botanical Garden in Barcelona making it into a central point of reference for the conservation of Mediterranean flora.

Barcelona’s new Botanical Garden was officially opened on 18 April 1999. The project was supported both formally and economically by Barcelona City Council and the European Union.

Some of the species found in the garden

Macrozamia moorei

The Macrozamia moorei may look like a palm tree, but it is not. It belongs to the cycads.

Cycads are an ancient family of species going as far back as 280 million years - to the early Permian era. Many larger specimens are easily mistaken to be palm trees, but they are actually related to the conifers.

Today there are 305 described species, in 10–12 genera and 2–3 families of cycads, growing wild in tropical areas in all continents. Some species, as Cycas panzhihuaensis, and Revoluta, are more widely cultivated and may even tolerate some frost.

The Macrozamia Moorei originates from New South Wales in Australia. It was described in 1881 and named after Charles Moore, the Director of the Botanical Garden in Sydney.

It is a beautiful plant, with long, curved leaves. It can grow up to 7 meters tall and the leaves can get up to 2,5 meters long.

Artichokes

For those of you that do not believe that artichokes are large thistles, look here! Here you see one in bloom - a first time even for me.

Artichokes are a well known ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. When traveling in Spain, you can see fields growing these giant thistles along roads and railway tracks.

As they are harvested as buds, you rarely see one in bloom, but when you do, you are struck by the resemblance with your own species of thistles.

The art of enjoying an artichoke - see story here

Acacia

Acacias belong to another large family of plants. The most famous is the species growing in Africa, with long spines and beautiful foliage.

Acacias, or related species known under the same name, are growing on all tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions on all continents.

I have observed Giraffes feeding on tall acacia trees in the Pilanesberg Reserve in South Africa, and saw specimens growing in our garden at Aintree Lodge in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal. They are beautiful, gracious and highly decorative plants with round furry flowers of different colours.

Where to find the Botanical Gardens in Barcelona


View Barcelona and Catalonia on Enjoy Food & Travel in a larger map

More botanical stories on this site

Gran Canaria - an island in bloom

Resisting the Norwegian winter

South Africa - Breathtaking Botanical Beauty


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Two Christmas rituals


December 1st is the start of Advent, the countdown to the Norwegian Christmas season. This week, I will perform two Christmas rituals. Friday, I will prepare a traditional pork rib, and Saturday I will make my piece de resistance, long roast duck.

Norwegians have different Christmas rituals. Along the coast you may be served steamed codfish or "pinnekjøtt", made from cured and salted mutton. Turkey has grown more and more popular as a more healthy choice for Christmas.

Traditional pork rib with crispy cracklings

I am accustomed to pork rib with crispy cracklings as Christmas dinner. The rib is supposed to be left marinating for a few days in salt and pepper. This year I am lazy, as I buy the rib pre-marinated, ready to be placed in the oven.

The best way is to long roast the ribs, 8 hours on 100-120C (210-250F) and increasing the temperature at the end of the roasting. This is an easy and very safe way to prepare the meat, as you may leave it and go to work and no supervision is needed.

My master plan for Friday is to bake potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Christmas sausage and meatballs under the dripping fat. Additional side dish is surkål or rødkål, traditional style pickled (red) cabbage and rich brown gravy - yum!!

Duck for the Tante Pose evening

Tante Pose is an old Norwegian film classic from the year 1940. For most of us 30-40 something it is forever connected to our best Christmas memories.

To celebrate our past, I have invited three chums to tuck into a duck this Saturday, before we sit down to enjoy our favourite memories from our childhood.

I will prepare a stuffing made with apples, onion, bacon bread and sage - absolutely perfect with poultry. After seasoning the stuffed duck, I allow it to long roast until mouthwateringly tender and moist.

As pork and duck have much the same flavour, I use rødkål, gravy and boiled potatoes, as served to the pork rib the day before.

Wanna know how to prepare duck "tante Pose" style?

See how to prepare the stuffing

See how to prepare the duck

More Christmas stories

Christmas grub at Holbergstuen

Emergency - crispy cracklings on my pork rib! Call 820 30 200!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jørgen Hanssøns wall ( built 1516-1523)

From 1516 to 1523 Jørgen Hanssøn ruled over the Bergenhus fortress and castle. He did some important new constructions, easily seen in today's compound.

Jørgen Hanssøn was høvedsmann, i.e. the Kings commander. He supported Christian II, the last Roman Catholic regent of Denmark and Norway (below), and followed him into exile in the Netherlands in 1523. He also plotted to get the king back on the throne 1531-1532.

Jørgen Hanssøn died in the Netherlands after 1546.

During his 6 years he extended the wall, making the compound larger. These walls are easily spotted today, and is marked with a small plaque. He also made other fortifications. These are no longer visible, as they were built into the impressive Rosenkrantz Keep.

His walls are built out of solid stone, and is located on the back of the fortress, towards the steep hills.

More castles on Enjoy Food & Travel

Rosenborg Castle - a royal country house

Schwerin Schloss - noble residence through 1000 years

More on the sights of Bergen, Norway

See story on Bergen from A to Z 2007-2009 here

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Salisbury House of Pizza


Every year I visit my cousin in Salisbury, we order takeout pizza from Salisbury House of Pizza. There, they really know how to prepare this American-Italian specialty.

The pizza we enjoyed today, has gone a very long way from those once prepared in Naples. The pastry is neither thin nor crispy, and traditional honest ingredients have been substituted by more inventive toppings.

They are a far cry away from the pizza margherita, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, and dressed in the Italian national colours, red tomato sauce, bright white mozzarella, and fresh green basil, or the pizza napoletana with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil.

See more original pizza types here

The pizza we ordered from Salisbury House of Pizza in September, had however, reverted slightly towards the original.

It had not as much topping as on many other pies, the crust was thinner, crispier, and we decided to ask for lots and lots of anchovies to be added for extra taste, providing a genuine Italian feel to it.

We decided on a half and half, equally divided between vegetarian topping with spinach and spicy Italian pepperoni sausage, my favourite.

The Salisbury House of Pizza does not only prepare pizza. You can order delicious subs and other warm meals brought to your door. The prices are nice as well, as you do not pay much to get a generously sized meal brought to your door, and the quality is excellent.

Certainly an easy temptation if I had lived in the neighbourhood, for days I would not care to make my own dinner.

Where to find Salisbury House of Pizza

Salisbury House Of Pizza
2 Beach Rd
Salisbury, MA 01952
Phone: (1+978) 465-1700

Find the restaurant on the map



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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uncomfortable with Brussel Airlines


We traveled with Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Oslo November 22nd. We traveled on board an Avro RJ85 flight with approximately 100 seats. Here is a short review of the flight.

Check-in: BBBBB


Checked in 7.30 PM, 3o minutes before scheduled take-off. On schedule.

Take of: BBBBB

Take off 8 PM, on schedule.

Hospitality: BBBB


Kind and helpful staff. Fluent English, Dutch and French spoken.

Service: BBB+

We waited a surprisingly long time before staff starting serving, considering this was a 1 hour and 40 minute flight.

Complementary food or beverages: n/a

No complementary food or drink available on Brussels light class. Spirits, wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and food to be purchased at reasonable prices.

Leg room and comfort: B

Seated at seat 16A and 16B, at the rear end of the flight. Extremely uncomfortable. Seats were very narrow, and absolutely no leg room in front. Very difficult to get out or into seats. Avoid choosing these seats when traveling on an Avro RJ 85 plane. Brussels Airlines are recommended to remove one row of seats to increase legspace in the rear of the cabin of these airplanes.

Flying time: BBBBB

Flying time 1 hour 40 minutes, slightly shorter than scheduled travel time.

Arrival: BBBBB


Arrival 9.40 PM, a little before schedule.

Check out: BBBBB

Smooth disembarking from this relatively small airplane.

Duty free goods: n/a

We were not offered any duty free goods on board this flight.

Price: BBBB

I paid NOK 770,- including tax, a good price for a one-way ticket to Brussels, where average price for a round trip ticket is around NOK 2000 (235 EUR).

Rating the Brussels Airlines experience: BBBB- (3,68 points)

Reasonably priced ticket, good punctuality, but we were seated like potted shrimps. This is the most unpleasant flight since my South African Airways experience in 2007.

(Photo: Brussels Airlines Avro RJ85 landing at Birmingham Intl. Airport, UK by Arpingstone)