Friday, January 22, 2010

Italian Pancetta

As I left after a day in Copenhagen last spring, I had done my fair share of grocery shopping. Among delicacies I placed in my trolley, were two packages of pancetta, high quality Italian bacon.

I often experience, when buying bacon, that what is supposed to be properly cured and salted meat leaks water, when you prepare it. You really have to struggle to get that delicious crunch. When shopping, I therefore try to find bacon clearly marked as cured and dry salted.

Italian pancetta is among the best of high quality processed bacon with rich flavours reminding you of Parma ham. I found this package of thinly sliced Pancetta in the food hall at Illum's.

I used the packages to prepare two equally delicious dishes. First, I made a delicious entree, green asparagus baked with pancetta in the oven. The other package provided moisture to a roasted Guinea Fowl.

When visiting an Italian grocer, do try to substitute your streaky bacon with thinly sliced pancetta, e.g. at breakfast, or in your Pasta alla Carbonara. It is a completely different experience from the often cheap stuff you find in your supermarket shelves.

What to make from Pancetta

Asparagus with Italian pancetta - see recipe here

Guinea fowl with Italian pancetta and shitake mushrooms

More stories from Copenhagen

Shopping in Copenhagen

A Danish shopping bag - poultry

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hotel + flights by Norwegian Air Shuttle

I am an experienced internet user, and use different booking sites to get reasonably priced hotels and air fare. Recently, I discovered the hotel+air fare package offered by Norwegian Air Shuttle, as we booked our trip to Marrakech.

At www.norwegian.no you may book your plane tickets, and the best way to get cheap fare, is to look for their special offers, or browse the low price calender to find the cheapest tickets.

I have been aware that you may book fare+hotel on the site. As we found a special offer on round trip air tickets with Norwegian Air Shuttle to Marrakech, we decided to check what a package for two might cost. We were highly surprised.

- Nice price for package

Packages at Norwegian Air Shuttle is a joint venture between the air carrier providing tickets and Travellink that will get you that special price on accommodation.

This service seem to be available only on for Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish customers.

We decided to book flight & Hotel for a week. The price seemed to good to be true.

We knew that there was a special offer on flights for the week we booked, so the air fare should be pretty low. We found that the price for the cheapest accommodation + flight started at NOK 2500 (EUR 306) per person, including round trip ticket and 7 nights in a double room.

Do proper research to avoid surprises

There were a large number of hotels to choose from. Be aware that the cheapest accommodation may have a serious flaws.

We found, through reviews on TripAdvisor that they were either located far out of the city, dirty, or offered their customers bad service. You are strongly recommended to do some important research if before you consider to book the cheapest accommodation. It often pays to upgrade a little.

Another challenge when booking in Marrakech was that it was difficult to pin-point the exact location on the hotels we were considering. We tried to cross check the location shown map on the site with that on Google maps, and found that we either did not find the hotel, or that it had several locations. So do your homework on location, as you may be in for a surprise when you arrive.

Do not wait - book that bargain immediately!


Another piece of advise is to book immediately if you are faced with that special offer. Discount air fare are often offered only a limited time. We learnt that through experience.

Prices had risen 1000 NOK just two days after we spotted that special bargain. We went for an exclusive choice of hotel and found that the price had had risen to 4500 NOK (552 EUR) per person when we booked, but that is hardly a price to loose a night's sleep over, if you ask me.

So if you book your flight through Norwegians website, do consider the flight+hotel, as an option if you are in need of a hotel room as well. You may be in for a surprisingly inexpensive package.

More on booking travel on the net

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Windsor Garden - Playa del Ingles

Calling an outdoor restaurant at the Yumbo Centre Windsor Garden is a mystery to me. Neither is the menu typically British, nor the interior. We "enjoyed" another uninspired pizza here, with a pint of German beer. Hardly haute cuisine (as the rest of restaurants at the centre).

Location: BBB

Windsor Garden is found on the top level of Yumbo centre, one out of four large centres at Playa del Ingles.

It is located on the western part of the centre , and is is a little closed in. It is hardly the most charming or romantic place to dine, but the location is good – at the heart of the resort.

Service: BBBB

Decent service. We could choose from a menu in many languages. We were served without delay.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBB

It was an open, outdoors restaurant, with a sort of Canarian, Spanish interior details. Oak-coloured chairs and tables. Red curtains. Brightly coloured canvas roof that could be folded up if nice weather. Large ferns hanging in baskets.

Food: BBBB-

We ordered pizza with ham, pineapple, and white asparagus. It looked great. Brightly coloured ingredients on a thin, Italian style pizza crust.

Crust deliciously thin, but the cheese a little undercooked and stringy. Very little contrasting tastes except the sweet pineapple that was a little overpowering.

The pizza at Windsor Garden was boring, the ham did not provide enough salt to make it a too interesting experience.

Beverage: BBBB

I ordered a pint of Erdinger Weissbier. This under fermented amber coloured beer is slightly opaque, and is very rich, with sweet fruity aromas. A delicious and refreshing drink in the heat.

Erdinger was hardly the best choice to the pizza at Windsor Garden. It overpowered the under seasoned pizza. A lager would have been a much better choice.

Rating the Windsor Garden experience: BBBB- (3,62 points)

Windsor Garden is a place not to try pizza. It has few big assets, all in all. Decent location, and reasonable prices are a few. The rest is best described as mediochre.

Windsor is OK for a snack for those of you with low expectations, except satisfy primary hunger.

More on Gran Canaria on Enjoy Food & Travel

See page on Gran Canaria from A-Z

Other restaurants close to Windsor Garden see this map



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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon - Osiris' Eyes


At Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, they have an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts. I was captured by the mysterious eyes of Osiris, reminding us of our Mortality. As the God of Death he was revered until the dawn of Christianity.

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon is located in a huge building, housing sculptures, paintings and artifacts spanning thousands of years. This sculpture is made from sycamore (fig) tree and dates back to the 25th Dynasty (712-664 BC).

Net for mummification

Net like these were used during mummification. This net originates from the 30th Dynasty, dating from 380-343 BC.

Nets like these were used during mummification. It is made from enameled pearls or beads, and in the middle a Scarab medallion, based on the Dung beetle so revered by the Egyptians.







Gate to Ptolemaeus IV' Temple

This impressive gate comes from a Temple dedicated Ptolemy IV Philopator (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ, Ptolemaĩos Philopátōr, that reigned 221-205 BC)

The Ptolemeic Dynasty came from Greece and ruled Egypt into the dawn of the Christian era, from 305 BC to 30 BC.

See more on YouTube

See my video of the gate to Ptolemaeus IV' Temple - Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon on YouTube


More sights in Lyon - see map of the city centre


View Enjoy Food & Travel in Lyon, May 2008 in a larger map

Monday, January 18, 2010

A grand dinner


January 16th I had a grand dinner for friends. The menu was extensive, and the guests brought wines for the occasion. I served a menu degustation of one amueuse-geule, two starters, one main course, cheese and dessert. Here is what I served.

MENU:

Prunes in Pancetta
Dry Martini
***
Foie Gras from Eduard Arzner in Strasbourg served on toast with cranberry jelly
Nederburg Noble Late Harvest 2008
****
Shot of creamed asparges og prawn soup, enriched with coconut milk and chili.
Gentil Hugel 2007/2008
***
Classic duck confit with rösti potatoes and grilled asparagus. Stew of forest mushrooms scented with black truffle oil from Puglia
Allesverloren Tinta Barocca 2007
***
Cheese platter
Accordini Valpolicella Classico 2008
****
Chocolate mousse with strawberries
Bache Gabrielsen XO

I had taken out all my china and stretched my stock of cutlery, as I wanted one set per person per dish. I solved my logistical challenges by serving the soup in coffee cups, and the mousse in small edible serving cups made from dark Belgian chocolate.

The menu was not completely new for me. The prunes have been served in tapas buffets before.

I had picked up to slices of duck foie gras on duty free on Brussels airport. Delicious when served on toast with sweet, slightly bitter cranberry sauce, and the most delicious late harvest wine from South Africa.

The soup made from shellfish stock and pureed canned asparagus, tuned into tropical fusion when sweetened with chili and coconut sauce and coconut milk.

The duck confit was prepared with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs de Provence and two cloves of garlic per thigh. They were baked for 10 hours in a Schlemmertopf, and were mouthwateringly tender and succulent. They were served with a forest mushroom stew scented with truffle oil. A very rich experience.

Four cheeses. Double Gloucester, Gorgonzola dolce, a Brie de Meaux and a cream cheese with walnuts. I strongly recommended them to try the remaining late harvest wine to the gorgonzola.

I added Kahlua, coffee liquor, to the rich chocolate mousse and served it in dinky cups made from dark Belgian chocolate.

I am satisfied with the meal, as all worked. Administration, as well as food (both quantity and quality) and the wines that followed each dish, and the company, of course.

I am pleased to say that the last guest left 2.50 AM.

(Photo: KAHLÚA baby bottle (200 ml) by Qurren)

Stress-free home made duck confit


















Stuck with two duck thighs, that had to be used immediately, I was tempted to use the afternoon to make duck confit. It is probably one of the easiest ways to prepare duck thighs, and while they are in the oven, you may use the time to pamper yourself. This is a non-stress recipe, and even if it is not very healthy for your body, it is pure bliss for your mind. Eat your heart out, Nigella Lawson!!


For two you'll need:
2 duck thighs with skin and bone
Seasoning
Olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced

First seasoning. Many options are open, always use salt and pepper. One great idea is to use lemon or lime juice to cut the richness of the duck fat. I used a Montreal chicken mix from McCormick, with a whole range of different spices.

Make incisions into the skin in order to release the fat from the duck. Rub both sides with a liberal amount of spices.

Sprinkle onion in an oven proof tray. Place duck breasts skin up, on top of onions. Sprinkle as much olive oil you want over the duck.

Place tray in a low oven (100C / 210F) for 6 hours. Serve immediately as a dinner dish or cold on hot toast.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

NEW: February 2010 - Marrakech, Morocco


As we left Istanbul December 27th it was 16C (61F) and sunny. We landed in a winter wonderland. At Oslo Airport we met white fluffy snow and -6C (21F). As the winter has progressed we have experienced the big chill with temperatures down to -20 below zero on the Celsius scale (-4F). January 8th we had come to the end of our rope.

That Friday we decided to find a warmer place to escape to, and we are both traveling to Marrakech by the foot of the Atlas Mountains in February 2010.

Marrakech is one the old imperial cities of Morocco and has a long and distinguished history going back to 1070 when the Almoravid leader, Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar started constructions in what was to become the new capital of his kingdom. The city has a long list of historic sights and several souks where you can do serious shopping. It has a population of 340 000, and is served by Marrakech-Menara Airport.

The city enjoys a mild climate with average high temperatures ranging from 18,4 (64F) degrees Celsius in January to 36,8 degrees Celsius (97F) in July.

I am traveling with my good friend Susanne, equally impatient to escape the bitterly cold freeze that has haunted Scandinavia from mid December. We will fly directly with Norwegian Air Shuttle and the flying time is 4 hours and 45 minutes.

We are staying at the Eden Andalou Spa And Resort. A full review will come here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

More on Marrakech?

See this clip Highlights of Marrakech with Les Borjs de la Kasbah on YouTube



Map of the city


Vis Marrakech A-Z 2010 i et større kart

(Photo: top: Pavillion in den Menaragärten, dahinter das Atlasgebirge by Acp
Middle: Ben youssef Madrassa by GingerBeast)

December 2009: 9 of 10 Norwegian Air flights delayed!!

Whereas Scandinavian Airlines managed Christmas traffic well, its competitor Norwegian Air Shuttle had a disastrous month. Only one out of ten flights departed or arrived on schedule at its worst, and problems have continued well into the new year.

The Norwegian budget air carrier has risen to become a major airline in the Norwegian flight market. Its performance has been equally good as that of its competitors, and the increased competition has resulted in lower overall air fare and non-stop flights to new, interesting destinations.

This changed in December when punctuality dropped to a catastrophic level. At its lowest only 9,7% of flights departed or arrived on schedule, and it is still struggling. Early January only 4 out of 10 flights were punctual.

Bad weather and no backup

Low temperatures and hazardous weather conditions has been the main reasons for Norwegian's demise. A unusually cold winter with much bad weather, has resulted in many delays. Unlike Scandinavian Airlines, that have two extra planes, to be used under these conditions, Norwegian Air Shuttle has no such backup.

Scandinavian Airlines has manage to maintain its punctuality, meaning that 85% of flights departed or arrived on schedule.

Delays in luggage handling

Another reason for Norwegian's delays is slow luggage handling. Røros Flyservice, the airline's handling company, has admitted that it has had insufficient personnel to handle luggage according to Norwegian's schedule.

Norwegian's bad performance may seriously affect the company's reputation. It may have some lessons to learn from Scandinavian Airline, its main competitor, that has managed the extreme condition with flying honours.

Related stories:


5 Scandinavian airlines among Europe's 9 most punctual

Air Baltic - fly free if flight is delayed

Is my flight on schedule?

Photos:
  1. Norwegian B737, by Arpingstone
  2. Image of a snowstorm in Cleveland, Ohio, copyright Yvette Cendes, 2005)