★ El Celler de Can Roca, Girona

On 2nd March 2018, we were excited to secure our table at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2019. Been wanting to eat here since 2016 when we last visited Barcelona – was on the waitlist that didn’t’ clear… This reservation was the anchor of our winter holiday that resulted in us planning a trip to Barcelona.

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Took an early train from Barcelona to Girona and took time to explore the town centre in the morning and work up an appetite for lunch. We arrived pretty early (& hungry) and even waited at a nearby park until 5 mins before our 12 noon slot before entering the compound.

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Nonetheless we were led to wait at the lounge as the staff and crew were not ready yet. We rewarded ourselves for waking up early and making our way to Girona ahead of scheduled lunch time with a glass of Albet i Noya El Celler Brut Rva D.O. Classic Penedes.

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While waiting for our table, we were offered to browse the menu. There are two options available: the smaller Tasting of our classic menu (7-course) and the bigger Feast menu (15-course). The choice was clear for us…given this almost once-in-a-lifetime experience, we had to try as much food as possible.

Before commencing on the proper courses, we were treated to a series of snacks~

Starting with Memories of a bar in the suburbs of Girona: squids, kidneys with Sherry, gentian and orange bonbon, Montse’s meat cannelloni, Cod brandade Love the way the small bites were placed over the pop-up stand with photos of the 3 brothers when they were young.

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The presentation continued to impress us with Coral: Cockles à la royal with lemon and fermented pepper air and Tuna belly with ginger. We enjoyed every bit of the fresh seafood featured.

Next is probably one of the signature dishes of the restaurant Green olive’s ice cream and black olive tempura. Can you spot the 2 olives hanging on the plant?

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While we were enjoying the snacks that continued to wow us, we can’t help but had our eyes glued on an elaborated globe which made its way to other tables that started their meal later than us. What about us? Had they forgotten to serve us that snack? Or is that not included in our menu? 

Our anxiety piled as FOMO hit us….we heaved a sigh of relief when the stunning globe was finally brought to our table!

The snacks were created based on the Roca’s travels around the world, which apparently changes regularly. Head over to my instagram or hashtag: #yummydelightsg_roca to see the video of this incredible globe.

For our meal, it featured 3 Asian countries (but not Singapore though from others’ post I read that they showcased our country’s famous chilli crab).

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The World (clockwise from top-right)

  • Turquia: lamb, yourt, cucumber, onions with mint
  • Peru: “Causa limeña”
  • Korea: panco fried bread, bacon with soya sauce, kimchi and sesame oil
  • Thailand: Thai, chicken, coriander, coconut, curry and lime

After finishing the first 4 snacks, we had to move the lever to match the correct country that inspired the last snack. The answer was pretty straightforward as the last snack was

  • Japan: miso cram with nyinyonyaki

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After shifting the lever, the globe opens up for the final surprise snack – Sphere of edible seawater. We certainly appreciated the fun factor behind the thoughts and presentation of the snacks. This was the 2nd most interactive dining experience we had, 1st being our visit to Azurmendi.

The last snack was  Bean leaves with baby bean tartar, “calçot”, lemon albedo and Black mole Truffled brioche picured with Gonzalez Byass Palo Cortado 1986 Para El Celler De Can Roca. This final snack featured a dish incorporating mole which is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, highlighting the diversity of food showcased in the repertoire of amuse bouche presented.

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Bread was offered before we commence the meal proper. Bearing in mind that we would be having a 15-course menu, I had to exercise self-control to limit the amount of bread that I pick though everything look so enticing.

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Kicked off our meal proper with the visually stunning Red Salad: beetroot vinaigrette, charcoal-grilled red pepper, red sisho jelly, red onion, celery and cilantro. Honestly, we are not veg people but we polished off everything in a snap. The refreshing and appetizing starter got us ready for the epic courses ahead.

Compared to the earlier dish which exudes passion from the vibrant red colour, the next dish was a picture of calm and serenity. To me, it looked like a Japanese painting – with gold alps rising above the misty clouds and a pair of birds soaring above. Here is the Golden gilt-head bream with rice and sake milk, tender almond tofu and pickled lychee.

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Although this was not the first time we visit Barcelona, we hadn’t got the chance to try the celebrated Catalan spring onion.  Happy to taste “Calçot” with black sesame ash and dark “romesco” sauce, although it was not served in its traditional form. The traditional way of eating this require guests to eat this with their hand by first peeling off the charred outer layer and dipping the stem part into a sauce; before tilting your head back and lowering it into your mouth (test of your coordination skills). Guess they try to avoid having guests make a mess at this fine dining place hence we got to eat this elegantly with our fork and knife.

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Next we had the Langoustine with sagebrush, vanilla oil and toasted butter. By itself it’s a nice dish, but after tasting the awesome langoustine served at Maaemo a few days ago this was comparatively less memorable.

Perhaps I should cover the wine pairing for the dishes so far: (Top row) Gramona Celler Batlle 04 D.O. Cava, Cosmic Encarinyades 17 Agullana and Sake Katsuyama Den Junmai Daiginjo.

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(Bottom row) Chateau des Rontets Les Birbettes 15 A.O.C Pouilly-Fuisse, Gran Caus 04 D.O. Penedes and 3 Miradas La Vina de Antonin 17 D.O. Montilla Moriles.

Yet another traditional Spanish ingredient was featured, this time round it’s rabbit meat – Cuttlefish “alla brutesca” with roasted rabbit sauce. Rabbit meat is a somewhat exotic protein that is pretty rare to find in Singapore. I’m not exactly sure but it seemed like “alla brutesca” mean pan-roasted? The last time we had a taste of rabbit meat was at Osteria Francescana where it was served as a filling of a tiny macaron snack. Hence this is the first time we are tasting the meat as a proper dish on its own.

After cutting a small piece off the bone, I placed it gingerly in my mouth expecting the gamey flavour to hit my palate (somehow I had the impression that it would be gamey…). To my surprise, there was none of it and the meat was tender and chewy. It tasted like frog meat.

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Next we had the Semi cured hake, juice of its bones, asparagus and rocket pesto, and grilled piparras and rocket oil. Followed by Steamed fresh-caught whole fish market, stuffed with seaweeds and sea anemones. Both fish dish were incredibly fresh and tasty. They had differing textures, former being firm and flaky while the latter had tender and delicate meat.

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A third fish dish was served, this time round – Dried eel from Delta de l’Ebre with a foam of garlic and red pepper, charcoal-grilled eel, stir-fry dried potato and saffron oil rounding up our exploration of the harvests from the ocean.

We were delighted to have the Iberico suckling pig blanquette, with fermented cabbage and spiced meatball “pilota” as main. The suckling pig, is a quintessential Spanish dish which we first tried while in Sevogia (Restaurante Villena). The crackling skin with tender meat was unforgettable. Here the dish is plated with acidic sides to balance the richness of the meat.

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Wine pairing (Top row): Domaine Vacheron Les Romains 16 A.O.C Sancerre, Partida Pedrer 16 D.O. Qa. Priorat, Mas d’en Compte 07 D.O. QQa. Priorat

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(Bottom row) Pradio 16 Ribeira Sacra, Anayon 1967 Carinena, Domaine Verset 10 A.O.C. Cornas

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Other than the vintage 1967 wine that left an impression on us, the other wine which I remember fondly was the Vina Real Gran Reserva 75 D.O. Rioja for its vibrant colour and taste. Head over to my instagram to see a video of it’s colour when we twirled it in the glass, the diffracted lights looked like a dancing fire #yummydelightsg_roca

Although France has traditionally been known as the main producer of black truffles, the “diamond of the kitchen” is also produced in Spain. And they are one of the countries with the biggest black truffle production. Happy to try this during the truffle harvest season – Truffle soufflé Truffle oil, truffle parmentier, veal oyster blade, truffle foam.

I even found an interesting story behind the creation of this dish (here). It was said that the truffle soufflé was inspired by the iconic roof of Casa Mila (I visited this impressive building in 2016 – see the shot of roof).

As Joan Roca’s chef explains: “Inspired by the organic faceted shapes of Gaudi’s architecture, the truffle slices contain an ethereal truffle soufflé, and in its core, a portion of veal oyster blade cooked at low temperature, of 50º degrees for 70 hours“.

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The second meat dish was Smoked duck magret with orange. This dish seemed like a modern twist to the classic French dish of Duck à l’Orange.

Finally the last main course arrived and its Hare à la royal Beetroot purée, black garlic purée, cocoa dust, distilled earth – another famous French dish. The intensely flavoured hare meat (very gamey compared to rabbit although we typically think that they belonged to the same family?) is served with a rich earthy sauce made with mushrooms, truffle etc. The portion was just right for us to appreciate the dish without feeling overwhelmed by its intense flavours.

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For desserts we started with Petrichor Distilled earth, pine syrup ice cream, carob cookie, fir dust, cocoa biscuit. Petrichor refers to the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. Hence this dessert was made to look like soil covered with dried leaves sitting in a puddle of water. It certainly look like we were served soil~

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It’s just my guess that they served this dessert – Whiskey cake, as it was supposedly a very popular cake in the 80’s (at least in Spain). Perhaps this serves as a reminder to the brothers’ childhood memories?

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The brothers seemed to have immense love for chocolate and it’s not surprising to see Jordi create this dessert From cocoa to chocolate Pantone gradient of cocoa pulp, lychee, vinegar and manzanilla wine, almond milk, raisin, PX and chocolate. Brownie, chocolate sorbet, crispy chocolate made in our bakery workroom and cocoa nib. He even launched a book titled ‘Casa Cacao’ (‘Cocoa House’), a cookbook full of creations where chocolate plays the leading role.

Wine pairing for desserts include: Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spatlese 03 VDP Mosel, Ars Natura Liqquida Whisky a la tarta, Perez Barqquero La Canada PX D.O. Montilla Moriles and Cafe V60 Fina la Esmeralda Panama Geisha.

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Our guilty pleasure didn’t end with the final dessert, instead we were soon greeted by this grand trolley filled with mignardises.

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That’s not all…We were eagerly waiting for the sci-fi looking trolley to be pushed to us~  Head over to my IG to see it in action: #yummydelightsg_roca

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At this point, I must highlight the subtle but interesting shadows cast by the trees in the courtyard as the sun passes by slowly. A wonderful idea that brings guest closer to nature while dining in the comfort of the hall.

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It was already 4pm by the time we finished our lunch, we have only a few hours left to explore the rest of Girona before catching the train back to Barcelona. I must say this day trip to dine at El Celler de Can Roca was totally worth it.

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Snacks & Food from Norway

Since arriving at Bergen we began stocking up on snacks and food supply from the supermarket as we were no longer restricted by airline luggage weight. We would be travelling around via rail and it certainly helps to have a good variety of snacks to munch on during the long rides.

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I usually only eat dark chocolate to pair with red wines. Somehow I ended up buying a variety of chocolate bars after a trip to the supermarket – I guess the cold winter made me craved for chocolate? 

Apparently most of the chocolate on sale in Norwegian stores comes from just two companies: Freia and NidarGuess what….coincidentally all the chocolate products I bought were from Nidar….perhaps their packaging was more appealing?

Gullbrød is Nidar‘s oldest chocolate bar, released in 1915. It’s a slightly flattened log of marzipan coated in a thin layer of chocolate, so you will taste more of marizpan than chocolate.

I bought Hobby because I read that it is a combination of marshmallow, banana-flavored jelly and chocolate.

The Stratos was the most acceptable as it is plain and simple. It has an air bubble chocolate filling coated with chocolate.

After the slightly disappointing bars, I wasn’t looking forward to trying the large bag of Smash. However this turned out to be unexpectedly tasty and addictive!!! This combination of corn cones coated with chocolate was one of its kind. The savoury and crispy corn chip contrasted by the sweet chocolate coating was an ingenious creation. I should have an inkling of how popular Smash was considering that I even spotted McDonald’s serving Smash McFlurry! This snack was the only one that made in into our re-purchase list to bring back home.

Having spotted the tube Kaviar in Sweden, I was not surprised to see Nugatti chocolate spread tubes in Norway. I think the tube design seems more user friendly and hygienic compared to typical jar packaging of other chocolate spread. The small size made it very portable too.

I bought the Favoritter series intending to give it out to colleagues with the impression that the chocolates inside were individually wrapped. Turned out that only the Troika and Stratos were. The rest of the chocolates were all mixed up inside the bag.

After our epic meal at Maaemo, we made our way to Flåm including an overnight stay in Aurland. We finished 2 packets of the Sorlands Chips by the time we returned to Oslo, showing how tasty and addictive they are.

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Due to the extensive travelling, we hadn’t make much dining plans in Oslo. Most of meals were at our hotel, with breakfast & dinner being included in our stay package.

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The menu changes daily and on Saturday we had Chicken Drums with roasted potatoes and Homemade Carrot Soup with Salad & Couscous.

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Where we lost out on food, we made it up with views.

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Flåm Railway, described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the World, is a 20.2-kilometer long railway line that takes us from the high mountain plateau at Myrdal down the steep valley to the fjord by Flåm.

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The weather had been cloudy the whole day from Oslo to Myrdal. There was an opening when the sun shone through and cast a warm glow on the village deep between the fjord in Flåm.

Transferred to ferry in Flåm to get to Aurland. It’s a short 20 mins ride but we were impressed by the scenic fjord views with clear blue sky.

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We arrived at Aurland to this beautiful sight!

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Glad we made the right choice to stay in Aurland instead of Flåm cos it’s so worth it. I was lured by the views offered by the cabins lining the fjord.

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We took our time to literally chill by the dockside.

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Also take in the views from our balcony…

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I’m definitely more in love with Norway‘s nature than the towns. The next morning we visited Stegastein view point unfortunately the clouds started to come in quickly…and in a matter of minutes it was a white-out.

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No view left…but an empty structure with blowing snowflakes. We took the Flåm Railway back to Mrydal.

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The ride (in both directions) includes a stop in the mid-way for passengers to alight and take in the views of Kjosfossen (waterfall). Since its in winter, all we saw was the frozen stream. I had to google to look for pictures to figure out which direction was the waterfall… In summer months, one can expect views of roaring waterfall with a dancer dressed in a red costume (depicting Huldra – a character from Norwegian folklore) dancing on the platform on the right.  In winter, you’ll get to see a troll encased in ice instead – with pretty cool lights.

Some photos taken during our stay in Oslo.

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Compared to the historical part of Oslo, I prefer the photo opportunities from the modern architecture of Barcode Project.

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No clear sky during our 2 nights stay in Oslo, so we didn’t get a nice shot of the Opera House. It’s supposed to look like an iceberg floating in the fjord.

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We stayed in the Aker Brygge area for the 2nd part of our Oslo stay.  The marina area was packed with yachts.

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Visited some museums in the city. We actually went to the Munch Museum hoping to see the masterpiece “The Scream” by Edvard Munch only to find out that it was not on display at the point of purchasing the tickets. At least the staff were giving out the advise to avoid disappointment or complaints from visitors…

Another museum I shortlisted to visit was the Fram Museum. It’s a museum telling the story of Norwegian polar exploration. There are two ships inside the musuem – the Fram and the Gjøa, both played a significant role in the history of polar exploration.

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There was a story about how pancakes became one of the stars of the expedition. Google “Lindstrøm pancake expedition” if you wish to know more about it.

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From modern nautical history, we made our way to learn about the ancient voyages at the Viking Ship Museum which is home to 3 historic ships from the age of Vikings.

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Unlike the Fram Musuem whereby we were able to board the ships, these Viking ships were too precious and fragile for visitors to even touch.

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But they were really well-preserved considering that they were easily more than a thousand years old. If you are someone like me who enjoys visiting Asian Civilisations Museum (in Singapore) you will probably enjoy these two museums as much as I did.

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Our last sight in Oslo was visit to the Frogner Park.

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Inside the park houses more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) in bronze, granite and cast iron, including The Angry Boy, Dancing lady pulling her hair and Man attacked by babies etc.

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Except for the Moose pot coaster which was bought in Sweden (as my desperate attempt to spend my remaining Krona), the other knick-knacks were bought in Norway. My favourite is the hanging reflector. I noticed that many people wore one and felt that it was a great item to increase one’s safety during the long dark winter months. They even make their pets wear reflector vest while out for a walk. Even though most of Singapore streets are pretty well-lit, I still carry one now as a good practice.

After 1.5 weeks of touring Scandinavian we were off to warmer part of Europe! A destination for foodies – Barcelona~

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★ Maaemo, Oslo

After travelling for about 1 week in Scandinavian region, we finally pampered ourselves with our first fine dining meal of this trip at the only restaurant in Norway with 3 Michelin stars – Maaemo. They are ranked No. 35 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant 2018.

Having arrived in Oslo the night before, we spent the morning exploring some sights in the city. We worked up an appetite after much walking around town in preparation for the epic, much-anticipated 20-course meal ahead.

We were seated at one of the tables offering us the view of the kitchen on the mezzanine floor above, we later found out that there is a Test Kitchen Table which has a direct view of the chefs at work as well. Every now and then we would see the staff holding the plate and walking down the spiral staircase elegantly and with much ease to serve diners their food. I joked that they must have strong legs to work here…

As per many other restaurants, they do not present us with the full menu at the start of the meal. Instead they enquired about any food allergies or dietary restrictions beforehand during reservations and a further check again on the day of our visit. Hence we were kept in suspense on what would be served (unless you did some reading from others’ blog post prior to the visit).

The staff introduced to us that Maaemo is an Old Norse word meaning ‘Mother Earth’. The restaurant focuses on using local produce and aims to showcase the flavours and nature of Norway. Having travelled across Norway for the last 5 days we were hopeful that the menu would be pretty seafood-dominant. The meal can also be paired with either wine or juice, so we opted for the latter.

Appetizers started with several one-bite snacks to be eaten with our hands. The first being Potato flatbread langoustine claw steamed with beer and fermented turnip. I believe the Norwegian name of the flatbread is Lefse? To be honest it resembles naan bread, but this is made with potatoes and flour, so it has a more chewy texture. What impressed me at first glance was the intricate workmanship required to arrange the redwood sorrel.

The second snack was Fermented trout with leek (bottom-right). This snack is probably a modern take of another Norwegian delicacy – Rakfisk? The traditional Norwegian specialty is known for its strong odor and is typically paired with a shot of aquavit (a Norwegian liquor). The version served here is very much palatable as it was filled only a tiny bit of fermented trout and fermented turnip, encased in a crispy caramelised onion roll and topped with tiny drops of aquavit.

Final appetizer was Sourdough duck liver and rhubarb (bottom-left). For this snack, they fried the mother of the sourdough before adding the duck liver and rhubarb spheres on top. We stuffed this into our mouth to enjoy this interesting interpretation with a crunchy texture of sourdough with paté.

After the trio of snacks, we were presented with one of the signature dishes of the restaurant –  Emulsion of Norwegian flat oysters warm sauce of mussels and dill. The dish was first served bare before being covered with the “Yayoi Kusama style” sauce resulting in a picture of psychedelic green dots floating over the creamy base. Instantly the sight reminds me of another amazing dish I had at Geranium. Instead of a layer of fish underneath, this dish had a gelatinous layer over the oyster emulsion which had a delicate taste. I loved the rich velvety and smooth textures that one can savour within each spoonful of this dish.

Scallop cooked in the shell with fermented celeriac verbena and smoked scallop roe featured scallops from Frøya grilled in the shell with celeriac juice before finishing it with scallop dashi (stock), reduced celeriac juice and a spritz of lemon verbena oil.

Cod from the arctic gently cooked with salted butter horseradish and winter herbs Cod lightly poached, on a sauce of white asparagus with ramson, horseradish, tapioca.

Up next was Chef’s signature dish of Langoustine cooked with spruce. We were briefed that this dish serves to present diners with an overview of Norway  i.e ocean and pine forest. The langoustine caught from the ocean is cooked in pine butter, glazed with pine gel and dusted with pine dust. This is the most photogenic dish so far, with the bright orange tail sitting atop a bunch of green spruce. What a lovely sight! I also loved that we were asked to pick up the langoustine with our hand as we could immediately feel the warm of the butter poached tail as we bite into its chewy flesh and experience the sweet delicate flavour (I even licked up the remnants of butter off my fingers).

There was a strong sense of familiarity when we caught a glimpse of the next dish Grilled eel elderflower and warm eggs.  The Norwegian eel was grilled for 4 hours, finished with acidic sour made by fermented cabbage, egg emulsion, elderflower gel and chives.

Lightly smoked arctic char aquavit and burned onions Arctic char from Lofoten placed above a bed of white onion purée. The char is smoked in juniper before being steamed in the oven. The sauce is quite acidic in order to balance with the arctic char’s high fat content. It’s made with brine of pickled onion seasoned with aquavit and spritz with charred onion oil.

Fresh rolls out the oven glazed in birch syrup our own churned butter and salted butter with buckwheat The warm bread coated with the slightly sweet syrup was soft and fluffy. To be honest it was so good that the butters were relegated to the sideline, though both butters had amazingly creamy textures.

After the bread, we were served a traditional Norwegian delicacy which is a signature dish at the restaurant Rømmegrøt – a porridge of very sour cream and freshly milled wheat smoked reindeer heart, browned butter and aged plum vinegar. Traditionally eaten with cured meat, the version here is served with crunchy dehydrated smoked reindeer heart finished with clarified butter infused with the plum vinegar. It was also interesting to learn that the Norwegians take the traditional Rømmegrøt as a main dish and is a nourishing meal served for special occasions.

Our meal paused for a kitchen tour interlude which gave us the chance to do some exercise as we climbed up the spiral staircase. Other than the impressive panoramic view of the newly developed Barcode Project from the kitchen, I was pretty surprised to see them working in such a compact kitchen space! The visit also confirmed our guess that the Head chef probably monitors and adjusts the pace of the meal according to guests’ eating pace from the CCTVs. While Chef Esben Holmboe Bang was not in the house, we were told that we gonna meet another TV celebrity on the team – Tim Read.  Tim was the winner of MasterChef New Zealand (yes, we googled that immediately after our kitchen tour haha).

For the courses earlier the juice pairings were Smoked AppleWhite tea and elderflowerSour Plum and Cherry.

The subsequent juice pairings for the next few courses were Blackcurrant, thyme and beer vinegarBlack cherry and star anise and Blueberry and pine kombucha. Interestingly as we progressed to the meat courses the colour of the juices served also resembled the red wines.

Meal service resumed with Salted baked rutabaga broth of salted sheep Salted sheep ribs (pinnekjøtt), a traditional dish eaten during Christmas. Here the meat is made into a stock and paired with rutabaga (a root vegetable that is usually served as mashed purée with pinnekjøtt).

Our main protein of the day was Duck “Royale” chestnuts and lingonberries.  Hidden under the beautiful leaves made out of Jerusalem artichokes were mousse of chestnuts and the duck. For the final touch, a stock with lingonberries was added.

Frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushroom Norwegian blue cheese (Fønix) from Stavanger is frozen with liquid nitrogen and turned into dusted cheese. It is then served with pickled Trompette mushrooms jam and powder on top. Though many people felt that blue cheese has an acquired taste, this course serves to change that perception.

Apple blossom pine and preserved blueberries Sorbet of apple blossom with fermented blueberry juice, covered with Italian meringue and dusted with pine powder. The result was a blissful combination of citrus-sour sorbet with the sweet soft meringue.

A dessert made from salted butter from Røros with table-side service by Chef Andrea Selvaggini. This signature dish is made with brown butter ice cream, caramelised butter, served with caramelised hazelnut crumbs finished with coffee molasses and salted brown butter on top. This rich and decadent dessert is well worth piling on the calories for.

The desserts were paired with Raw milk and birch and for the snacks we had Filter Coffee Gedeb Beriti Kebele, Gedeb Woreda, Ethiopia Harvest – December 2017 Roasted by Tim Wendelboe. The coffee has light floral notes without bitterness.

The spread of snacks (in clockwise from top) Young pinecones preserved in honey for several months, Buckwheat “chocolate” the buckwheat bars resemble chocolate but did not include any cocoa at all, (Coffee), Grains and cloudberries liquid waffle served with cloudberries jam, Brown cheese tarteCinnamon bun just out of the oven brown cheese and beef fatWarm traditional Norwegian waffle with our miso seasoned with brown butter and cardamon.

We finished the entire meal in slightly over 3 hours. And it’s time to bring our attention to the sign hung up on one of the walls…

Earlier Photos Taken:

Train ride from Bergen to Oslo. Weather wasn’t good so it was pretty gloomy throughout the journey.

Explored some major sights in Oslo before lunch. A look down Karl Johans gate towards The Royal Palace.

Passed by the Norwegian Parliament building, as well as visiting the City Hall (Rådhuset) – venue of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony every December.

It was well worth spending time visiting the City Hall as the place is decked out in Norwegian art and culture both outside and inside! Before entering the main hall, there are 16 wooden friezes made by Dagfin Werenskiold (1892-1977), painter and sculptor, along the corridors surrounding the courtyard. They are motifs from Norse mythology.

The one that we are most familiar with would be Thor (thanks to Marvel). This wooden frieze depicts Tor is Driven by His Goats.

Behind the gilded main entrance were even more impressive large scale artworks on the walls.

The paintings are all very colourful and depicts various history and life in Norway.

We only had time to cover the main hall but not the other rooms on the upper level.

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Bare Vestland, Bergen

Before leaving Bergen to Oslo, we had lunch at Bare Vestland restaurant which is a stone’s throw away from our hotel. This place specialises in Norwegian tapas, which is exactly what we would like as we could taste a variety of dishes in appetizer-size portions.

Although the restaurant is located in the basement of the building, it has a row of windows allowing daylight to enter and casting a soft diffuse glow into the hall.

Lunch menu was a simple 1-page affair. We started our meal with appetizer of Veal Tongue cucumber, spring onion & “Nyr” (a soft, fresh cheese) The veal tongue texture reminds me of mock vegetarian kidney made of gluten, slightly chewy.

We picked this restaurant mainly to try their Plukkfisk pickled leeks & bacon. This is a classic Norwegian dish which consists of pieces of white fish (usually cod) and potatoes, cooked in a bechamel sauce. With the fillet mixed in with the mash potato, you can’t really pick out the fish so the dish may even be palatable to people who don’t like eating fish. For me this dish goes into the must-eat dishes alongside with fish soup and fried codtongues when in Norway! I must say Norway is a seafood paradise!

Last but not least, we had a main of Beer-and-Meat Stew which is a hearty casserole dish. The beef was tender, the stock was flavourful and packed with sweetness from the vegetables. This dish certainly warms us up for the wet winter weather in Bergen.

After finishing this meal, we were off to catch our 7-hour train ride to Oslo.

Earlier Photos Taken:

There are plenty construction development going on. We are surprised to see the hoardings becoming creative art spaces.

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Enhjøringen (Unicorn Fish Restaurant), Bergen

For dinner we headed back to the Byrggen area to dine at one of the restaurants in the wooden houses – Enhjøringen (Unicorn Fish Restaurant).

The interior of the dining place was really cosy and I liked the Victorian-style dining hall.

It’s a must to try the local beer wherever we go!

We selected this restaurant as their menu was seafood-heavy. The key dish that I wanted to try was Fried Cod Tongues served with tartar sauce. Not to be fooled by the name, it is not literally tongue per se but this Norwegian delicacy is a small muscle extracted from the back of the fish’s neck. This cod tongues were coated in a light batter before frying. Under the crispy batter, the cod tongue itself has a slightly gelatinous texture. This combination of textures was so addictive and we polished it off effortlessly. We were contemplating whether to order another plate!

We were so pampered by the quality fish soups we had on this trip that it has made it into our regular order at any restaurants. Here instead of fish soup, we chose the deluxe version – Shellfish Soup served with crayfish. The bisque soup was rich and packed with  umami flavour of the crustaceans.

The main was a fish dish of Oven baked fillet of Cod with potato puree, chorizo and vegetables vinaigrette. With an abundance of cod in the Norwegian sea, I suppose you can’t go wrong with this fish that is Norway’s “white gold”.  The flesh was moist and flaky.

Rounded up our dinner with Wild berry mousse and Sorbet. The dessert was probably to only less satisfying part of the meal. Other than this, the overall service, ambience and food exceeded our expectations as a restaurant located at the touristy Bryggen area. For me the key highlight was the opportunity to dine in one of the historic wooden houses. The charm of the well-preserved house with its creaking floorboards, antique furniture all adds up to make this experience pretty memorable.

Earlier Photos Taken:

Spotted many street art in the Nøstet and Engen area.

Sentralbadet has a few legal street art walls in Bergen. They all looked impressive!

There are many tiny alleys and we just wandered around and spotted many instagrammable spots!

Even in the cloudy wintry weather, we enjoyed the walk around the neighbourhoods.

Unfortunately it was raining in the evening when we were back at the harbour opposite Bryggen. Decided to call it a day it was unlikely that the rain would ease later and we couldn’t set up the tripod for a long exposure night shot of the harbour.

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Sweet Rain Konditori, Bergen

After a leisurely morning exploration of the Bryggen area, we made our way around the harbor to the opposite side. Initially we wanted to grab some food at the Bergen Fish Market. However the market was very limited during the winter season. We were mistaken that there would still be outdoor market with casual food stalls available, turned out that only the indoor market and restaurants were opened. That wasn’t what I was expecting.

So we headed over to Sweet Rain Konditori for an early Fika instead. This was the third cafe we visited on this trip. The first was a traditional cafe rich in history, the second was a tiny cafe specialising in bakery and this one had the most Scandinavian style decor.

As reflected in the name of the shop, it was decked out in a sweet pastel blue hue cabinets. Greeting us once we step inside was the rustic wooden table laid with a wide array of cookies. But we were here for one of their specialty – Brown cheese cheesecake.

I fell in love with the caramel-like taste of brown cheese and was eager to try this creation. It didn’t disappoint me as I enjoyed every bite of this rich and decadent cheesecake.

Also ordered the cute Pear Vanilla cheese mousse, pear marmalade and carrot pie.

The sweet treats were a nice energy booster before we continue our free and easy (aka aimless or laid-back) walking tour to explore the neighbourhood.

Earlier Photos Taken:

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Trekroneren, Bergen

After having a heavy breakfast at our hotel, we spent the morning exploring the compact Bergen town before dropping by a takeaway stand for a Scandinavian hotdog. This hotdog stand named Trekroneren translates to “three crowns“. Being a popular tourist destination, the menus are displayed in various languages.

The Scandinavian hotdogs are characterized by the classic crispy onion toppings that adds the extra oomph factor to it.  I still vividly remember that the first time I tasted the heavenly hotdog with crispy onion topping combination was at the Copenhagen airport. I’ve been dreaming about it since then…

The other star attraction here is the availability of reindeer sausage. Since we had already tried reindeer meat in Tromsø, we decided to go with a more classic Frankfurter instead.

Here’s a shot of the tasty sausage bun. I would gladly choose this over fast food if I need a quick bite!

It seems odd that even at noon, the streets of Bergen was relatively empty. But I enjoyed the serenity and this is the perk of travelling at non-peak season. Their high season is typically mid-June and August during the summer.

Earlier photos taken:

Back to sumptuous hotel breakfast buffet after having simple homemade breakfasts for the last 2 days. Trout caviar aplenty and a variety of berries!

Finally got a chance to try Norway‘s beloved brunost (brown cheese). Its a tan-coloured ‘whey cheese’ with a distinctive caramel flavour.  You have to slice it very thinly using a metal cheese slicer. However it actually doesn’t taste like cheese. It has a sweet-yet-savoury and fudgey caramel taste which I liked!

After breakfast, we headed towards the eastern side of the Vågen harbour and passed by the Fløibanen funicular station right right in the city centre. You can take in magnificent view of Bergen from the top of Mount Fløyen.

Further down the road we arrived at Bergen’s and one of Norway‘s main attraction – Bryggen (meaning “the dock”). The colourful row of Hanseatic heritage commercial buildings are listed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites since 1979.

The first thing that struck me was that the wooden row of houses looked crooked. Although from far they looked pretty uniform, upon edging closer it was obvious that they look warped. Afterall the historic Bryggen buildings we see today are more than 300 years old.

Standing shoulder to shoulder, there is a narrow passageway that leads into the courtyards behind. Once you step inside, it’ll transport you back to the medieval times.

Between the tenement rows, you will find Midtbygningen (the Middle Building), with a stone building right at the end of the passageway.

A myriad of of colours and lines at Bryygen offers many photo opportunities.

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