Saturday, April 03, 2010

Fjord Line order two new ferries

- will be in traffic from 2012

Fjord Line has ordered two new ferries to bring passengers from Bergen and Stavanger to Hirtshals in Denmark. This may be a risky move in trying times in the Scandinavian ferry market.

The Scandinavian ferry market is struggling to stay afloat. As the price of air fare goes down, people choose traveling further in their spare time.

Norwegian Color Line and Danish DFDS have been the main competitors in this market. They run ferry services to destinations in Denmark and Germany from Norwegians ports. It has been extremely difficult for other companies to break their dominance.

Fjord Line has decided to operate from western Norway, with departures from the main cities of Bergen and Stavanger to Hirtshals in northern Denmark. They decided to challenge Color Line by opening up a seasonal crossing with the high speed vessel Fjord Cat from Kristiansand, in competition with Color Line. In addition to this, Danish ThyFerries is planning to sail between these two ports from 2010.

Fjord Line has decided to commission two brand new vessels from Bergen Group Fosen to a total price of 103 million Euro per ship. They will have 300 cabins and suites and can take up to 1500 passengers and up to 600 cars. It will have cafés, restaurants, duty free shops and conference facilities.

The ships will be delivered March and November 2012.

Read press release on Fjord Lines website (Norwegian)

More Fjord Line stories:
More on ferry connections between Denmark and Norway
Photo: Fjord Line web site)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Tunisian feast

My good friend and Enjoy Food & Travel food-writer loves the Maghreb. Tunisian cuisine was on the menu, as we enjoyed a great food party in his downtown studio the other day, and he certainly did not let his guests down.

Dagfinn loves Tunisia, and has visited this North African country at least once the last years. That is completely understandable. The colours, sights, scenery, scents, and flavours of the Maghreb are breathtaking.

He started, as many meals do in this neck of the world, with many small appetizers. Fish baked in crisp filo pastry, a spicy dip made from fava beans and garlic, and an extremely hot pepper based salad that severely burning your taste buds.

As main course he served a traditional chicken tagine flavoured with figs and aromatic North African spices and a vegetable couscous.

Both I and Susanne were immediately brought back to the cuisine of Marrakech. Delicious, complex flavours of North Africa, sweet, salt, hot and smoky.

Chicken was tender to perfection, as no effort was needed to cut into it. You were in no need of a knife, but rather a fork or even a spoon.

After the main course, we were served sweet cakes, brought back from Tunisia. Small, decorative and with a sugar content several times higher than in any European pastries or cakes, but it worked well when served with a bitter, strong cup of espresso.

And then he brought out the liquors of the Maghreb. A bitter, and liquors made from figs and dates lifted the spirits even higher.

Another great evening enjoying Dagfinn's magic culinary skills. I do look forward to invite him for a good dinner to repay him for his generous hospitality.

More on Dagfinn's culinary wizardry
Read Dagfinn's story from Madeira

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Salma - sushi quality fresh salmon

If you are preparing a tartare or a sushi style dish from raw salmon, you will have to freeze it down from hygienic reasons, unless it is a sushi quality piece of fish. As I did some grocery shopping the other day, I found Salma salmon at discount price of less than €30 a kilo at Ultra Bryn. I bought a 400 gram (a little less than one pound) piece, and made two dishes from it, one raw and one fried, both delicious.

Salma salmon market itself as a superior product with a 4 hour production line from slaughter to vacuuming. It is a bone-free fillet, meaning that you may use it immediately - as I did. Her is what I made.

See company website here

Salma sashimi with wasabi, soy and lime dressing (serves 2)

This way of preparing Salma salmon was introduced by the cook that promoted Salma salmon at Ultra Bryn.

He had already prepared a tasty salmon tartare (i.e. chopped raw salmon served on toast). The dressing was stunning, and I could not wait to prepare this dish myself.

I call this little starter sashimi, as there is much inspiration from this Japanese tradition, even though salmon is the only ingredient in the dish.

For two you'll need:

150 grams / 5 oz. raw, sushi quality salmon, thinly sliced
Soy sauce
Lime juice
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Arrange the finely sliced salmon on two small plates.

Mix wasabi, lime juice and soy to match your taste.

Pour dressing over salmon. Toast sesame seeds in a hot pan. Sprinkle over salmon and add a few drops of sesame oil to boost that nutty taste.

Salma salmon steaks with fish spices

I had around 250 gr or 9 oz left, enough for two servings. I decided to use my favourite seasoning, Tone's Salmon and Seafood seasoning, a blend of onion, garlic, lemon peel, dill and other spice.

As this seasoning is available in US only, make your own blend or use your favourite fish spice mix. I covered the surface with my seasoning, and fried the salmon steaks for a minute only on each side.

I recommend to fry the salmon too little, rather than too much, as it may end up dry if over cooked.

I was lazy, and bought ready made Knorr Hollandaise sauce, tasty, easy to use and with few calories (280 kcal per 100 grams) compared to a serving of a full butter based sauce.

I made fried potatoes with garlic and herbs and oven baked asparagus as greens.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ultimate Sunday breakfast sandwich

I love eggs for breakfast, but is getting increasingly skeptic to bacon and eggs floating in fat. I have been conducting a few experiments to make an all-in-one solution, and one result is the ultimate Sunday breakfast sandwich.

For two sandwiches you'll need

2 square bread rolls
2 eggs, beaten
2 cl / 1 fluid oz double cream
Salt, pepper
4 slices chorizo
50 grams / 2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated

Slice of the top off the bread rolls. Scoop out the soft interior of the roll. Take care not to make a hole in the bottom. Leave some bread on the sides and bottom. Squeeze the remaining soft bread creating a hard surface along sides and bottom.

Cut the bread taken out of the roll into small cubes to be mixed in later.

Mix beaten eggs and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Place cheese on the bottom of rolls, follow with a layer of bread crumbs, then chorizo. Top with remaining cheese.

Pour eggs and cream mix over cheese, bread and chorizo. Place in a medium oven (150C / 275F) for 30 minutes.

To be enjoyed piping hot.

Experiment with your favourite breakfast ingredients.

Options. Do use crisp bacon or any other of your favourites as filling in these bread rolls.

Use boiled ham, asparagus tips (preboiled) or anything else you like.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Non-stop flights from Norway - status April 2010

Here are the last updates on new direct flights from major Norwegian airports to new destinations for April 2010. A new and fascinating destination from Oslo is Ponta Delgada on the Azores archipelago, located in the middle of the Atlantic.

Direct flights will be operated by Portuguese SATA International and will leave every Thursday between April 29th and October 7th.

SATA is operating non-stop flights to Boston and Oakland in the US and Montreal and Toronto in Canada, making it possible to have a pleasant stay on the Azores if traveling over the Herring pond.

The air carrier will use an AIRBUS A320 on their flights from Oslo, and flying time is estimated to around 5 hours.

Flying time from Ponta Delagada to Boston is 5 hours and 45 minutes.

Read more on the flight to the Azores here

APRIL: STATUS - flights from Oslo Airport
  • BULGARIA: Burgas (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • FINLAND: Helsinki (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • ITALY: Olbia (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • PORTUGAL: Ponta Delagada, Azores (SATA)
See all non-stop flights from Oslo Airport here

APRIL: STATUS - flights from Stavanger Airport
  • CROATIA: Dubrovnik (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • FRANCE: Nice (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • SWEDEN: Göteborg (City Airline)
See all non-stop flights from Stavanger Airport here

APRIL: STATUS - flights from Bergen Airport
  • SWEDEN: Göteborg - New service (City Airline)
See all non-stop flights to Bergen Airport here

Bispegata - a medieval street in Oslo

On the corner of Oslo gate and Bispegata you find this blue sign telling a short story from the Medieval city. It has the following text:


Bispegata is a heavily trafficked street at Oslo's East End. When standing at the corner of Oslo gata and Bispegata looking towards the Oslo fjord you see the emerging skyline of the modern city.

Your feet are, however, firmly standing in the oldest part of Oslo, going back one thousand years. You are close to what is left of a market town founded by Viking Kings before the year 1000.

Here you find the important remains of Old Oslo. Churches, monasteries, and one palace belonging to the first kings of Norway and one where the Bishop once resided.

Historic sights of Old Oslo

Old Oslo is a part few tourists visit, but is, believe me, a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered by foreign travelers. Here are stories on sights of Medieval Oslo posted here on Enjoy Food & Travel.
(Photo: Bispegata - Helge Høifødt)

Bispegata and other sights of Old Oslo - see this map

Vis Oslo on Enjoy Food & Travel - from A-Z i et større kart

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vognmand Nilsen - Oslo

We went to see the Tannhäuser by Wagner in Oslo opera house a few weeks ago. As it were to last for 4-5 hours we had to eat before it started. I had booked a table at 4 PM at Vognmand Nilsen, as I had dined there only two days before. At its best it was one of the best experiences the last 12 months, but I found the whole experience a little uneven.

Location: BBBB

Vognmand Nilsen is located by Teaterplassen, a square in a newly built area in downtown Oslo. Here you have new and old houses in an old east end area undergoing a total transformation.

It is easy accessible by tram, bus or subway. Taking the latter, enter any eastbound line and leave at Grønland subway station. The restaurant is a five minute walk away. Direction - see map on the bottom of this review.

Service: BBBBB

You rarely meet a place where service is so good as at Vognmand Nilsen. Wednesday 10th as well as Friday 12th we had waiters doing their utmost to make our stay worthwhile.

I would especially commend an English speaking waiter serving us efficiently with grace knowledge and wit. This evening my sister and I asked to share a three course dinner, as we both wanted only a bite. The staff at the kitchen served us half a serving on plates, delicately arranging our food on elegant white china.

The waiter serving us Friday 12th did an equally good job, with less wit. We were very pleased by the service provided for us at Vognmand Nilsen.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBBB

The interior at Vognmand Nilsen may be conceived as Scandinavian minimalist, very hip and trendy, indeed. Coffee Latte and dark wood providing the main colour to the interior, interruptesd by brightly red and orange details.

It is a part of a general trend in restaurant interiors, a little impersonal in my mind . It is a little dark and bare, and it does not provide the intimate cozy background for the great food served at Vognmand Nilsen.

Food: BBBB+

We chose a three course dinner priced at NOK 295 (€37). In addition to these three courses we were served a small amuse gueule - a scallop carpaccio in a soy and coriander seed reduction. Delicious!!

We were also served good bread during our meal, with whipped cream mixed with herbs and garlic. An intriguing unusual combination of ingredients.

March 10th: Mussels in curry, cauliflower pannacotta, green beans and mussel foam: BBBB

One half serving for me and my sister, 3 rinsed mussels, one half cylindric piece of snow white pannacotta, beans and frothy foam delicately presented on a clean white plate.

Good texture, mussels and beans providing a good bite. Deliciously smooth pannacotta.

A little low on balance and taste. Had expected more curry taste and the pannacotta was bland. More salt would have raised the tasting experience considerably.

March 12th: Braised cod with risotto, green peas and pomegranate: BBBB+

Full serving. One square, lightly brown piece of lightly salted cod piled on top of risotto and green peas. Kernels of pomegranate arranged around the fish, glittering like small rubies.

Good texture. Fish firm, and flaky. Interesting crunch from the pomegranate kernels.

A little low in sodium, but good taste all in all. Would never thought of serving pomegranate with such a dish, but it works well, as it provides a gentle sweetness as contrast to the other flavours.

March 10th & 12th: Pheasant roulade with prunes and rosemary, creamed Brussels sprout, bacon, butter steamed radishes and fig sauce: BBBBB-

This was really the "piece de resistance" for the evening, and one of the best dishes I've had this year. One pheasant breast divided and two, folded over dark brown prunes served on a long, rectangular white piece of china.

Great texture. Pheasant breast slightly pink, succulent and very tender. Cauliflower cooked to perfection, and crunchy radishes were basking in salt golden butter.

Heavenly contrasting tastes. The sweet slightly bitter prunes worked wonderful with the slightly salted breast and the light perfumes from the rosemary. More sweetness from the fig reduction. It all worked well with the perfectly seasoned bacon, Brussels sprouts and radishes.

March 10th & 12th: Assorted cheese platter: BBBB+

We were served one slice of Morbier cheese, one Gorgonzola and a Brie, with sweet company of sultanas, apricots. We were offered two slices of bread, one brown, neutral and another - sweetened with dried fruits.

Cheeses were served temperated to room temperature. A good range of tastes and texture from deliciously creamy to soft.

Personally I found that the combination sweet fruits and sweet bread were too much. It would certainly have excluded a Sauternes, Vin Santo or Vendange Tardive wine, as it would have pushed sweetness over the top.

Wine: BBBB+

You may order a wine menu to accompany your food, but we ordered one glass of cava, and one Spanish wine made from grenache, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo grapes.

During our small talk with our waiter March 10th we were offered free samples of a Spanish wine made from tempranillo grapes matured in a steel barrel. The waiter promised us a rich, full bodied wine experience, without the oak character.

The cava was delicious, served in tall glasses narrow at the rim. Delicious fruit character, with fresh bubbles.

The blend was good, but lacked the richness of a wine made from 100% tempranillo.

The wine matured in steel barrels, convinced me that I love the character oak caskets bring to the wine. It was good, but it lacked the body of a traditionally produced Spanish wine.

Rating the Vognmand Nilsen experience: BBBB+ (4,40 points)

Recommended! Definitely one of the better restaurant experiences I've had in Oslo lately. Recommend their fixed menus of 3, 4 or 5 dishes. Many tastes. Quality of food a little uneven, due to lack of seasoning or balance of flavours. Great service from professional waiters, and a few surprises were presented during our meal.

Vognmand Nilsen
Rubina Ranasgt 3, Oslo.
Reservation: Lee Gibson phone: +47 22 05 92 00

See location of Vognmand Nilsen on this map

Vis Oslo on Enjoy Food & Travel - from A-Z i et større kart

Photos from top:
- Interior: Company website
- Mussels at Trouville fish market: Flickr upload bot
- Pomegranate Seeds taken by w:User:Pschemp
- Pheasant Fowling. Showing how to catch Pheasants. Facsimile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the Livre du Roy Modus. Fourteenth Century.
- Tempranillo grapes ripening: MickStephenson