Thursday, July 07, 2011

Noshing in Norway-from Oslo to the Arctic Circle (June 2011)

Our two week cruise through the Norwegian fjords and to the top of
Europe (the North Cape) has allowed us a taste of Norway and while
yummy indeed, the costs are truly prohibitive with a simple snack of
lunch often costing more than $50 for three people.
On Samuel's birthday in Oslo we promised him Norwegian pizza so we
headed for the famous chain DOLLY DIMPLES. The cost of a personal
small pizza here is about 140 kroner (about $26)!! We discovered the
all you can eat option is the way to go (about $18) and you can chose
from about 4 different types in 30 minutes at lunch time. They were
all good, but it's not a place I would go out of the way for unless
you are in Norway and need pizza.

In Kristiansand, we discovered the art nouveau-style SNADDERKIOSKEN, a
fast food dream come true where the locals run for meatballs and
potatoes. Samuel wanted pizza again and we lunched on the Norwegian
polse (a type of long hot dog) that comes in many variations. The ones
wrapped in bacon are superb and you can also have them stuffed with
cheese and chilies.

Bergen is a fishmonger's delight with the historic waterfront and the
Torget Fish market right on the harbor. Try any of the dozens of
kiosks and have them make up a plate to order if you like. We went for
the salmon and shrimp sandwiches served with egg, lettuce and mayo,
but the winner here was the grilled whale steaks which were seasoned
to perfection and grilled right in front of us. I can only describe it
as a cross between tuna and bison; firm, slightly fishy but amazingly
meaty and lean.

If you happen to be at the North Cape, be sure to head over to Captain
Roald's place in nearby Gjesvaer (pronounced "guess vhere") population
130 where you can take the bird safari with his company Stappen
Sjoproduktor to see the puffin colony of 360,000 as well as tons more
birds. The crab safari can be done separately or as a combo and is
loads of fun as you pull up the traps and then cook the crabs. We
found two king crabs and two troll crabs (North Atlantic Stone Crabs)
and had the legs pulled off and in the pot within 20 minutes. Minutes
later they were served to us and they were the best crabs ever (not to
belittle our Maryland crabs which are super); this meat is divine
eaten PLAIN with no butter or anything...even lemon. They are cooked
plain with some salt and a dash of sugar and will blow your taste buds
away. The king was meatier, the troll for me even tastier, but the
legs are smaller. At the restaurant in his fish drying plant and boat
trip center you can also eat the crabs (for about $100 a portion), but
it's much more fun to go out on the safari and collect them. There is
also reindeer stew (not tasted) and yummy bacalao (cod) stew which is
the native dish of Norway made with the famous dried cod that is a
staple of the local diet.

Heading back south you won't want to miss the charming town of Alesund
which has so much to offer to any tourist. LYST (I think it means
"lust") is a simple spot ( at Kongensgate 12) right in
the center and has a wonderfully huge "creamy shellfish sandwich" made
from shrimp and lobster as well as veggies and mayo. I had the
"marinated shellfish salad" which features superbly seasoned local
shrimp with asparagus, parmesan, lettuce, peas, string beans and other

Our best lunch by far, save for the fresh crabs at the North Cape was
in Stavanger on our last day in Norway at N.B. Sorenson's
Dampsskibexpedition located right on the waterfront at Skagen 26
( where Samuel settled in with a kid's
menu (yes, the only one we found in Norway except for Dolly Dimples
pizza!) hamburger and fries which still priced in at $12 (65kroner)
but was a tasty 1/2 burger with spicy fries and ketchup which he
gobbled up. Our SHELLFISH PASTA with light cream sauce had the same
spices around the dish rim so you could make the dish as spicy as you
pleased. Besides the penne there were mussels, cherry tomatoes,
shrimp, cod and superb haddock. Will loved the local beer on tap and I
adored a glass of dry Riesling. These main courses were the least
expensive we had seen in all Norway at 189 kroner (about $34.50 each)
as the lunch menu here is not a full dinner menu and has special
prices. You might get a bit more sticker shock with the glass of wine
and beer ringing in at $14.50 and $13.00 respectively, but it was all
quite tasty.
We loved much of the food we had on land, the ship (Holland America's
Ryndam) also did much better than our recent cruises, but we are so
looking forward to really dining in Belgium and London in the next