Saturday, August 11, 2012

UPDATED: Basement restaurant - Göteborg closed in January 2012

As I browsed the net to book a gourmet meal during our stay in Göteborg, Sweden next week, I discovered that one of the city's Michelin star restaurants, Basement restaurant, closed back in January. 
Basement was run by Ulf Wagner and Magnus Larsson. Ulf Wagner, who also runs Sjömagasinet, told the website Västekot that a combination of high work load and low profits forces the duo to shut down Basement.
- It is difficult to run a fine dining restaurant in Sweden. We have such small margins, the cooks told the Swedish website. 
Ulf Wagner and Magnus Larsson say in a press release that their ultimate goal is to find someone who can take over the premises.
Back in 2010 the Basement Restaurant & Bar experience was awarded an impressive BBBBB- rating here  Enjoy Food & Travel  with a total score of 4,67 points. Here is the conclusion of our review. 
Another great Michelin experience in Göteborg - in fact even better than the food served at Fond in 2009. Awesome food (4,83 points out of 5), excellent wine package (4,68 points), and that is the most important part of the visit. The basement interior was slightly disappointing. The service was excellent from the first start. 
Enjoy Food & Travel concludes!! Basement Restaurant & Bar in Göteborg is worth a visit. An impressive experience to a very favourable price.
Read what you have missed: 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ryanair abandons Torp airport

Photo: Aerial view of Sandefjord Airport, Torp by Arsenikk
There are truly depressing news for travelers from Torp Airport. Irish carrier Ryanair has announced that it will abandon its former base from this winter season. The budget airline will keep flights to one destination only, cancelling the rest. Norwegian Air Shuttle and WizzAir take over from Ryanair with flights to more destinations in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. 
The owners of Moss-Rygge Airport should carefully observe what happens at Torp airport, as it has to rely more and more on Ryanair for future business. Depending on the Irish budget carrier is risky business as it suddenly builds up but also suddenly leaves airports on short notice.

CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: Lamos
This is the story told on Torp Airport, once the main base for Ryanair, but from coming winter the airline has decided only to maintain flights to one destination - London Stanstead. Ryanair wil cancel flights to destinations in 7 countries from this season. Some of them are operated on a seasonal basis, and we will see whether the airline will move them to Moss-Rygge or continue to fly out from Torp in 2013.
Other airports experience the wims of Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary. His reaction to increased taxes on Spanish airports is to pull out, or threaten to do so. 
There are two airlines that will replace Ryanair at Torp airport. Norwegian Air Shuttle will fly to London as well as Spanish and Turkish airports as Tenerife, Alicante, Malaga, Antalya, and Gran Canaria the 2012/2013 season. Hungarian WizzAir will fly to 9 destinations in Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Czech Republic and will open flights to Lublin in Poland coming season.
The question is, however, whether Torp Airport should mourn its loss of Ryanair, or rather say - good riddance. This as the airlines replacing the Irish budget carrier, are less likely to come and go as quickly as Ryanair.

View JULY 2012: All non-stop flights from Torp Airport in a larger map

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Rating Hotel Bayrischer Hof, Heidelberg

When looking for hotel in Heidelberg, Hotel Bayrischer Hof appeared as one of the best alternatives considering factors as price and location, also according to tripadvisor, ranking it as number 9 out of 77 hotels in the city. I liked Hotel Bayrischer Hof. Good service, excellent breakfast at a very low price.

Rating Hotel Bayrischer Hof, Heidelberg: BBBB (4,03 points)
  • Location: BBBB+
  • Service: BBBBB
  • Room: BBBB
  • Breakfast: BBBBB-
  • Facilities: BB
  • Price: BBBB
Hotel Bayrischer Hof - view from my attic room
Hotel Bayrischer Hof is located in the centre of Heidelberg, on Bismarckplatz, and the 1.6 kilometre-long pedestrian zone leading all tourist through Altstadt - the Old Town. 

Hotel Bayrischer Hof is just one kilometre from Heidelberg’s main railway station.  The Hotel Bayrischer Hof was founded in 1856 and got a complete facelift in 2007/2008.
The staff at Hotel Bayrischer Hof did a great job. Polite, professional and smiling both at the reception as well as in the breakfast room. 
I was offered a slightly claustrophobic attic room 
I had booked a superior single room at for 3 nights for € 229,97 (1750,38 NOK / $ 285,86).

I was given a generous sized double room at the upper floor, an even better deal than I had expected. The down side was that the curved roof in the attic,  reduced the height of the room, and I tended to bang my head, when moving towards the window. There was only one small window, and this added to the impression of the room being quite dark as well. 
The good side was that the room had a pleasant fresh decor balancing discreet white colour with striking colour og blue, yellows and greens. My room at Hotel Bayrischer Hof had been revamped quite recently and had suffered relatively little wear and tear, only an odd dent or mark on the walls. The bathroom was close to immaculate with small insignificant imperfections.    
Contrasting colours, cream and orange
At the room there were coffee and tea-making facilities, allowing the rare luxury of a good cup in bed in the morning. Cable TV and a very good and free W-LAN/LAN Internet connection. For those it may concern - there was anti-allergy bed linen as well.
Talking of which, there were no dust to talk of and both room and the hotel was immaculately cleaned.

Breakfast at Hotel Bayrischer Hof was included in my price, and was served in a nicely decorated basement room. There was nothing to complain of, as you could tick all boxes. Bacon, scrambled eggs, musrooms and potatoes - filling and warm, but the kitchen was slow to fill up, and I experienced twice that the trays was not filled up.

The newly renovated bathroom 
Breads, several types - fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereals for the healthy minded, and traditionalists you could pick from a wide selection of fresh and cured cold cuts, cheese, patés as well as marmalades and jams. There were even pastries for those with a sweet tooth. Fresh coffee or tea was served at the table by the polite staff, and there was several different juice products as a morning refreshment.

For those of you that love hotel facilities, Hotel Bayrischer Hof has not much to offer. No inhouse restaurant or bar, but there were dozens, and dozens nearby. No fitness room, no pool, no spa, and very little resting space.

Hotel Bayrischer Hof was a nice hotel, all in all, offering (as most German hotels) good value for money, excellent location in downtown Heidelberg. The Enjoy Food & Travel staff does not hesitate to recommend Hotel Bayrischer Hof as a good place to stay in Heidelberg.    

View Strasbourg and Heidelberg on Enjoy Food & Travel 2008-2012 in a larger map

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Qubba Fatima Zohra - Marrakech

The beautiful Tomb of Fatima Zohra
By the Koutobia Mosque you will see a small, white building. It is the 400 year old Qubba or mausoleum of the famous Fatima Zohra. 
The beautiful pearl-white domed tomb, topped by a cupola, was built in the 17th-century. It is the resting place of Fatima Zohra, the daughter of a religious leader.

It is said that Fatima Zohra had the ability to transform into a white dove at night and was a gifted fortune teller. She is still highly revered by Moroccan women, and they still dedicate their children to her, believing that her blessing will protect them.

More mausoleums and tombs on Enjoy Food & Travel 

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Introducing a new destination for Norwegians - Doha, Qatar

The states of the Arab peninsula had been unlikely destinations for many of us Norwegians until Norwegian Air Shuttle opened its first flights to Dubai. With Qatar Airways non-stop flights from Oslo another intriguing Gulf state is within reach for the more adventurous of us.
Photo: Construction in the Qatari capital, Doha by Amjra
Qatar is a small wealthy state built on petroleum and natural gas resources. It enjoys a warm climate with average temperatures varying from 22C (72F) in winter to 41C (104F) in summer. The capital city Doha has roughly half of the population of 1, 8 million, and has become a modern capital city with an impressive skyline.

It is comforting to know that destination like these is only 6 hours away from Norway, a short escape if you get an urge to escape the winter. During summer it will be a destination for the roughest of us at the average temperatures of desert kingdoms as Qatar will get over 40 degrees.

But looking at this short video clip, I really would like to travel to Qatar or Dubai, so I will see whether I can afford the air fare.    

Daily flights Oslo-Doha from January 2013

Photo: Qatar Airlines at Manchester Airport by 54North
Norwegians have got the taste for long distance traveling. From January 2013 Qatar Airways will fly Oslo-Doha daily giving access to destinations on the Arab peninsula, as well as beyond.
Qatar Airways was recently given the award as the The World’s Best Airline. The air carrier started flights from Oslo to Doha last October. It is the only airline offering flights from Oslo to this region all year. Norwegian Air Shuttle has three weekly non-stop flights from Oslo to Dubai during winter season from October through March.
The direct flights Oslo-Doha has been a success, so much so, that Qatar Airways from January 2013 will offer daily flights between the two cities. If you do not choose to stay in Doha, Qatar Airways may offer a large number of destinations in Asia and Oceania and beyond from Doha.
Flight time Oslo-Doha is 6 hours and 30 minutes. 

View All non-stop flights from Oslo Airport 2012 in a larger map

Monday, August 06, 2012

Petit Pont L'Evêque: Smell like hell, taste like heaven

The characteristic red box holding the pungent aromas 
My friend Dagfinn brought a French cheese the other day. He described the odeurs emanating from the E. Graindorge Petit Pont l'Evêque from Normandy as a "smell of dirty diapers", but promised me an extraordinary tasting experience. His decription was perfect. It smelled hell, and tasted heaven.

Some unpasteurized cheeses produce the most terrifying odeurs - you are often caught thinking, "eating this I will most certainly die." Most often you do not die, but end up surprised by the taste, as it is mild with a soft, creamy consistency.

Ready to be eaten in all its goodness!!
My first, and most scary cheese experience, was when I wanted to buy a local cheese in Maastricht, ignoring the shop assistants advise, that I most certainly wouldn't. I brought the cheese (wrapped in three plastic bags) back to Brussels and left it in the fridge. I had to throw it away the next day, as living with the cheese was an existential question - it was either us or the cheese. 

Living with the Petit Pont l'Evêque Dagfinn brought was not hard, as the aromas was pungent but not unbearable.

E. Graindorge, the manufacturer in Livarot in Normandy has made cheese from 1910. The E. Graindorge Petit Pont l'Evêque was amazingly creamy, and had those delicious characteristic aromas of unpasteurized cheeses, earthy and deep, slightly bitter resembling mushrooms, nuts and turnip.

The secret with cheeses like these is to temperate them well, it will improve the consistency as well as release all the goodness inside. We did, and it was a treat, with good bread and blueberry and fig and date  jam.

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