It’s a while since I’ve made a food post, as my friend Vicky pointed out in an e-mail a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to meet her in a few days’ time, so this one’s for you, Vicky.
There weren’t many choices on the menu, but that often goes hand in hand with excellence. Better to use great ingredients to produce a couple of incredible dishes than to try to do too much and dilute the effect. Both John and I chose Spanish meatballs with mash. It had a wonderful, rich flavour. The potato was topped with tiny pieces of crispy onion and the meatballs were given extra texture and taste with a sprinkling of chopped smoked nuts. It really was delicious.
Outside, the autumn weather was stormy, but as usual, it was warm and welcoming inside, with a wonderful view over the harbour at Stonglandseidet.
For dessert, we both had vanilla and lemon tart, to which I added a cappuccino. I might have preferred a slightly stronger element of lemon, but all in all, it still tasted as good as it looked.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. See you next week!
I thought I’d start with a few thoughts about my stay. Someone commented last time I was in the UK, that they were interested to find out what changes I’d noticed since I was last here, in 2019. I can’t say I’ve noticed too many, though of course my parents notice many things I haven’t, such as changes in the NHS. Prices have probably gone up, or portion sizes have shrunk, but that’s happened elsewhere too.
I think perhaps it’s me that has changed more, and that’s partly to do with the pandemic. Living in the north of Norway, along with general pandemic precautions, I am unused to being close to large numbers of people. In Glasgow I went to a Marks and Spencer Food Hall, which was (to me) heinously busy. I pretty much ran to the section I wanted, grabbed something, and rushed out. It was much the same when we stopped at a service station on the motorway. I escaped outside as soon as I possibly could. I also had a discussion with John about driving. He’s learned to drive in Norway in an area where there are relatively few cars on the road. He was watching the drivers on the A65 with a kind of horrified fascination as they drove in close convoys, with only a meter or two between each car.
Other things struck me anew, which I had forgotten because I hadn’t been here for so long. Nobody in Norway has a string light switch in their bathroom! Anna tells me one of her friends was mystified, trying to turn the light on when he visited. Then again, Norwegian houses seem to burn down quite often, which is probably because a lot of the electric wiring is DIY. That and all the candles, of course. Most of the taps (faucets) in Norway are mixer taps, so I was freshly frustrated trying to rinse my hands before the hot tap got too volcanic. Cash? There was consternation recently when the entire card network went down for one of the major Norwegian supermarket chains. I had to go and find an ATM. I’ve lived in Finnsnes for two years and didn’t know where it was. Lots of people still seem to use cash here. And for anyone who likes their floors to stay clean, Norway is the place to be. I still can’t adjust back to keeping my shoes on in the house. I kick them off at the door, every time.
Food wise, it’s been a frustrating holiday. I’ve been sticking to low fat foods throughout. Fortunately, there’s a fairly good selection, though it can’t have done my teeth much good eating so many iced buns and scones with jam. There has also been a glut of bacon and ham rolls, slathered in delicious chutney, but without butter. Eating out is difficult, though full marks to Rosa and Matteo’s Italian Restaurant in Settle, which made me a wonderful low fat Pasta e ceci – pasta with chickpeas – (twice) but there have been a few occasions where I’ve watched everyone else eating fish and chips or curry, and wished I could join in. Still, there’s much more choice here, even with my health limitations. I think I might get thinner when I go back.
Still, I managed to fit in a couple of walks this week. On Tuesday, Helen and I were driven over to Long Preston, and walked back to Settle over the fells. We also took a detour up to see Scaleber Force waterfall, though Force is a complete misnomer at the moment as there’s hardly any water in it. Still, it was a pleasant, 9km walk, taken early in the morning, before the day started to heat up.
The second walk was this afternoon, with Dad. We didn’t go far: just along the riverside in Settle itself, but I was glad to have the time together, before I have to leave tomorrow.
We’ve also managed a bit of shopping. Andrew took us on a hunt for Raven Forge in Crosshills. We almost missed it, as it looked like a unit in an industrial estate, but we stopped and asked someone who was working there, and found ourselves invited in to a wonderful display of swords and weaponry, from all kinds of games and films.
We also went upstairs in The Geek Side, a little gift shop in a rather magical arcade in Skipton, and discovered a veritable Harry Potter paradise.
And if you want some sweets, you could do worse than The Dalesman Café in Gargrave.
But in the end of the day, it all comes down to the wonderful view from my parents’ garden. As the sun goes down, and the shadows lengthen on my last day in this golden oasis, I can only hope that it won’t be too long before I can return.
I didn’t update last week. I was too busy wallowing in the nostalgia of my UK visit. The past two weeks have also been filled with movement and travel, some further afield, but others involving more local discoveries.
Ten days ago, I travelled back down to Rogaland, where I used to live. I was bound for a Mattilsynet meeting about the important communication on welfare between abattoirs and the vets out in the field that I talked about in this post: The Ever Changing Sky
I emerged into the 11pm darkness at Sola Airport to be greeted by the ever present smell of slurry. It’s a very famous phenomenon. Jo Nesbø even mentions it in one of his books. Anyway, I had completely forgotten until I stepped outside into the warmish night air.
Knowing I would arrive so late, I had toyed with the idea of staying in an airport hotel and travelling onwards on the morning of the meeting, which didn’t start until eleven. But I had found a bus that would take me to Sandnes – the number 42 – and so I thought I’d risk it. I remembered the airport buses from when I used to live there, so I assumed I would be able to pay on board, but when the driver only opened the doors in the centre of the bus, it was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to buy one. Scrabbling online, I found I had the Kolumbus App already. Crossing my fingers that there would be no inspectors at that time of night, I finally bought a ticket for what I thought was the correct area, just as we pulled into Sandnes.
By this time it was midnight. Technically, I was still working, still on the clock, which I had switched on in the office when I arrived in the morning. Logging onto my computer to clock out, I thought I would check tomorrow’s meeting, so I opened up the Teams app to check the calendar. There was no venue listed. In fact, it was listed as a Teams Meeting. For a long, sweaty moment, I thought I had just travelled 2000km for a Teams meeting. A check of the e-mails confirmed that I had not. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had!
But the meeting was a success and I’m very glad I went. One of the tasks I struggle with at work is speaking up in meetings, but I had some valid points to make, based on both experience and reading around the topic. It was also great to meet some of the other Mattilsynet staff from other areas of Norway.
I flew back on Thursday afternoon and arrived home almost as late as I’d arrived in Sandnes. There was no rest though, as I had arranged an inspection with Gry on the Friday (post about Gry). The tour took me on an exploration of a part of Senja that I had never visited. Indeed it’s a small corner of the island that I had missed in all my driving around. We stopped in Gryllefjord for a surprisingly tasty chunk of pizza from the local shop. *
Gryllefjord is an amazing place. It’s ramshackle collection of houses, clustered on the edge of the fjord, under a brooding overhang of mountains, with a small harbour. It was a cloudy day, and the tops of the mountains reached up into the mist.
We also drove to a nearby village, reached through a tunnel in the mountainside. The old road, which went over an exposed ridge, was often blocked in winter.
It’s always a joy finding new places near to where I live. There was also a restaurant in Gryllefjord, which was closed at the time of our visit. I had heard from others that it was a good restaurant, and when I checked online, it appeared that there was fish and chips on the menu.
For anyone living in the UK, that probably seems like a non-event. Fish and chips is the original British fast food. I can remember before Chinese and Indian takeaways became common, and well before the invasion of the US burger craze, that fish and chips was a staple. But in Norway, fish in batter is rare. So when John came over the next day, which was also his birthday, I suggested that we should take a tour out to Gryllefjord to try out the Skreien Spiseri and he jumped at the chance.
It was a much brighter day and we stopped along the way at Hamn to take a few photos. There were also some reindeer by the road, looking surprisingly defenceless without their antlers.
The fish and chips was delectable. We will definitely be back.
As you can see from the photos of John’s birthday, the weather was almost spring-like. I was hoping for a smooth segue from winter to summer, but it wasn’t to be. It started to snow again a couple of days later. I went to Tromsø on Thursday this week to go on an inspection with Line, who works there. Arriving back on the fast boat at five thirty in the afternoon, I walked back through Finnsnes centre and paused to take a couple of photos.
Still, I enjoyed the walk, even if it was a little more “refreshing” than I would have predicted a couple of weeks ago.
And as you know, there’s one member of our household, who always welcomes the snow! Hope you have a great week everyone.
*I forgot to say that I also drank a cup of black coffee from the shop, when I was out with Gry. Perhaps, in time, I will indeed be truly integrated into Norwegian society. Maybe if I tell the authorities that I managed it without milk, they will give me a Norwegian passport faster.
When I left you on 21st December, I had only a faint hope that there would be a white Christmas. It had turned cold after the thaw and at some point, a tiny potential snowfall had appeared on the weather forecast. Only a few millimetres, but perhaps it would be enough. But when I checked again on the twenty second, this was what greeted me.
I texted Charlie. After all, he was supposed to be flying up the next day, and the forecast for Tromsø was much the same. Clicking on the yellow triangle told me that this was a warning for a Polar Low – otherwise known as an Arctic Hurricane.
Early on Wednesday afternoon, the sky had turned to a brooding shade of grey with edges of lilac. Already, there were a few snowflakes in the air.
The wind never really got up, but it did snow. Fortunately the airport in Tromsø was unaffected and Charlie arrived from the fastboat right on schedule.
We went for a drive on Christmas Eve so that John could knock some of the snow off the roof of his caravan. One of the thing that daunts me about buying a house here is that you have to know when to knock the snow off your roof. To an extent, the snow insulates your house, but if there’s too much, the roof can collapse. This was a picture I took along the way.
We made (and ate) a chocolate log on Christmas Eve.
And despite all the rain, we awoke to a beautiful blue-white morning. I got my white Christmas after all.
Though it was cold outside, inside it was warm and cosy.
Triar was wearing his Christmas hoodie to open his presents.
Perhaps My Norwegian Christmas is an imperfect title, because though we were in Norway, we have never got into the local habit of eating our big meal and celebrating on Christmas Eve. I did cook ribbe though, instead of turkey. Ribbe is pork, taken from the flank of the pig, over the ribs, as you might expect. It’s very tasty and forgiving meat, but for Norwegians, ribbe is all about the crackling. In order to get it right, you have to salt the joint two or three days in advance, then you have to roast it in steam for the first hour, then roast it uncovered until it’s finished. I was pleased with the finished result, which was properly crispy and light.
There’s lingonberry sauce instead of cranberry, but other than that, our dinner will probably look familiar to most Brits.
One day we will perhaps cross over to cloudberries and cream, but for this year, we celebrated in true British style with a traditional Christmas pudding.
Anyway, as you can probably see, we had a very festive Christmas. I am very much aware that we were lucky that everyone arrived safe and healthy. I know that some of my friends were not so fortunate. But wherever you are, I hope you managed to find some peace and joy.
And if not, and you ended up going to hospital, I hope your ambulance station was as tastefully decorated as the one here in Finnsnes. Merry Christmas all.
So here I am in my second Polar Night. Mørketid is the Norwegian name, which I love. A direct translation would be Darkness Time and the word “mørke” must have a common ancestry with the English word “murky” which seems appropriate. Not that it’s dark all day, of course. You can start to see twilight by half past eight in the morning, but by two in the afternoon, the light is fading again. In between, if it isn’t cloudy, there is this wonderful clear blue light that makes for very unusual photographs.
Coronavirus seems to be closing in again, with omicron making appearances all over Europe. Norway seems to be sticking to the plan of keeping everything as open as possible for those inside the country, though the rules for entry have been strengthened again. Our Mattilsynet Troms og Svalbard departmental gathering was this week on Thursday and Friday, and I was delighted when it went ahead. I guess when I say “department” most people might be thinking of a traditional business department, probably made up of lots of people who use the same building, but our “department” is diverse, and also very spread out.
We cover the whole of Troms and Svalbard, although there are no permanent staff on Svalbard. Troms is a county that is round twenty percent larger than Wales (a bit bigger than New Jersey for anyone checking in from the US, or Nova Scotia if you’re in Canada). We cover everything from animal welfare to drinking water, from three separate offices in Finnsnes, Tromsø and Storslett and this year’s gathering was in Storslett, which is the furthest north.
There was some discussion a couple of weeks ago about cars. We have three lease-hire cars available, and Øivind and Ronny quickly signed up two of them. Marit, who works with fish health and welfare then signed up the third, with another colleague, Eva, and designated it the “kvinnebil” or women’s car. So that was the one I signed up for, and despite Thomas’ suggestion that he too should travel in the kvinnebil, Eva, Marit and I drove up together. It was lovely getting to know them better.
I’m not all that fond of meetings, and meetings in Norwegian are even more of a challenge, especially when those from the upper echelons begin to introduce buzzwords, like “sustainability” (bærekraft). But one thing Norwegians do very well is social events, and this meeting was no exception. We had received a cryptic message a few days earlier, telling us to bring warm clothes for sitting outside: clothes that, in addition, could stand some wood smoke. Though this sounded appealing to me, I was slightly concerned. Such an instruction could mean anything from sitting round a campfire roasting hot dogs to a five kilometre hike in the snow. I could handle either of those things, but they do require slightly different outfits.
In the event, it was a five minute walk along the road to a Sami lavvo (a wigwam type tent) where there was locally produced gløg, along with traditional dried meats, cheeses and flatbread, all served in candle-light around a huge wood fire. I’m not sure how local the grapes and olives are, but it was really very tasty indeed.
I’ve already included a couple of pictures of the return journey. Marit drove, so I was able to take a few photographs along the way, before the darkness descended again.
We took a short detour onto the Spåkenes Peninsula, where we found a very chilly bench as well as some glass igloos with an amazing view, which you can stay in overnight. Obviously I immediately added doing so onto my “to do” list.
There will be another advent update tomorrow, with more pictures from the trip, so goodbye for now. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
I mentioned a couple of weeks back that it was not yet entirely dark, but from Thursday this week there has been full darkness for a short time each night. It’s hard to believe we’re already well into September. The sun is low in the sky for much of the day and the autumn equinox will soon be here.
I took that photo when I was out with Triar, and he very kindly posed for me on an upturned boat, that lies beside the narrow path we walked down.
I’m not sure what the boat is doing here, halfway up a rather steep hill, but I suspect it might be a remnant left over from a children’s play park. They quite often use old boats in playgrounds, when they are no longer any use for fishing.
Though it’s coming up for two years since I’ve been in the UK, I do like to follow what’s happening on social media. So I was interested to see, in the past couple of weeks, that the first mince pies have started to appear in shops over there. Mince pies are one of the Christmas foods I miss most. Of course I could make my own, but it’s nearly impossible to recreate the wonderful cool pastry and spiced mincemeat that you get in the shop bought version.
That said, I was pleased to see the return of mørketids boller to the shop I was in yesterday. Mørketid is Norwegian for polar night, which will not arrive until 30th November, so like the mince pies, they are a little early. But I love the seasonality of the foods in the shops here, and this one is specific to the north of Norway. They aren’t as good as mince pies. It’s really a doughnut with dark chocolate and vanilla filling (I have seen pictures with chocolate fillings, but have never located one). Very pleasant with a cup of coffee.
The shorter days at work also ended this week. For a few months in the summer, we work seven hour days, whereas in winter, we work seven and three quarter hours. The difference doesn’t sound much, but I was pleasantly surprised when it began, how much faster the working day passed. It’s a great perk to have shorter working days when the summer is so brief.
There are also some odd quirks in the working hours over Christmas and New Year and there was some discussion about this over morning coffee this week, when there was only me and two Norwegian colleagues present. For example, on New Year’s Eve, our official working day is only two hours. So if you have built up some time off in lieu (TOIL) then that is a good day to use it. If you take the day as holiday, it counts as a whole day off, regardless of how long or short the day is. So if you do that, you took off two hours when you could have taken almost eight if you’d chosen a different day.
I had been thinking about trying to take my one remaining holiday week between Christmas and New Year, but as most of the days then are only five hours, it is worth looking into taking them as TOIL instead. The only downside being that agreed holiday can’t be removed at the last minute, whereas agreed TOIL can.
There are a lot of differences from the UK in the Norwegian way of working, and it can be difficult to find all of them out. I should imagine it’s the same for anyone who lives in a culture they weren’t brought up in, but there are times when I have the feeling I am living in some kind of twilight zone, where all kinds of things are obscure. Nobody tells you about them as they assume everyone knows and of course, as you don’t know they exist, you don’t ask about them.
One thing that I do know about, that is definitely worse in Norway than the UK for permanent employees (and is illegal in EU countries) is that in your first year in any new job, you are not entitled to holiday pay. Last year I worked for Mattilsynet from August and so I was not entitled to any paid holiday at all from them. Technically, I received holiday pay from my last job when I left, but that was eaten up in the expenses of moving up here. This year, I only have ten days paid holiday. I can take unpaid holiday, but three weeks without pay would be quite a hit and I don’t really want to do it unless it’s unavoidable.
I’m not really sure why this rule persists. I believe it has been challenged in Denmark, which is in the EU, while Norway is technically not. But Norway does adhere to most of the other EU rules, as expected under the EEA agreement, so I am unsure why they have not implemented this one. For my part, it’s a bad rule. Given that the only “holiday” I had last year was taken up with driving up here, it feels like a long time since I’ve had a proper rest. It’s not as easy to bounce back at fifty two as it was when I was younger either. Roll on next year, when I will be back up to five weeks plus bank holidays again. I guess anyone from the US reading this might think I’m a wuss, but there it is!
Fungi are odd things. A rather cute looking mushroom appeared one day under the hedge beside my driveaway. I took a few photos over several days. It looked tasty, and at the same time rather demure, with its closed head, all neat and dry. This was taken on the tenth of September and I think it had been there a few days. I assumed this was its final form. I rather liked it.
So I was bemused to come home on Wednesday to find it had seemingly doubled in height. The cup was now opened and its edge had a grim wet look to it! I guess it had to open as its spores must be inside, but any feelings I had that it might taste good disappeared instantly!
I will leave you with a couple of pictures from my drive home yesterday. There’s a falling down barn that I have been passing every time I drive to the abattoir. I decided I wanted to photograph it in the autumn of last year, but it was difficult to find anywhere to park, and then winter came and the parking possibilities reduced even further. It’s impossible to pull off the road when there’s a wall of scraped snow on either side. I drove past yesterday morning, when I didn’t have time, and thought that by the time I drove home again, the sun would have moved. But I had forgotten that the sun is now permanently in the south and doesn’t move so much from east to west as from south-east to south-west. So here it is in the autumn sun, in all its dilapidated glory. And I’ll throw in one of trees and snow topped mountains for good measure. Hope you enjoy them!
It was on this day last year, that John and I set off to drive To The North. In a week’s time, I will have been here a year.
It’s been a strange time, all in all. Not that it hasn’t been wonderful in many ways; it has. But coronavirus has had an effect on all our lives that would have been difficult to imagine only a few years ago. In the past year, I have lost an uncle: a wonderful man, larger than life, of whom I have many wonderful and cheering memories, and also an aunt – not technically mine, but an aunt by marriage who was one of the kindest people I have ever met. I could never have imagined that I would be unable to attend their funerals. Nor that I would have been unable to visit my mum and dad for a year and a half, with no definite sign of an end to restrictions amid continuing reports from around the world that the virus is continuing to spread and mutate, despite (or perhaps even because of) the vaccine.
So here I am. Logically coming was the right decision. John has settled nearby and has a permanent job and friends with whom he goes climbing and walking. Andrew has settled into school and has taken up the piano. Anna has been with us since she came home for Christmas and wasn’t able to return to university in the UK. We have a lot of freedom to go out locally. The Norwegian government have done a sterling job in limiting the spread of the virus and we are so remote that often it’s hard to remember during everyday life that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
But it’s odd to think that I have been here a year, in an area I had never visited before I drove up here in a few chaotic days one year ago. I haven’t been home to Yorkshire or Scotland. I am hoping to see my parents at Christmas, but everything seems so unstable that it is impossible to make firm plans.
Still, life goes on. While on a grand scale, everything is filled with uncertainty, on a small scale, I am thriving. This week at work has been special. When I started work a year ago, I was given a list of tasks to complete. One of them was to engage with colleagues who worked in other sectors within Mattilsynet. We cover everything from drinking water to cosmetics as well as food safety on all levels between farm and plate. It had been discussed occasionally, but due to the strict coronavirus rules, where nobody was meant to go anywhere that wasn’t essential, it was always put on hold. But last Friday, alone in the office with Randi and Øivind, I decided it was time to seize the opportunity and I asked whether they had anything planned for this week.
The result was that I went out with Randi on Wednesday for some Smilefjes tilsyn and Friday with Øivind to inspect some waterworks.
Smilefjes is Mattilsynets system for inspection of restaurants and food outlets. When you enter an eatery, there’s generally a certificate on the door showing a happy Smiley. If the inspection didn’t go so well, the Smiley might be less cheerful, but the kitchen we inspected was well organised and clean. I was shown around the restaurant and communal areas of the guesthouse as well, while Randi wrote her report. It was a lovely place: an old building in an area where few old buildings exist. There was a huge fireplace in the restaurant and comfortable couches in front of a large television, which the owner proudly told me was the only one in the building. There were photographs too, black and white pictures of years gone by. I felt nostalgic for the times when staying in hotels was a casual weekend activity and I wanted so much to stay overnight. I took a photograph out of the window as Randi was finishing up her report. The book in the foreground is to record the weight of the fish you catch in the river outside.
On Thursday, quietly melded between the restaurant and water inspections, I carried out my first solo animal welfare inspection. I say solo as I had no other inspectors with me and the responsibility for the case lay with me, but I had support from a fabulous member of Dyervernsnemnda (a little about Dyrevernsnemnda here) called Berit. Berit drove down from Tromsø and she was wonderfully helpful and reassuring. Thanks must also go to Birgit, who made sure I followed the correct procedures beforehand.
Afterwards, I went out for some fish and chips with Ann to celebrate in the cafe that serves the ski slope at Fellandsby.
Yesterday, Øivind took me out to inspect some waterworks. If that word conjures up an image of a huge building with pipes and filtration, then like me, you will have to think again. We drove out onto Senja and headed south to a remote village, where we met the group of men who organise the water supply for the few houses in that area. We sat outside in the sun, as Øivind asked a series of questions about cubic metres of water per year and how many people are supplied. It was an interesting discussion, partly because of the logistics. In summer, there might be fifty people there, whereas there are only four permanent residents. But for me, it was a stark reminder of social changes and history. The four permanent residents are all over 80. The rest are a mix of tourists and very likely people whose parents used to live there, who have moved away, but return at weekends and for the summer. I found myself wondering about those still living there: all of them are in their eighties and nineties. It’s a very long way to the hospital if anything goes wrong.They likely still have families on Senja who look after them. But when they are gone, will the village only exist as a holiday place? There was an old schoolhouse, which is now used for social events. But once upon a time, there must have been families and people who worked the land and/or lived from the sea. Did the four people still living there attend the school, all those years ago? It was a reminder of how much things can change within a lifetime.
After the conversation, we walked up to see the water source. No filtration in sight and the small pipe that carries the water to the village was underground. The water comes from a river. I found myself surprised that it doesn’t freeze in winter, but the water must continue to run underneath all the snow and ice.
This was where we walked to. It was perhaps a kilometer up a grassy track from the village.
Such a peaceful place. I could have passed a happy few hours, listening to the water rushing over the rocks.
And here is the “waterworks” we inspected!
So the village is supplied from the water that runs down from the mountain. It’s not filtered or cleaned and technically, it is a water supply and not a drinking water supply. Øivind made some recommendations. The water source cover should be locked with a padlock, just in case. And the quality should be checked at least once a year. Likely times for the check would be after heavy rain, or when the snow is melting, preferably at a time of year when more people are arriving.
But those who run the system assured us that nobody had ever been unwell from the water in the fifty years since the pipes were installed. It was another reminder of the differences in the lives people in Norway lead. The idea that everyone in Norway should be treated exactly the same (one of Mattilsynet’s aims) is challenging, to say the least. There has to be flexibility when dealing with a country where the ways of life are so very diverse.
And to finish up, here’s are some pictures from Tuesday, when we met one of Anna’s old teachers, who was up for a holiday in the north. We took Triar for a walk in Ånderdalen afterwards. It really has been a very good week.
I said last weekend that it wouldn’t be long until John and I returned to Senja Roasters. We decided to explore the three course menu and so we booked a table for this evening. There’s always anticipation before going to a new restaurant. It’s not always possible to predict how the food will taste from reading a menu and though there were good signs (local and international ingredients, paper menu, limited choice) those things don’t always translate into food heaven. This time there was no disappointment. John and I decided to share the meat and fish options, though next time, if there’s a vegan risotto, I will definitely go that way. But for now, I want to share this evening’s fabulous meal with you.
The starters sounded interesting: Cod tongues and coffee-crusted tataki reindeer. The cod was wonderful, light and crispy. For me, this was extra special. Fish in batter isn’t common here. It was like a tiny taste of home.
The tataki reindeer was exquisite. Almost black on the outside, rare in the centre. It was meltingly tender and packed with flavour.
We must have looked hungry because in the fairly brief interval between the starters and the main courses, we were brought some more of those delicious crusty bread rolls we had last Sunday.
Onto the mains, again we shared the meat and fish dishes. The waitress was very attentive and happily brought us separate eating plates and bowls for all three courses. We started with a tasty halibut dish on an unusual sweetcorn and red onion salsa. The flavours were lifted by a light-touch citrus sauce:
Next up, slow roasted lamb shank with a rich red wine sauce. Traditional flavours, but extremely well done.
We spent a few minutes chatting in between the main course and the dessert. The view outside the window kept drawing my gaze as the light changed over the fjord. Here we were in a modern restaurant, not in the centre of a city, but out in the wilds of Norway. Imagine popping over in your boat and tying up outside… maybe one day!
And finally, onto the dessert. Two very different choices here: a rhubarb crumble, sweet and piquant, and a tiramisu, bittersweet coffee taste with a sweet, creamy finish.
We rounded off the meal, me with a cafe latte and John with the hot chocolate at the top of the page. It was a perfect end to a fantastic meal. I think our enthusiasm must have been noted because the chef came out at the end to talk to us. As John pointed out afterwards, you know when you’ve had a great meal when you run out of ways to tell the waitress how much you loved it all.
And a final touch, when we were in Roasters last Sunday, they told us they were expecting a visit from Mattilsynet and hoping to earn the smiley face that means the inspectors found the hygiene was good. It seems they must have passed as I saw this on the way out.
Here is this evening’s menu, for Norwegian speakers. For any non-Norwegian vegans reading, the starter was cauliflower soup with fried almonds, raisins and mint oil, and the main course, butternut squash risotto with porcini mushrooms.
Edit to add a photo of the risotto from a week later. Also delicious!
There is so much colour in the world. The changing sky continues to amaze me. I suppose one advantage of living so far north is just how long the sun lurks just below the horizon. And now it has finally risen, there are wonderful shadows and reflected light everywhere. The photo at the top is of the view from our garden, and though I see it every day, it never grows old. This was the first day I’d really seen the brand new sunshine on the snow-covered mountains. How wonderfully pink they are under the arching blue sky.
I was struck by the pink and powder-blue backdrop as I drove home from Bardufoss on Tuesday as well. So wonderful to drive home in the light. Of course, I stopped to take a photograph.
I had hoped to be travelling up to Storslett next week to the northernmost office in our region. I was waiting until the last minute, as the upper echelons of Mattilsynet had a meeting on Friday, but in the absence of any government lifting of the regulations, I will wait a few weeks longer. John tells me that two abattoirs further south in Norway are currently closed, one because a member of staff tested positive and the other because it’s in the area where the biggest outbreak of the English variant has taken hold. They are right to be cautious, but like others everywhere, I am champing at the bit to have a bit more freedom of movement.
Still, there are things to look forward to. I have booked a weekend away in a log cabin on a husky farm near the end of February. It’s only an hour and a half away, so hopefully there should be no travel disruption! And we have designated this weekend as 1980s party-food weekend. Last night there were sausage rolls, ham and crisp sandwiches and chocolate tiffin. Today I will be making pastry cases filled with creamy chicken, scones with jam and cream and it will be followed by ice-cream and jelly.
I don’t have a lot to write this week, so I will leave you with this video that Konstantin sent me. It features overhead footage of reindeer herding. I mentioned a while back that they hadn’t been able to bring the reindeer in before Christmas because of the lack of snow, and this gives an idea of why that would be a problem. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It’s truly a beautiful spectacle.
Thank you Konstantin. I hear you are coming back in May, which makes me happy. It’s good in the depths of winter to have things to look forward to.