Saturday, April 09, 2011

Cohen's kosher starters

It's not just Kosher, it's Cohens! This slogan was found on a brightly purple box of frozen, Jewish style finger food that my family in New York State used as starters in a party in my honour.

Cohen's nibbles out of the box, ready for the oven
Here in Norway you are most often left to prepare your own finger food. In the US, however, there is always someone ready to make it for you.

My cousin grabbed a box of these Cohen's delicious filled pastries from a freezer, just placed them in the oven, and presto you had a nibble for your Gin & Tonic.

The box contained Garlic Potato Puffs, Mini Beef Franks, Spinach and Potato Puffs, Spicy Beef Turnovers, Beef and Pepper Pockets. All prepared according to Jewish food laws. Cohen does after all mean priest in Hebrew.
I tried to browse the internet for the company. The Cohen in question was Mrs Cohen. Her neighbors and family would say of her hors d'oeuvres, eggrolls, and blintzes;
Mrs. Cohen - these are so delicious you should start a business.
She did as they said and started a business in 1945 based out of from her Newark kitchen. I bet her homemade fresh pastries was delicious, but even the production line, frozen starters tasted great as finger food before the main course, chicken cordon blue, but that is a completely different story.

More Jewish stories here on Enjoy Food & Travel 
We declare: Enjoy Food & Travel has no commercial interests in products or brands

This post contains information on products or specific brands. Our staff will ensure our readers that we have no commercial interests in, or are paid to promote these or other products, brands, or labels. 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Color Fantasy: Rating Color Suites with seaview

Salon and bay window
I have traveled on luxury class on ferries before, but most often I have attended conferences thus not having to worry about how much to pay. My experience is when staying in any exclusive cabin on ferries sailing between Norway and the continent that you will not get a product according to the price you pay. It is, simply , not a bargain. This even if you include the travel experience. My advise is - skip this kind of crossing, book a flight and a nice hotel instead on a chosen destination.
Interior - beautiful details

Rating Color Fantasy Luxury Cabins: BBBB (3,81 points)
  • Location: BBBBB
  • Service: BBB+
  • Cabin: BBBB
  • Breakfast: BBBB
  • Facilities: BBBB+
  • Price: BB
Traveling on a large ferry as Color Fantasy provides you with a near perfect location. You stay in a floating hotel with all facilities within reach, with beautiful scenery and the sea at your doorstep to admire.

You are kindly greeted on arrival by the staff. Traveling on luxury class, as we did, gave a few immediate advantages. We had our own check-in counter and were given priority both in check-in and access to our own lunge. Secondly we were allowed to board ahead of the other passengers.
A generously sized bed
When it comes to service, however, our experiences were mixed. The staff at the reception were kind enough, but the waiters in our own breakfast lounge (will return to that later), were partly rude and condescending.

Our cabin was the second largest, and was located on the 13th floor in the front of the Color Fantasy. It was 24 square meters.

A small hallway led into the main room. On the right side there were generously sided storage including a small safe. To the left there was a small bath room with a separate shower compartment.
Bathroom in high standard

The main room had one large bed, a sofa, a comfortable armchair, and a desk. The view was provided by a large bay window with a soft pillow, ideal to sit watching the landscape pass by.

The interior has a pleasant colour-scheme, furniture in dark wood and fabrics in contrasting colour. Bathroom had a much higher standard than in any other of the cabins I have traveled in. Properly tiled with wooden interior and creative lighting.

The room had minor maintenance needs, and cleaning was satisfactory, but the wall-to-wall carpeting will make it more difficult to maintain a high hygienic standard.

Here are some other features included in the price of the room:
  • Trouser press
  • Minibar - free minibar was included in the price, even though the selection was rather limited. Two bottles of wine, two of sparkling wine, beer and vermouth. No hard liquor. Water and soft drinks. 
  • Safe
  • Internet and pc-outlet. Sadly no free wi-fi-zone. Wi-fi was only available in the main "street" area in the ferry.
  • TV - great flat screen TV.
  • Free access to Aqua land, fitness centre and spa & wellness area.
Bay window with comfortable seating
When booking a suite on board Color Fantasy, you are served breakfast in the Observation Club on the top floor of the vessel. If paying full price, you would expect to be seated at your leisure, but we were surprised the breakfast room to be completely full on arrival.

Sadly, the staff acted in a slightly rude manner, asking us to wait in the neighbouring bar, for a table to be vacant. My advise for the management on MF Color Fantasy to arrange breakfasts better, ensuring guests a vacant table on arrival, alternatively a booking in advance or even extending the breakfast area.  

Selection of foods on the breakfast buffet was satisfactory, allowing a choice of hot dishes as eggs and bacon, as well as cheese, cold cuts and spreads and a healthy option as cereal, fruit and yogurt. The slightly condescending and rude attitude of the staff was ever present, affecting the service rate of the hotel experience.

There are the following facilities found on board MF Color Fantasy:
  • 8 different restaurants from informal burger and tapas restaurants to top gourmet class restaurants
  • Pubs and bars in different styles
  • Nightclub
  • Casino
  • Free shows on board. These events are highly recommended, as they provide top entertainment. Do turn up at least 15-30 minutes ahead of time, as they are highly popular among the guests.  
  • Aqualand, found to be an over crowded circulating water pool with noisy children and limited space to swim. 
  • Fitness centre 
  • Spa & wellness area
  • Adventure Planet (games)
  • Golf simulator
The full price of the crossing is NOK 1390 per person. This includes passage as well as breakfast, mini bar and access to the facilities. Even though the cabin is comfortably sized, I do not regard this as money well spent. The mini-bar is sparely equipped, including no spirits and just one bottle of red, white and sparkling wine per person.

The swimming area is a running water facility overcrowded by parents and kids, making it an annoying experience for traveling adults in need of getting away from stress. Staff in reception were kind and helpful, whereas those in breakfast room did not behave accordingly.

As a luxury experience the Color Suites did not meet our expectations, and other alternatives should be considered when looking for a short trip abroad. 

More ratings of accommodation on sea en Enjoy Food & Travel 

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    City Airline starts non-stop flights Stavanger-Rygge

    Photo: City Airline Embraer ERJ 135 by Arpingstone

    City Airline will from May 9th fly non-stop from Stavanger Airport to Moss Rygge Airport, filling the void left by Norwegian Air Shuttle, that previously had direct flights between the two airports.

    The Göteborg-based airline City Airline has flights to 18 European destinations. It extends its service from Stavanger to Göteborg, including Moss-Rygge Airport, the airport serving Østfold County, bordering Sweden. City Airline will have one flight on weekdays, Monday to Friday.

    The air carrier will, on the one hour flight,  use one of its 50 seats Embraer ERJ 145 air crafts.    

    View APRIL 2011: All non-stop flights from Stavanger Airport Sola in a larger map

    See all flights from Stavanger Airport

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    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    More finger treats

    Succulent salmon swirls

    I am a tapas fan, as these tasty finger treats are easy to make, the day before for most, convenient when you are awaiting guests and are keen not to stress. Most are a question of assembling, rather than preparation.  Here are a few more ideas.

    Photo: Norwegian Snøfrisk cheese by
    Salmon swirls
    Salmon swirls are one of my favourites. Cut the slices of salmon into strips. Mix cream cheese with thai chili dipping sauce.
    I use Snøfrisk cheese for my swirls, a goats cheese with different seasonings. You may use this cheese with dill, or a similar variety. Regular or seasoned Philadelphia cheese is equally good.

    Heat wheat tortillas in a dry pan until soft. Spread mix on the middle. Fold in edges and roll into a firm wrap. Allow to rest in refrigerator.

    Cut edges. Cut into 2 inch slices before serving. Store overnight in refrigerator to set.

    Scrumptious smoked salmon and cream cheese spread - see recipe here

    Chorizo in sherry wine is a real treat
    Chorizo in sherry wine

    I love the spicy Spanish chorizo sausages, bursting with spicy paprika powder, garlic and olive oil.

    Infused in sweet sherry the aromas of this ingredient blends delightfully delicious with the sweetness of the sherry wine. 

    Allow the pieces of chorizo to soak in the sherry an hour before you put them in the oven. They get even better if you marinate the sausages in the refrigerator overnight.

    Roast in a moderately hot oven (200C/400F) until the chorizo gets brown and much of the sherry has evaporated.

    Place a toothpick in each before serving.

    Spanish Paella - country style with chorizo - see recipe here

    Mini croissants

    I love Swiss croissants. I use premade Sara Lee croissants dough.

    Roll out the dough, it is usually divided into six individual croissants. Cut them in two, making 12 mini croissants.

    Spread Dijon mustard on the croissants, adding a small slice of cheese and a slice of boiled ham. Roll the triangles, shaping them into mini croissants.

    Brush with egg wash, before baking them in  a hot oven ( 200C/400F) oven until brown. Cool slightly before serving.

    Peppes pizza in a "Pillsbury" tube - see recipe here

    We declare: Enjoy Food & Travel has no commercial interests in products or brands

    This post contains information on products or specific brands. Our staff will ensure our readers that we have no commercial interests in, or are paid to promote these or other products, brands, or labels. 

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    The Cisterns of Istanbul

    Istanbul has an exceptional number of historic sights above ground. One (or rather several) is (are) located below the surface. Those are the old cisterns built to store water, but they rather look like interior of churches or a mosques than giant water tanks. Many dates back 1500 years, to the city's Byzantine era.

    You can explore some of these impressive subterranean structures, that dates back as far as the 6th century, by foot. We did not, but we were given a chance to see one of the storages, when dining the last night at Sarnic, close to the Hagia Sophia.

    Sarnic Restaurant is located in an extraordinary building with the high domes supported on six stone piers situated at the top of the hill at the end of the row of small hotels in the narrow street immediately behind Hagia Sophia.  It was orginally built, more than a thousand years ago, as a cistern. Until recently it was used as an automobile repair shop.
    It is located close to the Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı - "Sunken Palace", or Yerebatan Sarnıcı - "Sunken Cistern"), the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, and also  located close to the Hagia Sophia.

    Sarnic is a pricy place to eat, and the food is decent but not top class. The room does, however, provide a historic atmosphere, in which to enjoy a meal.  So, in spite of the price, I still recommend this unique historic restaurant for a unique  subterranean meal.

    View Istanbul A-Z 2009 Updated January 6th 2010 in a larger map


    Sunday, April 03, 2011

    Enjoy Food & Travel recieves second Tripbase award

    Two years ago I recieved an award as one of the best food & travel blogs of the year by US based travel site Tripbase. A few days ago I got another e-mail from Tripbase. It said:
    "Our panel of expert judges loved compiling this list, which involved looking at nearly a thousand food blogs and choosing only the tastiest delicacies for your enjoyment. Finally we arrived at the final ten, which we're sure you'll agree are the best food blogs from around the world.

    One of the most predominant types of blogs is that of fellow foodies. Hundreds of people take to reviewing local cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants in the area while publishing their opinions and photos of the experience. The idea that everyone can be a food critic has opened up a world that many can enjoy and can benefit from. While a ‘real' critic may not have ever visited the local eatery down the street, you can post your humble opinion of the house specialty, and then compare it with that of your neighbor's.

    While food blogs abound on the Internet, there is something to be said about the higher quality ones. These bloggers make food part of their day-to-day living, and are dedicated to posting up to date information on foods from all over the world. When travelling, they share cuisine experiences and entice others with culinary descriptions. Bloggers will also share in recipes that they have obtained and attempted, and offer a photo catalog along the way.

    Below you'll find a list of the best blogs written by those inspired by all things food related. Cuisine can be found at the center of every culture. Food bloggers open the door to new cultures and allow readers the chance to experience new places without ever leaving their home."
    The 2011 Tripbase awards have been featured in CNBC, CBS and AOL News.

    On behalf of me and the other Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers I feel honoured to get a second award from Tripbase. 

    Other award winners

    I share the award by the following websites:
    • Eating Asia
    • My Kugelhopf
    • Rambling Spoon
    • Traveler's Lunch Box
    • Serge The Concierge
    • Enjoy - Food and Travel
    • Thai Food and Travel Blog
    • Young and Foodish
    • Tastes Like Home
    • Istanbul Eats