Friday, January 20, 2012

Haunted hotels of Norway

When somebody talk of haunted hotels, I always think of England. But even in Norway there is a considerable number of hotels said to be haunted. Here are a few hotels where something supernatural is going on. 
Utstein Kloster (1164)

Utstein Kloster is a 850 year old monestary located at Klosterøya outside Stavanger. It is a conference center. Here you have 18 rooms with a total of 25 beds.

The monastery is haunted by "The White Lady" Cecilie Widding Garmann that died in childbirth in 1759, 25 years old. The story goes that her husband promised her, on her deathbed, never to remarry a promise he held for 20 years. During his wedding, he is supposed to have seen Cecilie in a vision, fell into a coma and died 8 days later.   

Utstein Kloster
Mosterøyveien 801

Elingaard Manor (1749) 
Elingaard is located in the municipality of Onsøy in Østfold County.

The present manor house was rebuilt after a fire in 1749, but the manor has belonged to several noble families from the Middle Ages.

Elingaard is not a regular hotel, but belongs to the Museum of Østfold county but you may stay the night here in the restored bed rooms. If you do, you may see shadows and catch the scent of old perfume, or see doors open by themselves.

Then you will have met Birgithe Christine Kaas, the woman responsible for rebuilding the house in 1749. She is supposed to guard the old manor as the eternal mistress of Elingaard Manor.    
Hald Pensjonat (1795)

Hald Pensjonat is a complex made up by three houses built in the 18th century. It is located close to the village of Mandal, on the southern most tip of Norway.

It is a bed & breakfast during summer. The ghosts at Hald plays the piano, and monk like apparisions have been seen walking the first floor.

Hald Pensjonat
Halseveien 37
4517 Mandal, Norway
Phone: +47 38 26 01 00

Bårdshaug Manor (1860)

Bårdshaug manor was the home of the financier and estate owner Christian Thams. It is located in Orkanger municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county.

There has been many reports on two ladies roaming the many rooms of Bårdshaug manor.

Bårdshaug Herregård AS
7300 Orkanger
Telephone: 72 47 99 00
Telefax: 72 48 19 23

Dalen Hotel (1894)

Dalen Hotel in Telemark county is a fantastic wooden building  in Dragon style built in 1894.

If you are stain in room 17, be prepared to meet Miss Greenfield or "the English lady". She stayed in the room just after the hotel opened, and gave birth to a child there. Miss Greenfield abandoned her child in a box to die there, and went back to England. You can also hear the cries of the abandoned baby in room 17.

Miss Greenfield was tried for murder in England but committed suicide before the trial.

Dalen Hotel
Postboks 54
N-3886 Dalen i Telemark, Norway
Tel. +47 35 07 90 00
Fax +47 35 07 70 11

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stately dining at Dar Donab, Marrakech

Elegant dining room - Palais Donab
Palais Donab is an exclusive riad in the middle of Marrakech, Morocco. The riad offers excellent dining in exclusive surroundings and we went there twice and enjoyed some of our best meals in Marrakech here.

Rating Dar Donab, Marrakech: BBBBB- (4,65 points)

  • Location: BBBB+
  • Interior and atmosphere: BBBBB
  • Service: BBBBB- 
  • Food: BBBB+
Ornate carved wooden base holding up a white column
By the beautiful backyard pool
Dar Donab is located in the outer parts of the vast souq, not far from the Koutoubia Mosque and Djemaa el Fnaa.

It is one of those many secluded gems hidden behind solid wooden doors and high walls.

Dar Donab is a wonderful place to dine. You enter through a large gate, and are gently accompanied along a beautiful pool area and seated in a official dining room to die for. Comfortable chairs around beautifully set tables in an ornate interior.

My first thought when seated was on the figure found on the final bill, as Dar Donab looked like a place that would seriously affect the bank balance.

But do not worry, it is pricey compared to the cheap meals elsewhere but reasonably priced compared to restaurants on the other side of the Mediterranean.
Delicious vegetable soup
The service is exquisite at Dar Donab. There were just a few dinner guests there, oddly enough, and we were seated far apart in the large dining area.

We had live entertainment during our meal in the form of belly dancers and a duo playing berber music. The live entertainment was a little irritating as the belly dancer danced uncomfortably close to our table and the berber music was annoyingly monotonous.

The Dar Donab specialize in more traditional European dishes as well as a few Moroccan specialties. We were there two nights and I chose European cuisine the first time and Moroccan the second.

First night I was not very hungry and wanted a few smaller and easily digested dishes. I chose vegetable soup as a starter and Croque Monsieur as main dish. The second time I ordered a selection of Moroccan savoury meat filled pastries.

Continental at Dar Donab - Croque Monsieur
The vegetable soup was beautifully presented in a pure white soup plate. Stripes of cream had been skilfully drawn on the surface of the brightly yellow liquid.

It was smooth, well balanced - pure comfort food. The vegetable soup at Dar Donab is a dish perfect for a cold winter day, served peeping hot.

The Croque Monsieur was good, but I have tasted better in France. Delicious "halal" ham, white cheese and mustard, and topped with What lacked was a generous topping of bechamel sauce turning this good sandwich into a fabulous succulent experience.

Said that it was a perfectly sized afternoon snack. The fries were good, but I usually eat a sandwich without indulging in neither fries, nor salad. Incidentally, I avoid salads as they are high risk foods when visiting warmer climates where you are subjected to another microbiological flora.

Savoury fillings wrapped in warqa served on lettuce
The second evening I ordered one dish, Moroccan pastries. Pastries are popular in northern Africa. Different fillings, both sweet and savoury are wrapped in warqa, as the famous pastilla pies and briouats, and mine belonged to the latter.

They were delicious, crispy thin pastry, aromatic beef filling seasoned with spices from the nearby souq.

We experienced two exquisite meals at Dar Donab, and they were among the best I've had in Marrakech.

Palais Donab
53 Dar El Basha Bab Doukkala
Marrakech 00345Morocco   

More on Palais Donab Hotel see this story on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Vis Marrakech on Enjoy Food & Travel 2010-2011 i et større kart

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    The annual open sandwich buffet

    Open sandwich with liverpaté as served at Amadeus in Copenhagen
    I usually make a open sandwich brunch the first day of the year. As I was away for thid years New Year celebration, I decided to invite a few select friends for a late Christmas Open Sandwich Buffet. 

    I usually buy enough food to feed an army. This was absolutely the case this wear as well. Sadly, a mysterious illness seemed to decimate the number of guests, and what was supposed to be five became an intimate party for three.

    Here is a few of the sandwiches served. 

    Traditional Christmas Sandwich

    To make three sandwiches you'll need:
    3 thick slices of pork rib with crispy crackling, baked
    3 3-inch long piece of Christmas sausage, halved and baked
    3 Norwegian Medisterkaker (pork patties), baked
    6 tbsp of surkål (pickled cabbage) heated
    Tree slices Danish Rye bread

    They had run out of fresh pork rib in my supermarked, and had to settle for the ready made rib. I packed the meat in tin foil, and placed in a low oven in order for the meat to stay moist.

    Crisp the cracklings on higher temperature and with the fan on. Baked Norwegian Christmas sausage (Julepølse) and Meatballs made from fat ground pork (Medisterkake) in the oven.

    Assemble the pork rib, sausage and medisterkake on a buttered slice of Danish rye bread. Top with    Norwegian style sauerkraut made from red cabbage.

    Rødkål - Danish style red cabbage, see recipe here 

    See recipe for Medisrekaker (pork patties) here 

    Sandwich with liverpaté with fried mushrooms and honey roasted bacon with tabasco

    To assemble three sandwiches you'll need:
    Three thin slices of German rye bread
    200 grams / 8 oz of Danish liver paté, sliced
    100 grams / 4oz of bacon, diced
    25 grams / 1 oz butter
    1 tsp honey
    Tabasco sauce

    Every good cook should make their own their own liverpaté, at least my mum did. I didn't. I bought Danish liverpaté in my local supermarket, because it's very good.

    Danes usually serve their paté slightly warm with crispy sliced bacon, pickled cucumber and fried mushrooms. I have found that you get a great result by serving bacon fried with honey and tabasco sauce.    

    I settled for cold paté, but fried diced bacon. Arrange the 5-6 slices liver paté on a serving tray. Fry bacon in butter, add honey and tabasco until crisp. Pour bacon over 

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Toque du Chef Couscous Royal - Royal junk!

    Opening another can of Moroccan food is opening another can of culinary disaster. Avoid the Couscous Royal offered by the brand Toque du Chef. It was terrible!
    This is how a Couscous Royal is supposed to look like 
    This can of Couscous Royal and a can of Tajine de Poulet were bought at Lidl in Hagfors back in October.

    I was curious whether the Couscous Royal could match the poor experience provided by the Tajine. I was not disappointed. The Royal experience was even worse.

    The original Couscous Royal is based on a rich stew made from different vegetables. lamb shoulder, chicken and fiery merguez sausages. It is one of the most famous couscous dishes, and is a delicious culinary feast. I loved it, as it was served in Marrakech where all the ingredients rested upon the couscous forming a mountain of food.
    This is the whole content of the can above!!!
    The Toque du Chef Couscous Royal could not be further removed from its source of inspiration.

    The amount of meat and vegetables in the can was tiny. If this is supposed to serve 2, as stated on the can it is ridiculous. I suppose they mean that you are going to fill your stomach entirely  with the content of the small couscous container attached to the can (which I did not use) 

    The whole content of the can of Toque du Chef Couscous Royal was, by any standard, disappointing. There were no sausages, a few small chunks of stringy chicken meat and beef with bones(!), and a  few cubes of over cooked vegetables and a vast amount of thin - nay, very thin sauce.  
    One of the one and one half plates of couscous royal soup
    The result was one dinner plate of Couscous Royal and one and one half plate of couscous royal soup.

    The content had a overpowering taste of cubes of cheap stock, salt and slightly metallic in taste. The Chef du Toque Couscous Royal just cried out to be adjusted.

    I added some runny honey to add balance to the cheap stock taste, tabasco for peppery heat and creme fraiche to thicken the watery sauce. 

    The end result tasted better but not good, and I managed to eat it all. Without my adjustments, however, I would have had to throw the content in the bin.  

    Other and better couscous products or dishes
    For your information: I was not paid to kill this product!

    This blog 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, January 16, 2012

    New direct flights from Oslo Airport from 2012

    On this map you find current non-stop flights from Oslo Airport updated per January 2012. Following new flights will start from Oslo Airport in 2012:
    • Oslo - Ajaccio, France (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Alanya, Turkey (Scandinavian Airlines)
    • Oslo - Antalya, Turkey (Scandinavian Airlines)
    • Oslo - Bratislava, Slovakia (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Faro, Portugal (Scandinavian Airlines)
    • Oslo - Geneve- Cointrin, Switzerland (Scandinavian Airlines)
    • Oslo - Kefalonia, Greece (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Kiev, Ukraine (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Köln/Bonn, Germany (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Lefkas, Greece (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Menorca, Spain (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Palanga, Lithuania (Scandinavian Airlines)
    • Oslo - Reykjavik, Iceland (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
    • Oslo - Skiathos, Greece (Norwegian Air Shuttle)

    Turkish: 13 weekly flights Oslo-Istanbul from June 2012

    Photo: Yazar mertborak
    Turkish Airlines will increase to 13 weekly flights from Oslo to Istanbul, Turkey  from June 25th 2012.

    Turkish Airlines has had daily flights from Oslo to Atatúrk Airport in Istanbul since 2009. The airline is also flying from Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Turkish will expand its activity from Scandinavian airports by doubling the number of flights from Oslo Airport from midsummer.

    Christmas 2009 was my first and only experience with Turkish Airlines, as I traveled to spend the festive season in Istanbul. Read my Turkish Airlines experience here.  

    Latest stories from Istanbul on Enjoy Food & Travel
    See bars, hotels, restaurants, and sights of Istanbul on this map 

    Vis Istanbul A-Z 2009 Updated January 12th 2012 i et større kart

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    The 17th Century Houses of Salem MA

    The Pickman House was built 1664
    Salem, MA is known as the city of witches. It is also home to some of the oldest buildings in the United States. Here is a few of the buildings dating back to the age when the pilgrim fathers set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

    Pickering House (1651)
    The Pickering House is the oldest house in Salem, dating back 350 years. It is also the home of 10 generations of the Pickering family, making it the oldest house in the United States continuously occupied by one family.

    The right-hand side of was built for John Pickering, Sr before he died in 1657 on land granted to him in 1637. It was a house on two floors, with a single room on each floor, and an entry bay.
    The left side was then added circa 1671 by his son, John Pickering II. In 1751, Deacon Timothy Pickering raised a rear lean-to up to a full two stories, which is how the house exists today.
     The Jonathan Corwin House (Witch House) (1660)

    The home of Judge Jonathan Corwin is built around 1660 and is a beautiful example of 17th century architecture. It is also the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the famous Witchcraft Trials that took place in Salem in 1692.

    The planned demolition of this house in 1944 prompted the restoration of this and other buildings in this historic city.
    Pickman House (1664)
    The Pickman House is located by the Old Burying Ground, the second oldest cemetery in the United States. It is a prime example of American Colonial style architecture, and dates back to 1664. 

    House of Seven Gables (1668) 
    The oldest part of the  House of the Seven Gables was built in 1668 for Capt. John Turner, and it remained in his family for three generations, descending from John Turner II to John Turner III.

    Facing Salem Harbor, it was originally a two-room, 2 1/2 story house with cross-gables and a massive central chimney. It  now forms the middle of the house. Four windows of the original ground-floor room (which became a dining room) remain in the house's side wall. The house has been extended several times, but retains it unmistakable colonial style architecture

    London Coffee House (1698)
    The London Coffee House, located at 15 Central Street and now location of Red's Sandwich Shop. This late 17th century building was the gathering place of the Patriots before the American Revolution. Heated discussions took place adjacent to the huge fireplace in regard to the oppressive British taxes

    Vis New England, New York State and Washington DC on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006 - 2010 i et større kart

    Other 17th century sights in Northern New England on Enjoy Food & Travel