Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Meeting House, Salem MA

First Meeting House: Memorial plaque (click to enlarge)
Salem MA is, as one of the oldest cities in the US, filled with historical sites commemorating the earliest stages of American history, as this plaque telling the story about the first meeting house that stood on this location until 1673. 
The text says:


Location of the first Meeting House and Church
The first spot was here on the corner where you also find another plaque commemorating the site of the first church. it says.

First Church: Memoral Plaque (Click to enlarge) 

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

More stories from Salem MA

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to make a Pastitisio - an authentic Greek specialty

Pastitsio (Greek: παστίτσιο), is a Greek baked pasta dish equivalent to the Italian lasagna. To make a pastitstio  one layer of meat sauce is topped with a layer of penne rigate or other pasta in a thick bechamel sauce and cheese. The Greek even put eggs in the topping for it to set further.
Here is an instructional video showing how to make an authentic Greek pastitsio brought to you by Diane Kochilas on Greek Food TV. Kochilas is an internationally known food writer, cookbook author, culinary teacher, food consultant and food "guru"

More Greek food on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Topping and stew, the ultimate all-in-one solution

My stew with dauphinoise potato topping
On Monday I made dinner for the whole week. One large baking tray with one layer of ragù (tomato stew) topped with dauphinoise potatoes. Easy and very delicious - a all-in-one solution for a busy one-man household, really.

Sauce and topping can be used in endless variations. Basic is one layer with a strong sauce, tomato- or curry based, you decide. Topping is a stew or gratin based on a bechamel sauce, as rich, creamy or high-carb you want, you set the standard.

Base for topping: Bechamel or Mornay sauce

If you are lazy, you can use pre made Mornay sauce
The base for a good topping is a good bechamel or mornay sauce (with cheese).

The (in my mind) best topping is a traditional sauce made with a roux of butter and flour, thickened either with one third stock and two-thirds milk/cream adding cheese at the end.

For those of you that want to reduce intake of fat further, you can heat milk and stock, and add flour while liquidizing the mix with your hand mixer to avoid lumps.

For those of you with coeliacs disease or gluten intolerance you can use corn starch, but be aware that this bechamel sauce will not remain as thick as a flour based sauce.

To get your sauce more low-fat, skip the cheese and cream in the sauce, use milk (but do avoid the skimmed stuff!!!!) and use grated cheese as topping only!

If you make a potato based topping, you will get thickening from the sliced potatoes when pre heating/partly boiling them in the hot liquid. Do add flour if you want an even thicker sauce.

An even easier solution (lo’ carb and gluten free) is to use cottage cheese as white sauce in your lasagna. This soft cheese is convenient when you want sauce only, it is not easy to mix with other ingredients as the soft kernels will not melt properly.

The bottom layer

You do not have to have a tomato sauce when preparing stew with topping. I have used chicken korma sauce topped with gratin dauphinoise. If you are busy, why not buy a glass of korma or another Indian sauce and add a topping. It will make a good dinner.

The combination of the mild topping and spicy Indian sauce is great. And if you want some more heat, why not add a hot chili or two!

Last weekend I did, however, make a tomato sauce. I used ground chicken (widely available here, and very cheap), two large onions, 300 grams sliced mushrooms and 500 ml Italian passata di pomodoro, adding salt, chilies and herbs to taste.

- Pasta based alternatives: lasagna or pastitsio

Pastitsio - macaroni and ground meat, by Robert Kindermann
Lasagne is the ultimate stew and topping dish. Delicious, it may be time consuming to make depending on how many layers you make.

If you start with one layer of lasagna sheets on the bottom, followed by thicker layers of tomato ragù, with a bechamel topping it is easier and quicker to make

If you think that is a hassle, try Pastitsio (Greek: παστίτσιο), a Greek and Mediterranean baked pasta dish. It use the same ingredients as lasagna, i.e. including ground beef in a tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce topping, but when assembling the dish you end up with one layer of meat sauce in the bottom topped with a layer of penne rigate or other pasta in a thick bechamel sauce and cheese. The Greek even put eggs in the sauce for it to set further.

- Shepherds pie or Moussaka: Potatoes, gratin or mashed or eggplant toppings

Greek moussaka. Photo: Dieter Müller
I chose the lazy solution when I prepared the stew with topping, i.e. ready made dauphinois potatoes.

Making your own gratin or mash, and you will even get an even better result.

If you substitute the potato with eggplant you move your stew with topping closer to Greece again, in the form of a delicious moussaka.

- Other toppings - low carb alternatives

For a low carb alterative you can mix in the following alternatives. 
  • Cauliflower: A delicious alternative is small bouquets of cauliflower in a white sauce, only or together with: 
  • Broccoli: Bouquets bursting with colour and antioxidants. If you wanna cheat, these gratins are available in the supermarket freezer, at least here in Norway. 
  • Mushrooms: A thick stew made from ordinary button or portobello mushrooms in abundance rounded with cream (mix in xtra bacon for sinful delicious taste), baked with grated cheese is totally wicked. 
More similar stories on Enjoy Food & Travel: 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Enjoy Food & Travel on YouTube

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Enjoy Food & Travel has an archive of around 25 000 photos collected from oyr travels. In addition we have established a YouTube account to show our 185 film clips from destinations in 12 countries in Europe, Africa, North and South America.

In order to make it easier for you to find Enjoy Food & Travel films, I have made this map showing films from our travel around the world. It is strange to see all the destinations visited these last six years, and I hope some of you will find these films interesting. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rating El Waha Restaurant Café, Marrakech

El Waha, Marrakech: View from rooftop terrace
The biggest asset of El Waha is its rooftop location on Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech main square. Its second is the price of the food. 

Rating El Waha, Marrakech: BBB+ (3,48 points)
  • Location: BBBBB
  • Service: BBB
  • Interior & atmosphere: BB+
  • Food: BBBB-
El Waha is a restaurant slash snack bar located on the Djemaa el Fna square, the very heart of Marrakech. It is a busy market place during day, but turns into a giant food market at dawn. You climb up to its rooftop location, and you have a grand view over the square.

Beef tagine at El Waha
Service at El Waha is OK, nothing more, nothing less.

The rooftop interior is not actually charming in any sense. Plain chairs and tables, no decorative elements. The only asset at El Waha is the wonderful view.

The food at El Waha is inexpensive, but even so, you can get equally cheap and much better food elsewhere by the square.

I ordered a beef tagine, it looked good but it did not have the sweetness and aromas as the tagines served at Chez Bahia just a few yards away.

So visit El Waha for the view, the food was nothing to talk of, but if you end there the good thing is that you will not be ripped off in any way.   

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

Monday, April 09, 2012

Rating airline experiences 2006-2012

Sunset over the Atlas Mountains taken from airplane February 2010
Do you love flying? My experience is that every flight is different. We here on Enjoy Food & Travel has rated airlines since 2006, and I have compiled a list of different flights these last six years. Enjoy!
  1. BBBBB- (4,56 points) KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Oslo-Lima, March/April 2012)
    All in all, the KLM experience is one of the best I've had in years. My compliments to the staff that made a top effort to make our long-haul trip as pleasant as possible.
    Read full story here 

  2. BBBB+ (4,38 points): Turkish Airlines (Oslo-Istanbul, December 2009)
    Flying Turkish Airlines is what air travel used to be. Good service, food and drink included, no handling, luggage or booking fees. Only thing lacking was duty free sales on flights, but this was not greatly missed. Enjoy Food & Travel highly recommends Turkish Airlines when service is available to your destination.
    Read full story here

  3. BBBB (4,20 points):  Icelandair (Oslo-Boston, October 2011)
    Neither price, nor on board comfort is better, but this years experience was better, in spite of bad service between Reykjavik and Boston on our way over.
    Read full story here 

  4. BBBB (4.13 points): Icelandair (Oslo-Boston, September 2009)
    Some of the Icelandair glam is gone. No free food and wine/beer, a little pricey compared to other airlines, but still the most comfortable way to travel Oslo-Boston. Smooth boarding and disembarking and top punctuality
    Read full story here

  5. BBBB (4,05 points)  Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo-Harstad/Narvik Evenes, December 2010)
    I waited too long before booking my air fare for Christmas. I ended up paying full fare one way and reduced fare on return.
    Read full story here

  6. BBBB (3,96 points) Scandinavian Airlines (Oslo-Harstad/Narvik Evenes, December 2012) This Christmas Scandinavian, however, was the cheapest airline and offered a good flight experience, good punctuality, service and even breakfast included on our way up to Evenes Airport.
    Read full story here 

  7. COMING: BBBB: (3.91 points) Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo - Marrakech - Oslo, February 2013)

  8. BBBB (3,90 points) Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo-Tromsø, November 2010)
    Good travel value. Good punctuality, but no complementary food or drink at this reasonably long flight.
    Read full story here

    BBBB (3,90 points): Rating Norwegian Air Shuttle Oslo-Hamburg-Oslo, January 2012
    Flying Norwegian is like riding a bus, no much comfort, but you get where you want on time and at low cost, and who could want more.
    Read full story here 

  9. BBBB (3,88 points): Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo-Trondheim, November 2010)
    Average travel value. Good punctuality, less comfortable seating.
    Read full story here

  10. COMING: BBBB (3,77 points): Scandinavian Airlines (Oslo - Bergen - Oslo, April 2012)

  11. COMING: BBBB- (3,72 points): Ryanair (Rygge - Paris - Rygge, July 2012)

  12. BBBB- (3,68 points): Brussels Airlines (Oslo - Brussels, October 2009)
    Reasonably priced ticket, good punctuality, but we were seated like potted shrimps. This is the most unpleasant flight since my South African Airways experience in 2007.
    Read full story here

  13. BBBB- (3,60 points): Star Perú (Lima-Cuzco-Lima, March 2012)
    The main issue with our Star Perù experience was punctuality. If  plane had left on time, or if we had learned the reasons for the three hour delay on our way to Cuzco, the score would have been much higher.
    Read full story here 
  14. BBBB- (3,54 points): Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo-Marrakech, January/Februar 2010)
    Great price for ticket and good service. Low seating comfort on flight to Marrakech, but satisfactory on way back. Delays on departure and/or arrival both ways, confirming that Norwegian Air Shuttle struggle to meet demands on punctuality.
    Read full story here

    BBBB- (3,54 points) Rating Norwegian Air Shuttle Oslo-Geneva-Oslo, June 2011
    I traveled with Norwegian flights DY 1602 from Oslo to Geneva June 9th 2011, returning to Oslo June 12th with flight DY 1605. Flights provided average travel value compared to the air fare. Read full story here

  15. BBBB-: Lufthansa (Oslo - Barcelona, December 2006)
    Lufthansa is still a reliable and good airline and it deserves its score. The biggest potential to become an even better airline is definetely the food, if it has the overall standard we met on the trip. But still - a good airline experience!!
    Read full story here

  16. BBB+: South African Airways (London - Johannesburg, September/October 2007)
    South African Airways is a once in a lifetime experience. As comfort goes, it is one of the worst experiences I have ever had. I strongly warn passengers choosing South African Airways flights to South Africa.
    Read full story here

  17. BBB+ (3,50 points): Icelandair (Oslo-Reykjavik-Boston), October 2010
    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.
    Read full story here

  18. COMING: BBB+ (3,45 points): Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo - Berlin - Oslo), January 2013

  19. BBB+ (3,30 points): Brussels Airlines (Oslo-Brussels-Oslo), December 2010
    Travel value worse than earlier on Brussels Airlines. Delayed departure, little attention by staff on economy class guests. Low comfort - narrow seat and little leg room.
    Read full story here

  20. BBB+ (3,27 points): Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo-Copenhagen-Oslo), February 2012)
    No extras at all is offered at Norwegian Air Shuttle flights. Liquor, wine beer, soft drinks as well as a selection of food is for sale at reasonable prices. We were not offered any duty free goods on board, most probably due to the short flight time.
    Read full story here 

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight Amsterdam Lima

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operates daily flights from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima Peru. 

Departure from Amsterdam is 12.30 PM CET arriving Lima 7.15 PM EST (flight time 12 hours, 45 minutes). Return flight from Lima is 8.15 PM EST arriving Amsterdam 3.40 PM (+1 day) (flight time 13 hours, 25 minutes). Flights are conducted with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines fleet of Boeing 777 airplanes. 

This film shows KLM Royal Dutch Airlines takeoff from Schiphol Airport Amsterdam and arrival to Jorge Chavez International Airport Lima.

Rating KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flights Oslo-Amsterdam-Lima-Amsterdam-Oslo

Photo: KLM Boeing 777-200ER landing at Montréal International Airport by Patrick Cardinal
When booking my airline tickets to Peru, I had a wide range of products to choose from at very different prices. Most required at least one, two, or some even three transfers. I ended up with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, with just one transfer at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. It was one of the pricier of the alternatives, but it was a great airline experience, in fact one of the best I've had.   
Rating KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight Oslo-Amsterdam-Lima-Amsterdam-Oslo: BBBBB- (4,54 points)
  • Check-in: BBBBB
  • Take-off: BBBBB
  • Hospitality: BBBBB
  • Service: BBBBB
  • Complementary: BBBBB
  • Comfort: BBB
  • Flying time: BBBBB
  • Arrival: BBBBB
  • Check-out: BBBBB
  • Duty-free goods: BBBB
  • Price: BBB
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offered a great product, bringing us from Oslo to Lima at an extreme punctuality. Check-in, takeoff, arrival and check out were at or ahead of schedule.

Transfer time in Amsterdam on our way back seemed to be short, but it was a generous amount of time leaving us with an opportunity even to do some duty free shopping.

The KLM Staff provided great service on our way, and we were served complementary food, wine and even hard liquor and we were offered free juice or water continually during our trip. You could also choose from a larger selection of on-flight duty free goods. 

We traveled ordinary KLM Royal Dutch Airlines economy class to Lima. I did, however, find the leg room to be too restricted for such a long flight. For those of you bringing a laptop (as I did) to entertain yourself, you will find that folding it up will be extremely tough if the neighbour in front of you decides to lean back the seat to sleep, as I experienced.

We therefore decided to upgrade to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Economy Comfort on our way back. Paying the extra € 100 per person for more leg room was the best investment we made on our entire trip. On the return trip I could easily use my laptop and get out to take a walk without too much inconvenience to my neighbouring passengers.

We paid around 11 000 NOK (€ 1450 / $ 1900) per person for our KLM Royal Dutch Airlines  round trip ticket (including the upgrading). When could have booked a ticket as little as NOK 7500 (€ 989 / $ 1295), but would have had to have more transfers on our way.

All in all, the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines experience is one of the best I've had in years. My compliments to the staff that made a top effort to make our long-haul trip as pleasant as possible.  

Sunday, April 08, 2012

COMING: Steens Hotel, Bergen Norway

Steens Hotel - interior. Photo: Company website
In April I will attend a conference in Bergen, Norway. This time I have chosen a small, family run hotel to stay. Steens Hotel has been run by the Steen family for over 60 years and is located in a historic building in the old city centre.

Steens Hotel has 21 rooms of good hotel standard in a building from 1890. It offers guests private toilet and shower, telephone, wireless internet access and cable-TV.

I booked my single room on, and paid 890 NOK including VAT. This is a bargain as Bergen is known to have some of the most expensive hotel rooms in Europe.

I do look forward to stay in this historic building in Bergen in two weeks time, so stay tuned for Steens Hotel in April 2012.  

Steens Bed & Breakfast Hotel is rated as number 11 of 16 Bergen Bed & Breakfasts on tripadvisor.

More Bergen hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel:  

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