Saturday, March 06, 2010

Meatloaf Italian style

Meatloaf is a seriously filling dish, packed with proteins, and very easy to vary with whatever you may have in your refrigerator. As I visited my friends at Løten last weekend I made an Italian style meatloaf filled with tasty Mediterranean ingredients.

For this recipe, I used best quality, low fat ground beef (Karbonadedeig), and did not add more fat. To hold the mix together, I used only eggs and one diced bread roll. If you would like a richer meat loaf, substitute some of the ground beef with diced pancetta or streaky bacon, but remember to reduce the amount of salt accordingly.

I used Pomamore, a new product from Riddarheim in my filling. It is made up by sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese in olive oil. As this product most probably will not be available outside Scandinavia, use your favourite pesto (mine is Barilla) instead and dried tomatoes in olive oil.

The filling may be varied with other ingredients, but do remember to avoid ingredients with much liquid. It will hardly work well with fresh tomatoes.

Meatloaf Italian style (Serves 6)

For two meat loaves you'll need:

1 kilo / 2,2 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 bread roll, diced
5 cl / 2 fluid oz milk
4 tsp salt
Pepper, freshly ground
Italian herbs

1 packet Pomamore
1/2 glass Barilla Pesto
1/2 glass sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 mozzarellas, thinly sliced
100 grams / 4 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Mix ground beef with garlic and chopped onions.

Soak diced bread in milk. Add to ground beef mixture with beaten eggs. Use hands to mix well. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Allow mixture to rest.

Cut the mixture into two batches.

In order to make a loaf, roll out a sheet of cling film and add olive oil. Put on batch of meat loaf mix on the sheet and press it into a flat square.

Place the Pomamore or spread the pesto in the middle of the sheet . Do not add mix out to the edges in order to seal all inside the meatloaf.

Then add tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Then fold the meatloaf mix over the filling and make the meat loaf. Seal the ends properly to keep it all inside and place the loaf in a baking tray.

I used a large baking tray, and to make it all easier I added diced vegetables on the other half of the tray and seasoned well and poured a little olive olive oil. In this way you make dinner in one operation.

Place in a medium hot oven (200C / 400F) for one hour. Serve with oven roasted potatoes, vegetables and you favourite gravy.

Buon Apetito!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo City Center opens spring 2010

The Hilton Group may open its first Doubletree hotel in Oslo this spring. Plans of the new luxury hotel in Oslo has been a well kept secret, but the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten revealed detailed information on the new Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo City Center in its travel section March 2nd.

Doubletree offers travelers, according to their website:
"a growing collection of contemporary, upscale accommodations in more than 200 cities, metropolitan areas and vacation destinations around the world.

Doubletree and Doubletree by Hilton, as our hotels are known outside the U.S., are distinctively designed to provide genuine comfort to today's business and leisure travelers."
Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo City Center will be located at the 2nd to 5th floor in Stortingsgaten 16, the historic building that once housed Det Norske Teatret.

It will offer 59 single, - double, and deluxe-rooms, all facing the Spikersuppa (Eidsvolls Plass) Park when it opens, and the number of rooms will be extended to 103 in the neighbouring building in Stortingsgaten number 14 by the end of 2010.

Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo City Center will have one full service restaurant, lobby bar, and will offer a fitness studio and conference facilities.

More Hilton Stories on Enjoy Food & Travel
(Photo: Stortingsgata 16, Oslo. Forretningsgård bygd 1918; arkitekt Henry Coll by Mahlum)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

High rollers on Danish waters

Liberalization of Danish regulations opens up for gambling on ferries going to Danish ports. DFDS, the company running ferries between Oslo and Copenhagen is ready to open up casinos on the open sea.

Whereas the Norwegian government is cracking down on gambling, Danish parliamentarians , authorities and ministers move in the opposite direction. They want to liberalize national gambling regulations.

Six years have gone since DFDS applied to open up gambling on its vessels, referring to the fact that cruise vessels sailing on the same waters are allowed to run casinos on board.

Finally the Danish Minister of Finance, Kristian Jensen, has handed in a proposal to change the strict current legislation, and a large majority in the Danish Folketinget is in favour of the liberalization.

Director General Carsten Jensen in DFDS is thrilled. The company is preparing itself to introduce gambling on its ferries, but has not decided on the extent of its gambling activities yet.

(Photo: Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1.4 @ISO2800 by tm)

Much needed facelift for M/F Crown of Scandinavia

One of the two ferries traveling from Oslo Copenhagen, the M/F Crown of Scandinavian has undergone a 20 million NOK (€2,5 mill.) facelift. The rather outdated economy cabins are however still the same.

It is a disappointment, though, that this renovation has not been extended to the other cabins, as only the Owners Suites and Commodore de Luxe cabins have got a new contemporary look. They have got new furniture in walnut, mini bars, lamps, carpets, and flat screen TV.

I have traveled with M/F Crown of Scandinavia several times. It is the oldest of the two ferries, and needed a serious face lift.

The space of the restaurants have been rearranged to increase the number of diners, and given a new contemporary look. The Gourmet restaurant Marco Polo has been moved to get better view.

This spring I will not travel to Copenhagen. But you may read my previous experiences on the DFDS ferries here.

Stories from DFDS Crown of Scandinavia

Non-stop flights from Norway - status March 2010

ew International non-stop flights from Oslo Airport - status March 2010 in a larger map

A large number of non-stop all year and seasonal flights to European destinations starts March 2010. Norwegian consolidate some flights from the Oslo area by moving some destinations from Rygge Airport to Oslo Airport.

MARCH: New Seasonal flights from Oslo Airport
  • CROATIA: Dubrovnik (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • CROATIA: Split (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • CYPRUS: Larnaca (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • GREECE: Chania (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • ITALY: Milano Malpensa (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • ITALY: Pisa - Aeroporto Civile G. Galilei - Circoscrizione Aeroportuale (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • LITHUANIA: Palanga (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • MALTA: (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • SPAIN: Malaga (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • SPAIN: Palma di Mallorca (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
MARCH: STATUS - flights from Rygge Airport
  • CZECH REPUBLIC: Prag - all traffic move to Oslo Airport end March 2010 (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • CROATIA: Zadar - New service (Ryanair)
  • DENMARK: Aarhus: New service (Ryanair)
  • FRANCE: Beauvais New service (Ryanair)
  • FRANCE: La Rochelle New service (Ryanair)
  • GERMANY: Allgau Airport - New service (Ryanair)
  • GERMANY: Berlin Schönefeld - all traffic move to Oslo Airport end March 2010 (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • GERMANY: Berlin Schönefeld - New service (Ryanair)
  • GERMANY: Weeze Airport- New service (Ryanair)
  • GREECE: Athens - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • HUNGARY: Budapest - all traffic move to Oslo Airport end March 2010 (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • ITALY: Treviso - New service (Ryanair)
  • LATVIA: Riga - New service (Ryanair)
  • LITHUANIA: Palanga - new flights moved to Oslo Airport end March 2010 (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • NETHERLANDS: Eindhoven - New service (Ryanair)
  • POLAND: Gdansk - New service (Ryanair)
  • POLAND: Krakow - New service (Ryanair)
  • POLAND: Wroclaw - New service (Ryanair)
  • PORTUGAL: Faro - New service (Ryanair)
  • REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Dublin - New service (Ryanair)
  • SPAIN: Malaga - New service (Ryanair)
  • SPAIN: Palma de Mallorca - New service (Ryanair)
  • SPAIN: Valencia - New service (Ryanair)
  • SPAIN: Valencia - Close down (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
See all non-stop flights to Rygge Airport March 2010 here

MARCH: STATUS - flights from Torp Airport
  • LATVIA: Riga - New service (Wizz-Air)
  • SPAIN: Malaga - New service (Ryanair)
See all non-stop flights to Torp Airport March 2010 here

MARCH: STATUS - flights from Haugesund Airport
  • UK: Edinburgh - New service (Ryanair)
See all non-stop flights to Haugesund Airport March 2010 here

MARCH: STATUS - flights from Bergen Airport
  • CROATIA: Dubrovnik (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • CROATIA: Split - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • DENMARK: Copenhagen - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • GREECE: Heraklion - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • ITALY: Rome - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • POLAND: Gdansk - New service (Wizz-Air)
  • SPAIN: Barcelona - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • SWEDEN: Stockholm - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • TURKEY: Antalya - New service (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
See all non-stop flights to Bergen Airport here

MARCH: STATUS - flights from Tromsø Airport
  • LATVIA: Riga - New service (AirBaltic)
See all non-stop flights to Tromsø Airport here

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Coffee at Omar

Walking one of the largest cities of the world make you tired and in need for a cup of strong Turkish coffee. The first place we sat down was at Omar a stone's throw away from Hagia Sophia. A really nice place to rest.

A striking feature are all the colourful lamps hanging all over the roof. We were so fascinated by this lamp-o-rama, that we ended looking up all the time, finding another ornate shaped lantern to rest our eyes on every time we looked up.

Coffee is not the only thing you can get at Omar. You may, in fact both lunch and dine there, with a great view of the two mosques. We, however, decided to take a sip to a small, hot cup of coffee.

As the staff heard that we were Norwegian, they showed us a clipping from a Norwegian newspaper featuring the writer Thorvald Steen as one of the regulars at Omar. He has, in fact written stories from the city, and he calls it the most important city in the world.

It is difficult to prove that statement, but I certainly agree with him that Istanbul has not been recognized as an major historic and cultural centre in the same way as e.g. Rome. It has been a destination for pilgrims, tourists and crusaders for two thousand years and a bridge connecting the Muslim to the Christian culture.

You can certainly feel that importance at Omar. From here you can see Hagia Sophia, a church built in the 4th century, and you are only a short walk away from other sights as the Hippodrome and the Cisterns.

Omar Café & Restaurant
8 Şeftali Sokak
İstanbul 34410, Turkey

Armada Sera, Istanbul

Armada Sera is located on the top floor of the Armada Hotel in Istanbul. It has a view to die for, and we enjoyed one of the best meals of the year here on the first night of our stay in Turkey.

Location: BBBBB-

The Armada Sera is located by the shores of the Bosporus, a 15-20 minute walk away , through narrow old city streets, from the center of Sultanahmet, the Hippodrome.

From the restaurant you have a stunning view of the Bosporus on one side and the tall minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia towering over the roofs of old Istanbul on the other. By night these monuments are basking in the floodlight, creating the magic of the the 1001 nights.

Service: BBBBB-

We were the first guests to dine at the Armada Sera that night, and we were given all the attention we needed from the staff. We could order when we wanted and we were served wine and food without delay.

Interior & atmosphere: BBBB+

The interior of the Armada Sera was a mix of the contemporary and traditional, stylish, but a little bare. The most stunning feature was the glass roof creating an airy, open atmosphere. You felt you were sitting outside, in the open air.

There was generous space between every table, and were comfortably seated by the window with a view to the two old mosques on the hill.

Food: BBBB+

We ordered Hünkar Beğendi, or "the Sultan liked it" in Turkish.

The Sultan in question was either Sultan Murad IV (1612-1640) and he obviously liked the dish enough to give it his name. The other Sultan connected to this dish is Sultan Abdülaziz.

The latter is connected to this dish as it is said to having been served to Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in Sultan Abdülaziz's Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869.

The French empress loved it to such an extent that the Sultan promised her to ask his chef to share the recipe with the Empress cook, but it is rumored that Abdülaziz's chef was reluctant to share his recipe with his French colleague.

See recipe on Sultan's Delight (Hünkar Beğendi) here

Our delightful dish was served in a large rustic copper pan worthy of any Sultan's kitchen. It contained a creamy aubergine mash topped with lamb, beef and chicken.

The Hünkar Begendi served at Armada Sera mirrored the opulent Ottoman cuisine, recognized by the abundance of ingredients present in a dish.

It was a seriously rich dish, filling us up to capacity, in fact a little too rich as a late evening dinner.

The mash was creamy and tasty, and the meats were tender and flavoured with different local spices.

Rating the Armada Sera experience: BBBBB- (4,57 points)

A great place to dine, with stunning views, good service and an Ottoman approach to the Turkish cuisine. Highly recommended by Enjoy Food & Travel.

Armada Sera
Armada Hotel
Ahırkapı Str. No:24,
34122 Sultanahmet, Istanbul / Türkiye

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A Royal Clockmaker in Istanbul

I found this memorial plaque close to Galata Tower in Istanbul. It tells the story of a Swiss clockmaker with a very famous son.

Father of Jean Jacques Rousseau worked as a clockmaker for the sultan Ahmed III for six years, from 1705 to 1711, just a year before Jean Jacques was born.

He returned to Geneva late 1711, because the famous philosopher was burn June 28th 1712.

Isaac Rousseau was a Huguenot of French origin and he married Suzanne Bernard, that died a week after Jean-Jacques was born. The little boy was brought up by his aunt Suzanne and his nanny Jacqueline Faramand.

After a row that turned violent, Isaac Rousseau had to move to Nyon in the neighbouring Swiss republic of Bern. Two years later Jean-Jacques moved back to his uncle in Geneve and started his way to fame.

Isaac Rousseau died as an old man in 1747, 75 years of age.

Brussels - European quarter

The European Quarter is not the most charming area in Brussels. Still it is the nerve centre of an expanding European Union, and should be on the list of sights for any politically interested visitor in Brussels.

Sadly, the interior of most of the buildings are out of bounce for those of us not engaged in the political processes taking place in Brussels. Still you can take a peek from the outside. Here are a few of the landmarks of the area.

The Charlemagne Building

The Charlemagne Building is a seemingly new, avantgarde building located at 170 Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat. The building is in fact over 40 years old, but it has been given a contemporary facelift in steel and glass.

The building was built in 1967 at the same time as the Berlaymont building and design by Jacques Cuisinier.

It is named after the famous 8th Century French king Carolus Magnus or Charlemagne in French.

It house the Directorate-General for Trade, External Relations and Enlargement of the European Commission.

It housed the Council of the Union from 1971-1995 and was taken over by the the Commission, when the council moved over to the new Justus Lipsius building on the other side of Rue de la Loi.

It was given a complete makeover in the middle of the 1990's, adding a light, curvy exterior to the concrete structure.

(Photo: JLogan)

The Berlaymont Building

The iconic, cross shaped, Berlaymont Building is the symbol of the European Union and is the main building of the European Commission.

It is a giant building designed by the modernist architect Lucien de Vestel. It is named after the Dames de Berlaymont, a 300 year old convent once standing on the site, who managed a venerable girls school. The present building was built on its land, and the convent was relocated to the outskirts of the Belgian capital.

The construction started in 1963 and it was finished six years later. In 1985 it was in need of renovation, and the process became much complicated when asbestos was found in the building in 1990.

The renovation of the building ended up a very time consuming process. The Commission moved out in 1991 and it took 13 years before the Commission could move back into the building.

Justus Lipsius Building

The Justus Lipsius Building is named after Justus Lipsius, Joose Lips or Josse Lips (1547 — 1606) - a famous Flemish philologist and humanist. He had previously given his name to a street where the building is now standing.

It is know the headquarter of the Council of Ministers of the European Union.

It is the newest of the three buildings, built 1985-1995 in stone and glass as a joint venture between many architects and builders in the EU Member states.