What I Ate and Drank in Norway, or Land of the $50 Sandwich and $20 Beer

A couple months ago, I went to Norway with an old friend, where we visited his sister in Stavanger and took in sights in Oslo for a couple days. I’ll save you the trouble of clicking on the jump. Don’t bother reading the rest of this post. I mean it. I’ll encapsulate the whole thing here by describing all you need to know about that photo you see above: It’s a $50 sandwich. OK, you want more detail? It’s a lox sandwich with the cured salmon wrapped around a core of lusciously soft scrambled eggs and perched atop greens and Norwegian-style multigrain toast about the size of half my palm. It was very good. Did I mention it cost fifty freaking dollars? All right, I should mention that we bought it at the Grand Cafe in Oslo, not exactly a cheap takeout joint, and were sitting next to Ibsen’s favorite table. But, man, is Norway friggin’ expensive! All right, let me start all over again, and take a different tack. Norway is a land of majestic beauty, people proud of their Viking history, and a high standard of living that hints at a utopian future for all mankind. So what could an American visitor possibly bring with him to enhance his experience in the Land of the Midnight Sun? Trail mix. Bring bags and bags of trail mix, because unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, you’re probably going to have to make some tough choices between partaking of the country’s many rich cultural offerings, and eating and drinking. This is whale tartare from Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin, described to me by a resident as a high-concept seafood restaurant in a hoity-toity neighborhood of Olso that was historically the island where thieves and pirates went to hide out and bury their stashes. It’s a starkly beautiful place with huge window that looked out on the bay. As we ate, we watched locals motoring back and forth in boats in the canal below, running errands and ferrying packages. The whale meat was slightly fishy, very fatty, and definitely red meat. It actually reminded me of horse, for some reason. It was not, the waiter assured us, an endangered whale, but a smallish, common species typically found near Oslo’s harbor. Cauliflower, three ways, from Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin. My favorite form of cauliflower, apparently, is foam. That reminds me of a joke I just made up half of. “What did the cauliflower say to the molecular gastronomist?” I haven’t made up the rest yet. Suggestions are welcome. Chocolate “granola” with mint leaves and raspberries. Damn! Maybe I should’ve made it a chocolate bar instead of a cauliflower. This may actually have been my favorite meal in all of Norway, grilled mackerel with sauteed local greens, steamed potatoes and dill sour cream at NB Sørensens Dampskibsexpedition, a bustling eatery inside a former shipping company headquarters that sent many Norwegian immigrants to the U.S. If you forgot to bring trail mix, the national candy, the Quick Lunch, pretty much a Kit-Kat,…

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