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I’m a vegan for Lent. Or, I was until I boarded the plane for Norway.
I figured that eating vegan in Norway was going to be tough but I really had no idea how tough. After asking for a vegetarian meal on Scandinavian airlines and being given a fish dish instead I was quick to throw my hands up in the air and give myself a week long hiatus from Lent.
Given the proximity to sea and the farming practices of the country, which are primarily livestock and feed grains, you can bet there was lots of dairy, meat, and fish to be eaten.
One thing to note about dining out in Norway: it’s not cheap. Not at all.
I was not so secretly hoping to be able to eat one of these on my trip:
Don’t worry, this guy is just taxidermy. I’m no hunter. The meal looked more like this:
It tasted pretty good. Not my favourite meat (that award still goes to lamb). It was a bit on the tough side with a mild taste (not as game-y as I was expecting) similar to venison.
This reindeer stew came from the cafeteria restaurant Kaffistova in Oslo that serves lots of traditional Norwegian dishes from smørbrød (open faced sandwiches) to hot stews like this one to fish dishes.
Dinner for two at this cafeteria with no drinks 320NOK ~ $56 CAD.
Fish is BIG in Norway. Huge, really. I’m a big fan of fish and I’m pretty familiar with Norwegian fish dishes like gravlax and stockfish (salt cod) that I’ve cooked before so I was excited to eat it! Matt and I got a recommendation to go to the fish restaurant Lofoten in the Aker Brygge harbour neighbourhood of Oslo.
We started with a raw marinated scallop with scallop mousseline and lemon creme, and mussels steamed in white wine.
The scallop was tasty but I much preferred the mussel dish. The mussels were huge, meaty, and perfectly steamed.
For a main dish I went with panfried cod with onion tart and Matt had the baked arctic char with cauliflower cream. I`m not a big fan of these fancy schmancy deconstructed type dishes. While the fish was perfectly cooked, it was under seasoned. Everything else on the plate was over seasoned. It`s like you had to mush all the components of the dish together to get the whole thing to taste right! I don`t know about you, but I prefer my dish constructed.
At least the dessert made-up for the main… it was delicious. Black currant souffle with black currant sourbet. There were warm melty chunks of chocolate in the not too sweet souffle that mixed perfectly with the tartness of the sorbet. I was in heaven. It was almost worth the $20.
Dinner for two with 2 courses each, 1 dessert, and 1 glass of wine: 1180NOK ~ $205 CAD
Probably my favourite part of Norwegian cuisine was the dairy. Seriously, it was amazing. And given the amount that I ate the fact that I only came home with 2 tiny pimples made it all the more worthwhile.
First the skyr: super thick and not too sweet this Nordic yoghurt had the consistency thicker than sour cream and could hold a spoon upright. And the vanilla flavour actually had vanilla beans in it. Awesome.
Then there was the butter. Best. Butter. Ever.
I know I talked about Irish butter before and how delicious everyone says it is. If it’s anything like Norwegian butter then I believe every word. Because Norwegian butter is amazing. It tastes like you used to imagine butter would tasted back when you were 5 years old and you pretended you were Amish and had an imaginary butter churner. For real.
And then there’s the best cheese in the world. Gudbrandsdalost or Brown Cheese.
Made from the caramelized whey leftover from the goat cheese making process this cheese is soft and sweet and is amazing on toast with or Wasa crackers with coffee. … I snuck some home in my suitcase to save until after Lent again.
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