Friday, November 19, 2010

Rating Icelandair flight Oslo-Reykjavik-Boston

I decided, once again, to fly Icelandair from Oslo to Boston this fall. My main reason to choose this air carrier is the flying time. Instead of spending 8 hours flying over the Atlantic, it is much more convenient to fly 2,5 hours to Reykjavik, spending one hour in transit, for then flying around 5 hours from the Icelandic capital to Boston. Neither price, nor on board comfort is better, rather worse than competing airlines.

Facts on flight:

Here are the facts of my flight.

October 26th 2010:
  • Departure Gardermoen International Airport - Oslo, 2.45 PM
  • Arrival Keflavik International - Reykjavik, 3 PM (-2 hours)
  • Departure Keflavik International Airport - Reykjavik 4 PM
  • Arrival Logan International Airport - Boston 5.35 PM (-4 hours)
November 6th 2010
  • Departure Logan International Airport - Boston, 9.45 PM
  • Arrival Keflavik International Airport - Reykjavik 6.30 AM (+4 hours + 1 day)
  • Departure Keflavik International Airport - Reykjavik 7.30 AM
  • Arrival Gardermoen International Airport - Oslo 11.30 AM (+2 hours)
Check in: BBBB

Check in on schedule at all airports. We did however, have to wait a considerable time at Logan International Airport in order to embark the vessel.

Take-off: BB+

Take-off time approximately on all flights time October 26th. Departure from Boston close to one hour delayed due to technical problem. No information was given during the waiting time. This delay and change to daylight savings time made time to transfer very short, and now information was given to us during our flight to address this, and I nearly missed my plane to Oslo.

Hospitality: BBB

A cool and distant flight crew on board, partly unwilling to inform during the delays at Boston Airport and the consequences for transfer passengers.

Service: BBBB

Decent service. We did not have to wait long to be served, and the staff answered other questions promptly.

Complementary: BB+

Only soft drinks and water complementary. Wine, beer, hard liquor and a small selection of warm dishes for sale on board at reasonable prices. Even head sets were not offered travelers for free.

Comfort: BBBB

One of the few assets of an Icelandair flight. Generous room in front of knees on all flights. Seats comfortably wide. Good sized table.

Flying time to destination: BBB+

Average flying time to destination from Oslo to Boston. Shorter flight time from Boston to Reykjavik took in a little of the one hour delay, but I would have lost my flight to Oslo if normal flight time.

Arrival: BBB+

Arrival on time to Reykjavik and Boston over, delayed arrival to Reykjavik from Boston on return flight. Arrival on time at Gardermoen Airport on Oslo.

Check-out: BBBB

Acceptable time spent to disembark planes, and waiting for luggage at baggage claim.

Duty free goods: BBBB

A good selection of duty free spirits, accessories, fragrances, and other articles available at reasonable prices.

Rating Icelandair: BBBB- (3,5 points)

The 2010 transatlantic crossing was disappointing compared to last years experience. Bad information and delays count for lower rating. Good leg room and short traveling time to my destination are still the air carriers asset. My patience, however, is wearing thin , and the airline must improve by offering more complementary goods and inform travelers better during delays.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Restaurant Ola - Playa del Ingles

Yumbo Centre, in the heart of Playa del Ingles does not offer fine dining in charming or beautiful surroundings. This is reflected in most of the food served in the restaurants there, as in Restaurant Ola where we dined one warm February evening. The service, however, was much better and in spite of the food being bland and uninteresting we were entertained by a charming waiter that made our meal worthwhile.

Rating Restaurant Ola, Playa del Ingles: BBBB (3,77 points)
  • Location: BBB+
  • Service: BBBBB-
  • Interior & Atmosphere: BBB+
  • Food: BBBB-
There are little charm found in the Yumbo centre. It is basically several levels built around a central courtyard in the middle of Playa del Ingles. Here you find a number of restaurants, souvenir shops, and a large number of gay, mixed and straight bars.

On one of the lower levels you find Restaurante Ola, serving Northern European / German cuisine to tourists seeking heat and sun during cold winter months.

We had already dined at several restaurants, without being impressed by the quality of the food, and Ola Restaurant followed the general pattern.

As most other restaurants and bars at the centre, very little effort had been made to create a cozy interior.

Our table was however well dressed with napkin, plates and forks, and it was good distance to neighbouring tables providing good comfort for us during our meal.

We found the service at Ola to be very good. We were waited by a young man that attended to our needs as well as providing some wit during our meal. We ordered swiftly and were served our food without delay.

I ordered tomato soup as starter and wiener schnitzel with Bearnaise sauce main course.

The soup was served with a large dash of sour cream, deep red and very (too) smooth. My question was whether it was home made or a product of a can or soup base.

Sadly, as with many tomato soups or sauces, the acidity of the tomatoes was not properly balanced. It was sour, slightly bitter out of lack of sugar.

The Wiener schnitzel was served with rice, asparagus and vegetables. The cauliflower was slightly under cooked and the meat and sauce did not taste very much.

It reminded me, strangely enough, of another schnitzel served at Den Danske Kro. The meat served there was definitely better than the Ola, but the sauce was just the same. Same supplier? In that case, find another. There is no things more depressing than a tasteless Bearnaise sauce.

Restaurant Ola was nothing to brag of, neither atmosphere nor food, but the staff did as good as they could. Restaurant Ola is hardly the venue for a romantic dinner.

Restaurant Ola
Level 2, Yumbo Centre
Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria

More restaurant (to avoid) at Playa del Ingles

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

COMING UP DECEMBER 2010: Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg

As we enter the Christmas holiday season, I will attend a conference at Quality Hotel Grand, located in Kongsberg, a one-hour drive west of Oslo. Stay tuned to find out whether this is a good place to stay in the Silver city.

Kongsberg means "The king's mountain". The king in question was Christian IV of Denmark-Norway that founded the city when a large silver ore was found here in 1623. Between 1623 and 1957 1,350 tonnes (3,000,000 lb) of silver was extracted from the mines by the city. It left great wealth to the crown as well as the city.

Kongsberg is today a thriving industrial town and winter resort with roughly 30000 inhabitants. The Quality Hotel Grand is located in the city centre by the Numedalslågen river.

Around an hour drive away from Oslo and easily accessible by bus or train, the Quality Hotel Grand has a lot to offer, from inhouse restaurants, bars, night club, conference centre and a spa pool. Outside you may go shopping in the city or enjoy the nearby forests and winter sport facilities.

I will stay there for two nights early December and will share my views on this hotel here on Enjoy Food & Travel.


Quality Hotel Grand
Chr. August gate 2, N-3611 Kongsberg.
Phone: +47 32 77 28 00

Fax: +47 32 73 41 29


View Hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2010 in a larger map

Read more on the legacy of king Christian IV on Enjoy Food & Travel

(Photo: Hotel website)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Succulent and tender deer roast

As a group of friends left to visit my summer home early September, my friend Terje brought the most deliciously tender and succulent deer roast. It was prepared in a special way. This as he is working as a cook, and had used the most modern ways to reach this fantastic result.

The roast was a de boned deer loin his father had given him. He marinated it in salt, pepper, and herbs. To prepare the meat, he brought the roast to the kitchen he works in, placed it in a thick, heat resistant, plastic bag and vacuumed it by sealing the plastic.

Then he placed it a modern, state of the art steam oven and gently baked it for several hours. After this process, it was cooled down to just a few degrees above freezing point.

He told me that food prepared like this may stay fresh for 3-4 weeks if refrigerated.

When we arrived at my summer home, he just placed the plastic in hot water until the meat was warmed through. Then we just opened up the bag, to serve it.

What this way of preparation does to meat is easy to explain. To seal the meat and heat it on low heat over long time keeps the meat juices inside and the hours spent makes it irresistibly tender.

Sadly this method is for professionals only, but as you have discovered earlier, long roasting is one of my favourite cooking methods, and I am proud to say that the end result is delicious.

Other slow cooking stories on Enjoy Food & Travel