Saturday, January 07, 2012

Grocery shopping in Marrakech

Meat can not get more fresh than this
In Europe we are used to go to our local supermarket to pick what food to stock in our kitchen cabinets or refrigerators. Grocery shopping in Marrakech couldn't be more different. You buy your fresh vegetables from carts or small stalls, and you go to your local butcher to get fresh meat, really fresh meat.
Vegetables sold on Djemaa el Fnaa
Local produce is sold everywhere in Marrakech. Farmers on the famous Djemaa el Fna square offer potatoes, carrots and beets in brightly coloured plastic containers.

These root vegetables are truly small scale and they are probably as organic as any similar labeled vegetable marketed in Europe.

These relatively familiar vegetables are often found side by side with other, more exotic products. Many offer the famous and highly priced argan oil, but these bottles probably just contain a fraction of the real stuff.

Green and pink olives
Oranges with fresh leaves offered on the street
In the souq you find an endless list of condiments, spices, herbs and other ingredients. These green and pink olives were found at the entrance of the souq by the Djemaa el Fnaa square.

Another famous Moroccan ingredient is the preserved lemon. The fruits are halved, placed in large glass containers with salt and water. They are used in many dishes, i.e. the famous tagine with olives, chicken and preserved lemon served in many restaurants.

In the souq there is one alley where you can buy fresh poultry. It is located not far from the Djema, and is easily found when you approach due to the terrible stench. We found the odor so strong that we hesitated to go closer.

The souq is certainly the place for herbs and spices, as well as dates, figs, nuts, oranges, and different kind of exceptionally sweet pastries, not unlike the Turkish Baklavas made with filo pastry, almond shavings and honey - much, much, much honey. 

There are supermarkets in Marrakech, but most people buy groceries the same way my mother and grandmother did fifty years ago. Back then there were small specialized shops, and you had to go to several of them in order to get what you needed for your dinner.

That is, if you are in the Medina. In Guëliz you find shops more in tune with what we in Europe are used to. So there are hope the traditional continental shopoholics in Marrakech too!!

More shopping stories from Marrakech

Friday, January 06, 2012

Moevenpick Resort & Marine Spa Sousse, Tunisia - review from Dagfinn Skoglund

My good friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Dagfinn Sigridsson Skoglund stayed at Moevenpick Resort & Marine Spa Sousse in Tunisia in August 2011. For those of you considering staying there he left this review of the hotel on Tripadvisor.
"OK, lets just say this quickly; Everybody please come back to Sousse and Tunisia! It is as safe as it ever has been, there are no "troubles" here at all, except for the lack of visitors! And this hotel is a delight and a treasure. I just spent a week there with my mother, and we had a great time. The staff is plentiful, gracious and efficient, and you never have to wait for attendance."
Read rest of Dagfinn Skoglunds review of Moevenpick Resort & Marine Spa Sousse on Tripadvisor

Read  the official brochureof Moevenpick Resort & Marine Spa Sousse here 

Dagfinn has also left a review of Marhaba Palace in El Kantaoui, Tunisia on Tripadvisor

Read more here

View Hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2012 in a larger map

Dagfinn Sigridsson Skoglund is 50 years old (forever) and is living in a studio apartment in downtown Oslo. He is working as a designer and art teacher, and is an excellent cook.

Dagfinn is a passionate lover of music, botany and is an experienced traveler - and he hates popcorn!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

UPDATED - Brussels 2006-2010

The Jewel of Brussels - the  magic facades of Grand Place
I have returned from a great weekend in Brussels, the Capital of Belgium and the centre of the European Union. So stay tuned for more stories of sights, bars and restaurants, food and travel stories from the warm heart of Europe.

Here are a list of what has been published from Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel and stories to be published.

Bars and restaurants
Map of Brussels

View Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2009 in a larger map

Free city guide to Brussels - download it here

Rating t'Kelderke, Brussels Belgium

The magic of Grand Place at Christmas with the impressive City Hall illuminated in different colours
I am not impressed by most of the restaurants located at or close to Grand Place in Brussels. Most look inviting and some tempt with impressive displays of ingredients or prepared dishes. They are, however, with few exceptions, tourist traps where you end up paying too much for what you are served. One of the exceptions is the t’Kelderke, located in the impressive Palace of the Dukes of Brabant
Rating t'Kelderke, Brussels Belgium: BBBB+ (4,30 points)
  • Location: BBBBB
  • Service: BBBB
  • Interior & atmosphere: BBBB
  • Food: BBBB+
Reassuring before Christmas - a warm fire place
T’Kelderke is located at Grand Place, in the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant. Not a palace, but in fact 7 houses built into one huge early 18th century facade. In spite of the name of the building it never was the homes of dukes, but takes its name from a gilded coat of arms for the Duchy located in the middle of the impressive facade.

The interior of t’Kelderke has none of the grandeur found on the exterior or at this square, but when you enter you find it nice and cozy. One particularly inviting feature a late December evening was an open fire in the middle of the room. The restaurant itself is small, and nearly always filled up, mostly by tourists, meaning that you will find it  slightly to very  crowded, but the seating arrangement for the night was overall satisfactory.

We got our English menu and took orders and were served swiftly.  I was once again (as I always have done) tempted to order a ham croquette and a vol-au-vent with chicken in a creamy sauce.

Who can resist a croquette wherever offered, as here in Spain
I do not know why I have no photo of the croquettes, but I wanna say that I have never met a croquette I did not like. And what could possibly go wrong with a well made croquette. Crispy cruncy crumby crust and when you bite through you can lick  the softest, smoothest sauce.

So I gave the faceless croquettes a favourable rating. I have however left a photographic memory in my computer of the second dish, the vol-au-vent with chicken in a creamy white (or rather beige or caffe-latte coloured) sauce.

Not an entirely interesting or intriguing dish as the croquettes, if you look or taste it, and you get this dish everywhere. I have had it at least ten restaurants in Brussels, and it tastes more or less the same all over. This as it represents a typical dish of the French-Belgian kitchen, I suppose. If it happen to be a Flamish dish, I ask to be forgiven!!

Vol-au-vent - puff pastry container filled past capacity
A puffed up, puff pastry case, filled to, or rather past capacity with chicken stew. This is a kind of food to return to,  mild creamy, slightly salt with insignificant aromatic contrasts.

And t'Kelderke delivered the real thing. We were satisfied, but not euphoric. We had a nice evening where the food was around 30% of the whole experience, while the conversation and the wine (or beer - I do not remember entirely) made up 70%.

My visit confirmed that t'Kelderke is by far not the worst place to dine around Grand Place. The food is decent, and you are not robbed blind, but as I previously said -  there are better places to eat in the European capital.

Vis Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2010 i et større kart

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tex-MeXmas Casserole

Norwegian Christmas food made Mexican
After stocking food for three traditional Norwegian Christmas meals I am left with a phenomenal amount of leftovers. Pork rib, Christmas sausages and meatballs fill up my freezer and ready to be used in culinary experiments. The other day I did some serious fusion turning God Jul into Feliz Navidad. Yum, yum!!

When cooking, my biggest problem is not to describe what I do, but how much of what I chuck in my pans. I do not weigh or count any of my ingredients. I conduct improvised cooking by a philosophy easily described as taking a "a little bit of this, a little bit of that", and see what it all turns into. It usually end up terrific, but one major drawback is that none of my meals will ever taste the same.

But since this is a food blog, some kind of measurements are required, so for what it's worth my leftover Mexican feast was made from the following ingredients.

Tex-MeXmas Casserole (serves 4 HUNGRY people)

4-5 tbsp oil
Pork rib, Norwegian Christmas sausage and meatballs (or what leftovers you need to use)
2 small red onions, sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp runny honey
2 cans of chili pinto beans in Mexican sauce
1 stock cube
40 cl (15 liquid oz) water
3 tbsp tomato paste
as much tabasco as you can take.
Instant Mexican - Chili beans with onions and garlic
Heat the oil, and brown sausage, rib and meatballs. Take it aside.

Fry onions and garlic in the oil, add honey and brown the onions. Add the beans, tomato paste, water and stock cube. Adjuste taste by adding sweetness or salt, but beware that there may be salt in your ingredients, so do remember to take that into account when seasoning.

I certainly needed additional sweetness. Instead of honey, I reached out for my small bottle of Creolo Classic Wing Marinade, hot sweet and slightly sour. Just what I needed.

Let it all simmer for 40-50 minutes for it to blend into a deliciously red stew.

Serve by itself, with bread, salad, rice, both or all, and do try a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche as well on top.

Other Mexican stories on Enjoy Food & Travel
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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A festive dinner menu

Coming Saturday I will arrange my friend Ketil's 55th birthday. I have composed a five course dinner. Here is what I am gonna serve.

Before dinner

Foie Gras de Canard
Wine: Nederburg Noble Late Harvest 2010
Aromatic, creamy, foie gras served with a sweet late harvest wine is my pefect way to greet my friends for a festive evening
Salmon tartar - Russian blinis with Creme Fraiche, raw onions and trout roe
Wine: Battenfeld-Spanier Estate Riesling 2010
This will by my first salmon tartare ever, but it will. as this sashimi, be made with this first class, sushi quality Salma salmon
Main course
Duck confit with chili and orange
Rösti potatoes and asparagus
Wine: Allesverloren Shiraz 2010
Duck confit is ridiculously easy to make, but in spite of this deliciously tasty, succulent and exceptionally tender
Assorted cheese platter
Matured Cheddar, French Chevre, French Camembert, Italian Gorgonzola Dolce
Caramellized figs, red onion marmalade, grapes
Wine: Battenfeld-Spanier Estate Riesling 2010
Wine: Brema Ai Cruss Barbera d’Asti 2009
Serving cheese is the typical French way to separate a savoury main course and a sweet dessert
Dark and white chocolate mousse
Wine: Domaine de Pécoula 2004/2005
Ying and yang - dark and white chocolate mousse
Here are recipe to some of the dishes offered on this feast offered on Enjoy Food & Travel

More cannelloni

Much work goes into a proper cannelloni
I made cannelloni the other day. It is my favourite pasta dish.

Photo: Cannelloni and other pastas by ChiemseeMa
To make my cannelloni I used a traditional ragù, a tomato and red wine based sauce that you use with many other pasta dishes, as spaghetti bolognese, lasagna or even pizza.

The tricky time consuming thing is to pour the filling into the cannelloni tubes. When you have struggled through,  you pour white bechamel sauce over the tubes, then sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese and bake it until golden.

You can also turn the whole process the other way. Mix ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and wilted spinach into a smooth sauce. Pour the spinach and cheese sauce into the tube. Pour a tomato sauce on top and bake.

There are certainly other sauces you could mix into the void provided by these smart pasta tubes. If you have your own special cannelloni filling, let me know. 

Cannelloni - a very satisfying pasta experience
More cannelloni stories

Monday, January 02, 2012

New direct flights from Bergen Airport from 2012

View JANUARY 2012: All non-stop flights from Bergen Airport Flesland in a larger map

On this map you find current non-stop flights from Bergen Airport updated per January 2012. Following new flights will start from Bergen Airport in 2012:

  • Bergen - Barcelona, Spain (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Bergen - Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Bergen - Malaga, Spain (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Bergen - Manchester, United Kingdom (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Bergen - Moss Airport (DAT)
  • Bergen - Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Bergen - Split, Croatia (Scandinavian Airlines)

Skyways stop flights from Bergen to Stockholm from January 5th 2012

Skyways have had two daily flights from Bergen to Stockholm since March 2011. Photo: Kleve
Swedish Air Carrier Skyways will end direct flights from Bergen Airport to Stockholm Arlanda Airport January 5th 2011.

Skyways started daily flights with their Embraer RJ 145 vessels from Stockholm to Bergen, as well as to Trondheim and Stavanger in March 2011. After January 5th 2012 will they only fly between Stockholm and Stavanger. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Église Russe, Geneva

                    The beautiful golden domes of Église Russe in Geneva, Switzerland
When strolling in Geneva City Centre we spotted these beautiful gilded domes. They belong to the Église Russe, The Russian Church.  

The Grand Duchess Anna Fyodorovna, sister-in-law of Tsar Alexander I and aunt of Queen Victoria, resided in Geneva for a long period. She funded the construction of a Russian Orthodox church in 1863.

It was built on the remains of a 16th-century Benedictine priory. The design was made by professor  David Ivanovich Grimm at the St-Petersburg Academy. The church was completed in 1866.
A stately neighborhood called Les Tranchées developed around the church in the late 19th century. It became the home of the many Russians who came to Geneva to study. After the fall of Communism, Geneva's existing Russian community has been joined by a wave of new-rich Russians, about 3,000 of whom now call the Swiss city home.
Église Russe serve the Russian community as well as Bulgarians, Serbs, Coptic Christians and other Orthodox worshippers who do not have their own church in Geneva.

Similar stories:

View Geneva on Enjoy Food & Travel 2011 in a larger map

Happy New Year from Oslo, Norway

Enjoy Food & Travel wish all our readers a Happy New Year
See you in 2012