Saturday, May 08, 2010

COMING UP IN MAY: Värmland, Sweden

I am happy to return to Värmland in Eastern Sweden. Värmland is bordering Østfold, Akershus and Hedmark county in Norway. Here you feel the tranquility found in unspoiled nature.

We will travel by car from Oslo to Karlstad, the administrative centre of this county, located the coastline of the vast lake Vänern to the deep wilderness of the spruce and pine forests. Värmland has so much in common with the counties west of the border, but is in many ways very different.

I will stay in the community of Sunnemo, an hours drive north of Karlstad. This quiet, quaint village located in a small valley surrounded by low wooden hills, goes back to the mid 17th century and beyond. A beautiful wooden church built in 1653 and remains of an old 17th century iron work are the main sights of Sunnemo.

More stories on Sunnemo and Värmland
Maps of Värmland on Enjoy Food & Travel

View Sunnemo - Karlstad January 2008 in a larger map

Map: Värmland April 18th to April 20th 2008

Photo: A workforce of log drivers from Finnskoga, working at the Lusten separation point, Forshaga 1918

Friday, May 07, 2010

An evening treat - sauteed prawns with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce

You needn't tell me that a man who doesn't love oysters and asparagus and good wines has got a soul,
or a stomach either.
He's simply got the instinct for being unhappy highly developed.
Saki alias Hector Hugh Munro

Sautéed prawns - how deliciously easy, deliciously tasty. A great evening meal prepared in minutes - perfect for hungry travelers.

I traveled with two Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers Dagfinn Skoglund and Susanne Koch, to our summer home last weekend. We had been driving for 4 hours, so we needed something to eat quickly.

Dagfinn had roamed his kitchen and the nearby green grocers and had bought enough asparagus to feed an army. We decided to keep a few for later (and they ended up in a tasty Sunday morning omelet). The rest were drizzled in olive oil, seasoned, and placed in the oven to bake.

Dagfinn sauteed the prawns in oil, with finely sliced shallots, my local fish seasoning, and lime juice. Many tastes, but well balanced flavours.

Hollandaise is not easy to make. I usually end up buying the Knorr ready made sauce, as it tastes good and contains half the number of calories than other brands.

We decided to try a more exclusive brand, and we purchased Jacobs utvalgte. More expensive, and much tastier than Knorr, and with 390 calories per 10 cl. We heated it slowly, while stirring in additional lime for taste.

It was a wicked meal, the velvet soft, creamy sauce, prawns fresh and with a crunch, and perfectly prepared asparagus.

And here is a short filmclip where you may see the food for yourself


More prawn stories
More asparagus stories

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tønsberg A-Z

Vis Tønsberg from A-Z i et større kart

Tønsberg is the largest city and the administrative centre of Vestfold county, and is one of the oldest cities in Norway. Here you find remains of the largest medieval castle in the country. Some of the sights, hotel(s) and bars and restaurants of the city is found on this map.

I visited the Tønsberg back in 2007, the first time for my part. It has a charming city centre, marked by its long history. Although it thrived back in medieval times, there are very few sights dating back that far. Most of the houses are built the last three centuries along charming narrow streets.

I stayed there for 24 hours, so I did not manage to see much of the city, but I got a few hours to take a morning stroll on the castle hill. It was a vast complex in its time that ended when it was left to decay after a large fire ravaged the castle in 1503.

Here is a list of stories from Tønsberg previously published on Enjoy Food & Travel.

(Photo: Bronze model of how the fortress may have appeared by: 91)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More perennial herbs in my country garden

A hard winter is over, and I have found that all my perennial herbs have survived the harsh conditions and have started to sprout. The collection of different herbs is growing every year. Currently my garden is home to 18 plants with either culinary or medicinal uses. Here are the presentation of them.

  1. Baldmoney (Meum athamanticum)
    Originates from: Europe. Grows wild in Norway

    Tastes strongly of curry. Used in omelets, soups, casseroles as substitute for curry powder

  2. NEW: Borage (Borago officinalis)
    Annual herbs originating from Syria

    Culinary and medicinal purposes, important sourde of vegetable oil. Strong cucumber taste, used as herb or salad leaf)

  3. Catmint (Nepeta cataria)
    Origins: Not stated

    Tea, juice, tincture, infusion, or poultice and has been smoked, mixed with tobacco.

  4. NEW: Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
    Origins: Different varieties are found over the globe

    Salad leaf. Stems may be pickled

  5. Common rue (Ruta graveolens)
    Originates from: Southern Europe.

    Mostly medicinal uses. Rue does have a culinary use if used sparingly, however it is incredibly bitter and severe gastric discomfort may be experienced by some individuals

  6. NEW: Common soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
    Originates from: Europe to Western Siberia

    Soapwort has various medicinal functions as an expectorant and laxative. An overdose can cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.

    Despite its toxic potential, soapwort is used as an emulsifier in the commercial preparation of tahini halva,and in brewing to create beer with a good "head". In India, the rhizome is used as a galactagogue.

  7. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
    Originates from: Southern Europe

    Thyme adds a distinctive aromatic flavoring to sauces, stews, stuffing, meats, poultry – almost anything from soup to salad. In medieval times the plant symbolized courage, and to keep up their spirits, knights departing for the Crusades received scarves embroidered with a sprig of thyme from their ladies.

  8. Garlic (Allium sativum)
    Originates from: Unknown, probably southwestern Asia

    Fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including eastern Asia, south Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America.

  9. Herb hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
    Originates from: Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea.

    Leaves are used as an aromatic condiment. They have a lightly bitter taste due to its tannins, and an intense minty aroma. Due to its intensity, it is used moderately in cooking. The herb is also used to flavor liqueur, and is part of the official formulation of Chartreuse.

  10. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia)
    Originates from: Southeastern Europe and western Asia

    Wide uses, mostly in sauces and drinks.

  11. Lavender (lavandula)
    Originates from: Native to the Mediterranean region south to tropical Africa and to the southeast regions of India.

    Medicinal and culinary use. Candied and sometimes used as cake decorations. Lavender flavors baked goods and desserts (it pairs especially well with chocolate), as well as used to make "lavender sugar". Flowers are occasionally blended with black, green, or herbal tea, adding a fresh, relaxing scent and flavour.

  12. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Originates from: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.

    Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies.

  13. Lemon thyme (T. citriodorus)
    Originates from: Cultivar

    Smells of lemon.

  14. Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
    Originates from: Europe

    Leaves and seeds or fruit of which are used to flavor food, especially in South European cuisine. Vaguely resembles its cousin celery in appearance and in flavor. Lovage also sometimes gets referred to as smallage, but this is more properly used for celery.

  15. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
    Originates from: Europe, the Mediterranean region and southern and central Asia

    Important culinary herb. It is particularly widely used in Turkish, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American, and Italian cuisine. It is the leaves that are used in cooking, and the dried herb is often more flavourful than the fresh.

  16. NEW: Parsley (Petroselinum)
    Biennial herb, often used as spice. Common in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although parsley is perceived to have a milder flavor.

  17. NEW: Purple coneflower (Echinacea)
    Originates from: North and South America

    Medicinal plant to treat effects of the common cold. May have anti tumor properties

  18. Rocket (E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L)

    Native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal east to Lebanon and Turkey

    As salad leaf or as herb. Strong peppery taste. I use it as base for a pungent pesto sauce.

  19. Rose root (Rhodiola rosea)
    Originates from: Arctic, the mountains of Central Asia, the Rocky Mountains, and mountainous parts of Europe, such as the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathian Mountains, Scandinavia, Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland.

    Medicinal use agains depressive conditions and fatigue

  20. Sage (Salvia officinalis)
    Originates from: Mediterranean region

    Flavouring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavoring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton.

  21. Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
    Origins: Europe and southwest Asia

    Wide use in food, and ingredient in many drinks

  22. NEW: Spice tagetes
    Originates from: North and South America

    Strong lemon taste. Use as lemon balm or citrus

  23. Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus).
    Originates from: Wide area of the Northern Hemisphere from easternmost Europe across central and eastern Asia to India, western North America, and south to northern Mexico.

    One of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and particularly suitable for chicken, lasagna, fish and egg dishes. Tarragon is one of the main components of Béarnaise sauce. Fresh, lightly bruised sprigs of tarragon may be steeped in vinegar to impart their flavor.

  24. Winter savoury (Satureja montana)
    Originates from: native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe.

    In cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffing. It has a strong flavour while uncooked but loses much of its flavour under prolonged cooking. It may also be used medicinally, it is a stimulant, and is also a known aphrodisiac.

  25. Wormwood (Artimisia absinthium)
    Originates from: Temperate regions of Eurasia and northern Africa.

    Medicinal use. In strong spirits. Poisonous

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Quality Hotell Tønsberg - Norway

Three years ago I stayed overnight at Quality Hotel Tønsberg. At that point this boat-shaped hotel was brand new. Quality Hotel Tønsberg enjoys an excellent location in downtown Tønsberg with a view of the harbour and within walking distance to the city's restaurants, sights, and shopping area.

Every floor on this smart designer hotel is skilfully decorated. Among the most striking feature is the elegant rooftop swimming pool and sun terrace, where you may relax, have a swim and enjoy the view during the summer.

If you want to enjoy a drink or take a bite of food outside the hotel, you may visit one of the bars / restaurants located in one of the charming old wooden houses nearby. This is a particularly attractive option during summertime when you can sit outside and enjoy the warm and light summer nights.

I stayed one night in a medium-sized room held in neutral colours. Shades of cream and beige on walls, reflected in curtains, lamps and furniture.

Rates for rooms at Quality Hotel Tønsberg vary from NOK 695 for a single room and NOK 895 for a double room.

If you want to upgrade, you may book one of the seven suites in the hotel. There are also 19 family rooms.

Other amenities at Quality Hotel Tønsberg are:

- Bar
- Conference centre including one large auditorium
- Internet connection in rooms
- Laundry service
- Money exchange service
- Parking
- Pet friendly
- Restaurant
- Rooftop swimming poor
- Safety deposit box in room
- Sauna
- Wireless Internet (WLAN)

Quality Hotel Tønsberg is a non-smoking hotel.

Quality Hotel Tønsberg
Ollebukta 3, 3126 Tønsberg
Phone : +47 33 00 41 00
Fax: +47 33 00 41 01

More Tønsberg stories on Enjoy Food & Travel

Tønsberg is one of the oldest cities in Norway. Here are some stories on its 1100 year long history.

View Tønsberg from A-Z in a larger map

Monday, May 03, 2010

SOLD! Enjoy Food & Travel for sale!

No, we are not looking for new owners for the site, but rather for its HQ, i.e. the flat where the stuff on Enjoy Food & Travel is created.

I am upscaling, i.e. planning to move out of Oslo city centre to get more space and an outside place for those beautiful spring, summer and fall days. I have advertised my flat for sale at

If you are looking for a nice flat in Oslo city centre with walking distance to all that happens, do visit the advertisement on for more information and pictures.

If you would like to look at the flat, take contact with my estate agent to arrange a private visit for you!

I am glad to tell you that my flat is no longer on the market. It was sold in June 2010. I have, since then, bought a new flat at Høgåsen in the southern region of Oslo.

Direct flights from Norway - May 2010

Here are the latest updates on new direct flights from Norwegian airports in May 2010. Icelandair opens up direct seasonal flights seasonal from the three largest airports in May and June. Travelers from Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim may travel on to Halifax and Toronto in Canada, and Boston, New York JFK, Minneapolis, Orlando and Seattle in the United States.

First up are Stavanger and Bergen with new direct flights from May, followed by Trondheim in June. Flights from Trondheim to Reykjavik will end in August, while direct flights from Bergen and Stavanger end in September.

US-Airways will start their non-stop flights from Oslo to Philadelphia in May.

Here are a list of direct flights to new destinations opening in May.

MAY: STATUS - new direct flights from Bergen Airport
See all non-stop flights to Bergen Airport here

MAY: STATUS - new direct flights from Oslo Airport
  • LITHUANIA: Vilnius (Air Baltic)
  • USA: Philadelphia, PA (US Airways)
See all direct flights from Oslo Airport here

MAY: STATUS - new direct flights from Rygge Airport
See all direct flights from Rygge Airport here

MAY: STATUS - new direct flights from Stavanger Airport
See all direct flights from Stavanger Airport here

MAY: STATUS - new direct flights from Torp Airport
See all direct flights from Torp Airport here

(Photo - Image of Boston's Back Bay neighborhood as situated along the tree-lined esplanade of the Charles River - Ahonc)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Giovanni Rana - a decent quality pasta brand

Making your own filled pastas are difficult stuff, and hardly worth the effort unless making one's with your special stuffing. There are, after all, many good fresh and dried pastas on the market and Giovanni Rana is one range good quality fresh – rustic- pastas.

I have tasted the Rana ravioli with mushroom filling and it was close to the homemade one's I have ever tasted. I bought another variety, Rana tortellini with gorgonzola and walnut (a fabulous combo) in my local supermarket.

Here are other pastas from Rana's range I've seen in my supermarket in Norway (Meny - Majorstuen):
Fresh pasta needs to cook for a minute or two, literally, and cooking for a slightly longer period, may mean that the filling leaks out in the water.

They were very good, soft with a generous amount of well balanced filling inside.

It is more expensive than most other pasta brands, but absolutely in the upper end of the scale on quality.

More pasta stories......