travel

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.

Etc.

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

IMG_8520

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.

Norway 2018… Coming Soon!

Four years ago, my Norwegian friends and I made a pact to see each other every summer. Our first summer after NF, Øyvind and Margit visited me in The States. We explored NYC, VA Beach, Richmond, and Washington DC.

The next summer, I travelled back to Norway and we adventured up to the northern archipelago, Lofoten.

Last summer Margit and Maria met me in British Columbia, Canada for an epic road trip out west to Whistler.

As this summer approached– the fourth summer since our year together– I became doubtful that another trip would happen. But alas– I made it back to Norway for a 15 day trip exploring the cities and catching up with as many friends as possible.

I have a couple more days here in Norway, but it’s way too sunny to stay inside and write blog posts… so pictures and posts will be coming soon!

India Phase 2B: The Upadhyaya Homecoming

We woke up the next morning and walked through the alleys of Azamgarh to make it back to the family’s house. We ate great pakora and drank hot chai before setting out on our adventure to the village.

The historic walk to Haathia ran through the streets of the city before hitting the bridge. This car bridge was new– when my father grew up in the village there was only a rickety walking bridge that often got washed out by the high waters.

Once we entered the village, everything was quieter and greener. The paved car bridge quickly turned into a dirt path which zigzagged in what seemed like a nonsensical pattern. We followed our cousins’ lead through the village towards the family home.

The family house has been in the family for over 60 years. It is the birthplace of not only my dad, but most of his relatives. Chinki (who is around 30yo) was the last one to be born in the Haathia house. As you can see in the photos below, the house oozes history.

After walking through the house, we walked over to our family’s patch of Guava trees. Although the tree patch wasn’t far, we paraded at a slow pace through the village. The fruit was hardly ripe, but both Dad and Lars tried the Guava. They found it too tough and bitter– but that didn’t stop our cousins who ate nearly the whole fruit, down to the stem.

We eventually made our way back to the family house, took a few last photos, and headed back to Azamgarh.