Saturday, January 09, 2010

Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel - Siena

Ten years ago I had my first, and until now only trip to Italy. We started in the Cinque Terre area, then we traveled on to Florence and Siena in Tuscany, and ended up in Bergamo by the Dolomite mountains.

After staying in a very spartan room in a 500 year old Florentine Palazzo, we stayed four nights in the cool elegance provided by Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel in Siena.

The Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel is located in the outskirts of the Medieval city, in a Neoclassical villa from 1870 packed with old world charm. It was a completely different experience from the old room we stayed a few blocks away from Brunellesci's cathedral in Florence.

I remember Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel for its spacious rooms, marble floors, classic interior, and last but not least, a proper air conditioning system in good order.

We visited Italy in July month, a time of year with scorching heat and thousands and thousands of tourists.

The heat in Florence had meant that we had to sleep with our window wide open to get relief during the night. The joy of hearing the deep sound of the bells from the cathedral, was countered by a large number of mosquito bites of all areas of the body exposed to daylight, and I am deeply allergic to insect bites!

When we arrived at Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel we were given a cool room overlooking the stadium green park, and we could sleep with our windows closed and a/c ON!

A substantial breakfast was also included in the price, served in an old fashioned breakfast room. I look back on my stay at Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel in Siena with great joy. Since my stay, the hotel has been completely renovated, and what I see from the photos, the old style atmosphere has been preserved.

In July you'll get a double room for around 130 EUR a night, breakfast included, a pretty decent price considering that this is peak tourist season in Tuscany, and if you divide the sum by two, it is an affordable affair.


Hotel - Albergo Chiusarelli
Viale Curtatone 15
53100 - Siena - Italy
tel +39 0577 280562
fax +39 0577 271177
See official website here

(Photos: Hotel website, of Florence Cathedral: Bouncey2k)

See video from Albergo Chiusarelli Hotel on YouTube

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mmmm - currywurst!!!

My friend Dagfinn Koch introduced me to Currywurst, when I visited him in Lübeck some years ago. If it hadn't been for Herta Heuwer, this simple dish would never had turned into a true German food story.

I enjoyed this serving of Currywurst at Frankfurt International Airport. It consists simply of one large bratwurst immersed in tomato ketchup, mixed with curry powder and Worcestershire sauce.

In 1949 Herta Heuwer in Berlin, originally from Königsberg in former East Prussia (now Kaliningrad), obtained the ingredients from British soldiers and assembled the first currywurst. It has since then spread like wildfire over Germany.

I personally do not know why Currywurst has gained such a status. It is just an ordinary German sausage with ketchup and a few other very familiar ingredients. Or is it?

To understand a culinary phenomena like this, it may be wise to pay attention to the period it appeared. The dish was created in a war torn nation, from new and intriguing ingredients introduced by conquerors (or liberators) and all this blend into a dish reminding the Germans of emotional times.

Food is culture, filled with sentiments, and comfort food like currywurst is woven into the fabric of countries like post-war Germany. Currywurst is a true German food story, and everyone visiting Germany should take part in the ritual of eating one. So that you can say:
"Typically German? Been there, done that!"

(Photo: Plaque found in Charlottenburg, Berlin where Herta Heuwer is said to have invented the Currywurst by Erikeltic)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wendelinus Biere d'Abbaye

In the shade of Maison Kammerzell in Strasbourg, we enjoyed another of the (apparently) endless varieties of bières d'Abbaye. Even though Wendelinus Biere d'Abbaye is Alsatian, it strongly resembles similar Belgian brands.

I love a glass of Leffe and Grimbergen Blonde. These rich and aromatic brands, high in alcohol, are dangerous stuff, and may get you into an involuntary spin, if you take one too many.

I have lived under the misconception that beers like these were Belgian specialties. Then I sipped to a glass of Wendelinus Biere d'Abbaye, and dicovered that they were not. Wendelinus Biere d'Abbaye was delicious and aromatic in the same way as the other brands I had enjoyed.

The French cannot, in my opinion, make good beer. Alsace is an exception, of course, due to the regions close cultural links to the Germans right over the border.

Alsace produce 55% of French beer. Wendelinus Biere d'Abbaye was launched in 2001 by the Méteor Group. It is named after the Saint Wedelin Monastery in the town of Wissembourg, in North Eastern Alsace, bordering Germany. I was told that the monks there have made this dangerous brew since the 9th century.

A very sensible thing to do, if confined inside the walls of a monastery, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top five restaurants on Enjoy Food & Travel 2009

Enjoy Food & Travel has reviewed 30 restaurants in 2009. We've had great culinary experiences in 7 countries. Here are the five best restaurants visited in 2009.

  1. Reviewed March 21st 2009: La Nansa, Sitges (4,78 points)

    My favourite in Sitges. A five-star experience at a very decent price. Book a table and enjoy a terrific meal.

    Enjoy Food & Travel highly recommend La Nansa and will certainly return for another meal the coming summer.

    Read the full review of La Nansa here

  2. Reviewed September 3rd 2009: Winstub Le Clou, Strasbourg (4,77 points)

    Winstub Le Clou is no tourist trap. Top rating due to location, great interior and atmosphere, excellent service and first course.

    Main course disappointing, but I feel an encore possible, as it may have a few culinary treasures in store for future visits.

    Read the full review of Winstub Le Clou here

  3. Reviewed June 22nd 2008: Zodiaco, Sitges (4,72 points)

    We left completely satisfied.

    Absolutely one of the best experiences in Sitges.

    Highly recommended by Enjoy Food & Travel.

    Read the full review of Zodiaco here

  4. Reviewed April 24th 2009: Fond Restaurang, Göteborg (4,70 points)

    Fond is a restaurant that deserves its Michelin star for a creative and interesting menu, excellent service, and elegant interior.

    We had a great meal at at very decent price, but found that the cooks did not manage to keep the same high quality and finesse through the whole menu.

    Read full review of Fond Restaurang here

  5. Reviewed January 18th, January 23rd 2009 and April 26th: M3 Mat & Bar, Oslo (4,69 points)

    Great traditional food and wine at a restaurant with great character.

    Highly recommended in downtown Oslo. A must for those of you that want to enjoy traditional Scandinavian cuisine.

    Read full review of M3 Mat & Bar here 

More restaurant reviews

See all restaurants reviews from 2009 here

Adonin Café & Restaurant - Istanbul

As we strolled through the neighbourhood of Hagia Sophia, in central Istanbul we were attempted hijacked into every restaurant on our way, except one. That was Adonin Café & Restaurant, and that was place we went to eat. We did not regret it.

Location: BBBB+

Adonin Café & Restaurant is located in Ticarethane sokak, a quiet side street to Divan Yolu Caddesi, in central Sultanahmet , a busy city street leading up towards to the city's Grand Bazaar.

The restaurant is close to the main attractions as the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Cisterns.

This quiet narrow street is a far cry from the busy life in the main street. Here you may eat outside or do as we did, enjoy an indoor lunch.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBBB+

The interior was not typically Turkish (or whatever that may be), but rather resembled that found in an Italian restaurant.

It was an elegant room with cream and white coloured walls and dark wood details, a grand bar desk in wood with wrought iron details, chairs in dark wood and sofas covered with coffee coloured leather.

We were comfortable seated by a table, with a white table cloth. Two seats were on a soft leather sofa, and I was seated in a comfortable chair.

It was a spacious restaurant, that would not feel over crowded, even if full.

Service: BBBB+

Very good service, bordering to be a little pushy, in my mind, as they slightly over sold the restaurant, and that was absolutely not necessary.

We were given a good English menu, so we knew what we were picking out. We were served our drinks but waited a little for our food.

Food: BBBBB-

I chose the Hünkar Begendi, a dish with eggplant with a bechamel base topped with succulent lamb or chicken sautéed in olive oil.

It was a delicious dish. On a base of white sauce mixed with eggplant, another layer of gravy covering large chunks of chicken. It was garnished with fried tomatoes and green peppers.

Interesting with two layers of sauce. The bechamel was extremely smooth and rich, and a mild contrast to the spicy and well balanced gravy.

The chicken was extremely tender. This dish was, all in all, of the best the Turkish cuisine can offer.

Want to make this dish yourself? See recipe on BBC Food here

Drink: BBBB

I decided to order a glass of Efes beer, the locally produced beer, a refreshing and much cheaper alternative to red wine, which would have been the most obvious choice to this dish.

It is a Pilsener type, a full-bodied lager, rich in foam, and well balanced slightly sweet malt and fruit aromas.

Rating the Adonin Café & Restaurant experience: BBBB+ (4,42 points)

One of our many good culinary experiences in Istanbul. Great location and less pushy personell than you can experience when looking for a place to eat in the area.

Good, well balanced, and inexpensive food. A good choice in central Sultanahmet district.


Adonin Café & Restaurant
Ticarethane sokak no:27/31

Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34410, Turkey
Phone: 902125140029


Istanbul on Enjoy Food & Travel

See what stories coming up on Istanbul on this site

See map of bars, hotels, restaurants and sights in Istanbul here

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus

This beautiful house in Nybrogade in Copenhagen was built by the mayor Wilhelm Bjerregaard in 1728, after the fire that left much of the city in ruins. This large building was Kongelig Privilegeret Assistence Hus from 1753-1962. Now you wonder what that might be? Well, here is the short 280 year story of the Royal Pawnbrokers in Copenhagen.

King Christian V founded in 1688 an institution, that could lend money to the citizens of Copenhagen with security in their valuables. It was from the start a privately run business, but it was no success for any of those in charge of the operation.

In 1753 it was taken over by the Government, and Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus moved into the present house in 1758. The house that had a 9 window facade was extended with tree more windows, making it into the impressive baroque building seen today.

During its 286 year history there was daily traffic to Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus of citizen that had met financial problems. Even though most of them were poor or middle class, a fair amount of the more distinguished members of the Copenhagen elite had to seek assistance at the Royal Pawnbrokers. Until 1921 a public humiliation could be avoided through a number of men and women that could be paid to undertake the mission in full discretion.

No questions were asked, as the Pawnbrokers valued the objects brought to the house, and the lender had 9 months to retrieve the goods, if paying an interest of 18%. If not they would be sold at auction.

Until 1950 Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus was a financial success. When the Scandinavian welfare state was established after the war, the institution started its decline. In the 1960's surplus changed to deficit. The Pawnbrokers moved out of the house in 1962, leaving it to the Ministry of Culture.

Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus was closed for business in 1974.

What else can be found close to Det Kongelige Priviligerede Assistence Huus?

See this map of Copenhagen

Vis Copenhagen on Enjoy Food & Travel 2007-2009 i et større kart

Puerto de Mogán - a pittoresque Canarian getaway

The northern coast of Gran Canaria is highly developed. Here you'll find large apartment buildings and rows of bungalows taking up most of the space available along the rugged coast line. To experience a little of the original Canarian life, a trip to Puerto de Mogán is recommended. This former small fishing village has, in spite of being converted into a tourist resort, kept much of its small town charm and character.

Puerto de Mogán has upheld strict building restrictions, and new developments within the old city are not allowed to exceed two storeys.

Most of the original fishing village comprise of small white buildings with trims painted in clear blue, green, red and yellow colours.

It is criss crossed with small narrow streets where colourful flowers climb the white facades, and suddenly you may walk into a small back yard planted with beautiful green flowers.

Another striking feature in Puerto de Mogán are the small channels linking the marina to the fishing harbour. Puerto de Mogán has due to this feature been nicknamed "Little Venice" or the "Venice of the Canaries".

Along the small harbour and marina you'll find a number of restaurants and bars. There is also a small beach made up from sand from the Sahara desert, where you can take a nice swim to cool down in the hot Canarian sunshine.

On Fridays there is a very popular market that attracts in tourists from all over the island. It is well worth a visit.

Hotels in Puerto de Mogán

Most tourist take a day trip to Puerto de Mogán. If you want to stay there, there are different hotels to choose from, some in the town, others in the nearby valley - all within walking distance to the beach and the harbour.

At Hotel Puerto de Mogán, you may book a hotel room, suite or apartment from €50-160 per night just by the harbour. Prices vary during the season.

Outside the old town you find modern hotels as Cordial Mogán Playa and Cordial Mogán Valle, where you may book a trip with a charter company.

More stories from Puerto de Mogán

Restaurante La Lonja - Puerto de Mogán

Blue beauty in Puerto de Mogán - see story here

Gran Canaria - a botanical mystery solved

More on Gran Canaria

See story Gran Canaria from A-Z

Vis Gran Canaria from A-Z 2009 i et større kart

Monday, January 04, 2010

Aubergine and garlic dip

The aubergine and garlic dip is a healthy and tasty alternative to mayonnaise or sour cream based dipping sauces. It is surprisingly easy to make, as well.

Place one medium sized aubergine in a hot oven (200C / 400F), and bake in the oven for one hour. Allow to col down.

Make an incision into the aubergine, and you'll find that the skin is surprisingly easy to remove. The baked aubergine will be soft and moist, with a meaty consistency.

Place the baked aubergine in a liquidizer. Add 5 cl / 2 fluid oz good olive oil.

Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic finely and add to aubergine and olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and a few chili flakes for some additional heat. You may add other herbs and spices to match your favourite taste.

Process the aubergine, olive oil, garlic and seasoning into a fine puree. Use it as dipping sauce for snacks or vegetables, or as a healthy sandwich spread.

More open sandwiches

I continued my tradition on inviting friends for brunch one the first day of the new year. As last year I served four different traditional open sandwiches. It is always a success.

Open sandwiches are definitely out of fashion, as they belong to the old fashioned traditions held up by our mothers and grandmothers. When I prepare them for my guests, I really discover how popular they are, as on January 1st. I followed more or less the same recipe as last year. Four different sandwiches with generous toppings served with beer and aquavit.

Prawn sandwich with a twist

I prepared open sandwich with prawns and spicy mayonnaise. I tried to make my own mayonnaise, but failed, so I had to run out and buy a can of Hellmann's mayo.

Last year, I served the prawns on rye bread, this time I used French loaf. I seasoned the mayonnaise with Tone's Seafood seasoning with dill, lemon, and garlic, and I made another little twist by adding chili and coconut sauce. Very contrasting and rich flavours indeed, that worked well with the salt prawns.

See a recipe for open prawn sandwiches here

Traditional pork rib sandwich

I made the most perfect long roast pork rib for my colleagues before Christmas. We did not manage to eat it all, so I split the leftovers into three serving portions to be enjoyed later.

See recipe for long roast pork rib here

I love leftovers, and leftover pork rib, meatballs, sausage, and pickled red cabbage form the main Christmas meal may be used as a sandwich topping.

Cut the rib into inch thick slices. Divide the sausages and meatballs. Place meats in tin foil and heat in a moderately hot oven (160C / 240F)

Cut dark rye bread into one inch slices. Spread good butter and pickled red cabbage on the rye bread.

Take meat out of the oven and place the warm sliced pork rib, meatballs, and sausages on the red cabbage.

Serve immediately. A good Dijon mustard is great with this sandwich.

I also served two other open sandwiches to my friends

See recipes for sandwich with smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, and liverpate with fried smushrooms and pickled cucumber here

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New ferry connection Kristiansand-Hanstholm

Danish ThyFerries is planning daily crossings from Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway to Hanstholm on northern Jutland from April 23rd. That is bad news for Color Line, that until now has been the only company on this route.

Thy ferries is a company based in the city of Hanstholm, and has taken over the M/F Pride of Telemark, former Stena Jutlandica, built in Chantiers and Dunkerque in France in 1983. It was commissioned by Stema Line and sailed between Göteborg and Fredrikshavn, before it was replaced in 1996. It was most recently operated by KystLink on the route Langesund - Hirtshals. In 2007, she collided with the harbour at Langesund. She has been out of service since.

The ferry may take up to 500 cars and 2200 passengers. The crossing takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. You can get regular roundtrip tickets from EUR 12, 50, and roundtrip car packages from 99 EUR. This includes car and five people.

Other ferry stories

Fjord Line back with service Kristiansand - Hirtshals spring 2010

A room with a view