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The Viking

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  1. Thanks a lot Robert, have already made a booking for Jouni for friday, but prepared to move it to saturday if La Merenda comes through! And yes: Your wine retailer sounds just like what we're looking for. My reference to the Montrachet does not necessarily reflect our level of "wine label conciousness", but rather that they have this exceptional wine on their list at a fairly good value (The Ramonet brothers consider 1979 to be one of THE best Montrachets ever). Local wines intersped with a more general selection would be great! I tried Chez Bruno for lunch last year, but was not overwhelmingly impressed at the time, but then again, it was not the season for good truffles... The reason I'm still looking at La Merenda is that I want something contrasting with the rest of the *studded itineary, and for wholesome cooking with a difference and without the trimming, I thought this to be perfect..
  2. I'm leading a group of 11 Norwegian (True Vikings) food and wine buffs to the Nice area the 16th-19th of October, and amongst other thhings this is our preliminary meal schedule: 16th: By car transferring to La Bastide de Moustiers (booked for the night) with degustation dinner (and have put 2 Le Montrachet 1979 Ramonet on hold). 17th: Lunch: Bastide de St. Antoine in Grasse on our way back to Nice where we'll be staying at the Elysee Palace for two nights. Dinner: La Meridiana in Nice. 18th: Lunch in Vence; Jacques Maximin. Dinner: NEED HELP! (Considering Ch. Eze or Beaulieu Sur Mer). 19th: Lunch: Chantecler in Hotel Negresco. Departing back for Oslo at 8pm. I'd appreciate comments and inputs, but do remember thatr we are a rather large (although well behaved, contrary to popular belief) group and need to do some booking in advance. We do NOT want Louis XV, most of us have been there and consider it a poor value, and the fiood in itself none too spectacular. Also: If you do know of excellent vineyards or wineshops with degustations in the area, this will also be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  3. I must beg to differ with Ruth: In general, I'd never recommend a canned product over a fresh one, but in this instance I will. This has to do with both the fact that the Pimientos del Piquillo de Lodosa are quite differnet in flavour and texture than your regular bell pepper, and also the fact that they are roasted/charred over wooden coals/fires from old vines, after that peeled by hand and canned without any preservatives or additives sucha as oil, citric acid, etc. IMHO the best brands are: Conservas de Lodosa (THE best) as well as Conservas Rosara. One brand that is slightly cheaper, but also with some torn peppers are the ones from Conservas Dantza.
  4. Welcome to Oslo! It'll probably be fairly frisky weather, so do bring some warm clothes, but you might get one of our odd Indian Summers... THE best restaurant in town is definetely Bagatelle (+47 2244 6397)under the supervision of Eyvind Hellstrøm. He is particularly good with fish and shellfish and departs at times from his French philosophies. 2 well deserved stars in Guide Rouge. A close second mightbe Oro (+47 2301 0240), run by Bocuse D'Or winner Terje Næss, althogh he might not be there all the time. More Spanish influenced, maybe, uses a bit of foam and jellies.. High mark ups on the wines, though.. For something completely different try Palace Grill in close by Solli Plass. Small worn restaurant that does NOT accept any reservations and whose menu changes daily, quite innovative cuisine, great scallops with pea pure and their game is legendary. If you're a non smoker you will not like it, as the restaurant itself is so small tha there is definetly nowhere that the smoke doesn't penetrate. Opens at 5pm, and if you want to be sure of a table, be there by 6. The restaurant of Bølgen&Moi on the outskirts of Oslo, incorporated into Sonia Henie's art gallery should also be a must (+47 6752 1020), but be certain that you book in the restaurant and not the simpler cafe where both food and service doen't live up to it. Winewise great value for money. The Holmenkollen Park is beautifully situated on the hills overlooking the city, and for some time the restaurant was rather good, the food probably still is. But: Wines are very expensive, and the waiters seem rather to go throgh the motions than enjoying their work and trying to make your evening enjoyable. I'll be happy to provide other info if needed.
  5. The Oslo area is probably where you'll find the best concentration of decent sushi bars.. For sushi incorporating whale I'd go for the now very popular "Alex Sushi" downtown, although they in general tend to make the pieces a little too large for me, not quite your average nibbble size.. Benny's sushi restaurant is probably THE place for high quality sushi when it comes to more specialized ingredients like hamashi, toro and sakè toro, and if ordered in advance, they'll serve you perfect whale in both sushi and maki combinations.. Mmm, now I really got hungry...
  6. As a child I was often served "whale stroganoff" which was in a sense tasteful, but the meat does not profit from prolonge cooking, so it was rather tough to chew. Sushi bars in Norway often have whale as a part of their mixed sushis, served with at wee bit of scallions and minced garlic on top, veeerrry nice...
  7. The difference between Iberico ham and regular serrano is probably best described as the difference between a white wine and a vintage port or sherry... The iberico comes from the "pata negra"/blackfooted pig, but to meet the highest standards (Gran reserva or cinco J) quite a few other elements must be present. 1. There are different denomination de origin that are known for providing the best quality, the most reknowned being Jabugo, Salamanca and Huelva. 2. The pigs should have ample space for roaming and their diet should consist of a large percentage of acorns, this gives the ham the label "bellotta". 3. Minimum curing/hanging time should be 12 months, most reputable producers will have 24-36 months on average, I once tasted a 60month ham that was tremendous! Of course this reduces the ham's weight substantially, hence the exorbitant pricing.. 4. And if you're really an iberico freak: Ask for the right hind leg, as this is almost the most tender! (The pata negra pig almost always rests and sleeps on its right side, so this ham is more "massaged" and has a fuller flavour, compare it to the treatment of Japan's Kobe beef.) Remember: In Spain the imported San Daniele will run you approx. 35 Euro/kilo sliced, whereas the top quality ibericos will cost >120 Euros/kilo! IMHO the best producers are Sanchez Romero de Caravajal and Joselito. Enjoy!
  8. Making reservations ahead depends on whether you're going for lunch or dinner, allow 2-3 weeks notice for dinner in high season, for lunch one week will usually suffice, especially if there are no more than four in your party. The restaurant opens at 1.30pm promptly for lunch, as far as I remember it's at 830pm for dinner. Allow 2,5-3 hours for lunch, maybe 3-4 hours for dinner, depending on youre menu choices and what tempo you prefer. Remember: I'll take you a good 45 minutes to get back to Barcelona center..
  9. With some reservations, I'll add my positive response to Isidre, as the quality in my opinion has been variable over the years, I'll probably try it on my next trip to BCN later this fall. I felt that the cooking did suffer for a while the last year before remodelling the kitchen and the rest of the restaurant. For me, one of the highlights has always been the truffled "carabineros" on potato slices with olive oil. This dish has been delivered as succulent as any, but also with dry and not quite fresh prawns. I definetely do miss their wonderful Ensalada de Bogavante The cabrito al horno is good, but not exceptional the way I see it. My best fillet steak with truffle sauce ever was at Isidre in 1994... Isidres tour de force is her desserts, I always leave room for them.. Their best waiter; Robert, sadly has left, but is now integral in his new place Colibri 5-10 minutes up the road, definetely one to be reckoned with. There, they have taken some of the best from Isidre and built lovely advanced flavoursome courses, I'll do a report when I'm back in early October..
  10. Do try Nou Manolin in Alicante itself, definetely above average cooking, although not eclectic, and the wine list is worth dying for, especially the verticals of Vega Sicilia...
  11. Hello from another newbie out of Norway.. Been to El Raco De Can Fabes four times in total, last time was about a year ago. The tasting menu will run you about 85-105 euro + 7% tax, depending on season and special dishes.. The big variable here will be the amount spent on wine, whilst not on the ceheap end, this restaurant does offer some extraordinary value for money, especially amongst lesser known regions of Spain and mid-range red and white burgundies.. Count on about 50 euro a bottle and you'll definetely be on the safe side. Tipping in Spain is NOT like the US where a waiter will snarl at you if you leave < 15%, at this level anywhere up to 5% is much appreciated. IMHO: I'd definetely go for lunch, not dinner..
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