Saturday, August 25, 2012

2012 - an a"maize"ing harvest?

The a"maize"ing flower at our allotment - will we get Inca grub in 2012?
First year on the allotment, we decided to try maize. After this dreary summer, I had, and still have doubts whether we would see it bloom, or if we would get a harvest. At least it bloomed. 
Well, all sprouted, and has reached close to 2 meters. Five days ago, I discovered that one blooemd, and a small pouch along the stem indicated that it may hold a cob of corn. 
I suspect the Norwegian fall may be too cold in 2012, in order to get harvest to talk of. I sincerely hope I will get both corn for my cooking as well as seeds for next year. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Delious fava beans

Peas from a pod, or rather fava beans recently removed from its pods and cleaned
There are few things so satisfactory as harvesting one's own produce, as we did last Sunday. We collected what we took in our basket, bring it up to my appartment to prepare a good meal. That was one of the last of the nice days of summer of 2012, an overall dreary season.
My friends, and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writers Dagfinn and Susanne joined me and we brought following ingredients home to my kitchen:
  • One small courgette / zucchini
  • Fava beans
  • One pumpkin
  • Swiss chard
  • Red / yellow beets
  • Two sprigs of lovage
This plate of fava beans are worth tucking into
We were surprised to find that the large green pods were not packed with beans, some were empty, others contained two or three, while just a few were full. Still we brought enough pods to feed three - as a starter. 
Fava beans have the most beautful pastel green colour. They can be eaten raw, but is best lightly simmered in a broth. Dagfinn used a stock cube, herbs, and white wine vinegar, and heated them just enough to preserve the bright colour and that delicious crunch.

Dishes like the fava bean starter we made proves that "less is more" is absolutely true when you have access to freshly picked ingredients. They have so much more flavour than the once you pick at your market, and it is vital that you add enough seasoning to enhance, not compete with these flavours.   

More beans here on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alte Brucke - Heidelberg

 The old bridge with Brückentor, one a gate in the old city walls around Heidelberg
The old bridge or die Alte Brucke is one of the most famous sights of Heidelberg. The bridge is the ninth over the river Neckar since Roman times and dates back to 1788.
Alte Brucke is the ninth bridge crossing Neckar River
The first bridge over the Neckar was built in wood by the Romans during the 1st century AD. It was located furter west connecting the current Neuenheim and Bergheim areas.

There have been 6 bridges  from the city of Heidelberg was founded in 12th century until 1788, when Elector Karl Theodor of the Rhine-Palatinate built the current bridge. Sadly it was completely ruined during World War II.

It is beautiful bridge, wide and impressive and you enter Altstadt through the Bridge Gate, two 15th century towers once a part of the city wall topped with two baroque towers from the early 17th century.
Entering Altstad through the old iron gates of the Brückentor 
Heidelberg Alt Stadt and the Neckar River with Brückentor as seen from das Philosophenweg

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

Historic bridges on Enjoy Food & Travel

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Thon Hotel “deal”: Choose no cleaning of your hotel room

Thone Hotel Polar, Tromsø - where you soon may swap a voucher for a tidy room
- Get a voucher instead

Thon hotels will try out a new "deal" at Thon Hotel Stefan in Oslo. You will be offered a voucher of NOK 50 for a drink in the hotel bar, if you accept no cleaning of your room during your stay. Don't do it, as you will get very little for the value of that voucher in the hotel bar anyway. 
Many air carriers were early to charge you extra for thing you used to get for free. This system has developed into a multitude of different fees, making it hard for travelers to compare travel prices. Hotels have recently followed. 
Tidy room at Stanhope Hotel, Brussels
The latest invention has been launched by Norwegian Thon hotels as a swap. You say no to cleaning, and you will get a voucher for a drink in the hotel bar.
This idea has been tried in the Thon hotels in Brussels, and the results have been so good in the Belgian hotels, that they want to try the system in Oslo, as well. At Thon Hotel Stefan you will get a voucher for NOK 50 to be used in the hotel bar if you say no to have your room cleaned.
For those of you that have been to Brussels, a visit to any bar is a reasonably inexpensive experience. For those that may take this option in Oslo, I may reveal that there is very little that you may buy in any Norwegian hotel bar that would cost less than 50 NOK, especially alcoholic beverages.
So I know what I would have done - I would prefer my room to be cleaned, instead of this voucher, as this deal is not good enough!!

More Thon hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WizzAir will charge fee for oversized hand luggage on all flights

WizzAir: Oversized hand luggage - 10 Eurs, please! Photo: Mattes
For those of you that think Michael O'Leary is king of fees. There are a few usurpers waiting to take over that role. Latest is Hungarian WizzAir that have started to charge a 10 Euro fee to be paid online for hand luggage exceeding their maximum size of 42 x 32 x 25 cm on certain flights. Feedback has been so positive that they may extend the fees to all flights, according to their director of Public Relations.  Feedback from whom?
I have done my fair share of verbal Michael O'Leary bashing here on Enjoy Food & Travel. This Irish carrier has been the champion of new fees until now. We just wonder whether Hungarian WizzAir will challenge the Irish budget carrier.

The Hungarian carrier has tried out a new fee for oversized hand luggage of 10 Euros to be paid on internet for travelers from London Luton Airport (!) to Polish Katowice. WizzAir Head of PR,  Daniel de Carvalho, states that the feedback has been so positive (!) that they may extend this to all flights, including those from Norway.

I sincerely doubt that any traveler struggling to squeeze their belongs into a small suitcase will applaud this new fee. If anyone traveling with WizzAir has, please come forward.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the travelers with the Hungarian air carrier will react, when confronted with the new fee. Ithink the new fee is outrageous, and it would be natural for anyone traveling with WizzAir to object. I sincerely hope the majority of you do, so the airline will have to back down.

WizzAir on Enjoy Food & Travel: 

Monday, August 20, 2012

UPDATED: Hotel stories on Enjoy Food & Travel 2012

Enclosed courtyard at Riad Libitibitho, Marrakech, Morocco
To make it easier for you, I have compiled all the hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel for the year 2012 on this page. Enjoy!

Rated hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2012

  1. Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Göteborg, Sweden: BBBB+ (4,48 points)
    When returning in August 2012 the Radisson Blu Hotel was the natural choice. It was another great stay, and we found the hotel better in now than in 2010. See why.

  2. Copenhagen Admiral Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark: BBBB+ (4,30 points)
    Staying at this historic landmark hotel was an interesting experience, and you never saw such a room as we stayed in.

  3. SPECIAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Hotel Terra Viva Saphi Cusco, Cusco Peru: BBBB (4,12 points)
    We give the Tierra Viva Saphi Hotel our special recommandations as an excellent and inexpensive place to stay in Cuzco, Peru.  
     
  4. Bayrischer Hof, Heidelberg Germany: BBBB (4,03 points)
    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.

  5. Steens Hotel, Bergen Norway: BBBB (3,96 points)
    I made a reservation on booking.com at Steens Hotel run by the Steen family for over 60 years and is located in a historic building in the old city centre. Steens Hotel is for those of you looking for accommodation with atmosphere.

  6. Comfort Hotel Runway, Oslo Airport Norway: BBBB- (3,63 points)
    In spite of the marketing we found our Comfort Hotel Runway experience very disappointing.

  7. Stella Maris Hotel, Hamburg Germany: BBBB- (3,56 points)
    We chose Stella Maris Hotel after browsing through tripadvisor that ranked it as one of the better hotel in the North German metropolis. We found Stella Maris Hotel an agreeable place to stay in Hamburg.

  8. COMING: Pratic Hotel, Paris France: BBB (3,06 points) 
Other hotel stories on Enjoy Food & Travel
  1. Bårdshaug Manor, Orkanger Norway (January 20th 2012)
    Bårdshaug manor was the home of the financier and estate owner Christian Thams.

  2. COMING: Comfort Hotel Runway, Oslo Airport (February 24th 2012)
    In March we are leaving for Peru. As our flight departs at 6.30 AM in the morning, we chose to book a hotel room at Oslo airport.

  3. COMING: Copenhagen Admiral Hotel, Copenhagen Denmark (February 3rd 2012)
    Copenhagen Admiral Hotel is a modern first class hotel in a 220 year old storage house, and has the Danish Royal Palace as its closest neighbour.

  4. COMING: Hotel Bayrischer Hof, Heidelberg - Germany (June 3rd 2012)
    In a weeks time I will travel to Heidelbeg, Germany. For four days, my home there will be Hotel Bayrischer Hof.

  5. COMING: Pratic Hotel, Paris (June 29th 2012)
    I booked my accommodation at Pratic Hotel in Paris to be close to friends, not by extensive research. This might prove to be a mistake, at least according to those leaving their rating of Pratic Hotel at tripadvisor.com.

  6. COMING: Steens Hotel, Bergen Norway (April 8th 2012)
    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.

  7. COMING: Tierra Viva Saphi Hotel, Cuzco - Peru (March 21st 2012)
    Our next hotel experience abroad will be the Tierra Viva Saphi Hotel in Cuzco, Peru.

  8. Dalen Hotell, Tokke Telemark (January  20th 2012)
    Dalen Hotel in Telemark county is a fantastic wooden building  in Dragon style built in 1894.

  9. Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo closed (August 16th 2012)
    Doubletree by Hilton, Oslo - the only Hilton hotel in Norway closed Monday August 13th. 2012.

  10. Elingaard Manor, Onsøy Norway (January  20th 2012)
    Elingaard is located in the municipality of Onsøy in Østfold County.

  11. Hald Pensjonat, Mandal Norway (January  20th 2012)
    Hald Pensjonat is a complex made up by three houses built in the 18th century.

  12. Haunted Hotels of Norway (January 20th 2012)
    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. 

  13. Hotel Admiral, Copenhagen (February 3rd 2012)
    The Admiral Hotel, Copenhagen overlooks the harbour front, facing the magnificent new opera house.

  14. Hotel les Jardins de la Koutoubia, Marrakech (January 14th 2012)
    Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia is a five star hotel located just a stone's throw away from the Koutoubia Mosque and Djemaa el Fna Square.
     
  15. Hotel Stella Maris - a presentation from Hoteloogle.com (February 18th 2012)
    Being nestled in the city center provides tremendous convenience for this Hamburg accommodation.

  16. Mövenpick Resort & Marine Spa Sousse, Tunisia - review from Dagfinn Skoglund (January 7th 2012)
    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.

  17. Quality Hotel Edvard Grieg will become largest hotel on Norway’s west coast (July 17th 2012)
    Quality Hotel Edvard Grieg, located at Sandsli, just a five minute drive away from Bergen Airport, will become the largest hotel on Norway’s west coast from 2015.

  18. Utstein Kloster, Rennesøy Norway (January  20th 2012)
    Utstein Kloster is a 850 year old monestary located at Klosterøya outside Stavanger.

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

Presentation of Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Göteborg

Here is the promotional movie from Radisson Blu Hotel in Gothenburg, featuring suites, rooms, conference facilities, gym and much more.  

UPDATED 2012: Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel - Göteborg

We visited Göteborg (Gothenburg) in 2009 and 2010 , and loved the Radisson SAS Scandinavia Hotel (changed to Radisson Blu in 2010). Spacious rooms, great breakfast at a nice price. When returning in August 2012 the Radisson Blu Hotel was the natural choice. t was another great stay, and we found the hotel better in now than in 2010. See why.

Location: BBBB+ (2010: BBBB)

2012: The area around Radisson Blu Hotel has been upgraded considerably the last two years. The old Palace and Eggers hotels have been given a facelift and the impressive post office building has been fully renovated and turned into a high end Choice Hotel. The upgrading around the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel rise the score compared to the one given in 2010. 

Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel is located in the heart of the city, close to the Central station and Nordstan shopping centre. As most areas close to railway stations, it lacks charm and character, but it is excellent to stay in walking distance to restaurants, shops, and public transportation.

Service: BBBB+ (2010: BBBB+)

The same experience as in 2010.

A kind and professional staff met us as guests, both in reception, bar and breakfast room. As last year - we struggled to get attention from the staff in the bar to get drinks and food, but this was the exception, rather than the rule.

Room: BBBBB- (2010: BBBB+)

2012: Same great size and pleasant design. We were given  room 161 facing the inner courtyard, with two single beds, and they were considerably better than back in 2010, hence the higher score. Overall the same high standard and very quiet.  
The hotel has one standard size for double room. 32 square meters or around 320 square feet is a generously sized room. The bathroom was equally generous in size, with enough space to fulfill the needs of two. Even though I had booked a single room, I was given a double room with all the comfort.

The room had two beds, a medium sized desk, and one comfortable chair in striking red leather, and the bathroom had a bathtub - great!

The rooms at Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel are decorated in three different styles, urban, chili or ocean. I got a chili inspired room with shades of red and brown.

The beds were not as comfortable as last year, too hard for my taste.

Both hotel room and bathroom were well maintained. No cracked tiles, but a few spots on the wall, and dust on picture frames and other surfaces, and the inside of the window frame. There was dust along the edge of the wall-to-wall as well. Window had not been cleaned for a while.

Some other features of my room were: TV, minibar, free safe, hot water kettle with coffee and tea, free wireless connection in excellent order, iron board and iron, hair drier, and room service.

Breakfast: BBBBB (2010: BBBBB)

Breakfast at Radisson Blu is included in the price and is great value for money. An extremely generous breakfast buffet catering to most choices and tastes. Hotel breakfasts do not get much better than this...... 

Breakfast much the same as last year. Breakfast was included in the price, and we could indulge in any kind of breakfast foods we desired.

There were bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, baked beans, fried potatoes and fried tomatoes. The scrambled eggs was a little under cooked and watery both days.

There were different kind of rolls and breads, and they even provided a gluten free alternative. They had even extended their gluten-free products to e.g. gluten free muesli as well.

I also enjoyed herring, patés, cheese, and eggs.

For the health freaks there were muesli's, fruits and yogurt. There were freshly brewed coffee on each table and you could choose from grapefruit, orange and apple juice. Juice made from concentrate and a little thin and watery.

Facilities: BBBBB- (2010: BBBBB-)

2012: Still a very comfortable hotel with business class facilities.

Entertainment: BBBBB
  • Breakfast restaurant
  • Bar /restaurant in the large indoor atrium.
Exercise: BBBBB

For those in business class rooms or junior suites the access was free. The swimming pool and jacuzzi was well maintained and cleaned. There were some wear and tear in the changing area and in the bar.
  • Swimming pool (100 SEK fee for discount guests)
  • Jacuzzi (100 SEK fee for discount guests)
  • Spa (100 SEK fee for discount guests)
  • Sauna and fitness room (100 SEK fee for discount guests).
Well being: BBBB+ (2010: BBBBB-) 
  • Air conditioning
  • Room service
  • Rest area
  • WI-FI zone had turned very slow and we gave up on it several times during our stay
Maintenance: BBBBB

2012: In 2010 we saw minor wear and tear on furniture in bar / restaurant. These have now been upgraded and new designer furniture hva been added. 

Price: BBBB (2009: BBBBB)

2012: I paid 1266 SEK (1175 NOK / €153) for a spacious double room for two. A reasonable price considering what this hotel has to offer its guest.

Rating the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel experience: BBBB+ (4,48 points) (2010: 4,23 points)
2012: Upgrading of the nearby area, and much better beds are the main reasons why the rating is better in 2012. Internett slow, but that is the only thing to put your finger on. This offers good value for money, especially if you share one of the generous sized rooms.   

Still a great hotel in downtown Göteborg. Service in the bar has room for improvement, and I found the beds too hard for my taste. Dust in the room, minor needs maintenance and uncleaned windows led to a lower rating as well. In spite of this, you get much for your money, and Enjoy Food & Travel recommends Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel for those of you traveling to Göteborg, Sweden.

Address:
Radisson Blu Hotel Scandinavia
Sodra Hamngatan 59-65
Gothenburg, S-401 24
Phone: +46-31-7585000
Official website

Other Radisson (SAS) Blu Hotel rated on Enjoy Food & Travel