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I think I might have told you when I talked about our workshop in Helsinki but until recently I had never set a foot on Scandinavian soil. Not for any particular reason, but there was just always another reason to go somewhere else.. Sun, price, timing… you know the drill. Tom went on a fishing trip to Norway last year and came back with lots of enthusiastic stories, but for me it was a fishing trip and therefore not really interesting. (I don’t like fishing!) Helsinki was the first thing that made me realize that the Northern part of Europe might be more interesting than I had given it credit for.
So when I received an invitation to go on a media trip to Stavanger I didn’t have to think very hard… It all clicked in terms of timing for a change and everything seemed to work out perfectly. And when it also turned out that a few of my favorite foodbloggers where joining too, it had to be a great trip. And wow, it exceeded my expectations by a mile! What a great trip. And I think I fell in love with Norway in the process too. While it didn’t really spark my interest before I cannot wait to go back and rent a camper or a car and tour the country together with Tom. So much beautiful nature, great people and good food!
Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. We were in Stavanger also partially for the Gladmat festival which is a yearly recurring event that is now organised for the 16th time this year. It’s all about the beautiful products of the region and the chef’s that prepare the food. You will find loads of great stands with produce, cooking shows and much much more. The weather was with us for those three days. Although with 32 C it was on the warm side but sun, sea and good company… It doesn’t get much better than that!
The first day we arrived at Stola airport around ten o’ clock. Gunhild, our guide for the coming three days from Region Stavanger was waiting for us with a huge bus (we were with just seven people, so that bus was on the large side so to speak…) and whisked us to the hotel we would be staying at in the centre of Stavanger. The hotel, Comfort Hotel, was fantastic and a real recommendation but I’ll share some more on that on Paper Travels in a separate post…
Our first stop was the canning museum in the older part of Stavanger (also called Gamle Stavanger) You have to know that I am not a big fan of musea in general but this one was an exception. First of all because it had something to do with food (always a winner) and secondly because the man that showed us around, Piers Crocker, had a fantastic sense of humor and managed to explain everything in a really interesting way. He’s an Englishman who’s been living in Norway for a long time and has been giving tours in the Canning museum for nearly as long… O and the museum is literally filled with gorgeous old tools and wooden surfaces which made me itch to bring them back home and use them as props… Good thing my suitcase wasn’t big enough!
The canning museum used to be the place where all the sprats (sardines and herring) were canned. Around 1915 350 million cans of fish where exported out of Norway to other countries… That is an impressive number! The canning museum basically shows you how the job of canning the fish was done in those days. From cleaning and beheading the fishes, to putting them in the tins and labelling them.
At the end of the tour we got to the best part, which was – ofcourse – tasting the sardines in the five different flavors of mustard, olive, jalapeno, tomato and natural… I love all of them but my favorite was the mustard. I took a can with me home so will see if I can make something fun with it soon.
On the Gladmat festival terrain we paid a visit to Pralin Sjokolade Verksted... The owners, Pascal Bulinckx (from Belgium) and his wife Mari Rødland Andersen, have very cleverly jump on the tradition in Norway to make everything yourself. Instead of trying to sell expensive chocolate from a store they started concentrating on giving chocolate workshops for companies, kids parties and the like and have been very successful doing so. Ofcourse Pascal also still makes some pralines himself and we got to taste a few interesting flavors. It really was a bit too hot for chocolate so most of the chocolates where kept in the fridge.
And after that we had to watch this pretty tv show chef by the name of Daniél Rougé Madsen, which was really no punishment… Lol… There is a large number of very good looking chefs in Norway! But more on that later… Ofcourse the show was all about the Jarlsberg cheese
We were just slightly distracted…
Our lunch on day one was with Fisketorget, a fish market annex fish restaurant where we were treated to a few delicious bites as a starter. I loved the herring with Akvavit in particular, but the salmon filet and the Norway prawns where also absolute winners… I mean talk about a difference with the stuff they sell here. The prawns here are typically tiny and not too good, but the ones we got in the market where beautiful, big and delicious…
We enjoyed a relaxing lunch here and I had a beautiful Salmon filet and some potatoes… It doesn’t get any fresher than that.
O and if you want to have a good laugh and read about how I did not make it up the Preikestolen…. You can read that now already on Paper Travels…. Don’t laugh too hard ok?