Saturday, October 09, 2010

Istanbul: Bulgarian St. Stephen Church

December 23rd we decided to take a ferry from central Istanbul up the Golden Horn to Balat, the area that housed the majority of the city’s Jewish population. As we left the ferry at the municipality of Fatih, we immediately found ourselves by the church dedicated to St. Stephen. It is one of two church buildings serving the Bulgarian minority in the city.

The changing fate of this vast metropolis, as a battle ground for major religions and cultures, means that you find a large number of minorities that moved here during the ages.
Old church buildi
Bulgaria remained a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, and a Bulgarian minority gradually formed in the Empire’s capital. Bulgarians were, however, not allowed to form their own congregation before in the middle of the 19th century.

A separate Bulgarian Church was inaugurated in 1849. It was located in a house (right) on the same site as the present church donated by Prince Stefan Bogoridi a high ranking Ottoman statesman of Bulgarian origin.

The wooden church was replaced by the present building in 1898. The whole building was built from pre fabricated iron elements transported from Vienna and assembled in 1898. This mode of construction was chosen as the ground could not hold a heavy concrete construction.

It seems, as everything else in this part of Istanbul, worn and shabby, but buildings in Fatih and Balat hold a certain beauty through their age.

When we entered the Church of St Stephen we found the interior both dark and mysterious. The interior was very ornate and colourful compared to the slightly decaying exterior and it had, as all orthodox churches, a beautiful gilded iconostasis depicting saints important to the Bulgarian congregation.
The church felt deserted, as there were just a few people present, unlike the enormous crowds gathering in the countless mosques scattered around the large city.

The Church of Saint Stephen is a faint memory of a time when it seems the Turkish capital was the  centre of a vast empire and was much more heterogeneous, socially, culturally and religious.

A trip to Balat is a memorable and highly recommendable experience. Use the ferry up the Golden Horn to get there.

The ferry is a welcome alternative to a taxi driving recklessly through the heavy traffic. It drives slowly and quietly upstream and there are always fellow tourists to talk to.

See location of Bulgarian St Stephen Church on this map of Istanbul  

Vis Istanbul A-Z 2009 Updated January 6th 2010 i et større kart

More historic churches or mosques on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Friday, October 08, 2010

No news from SATA Air Açores on direct flights Oslo Azores in 2011

October 7th the last SATA Air Açores flight takes off from Oslo to the Azores. 2010 was the first year with direct connection to these beautiful islands located in the mid-Atlantic. I took contact with SATA to find out what plans they had for this service in 2011. I recieved an answer with no answer.

My question was:
Press request from

Direct flights from Oslo to Ponta Delgada will end October 7th 2010. What are your experiences from 2010 and does SATA consider maintaining direct flights from Oslo to the Azores season of 2011.
The answer from SATA Air Acores was
Dear Mr Tor Johnsen, Thank you for using our services.

SATA will end this operation Ponta Delgada/Oslo and back on September 10th 2010. We do not have information if direct flights will continue during 2011 season.

Please contact us in a few months; we hope to have more information about this subject.
The Azores is a tempting destination for those of us in quest for new and interesting travel experiences. On behalf of Norwegian travelers I would certainly hope that SATA would continue non-stop flights from Oslo to Ponta Delgada in 2011.

From here you may visit e.g. the Graciosa Islands, the northernmost of the central group of islands of the Azores. The island is 10 km long and 7 km wide. Here is a short film clip from the island published on YouTube.

SATA introduce non-stop flight Oslo to Azores 2010 - see story here

Recent news on international flights from Oslo
See all international and domestic destinations with direct flights to Oslo Airport

There are a large number of domestic and international destinations in Asia, North Africa, Europe and North America with direct flights to Oslo Airport.

Find the destination nearest you on this map on Enjoy Food & Travel

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Pytt i panna!

Pyttipanna is a Swedish/Norwegian classic. This leftover dish is by no means unique. Created in a time and age when nothing was wasted, it may contain all that you have in hand, but one staple ingredient must be present in order for it to be a proper pyttipanna - potatoes.

I went to visit my friend Terjes parents in Sunnemo, Sweden a few months ago. When we had no idea on what to prepare for lunch on our day of departure, his father found a frozen package pyttipanna in his large freezer. We prepared it as a filling lunch leaving us satisfied until arriving home 5 hours and 230 kilometers later.

Serious comfort food, as prepared before of the days of tacos and pizzas, containing real honest ingredients as bacon, sausages, ham and onions and always potatoes. Pyttipanna is related to dishes as the Danish biksemad, hash in the US or bubble and squeak in the UK.

Pyttipanna is from a time when people had to regard food as too precious to waste. I am a relic in that was as I hate throwing food in the bin, thus always using leftovers. In economic trying times it is a good idea as well, as you save money as well as creating less waste. A win-win for both you and the environment.

I found a recipe clip on YouTube
and follow his instructions or here is a recipe for Swedish Fry on Serve it for breakfast with one or two fried eggs or as a tasty lunch.

Bon appetite!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Bangkok Thai, Oslo, closed for business

The Bangkok Thai restaurant, Oslo, was reviewed here on Enjoy Food & Travel January 2nd 2009. I discovered, when passing it yesterday, that it has closed for business. It served decent, reasonably priced Thai food, and was a popular restaurant for locals.

To eat Thai in the Norwegian capital there are the following alternatives:

Barker Tavern, Scituate MA

Barker Tavern is located in a historic building in Scituate MA. Heavy beams and wooden walls, once pierced for portholes, bear witness to its use as a garrison house in 1676. Part of the original building is said to be the second oldest standing house in the United States. We went there to dine, and had a great culinary experience.

Total rating: BBBB (4,24 points)

  • Location: BBB+
  • Service: BBBBB
  • Style: BBBBB
  • Food: BBBB+
A tavern off the beaten tracks

Barker Tavern is located in the outskirts of Scituate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The low score on location is due to the fact that Scituate is hard to get to, as long as you do not have a car available. Scituate is located 30-40 minutes by car south of Boston.

Until recently the only public transportation available were buses driving to and from Boston during peak hours. Now you may take the new suburban rail line to Greenbush, but you are still a 3o minute walk to the scenic Scituate habour.

Williams-Barker House - anno 1634?

The Williams-Barker House claim, according to old records to date back to 1634. If this is right, it would be one of the oldest houses still standing in North America. It is, however, not mentioned among the historic houses of Massachusetts.

Its interior is however marked by old age. I recognize the same architectural features as I find in our own summer home that dates back before 1600, much earlier than Barker Tavern is supposed to date back to. Dark, rough wooden beams, white walls enhanced by classic style furniture.

Home of Rebecca and Abigael Bates, another historic home in Scituate - see story here

Dining at Barker Tavern

Barker Tavern offers excellent service from a professional staff, good information on the general menu and today's specials. Smooth ordering and food and wine was served with skill and style.

I always find ordering a three-course dinner in the US a gamble. This as you always risk being served huge portions leaving you completely stuffed in the middle of the main course.

Being in a posh place, we decided to split the first course and indulge in a main course.

Barker Tavern had certainly an extensive menu to choose from at, for me, quite reasonable prices. I love finger food, so I ordered Seafood Platter as a starter to share (a great idea if you are two or three).

Then I ordered fried duck breast with red wine sauce, oven baked potatoes and Puy lentils as main course.

The delicately presented seafood platter contained cocktail shrimps, crab claws, clams casino, oysters rockefeller, crabcakes and scallops wrapped in prosciutto.

There were two of each 6 items, and we ended up choosing 4 out of 6 appetizers.

Steamed, brightly red crab claws, pink shrimp tails, mild in taste and lean. I simply loved the fried clams and oysters, coated with crisp breadcrumbs with moist molluscs mixed with tasty bacon.

Scallops with prosciutto or bacon is a great idea, for a snack served at a drink's party. It combining saltiness with the gentle sweetness found in the scallops. The seafood platter at Barker Tavern provided a great teaser for what was to come, a great main course.

Duck breast is one of my favourite dishes, and the staff at Barker Tavern certainly knew how to prepare it.

It was served with baked amandine potatoes and Puy lentils, a strange combination, as lentils often substitute potatoes and are not often used as main greens.

I personally would have prepared either or, and had another main vegetable on the dish, but the combination worked.

Nothing wrong with the duck breast and veggies, though, as all was prepared to perfection, meat very moist and still delicately pink in the middle, and both lentils and potatoes were firm and not over cooked.

Decent dining in historic atmosphere at Barker Tavern

Barker Tavern is certainly in the upper crust of restaurants I've visited during my years in New England. With most main courses priced under $30, good service and great historic atmosphere it is most certainly a place to consider for a good meal. If you have a car, that is, as it is located off the beaten tracks if you relying on public transportation to get around.

Barker Tavern
21 Barker Rd
Scituate, MA 02066-4821, USA
Phone: +1 (781) 545-6533
Toll Free 800-966-6533
Make reservations here
See the official Barker Tavern website here

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Find Barker Tavern on our map of New England here

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