Tag Archives: Norway

Visiting Norway

Here’s another email-turned-blog-post. I’m posting the information below just in case you’re making plans to visit (which I CAN’T RECOMMEND ENOUGH).

“Given your preferences and time allotment, I’d recommend going to Geiranger and Bergen. Geiranger is fairly small but offers stunning scenery and awesome hiking. There’s also a few local dives, like this AMAZING little chocolate shop called Geiranger Sjokolade. There’s a visitor’s center in the port area with plenty of hiking maps/guides. We did a pretty rough trek up to a waterfall (rough for me anyway…haha), but it was totally worth it. It seemed like every ten steps I’d turn around and the view was even more incredible as we got higher and higher. The snow melt was streaming from the mountains, and we’d stop for cool drinks of crystal water from little streams. Some of the hiking trails passed through people’s farms, so you’d open the gate, continue along the path with sheep and lambs (and the occasional llama) prancing around you, and then close the gate on your way out. Even as I’m writing this, I’m like there’s no way. Anyway, at the top, there was a grassy span above the waterfall that we relaxed on for a little while next to this rushing river. Then we hiked down the path behind the falls. So cool. Something else you might be interested is the Geiranger Fjord Center. It was under construction when we were there but the parts we could access were really interesting. There were these neat walkways along the river, a pretty shop and indoor exhibits. Geiranger has an excellent visitor’s site.

From there, or I suppose it doesn’t matter what order you do it, I’d definitely recommend Bergen. It’s Norway’s second largest city but hardly a metropolis. It’s colorful, hilly and cultural and also offers some interesting activities. We explored the outdoor fish market, the pedestrian shopping street, the arts district and Bryggen, the city’s antique wharf. There’s plenty of bakeries, restaurants, etc. and you can try interesting stuff like whale meat. There’s a stave church on the outskirts of town that’s pretty easy to access via local transportation (it’s a bit of a walk from the stop to the church, but depending on how badly you want to see it, it’s worth it.) Don’t miss the funicular up to Mount Fløyen, where you can catch a pretty spectacular view (I only know this from photos, because the day we went it was pea soup fog, but still a cool experience in my opinion.) Look out for all the street art, and don’t miss Skostredet, where you can check out galleries, vintage stuff, etc. I bought a tote at the Made in Bergen store, because I’m a sucker for totes. Bergen also has an excellent tourist page.

As far as transport between the two, I’d check out the Norway in a Nutshell routes and would highly recommend travel by train or even boat. The perspective of the fjords from the water is pretty outstanding.

One unfortunate note: everything is pricey, and our dollar does not exchange well. Not a huge deal, but just a heads up if you want to save.

Anyway, I’m excited for you. It really was other-worldly in its natural beauty. I highly recommend visiting, even before some of the more well-known European hotspots.”

Pannekaker

What’s that, you ask? Norwegian pancakes! I went to an international party the other night; everyone picked a country (or region/state) and brought representative foods. I opted for Norway, having just been in May (More on that later! Still sorting thoughts…). We had taken a train from a small port town to a village called Myrdal on top of a mountain. The little station had wireless Internet access (because obviously) and a cafe, where I ate a delicious Norwegian pancake topped with sweet sour cream and raspberry preserves.

I decided to recreate this dish for the party. I used this recipe, only I nixed the ricotta topping and used raspberry preserves instead of strawberry. I also sweetened the sour cream. However, depending on how sweet your preserves are, adding a sweetener is optional.

They turned out delicious–I must say the batter is basically a liquid, and since I was opting for miniature pancakes (party foods!) as opposed to pan-sized ones (like a crepe), I added more flour to thicken the batter so it would maintain a circular shape in the pan.

Here’s the cool thing I learned, which I’ve basically been telling everyone: The recipe called for cardamom, which I don’t have in my spice cabinet. A regular-size spice container was $12 at the store. It says you can substitute lemon zest, but hello authenticity! I insisted on using cardamom, a spice commonly used in Scandinavian baking, but I didn’t want to drop twelve bucks when I only needed one teaspoon. Enter bulk spices! Turns out places like Garner’s, a natural supplement store in South Carolina, sell spices in bulk. (Earth Fare and Whole Foods might, but I haven’t confirmed this.) You can actually buy as little or as much as you need and pay by weight. I eyeballed a teaspoon, and it was only 89 cents. I look at it as buying a spice sample for a recipe that may or may not work. If it does and I plan on using the spice continually, I might invest in the $12 container. But if not, I only spent, in this case, 89 cents. I’m filing this away for future reference.

Here are the pancakes sitting naturally* next to a Norwegian hat:

*staged strategically for an Instagram

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P.S. I do know ethnic grocery stores often sell spices for cheaper but not necessarily in bulk.