Dining in Oslo – more about ingredients than preparation

“This restaurant sells traditional Norwegian food, but its really expensive…” said one local as she pointed to a popular restaurant.

“You could try that restaurant there, the food is really good but its not cheap…” was the response from another local.

Both times I decided to go check out the menu, both times I turned around and carried on walking.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that restaurants in Oslo were priced outside a regular meal and perhaps something kept for special occasions. They certainly weren’t for the faint of wallet, definitely not for me.

I still wanted to try something Norwegian. Then it dawned on me that many fish and meats from Norway were known to be remarkably good. Norway was known for was the freshness of its produce – its salmon, cod, herring and other shell fish. Where was I going to eat though? That’s what I’d do, try local produce in Oslo for my meals.

I was a short walk from the city hall and spotted a queue at the food trucks. The most popular stand was serving up one item Fish and Chips. I wasn’t looking for a chippy, we weren’t in the UK anyway.

But the menu described the cod as fresh Norwegian cod and the chips as homemade locally sourced.

Norwegian fishes like salmon and cod are thought to have better texture and a richer flavour because the cold waters around the country delay the growth process in these fish. Because of this, the fish meat remains firmer and flaky. The fishes also have a higher fat content because of the cold meaning it smells more fragrant. It also remains fresher after catching because old the cold weather.

The plate was simple. The main star was clearly the cod. A good cod fish is relatively flaky and not at all fishy, because it is found in cold waters it is a fatty fish and with that the fish meat has a fragrance to it. This was good cod. I’m not sure how it ranks on the Heston Blumenthal scale, but I was a happy camper.

Food in Norway is seasonal and depends on what sort of produce or livestock is available at the time. The best meat around Spring in Norway is duck meat. And that was what I got next at the mathallen.

The Mathallen is an indoor food hall stocked with specialty shops, cafes and eateries selling food from all over Europe and Asia, but few Norwegian options.

What I did spot was a stall selling duck meat in a sandwich. I obviously went for that 😉

It was all about the savoury food. Like Sweden, Norway celebrates some special food days and one of them is called waffle day or Vaffeldagen and I was in time for it. The most traditional way of serving waffles in Norway is to served heartshaped thin waffles with brown cheese and jam. The part that makes this dish Norwegian is the use of brown cheese or brunost. Brunost is a whey cheese that is created by adding cream to whey when boiling and then reducing the product into a firm cheese like product. While archaeological digs show the this type of cheese was already found in 650 BC, brunost as it is known today was developed by a milkmaid Anne Hov because the dairy products from her hometown were returning less and less revenue. Brunost was a way to help combat economic destruction and later became a source of culinary pride.

I got my vaffel from what is claimed to be the best waffle in town, Haralds Vaffel.

Freshly made waffles with jam is already amazing, but the slight carmalised flavor of brunost and the chewy texture harmonised beautifully with the waffle and jam.

It wasn’t a culinary adventure of a completely new cuisine but it was an exploration of flavours from great raw ingredients. I could appreciate that 🙂

ON THE MAP (Mathallen)

ON THE MAP (Haralds Vaffel)

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