norway

The Family Hytte/ Cabin

A hytte is a cozy Norwegian cabin, often in the mountains, and used as an escape from the stress and noise of everyday life. Both Ole Magnus and his brother Christian have cabins a bit outside of Hønefoss. I have memories of spending Christmas at the cabin back in 2005, and maybe some vague memories of spending time here back when I was 4. But despite all of the time I’ve spent in Norway the last few years, I hadn’t made it back to the cabins. However, we made it a priority to get some hytte time in this trip. We left Hønefoss late morning, stopped for groceries (and ice cream), and made it to the cabin by the afternoon.

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OJ led us up the mountain which proved more taxing than anticipated. There was still a good amount of snow left up there, so navigating the snow patches and swampy areas took time.

Once we reached the lake, we hesitantly took a dip. OJ was the first one in the water, and he didn’t exactly make it look enjoyable. Nevertheless, I still managed to dunk myself before rushing back onto land to dry off and get dressed. Kayla was the only wimpy one, and only made it in up to her knees. It was really, really cold.

After we put our layers back on, we enjoyed some Coronas and chocolate before heading back down to the cabin.

We spent the night playing cards and boardgames, all of which OJ won. We cooked a yummy stir-fry and put a dent on both the bottles of tequila and fernet. Of course, it wasn’t time for bed until the sun already started rising.

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Family Time in Norway

This past trip to Norway was full of great family time. We all joined Aunt Anne outside of Oslo for Griffin’s folkehøgeskule graduation.

While I was in Bergen shrimp-picnicing, hiking, and catching up with friends, Grandma and Grandpa were sailing down the coast from the islands of Lofoten to Bergen. They hopped off their boat and met us at the train station so that we could all spend the 17th of May in Grandma’s hometown, Hønefoss. The train ride was very scenic, despite the periodic darkness during numerous tunnels.

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Griffin stayed in Hønefoss before he headed out on a trip around Europe with his friend from home. Kayla, Grandpa, Griffin and I enjoyed Ole Magnus’s home brewed beer on our first night in Honefoss– our first time drinking with Griffin. We enjoyed Ole Magnus’s home brew– so much so that by the time we left, his supply had dried up! OJ wouldn’t even put his down while on the slackline– but maybe he just wanted an added challenge.

Kari, Ole Magnus, and OJ were excellent hosts as always. The 17th of May was full of good food, drinks, and people– like it should be. We even lucked out with the weather. The day began with the traditional champaign breakfast, followed by the Hønefoss parade.

The rest of the day was spent celebrating– grilling, eating, and drinking with family and friends.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to wear Grandma’s bunard for the third time. This is a traditional Norwegian dress made of wool and embroidered with regional designs. Grandma embroidered hers herself when she was a teenager. She’s worn it for countless celebratory occasions, my mom was married in it, and now I’ve gotten to wear it three times.

Even though they couldn’t make it for the 17th, Knut Harald, Nina, Jacob, and Josefine came to visit afterwards. We had yet another great day of sun, good food, drinks, and relaxation. It was great to see (almost) everyone from the family this trip.

Norwegian Treats!

I went into these two weeks knowing that my sugar and carb intake was going to skyrocket. Ice cream, pastries, candy, bread… it’s all part of the Norwegian experience. I decided that I can afford a food bender once every two years, and I made sure to properly document it.

Ice Cream

It’s no secret that I am a bit ice cream crazy– but when in Norway, this amplifies. There’s nothing quite like Norwegian ice cream– my favorite: soft-is. It’s like soft-serve ice cream, but so much tastier. Think of your favorite custard, imagine it being 10x better, and that is soft-is. And what makes soft-is complete? The toppings. My favorite topping is the chocolate– it tastes like a sweet cocoa powder. When I want a bit of a mix, I usually pick half Oreo half chocolate. Besides from soft-is, there is småis, which include a variety of packaged ice creams. My personal favorite is the krone-is which is comparable to a drumstick ice cream cone. And lastly, my trip to Norway wouldn’t be complete without trying one båtis (boat ice cream.) This was my go-to daily ice cream during my first 1-month trip to Norway as a 4 year old. I have to admit, I remember it tasting better as a kid.

Pastries

There are a lot of buns and pastries in Norway, but my favorite is Skoleboller or Skolebrød (school bun/bread.) This pastry has a custard center and coconut icing topping. It’s by far my favorite Norwegian sweet. Most skoleboller are great, but nothing beats homemade. I am still left craving the buns we made in Lofoten, and most of all, Grandma’s homemade skoleboller. The other pastry I had on this trip was a solboller, or sun bun. This is similar to the school bun but without the coconut topping.

Pålegg/ On-Bread

In Norway, there’s a term ” pålegg” which refers to all types of things that can go on bread. This term is used often, because Norwegians eat a lot of bread. Ole Magnus helped coined the english version of this concept as “on-bread.” I had a lot of bread, with a variety of on-bread during this trip. Kayla and Brandi made a fresh bruschetta which was a perfect evening patio snack. Grandma and Grandpa bought shrimp for a shrimp feast one evening which is by far my favorite on-bread. (Yes, I lucked out and got two shrimp feasts!)

Drinks

Although not documented as well– I tried a fair amount of delicious beer, wine, and spirits. Brandi, Kayla, and I did a local IPA and Sour beer tasting in Trondheim. Ole Jørgen brought over his Bareksten Botanical Gin which is the first gin I have ever enjoyed. We sipped on gin and tonics until we went to a great natural wine bar, Spontan Vinbar. We shared two different (both fantastic) bottles of rosé. And I must mention Ole Magnus’s home brewed beer in Hønefoss. He had a British bitter, a Boston Lager, and a Chili Stout– all three were great! They even got Grandpa’s seal of approval– which is a big deal. Beyond alcohol, I had lots of coffee. I enjoyed cappuccinos, chili-mochas, espresso, and lots of black coffee.

Fire-Foods

It wouldn’t be a trip to Norway without cooking over fire at least once. This time, we made both pizza and chocolate-stuffed bananas. The pizza was great– especially because of the company of many great friends. (More on this later). I realize the picture of the banana is blurry, but it needed to be included. This is one of my fire favorites, and Vigdis was nice enough to bring them along for our fire.

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There are a few things out there that are distinctly Norwegian. The first, pictured below in the bowl, is rømmegrøt. This is a smooth but thick porridge made from sour cream, milk, flour, and butter. It’s not one of my favorite Norwegian dishes, but it’s sooo Norwegian. If you load it up with a dollop of butter, a hefty amount of cinnamon, and enough sugar, it becomes simply a vessel for sweet goodness.

Although I don’t care for hotdogs, I make sure to get a few øst-pølser each trip. These are delicious cheese-filled “sausages” that put shame to hotdogs. Even the mustard– a condiment I don’t usually like– is different, and makes the pølser experience perfect.

Norway has a lot of candy, but over the years I’ve focused my interest down to one type: Black Licorice. I made plenty of stops to the bulk candy section of grocery store to load up my paper bag with licorice spirals.

And lastly, there’s lefsegodt. Lefse is a potato flatbread, and lefsegodt is this flatbread layered with butter, sugar, and sometimes cinnamon. How can you go wrong with that? It’s even better enjoyed with a view at the end of a hike!

Overall, this trip was full of great food, most of which was enjoyed outside under the sun. I had just about enough of my favorites to tie me over until next time.

 

A Bergen Shrimp Picnic

After leaving Norway two years ago, I was left missing two things: the shrimp, and my friends… not necessarily in that order. Nothing beats a buttered piece of bread topped with a pile of Norwegian shrimp, drizzled with lemon, and garnished with dill. This particular meal has been haunting me in my dreams– a constant craving lasting two years.

Needless to say, there was a lot of pressure on this shrimp picnic I had been waiting for. We decided to have our picnic on Tuesday. Kayla took a trip to the grocery store only to find out they were out of fresh shrimp. They had frozen shrimp that had been caught over the weekend, but we didn’t want to settle– we wanted the freshest and the best! The next batch was getting in the next morning, so we postponed our picnic until Wednesday.

I spent the morning with Margit, who had just arrived from Sogndal. We walked around town, ate ice cream, and caught up on each other’s year. A lot has happened for both of us since Canada so there was a lot to chat (and laugh) about.

Margit and I in Bergen

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We met up with Kayla and Brandi in the early afternoon and made our way to the store to buy our shrimp. As we approached the cooler, we were taken aback by the tragic sight of six lonely shrimp laying where we expected to see hundreds.

With this devastating turn of events, we had to change plans and settle for frozen shrimpies. We gathered 3 kilos and headed back to the airbnb. We laid the shrimp out flat to help with defrosting, and spent the rest of the afternoon prepping our picnic.

Despite missing the boat on fresh shrimp, the picnic was a success. We set up in Nordnes Park– a popular picnic and swimming spot in Bergen. The park was full of people grilling, dancing, drinking and having fun. Peeling and cleaning the shrimp was hard work which only made them even tastier. We worked our way through almost all 3 kilos– leaving just 7 shrimp uneaten.

Brandi had expressed interest in swimming in the fjord. It was particularly warm out, so Nordnes was full of people jumping into the water. As the clouds rolled in and temperatures dropped, Brandi’s window for swimming started to close. Maria agreed to join Brandi which was enough to convince her to make the plunge. They jumped in 3 times and didn’t seem to be so miserable– which is how I knew the water must have been warmer than typical fjord temps.

The weather was warm, the shrimp were tasty, and the friends were great. Overall, it was a perfect picnic. I didn’t get nearly enough time with my girls this trip, but the time we did have, was full of laughs like always.