This insatiable need to travel… It takes so little to trigger a trip. Within a few weeks I met three fellow foodies/wine lovers from the country to the West from my current home, which made me realize I know nothing of the food scene in a national capital only an hour’s flight away. Well-known wine educator and writer Svein Lindin (who I met during Cape Wine) promised to take me to see his favorite restaurants. Lovisa Morling of Åpent bakery invited me to her 40th birthday party and to come see Norway’s first food market Mathallen and to try the best bread in the Nordics. Niklas Johansson runs the floor of Oslo’s only two-star restaurant, Maaemo, tempted me by talking about the differences between how Maaemo match wine to their New Nordic Cuisine compared with Mathias Dahlgren or Noma, during a top sommelier meeting in Stockholm.
Three days were only enough to scratch the surface of the Oslo food scene. Within the Nordic capitals, Oslo has been the last to develop into a food destination. But it has. And still is.
Three things stood out for me.
1. The seafood is fresher and tastier than most places around the world – not surprising since the ice cold North Sea is just around the corner.
2. Norway is still expensive, but not as shockingly pricey as we have made it out to be. The only sticker-shock I had was the post-party-burger at Burger King.
3. Oslo is where the very best bread is made. I often say Sweden has much better bread (at the top end – what’s in the stores is appalling) than France or Italy. The sour-dough at Åpent bakery had a flavor which beat most michelin-starred bread servings I have had. I find myself craving it terribly already. Check out when the Hairy Bikers visited Åpent! The staff and bakers are all sweethearts too, and I regret not asking for a starter culture to take home. Building bridges across national borders can be done so well by live yeast culture, no?
Oh, and as an additional discovery (I should have known this one) – Norwegians eat breakfast-foods for lunch! At a wine-fueled lunch with Lovisa at the charming Von Porat restaurant in the Mathallen food market, the only options are lovely plates of cold-cuts, eggs, bread and marmalade. I now know that a breakfast plate is not only matched brilliantly by champagne – the biodynamic Austrian gewürtztraminer from Meinklang was an additionally pleasant pairing. I would, however, skip the cheese pultost. “Acquired taste” is putting it lightly. It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve tasted in the past five years. If you want a new cheese experience, try the whey cheese brunost/mysost instead. It has a caramelized sweetness that reminds me of ski trips to Norway as a kid.
Tomorrow comes my quick guide to Oslo food!