Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Greeting from Enjoy Food & Travel 2011

Enjoy Food & Travel in Oslo, Norway
will wish you all a
Merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year!!

Enjoy Food & Travel i Oslo, Norge
ønsker alle en riktig
God Jul  og et  Godt Nyttår!!

Christmas 2010 - looking back

In the Polar night: Mid day during Christmas
From Vesterålen to Cairo, from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara. That was what I thought would be the case from last Christmas to this one. Instead I sit in Oslo in fog and rain, in the warmest Christmas recorded here in a very long time. Last winter was a completely different experience with freezing temperatures. Here are a few memories from Christmas of 2010 at Rise, Vesterålen. 
Lutefisk with all the traditional side dishes
Lutefisk with mustard sauce, mushy peas and bacon
Last Christmas the younger of my brothers family insisted on lutefisk, a traditional dish made with aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut). Lutefisk is gelatinous in texture, and has an extremely strong, pungent odor.

My brother served it with all the traditional side dishes as mushy peas, mustard sauce, bacon, and boiled potatoes. I do not whether this will be the first and last time in a long time that my nephews will have another helping, but by their remarks, I suspect it will.
More on this meal see story:  
 Cabaret - shrimp aspic
Cabaret with arctic shrimps - a delicious piece of art
My brother loves cabaret, i.e. aspic with arctic shrimps and vegetables. It is one of the dishes served at the family's mid Christmas party. Here is how it looks before guests tuck in and ruin the master piece. 

Cabaret or aspic stories here on Enjoy Food & Travel 
 Smoked salmon for breakfast 
Sliced smoked salmon on a newly baked whole grain roll for breakfast!!!
My sister-in-law makes fresh whole grain rolls for breakfast on Christmas Day. What can be better than a large slice of smoked salmon (or two) on scrambled eggs on a warm roll in the morning. Hardly anything!!
More on smoked salmon on Enjoy Food & Travel   
Pork rib with crispy crackling 
My sister-in-laws pork rib anno 2011 - perfect!!
Many Norwegian homes have pork rib for Christmas, and the piece de resistance is mouthwatering crispy crackling and succulent and tender meat. My sisten-in-law is certainly a crispy crackling master, and I am proud to say - so am I!!
More pork rib stories: 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The on board tapas bar, M/F Color Fantasy - good and inexpensive

The tapas bar on Color Fantasy is located in the central promenade of the vessel
I have traveled with Color Fantasy three times, and I have always ended up at the tapas bar. Here you can get bite sized food and wine at reasonable prices.

When on board M/F Color Fantasy, try one meal at the tapas bar. It is located in the large open "pedestrian passage" that runs along length of the huge ship. Here you can order hot or cold dishes from a large tapas menu. The food  is good and inexpensive and you can choose from a variety of red or white wines or beer. It is so much better than the Grand Buffet.

Other tapas bars on Enjoy Food & Travel

Travel stories on Enjoy Food & Travel - December 2011

Photo: Climbers on Alpamayo mountain in Peru by Brad Mering

To make it easier for you, I have compiled all the travel stories on Enjoy Food & Travel for the year 2011 on this page. Enjoy!

  • Air Berlin: More flights from Oslo to Berlin (September 20th 2011) Norwegians love Berlin. The German capital have competing flights from Oslo operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle and Air Berlin

  • Alanya, Turkey - a presentation (November 26th 2011) Here is a presentation of Alanya, Turkey courtesy of Stuart Moss on YouTube.
  • April 2011: New flights from Norway (March 29th 2011)
    Norwegian Air Shuttle opens the 2011 season in April, by launching a large number of flights to Southern Europe from different regional airports, as well as Oslo International Airport Gardermoen.
  • Great pumpkin is here!! (October 31st 2011)
    For years I celebrated Halloween in my flat in downtown Oslo. Last year I was in the US, and this year I have not sent any invitations. 

    Grand Buffet - M/F Color Fantasy

    Interior - detail from Grand Buffet
    Buffet restaurants are certainly not among my favourites, and dining at the Grand Buffet at M/F Color Fantasy did not change that. Packed with people and little personal space was the down side of our experience, and the food was decent but not very memorable. We've had it all before!

    Rating the Grand Buffet - M/F Color Fantasy: BBBB- (3,51 points)
    • Location: BBBB
    • Service: BBB+
    • Interior & atmosphere: BBB
    • Food: BBB+
    The Grand Buffet is located on level 6 on this vast ferry cruising between Oslo and Kiel.

    It occupies the whole width of the ship, leaving very few tables with any view to the sea. This combined with a low ceiling, gave med a slightly claustro-phobic feeling.

    The interior in deep red and cream colour is inspired by the Art Deco period. There is a large number of tables leaving little space for guests. 
    The grand buffet in the buffet restaurant on Color Fantasy
    Tables are nicely set with glass, cutlery and china on bright white table cloths. 

    It has, however, a large buffet and you do not have to to queue up too long to get the food.

    The staff at the Grand Buffet serves a large number of guests on different points of day. There is a large number of tables, and this explains that they do not provide good personalized service to the dinner guests.

    We did not have wait long to be served wine to our food, and then we were ready to tuck into the dishes at the buffet.

    There were a large number of different dishes to choose from, too many to mention. Here is a selection of what we chose.
    First serving: Cold dishes - pesto marinated seafood, pate with aspic, boiled salmon, gravlax and scrambled eggs. 
    Second serving: Hot food - roasted glaced pork with gravy, chicken skewer, one meatball with dauphinois potatoes.
    Third serving: Cold food - pastasalad with chorizo, marinated semi-hard cheese, feta cheese in pesto, salmon swirls and tiger prawns in tomatoes
     A full buffet cost NOK 268 (€34,50 / $45) was steep, even for "all you can eat". The food is good, but not great, and I found the Grand Buffet crowded and stressful. I would have preferred one of the à la carte restaurant, even if that would cost more. That is what I would recommend you to do as well, when being on board.

    More culinary on-board experiences here on Enjoy Food & Travel  

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Reflections around our cancellation of trip to Egypt

    Scenes from the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Photo: Ramy Raoof
    This Sunday we decided to cancel our Christmas trip to Cairo. This due to the protests on Tahrir Square. I was doubtful then, and I am even more so, that it was the right decision, even though we were to stay a mile away from the riots on Tahrir Square. It was a decision to be taken not by me, but by three, and I did not want to travel alone, even to an intriguing destination as Cairo. This process  has, however, given new knowledge, as this was the first time I had to cancel a vacation in this manner.

    We had, through the latest crisis, consulted the website of the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo. They had not updated their travel warnings beyond the general advice to be cautious when traveling. The latest riots were concentrated at Tahrir Square, a very small area in a city of close to 20 million people.

    Our biggest mistake was probably to book accommodation close to this symbolic hot spot. The Kempinski Nile Hotel is located in Garden City, an area originally built around the British Embassy.

    The Garden Citys area location would make it a potential danger area if the conflict had escalated. Looking back, I would have recommended to book another hotel further away as the riots started, preferably in Heliopolis or Gizah, the latter close to the pyramids.

    Secondly I would have chosen another destinations less likely to experience such political turmoil. Today I would stayed away from the entire Middle East and Northern Africa except Morocco: I would also avoid Greece. So when booking our next Christmas trip I will strongly recommend other less interesting destinations, meaning interesting in more than one sense of the word.

    No refund of airline tickets   

    I checked with my Travel Insurance Company, and was told that I would get no refund unless the Foreign Office issue an official travel warning.  We cancelled our hotel within the 48 hour deadline, saving us around € 1000. My travel agency did ask me to monitor the situation up to the date of departure in order to make a claim if the riots worsened.

    Now the situation is calmer, and I learned yesterday that sister of colleague did not hesitate to book a ticket, leaving on Christmas Eve. Now it's too late for us, so we just have to settle for a quiet Christmas in the snow.

    Earlier stories on Enjoy Food & Travel