Beer and food at Cafe Christiania in Oslo

Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #1Beer in a class of its own aligned with tasteful food is what Christiania Café offers for a gourmet evening with friends or collages. It’s called a Beer Banquet = a gourmet meal with appropriate beers, designed especially for pre-booked guests. The menu is put together by the chef and beer waiter with different types of beer from all over Europe for each dish. There are also opportunities to pour your own beer from their special beer taps in the ceiling.
The menu is a surprise menu and put together from seasonal produce. They select raw materials of the best quality and preferably local Norwegian food. The servings are also based on different beers, be it in marinades, sauces, beer sorbet, beer yeast in bread and more. The beer waiter then sets the appropriate beer to the menu and the waiter tells you all about both the food and drink before each servings. A lecture in matching food and beer from all over Europe – how about that? : -)

These tables take up to 16 people – we were 6 from a work group of the Norwegian Computer Society. You see: at the end of every season of intense teamwork to provide our members with a variety of cutting edge subjects, we believe we deserve a social gathering. What’s better than a culinary feast and trying a new restaurant in Oslo then? ………. and of course you are welcome to join us:
Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #2 Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #3
So then, finally: let’s enjoy the menu – this surprise put together by the chef and the beer waiter:
Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #5 Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #4
Left: Crawfish and Mussels with Erdinger Beer (German brewed on wheat)
Right: Breast of forest dove with Trappsites Rochefort 10 (Belgian: a sweet and alcoholic aroma that pours a thick muddy brown soothing on the throat)

Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #6 Cafe Christiania Beer Dinner #7
Left: Pig Fillet with Leffe Brune (Belgian: a delicate taste of vanilla and clove, and the full aroma of toffee and caramel)
Right: Mature Brie Cheese with Chimay Rouge (Belgian: topped with a creamy head it gives off a light, fruity apricot aroma produced by the fermentation)

We had a splendid evening with good servings, tasty food and great beer. If you happen to be in Oslo and want to give it a try – which I do recommend – here is their website.

The outcome of our interesting discussions on “Does IT Matter?” for the members of our work group is to be presented during the coming months – I’m sure they’ll like it too : -)

Celebrating New Year with Seafood and Fireworks

Happy New Year 2013It’s time to open a new book with blank pages. The book – or blog in my case – I will call it “Opportunity”, and the first chapter is devoted to a Happy New Year Greeting. I could write about New Year’s Resolutions, New Year Greeting Cards, New Year’s Day Messages etc., but have decided to concentrate on a look at our New Year’s Eve traditions.
Still at the darkest and often coldest time of the year this sets the scene for enthusiasm and cheer so the celebrations are traditionally a blast of a feast. These traditions are all based on folklore and myths since the return of the sun has an important influence on our daily life and calls for special celebrations. In this post I’ll concentrate on our seafood delight dinner and the fact that we send up our own fireworks:

New Year’s Eve Dinner:
New Years Seafood delight dinner #AWe have followed the same procedure as for many years this Holiday – the best season of the year – Christmas Eve dinner with our children and visiting family the 1st day of Christmas (for the Yule Smorgasbord, click to read my post about the feast of traditional food: Norwegian Christmas Day Smorgasbord). Next stop is our vacation home in Sweden to celebrate New Year’s Eve. There are three important ingredients in this celebration; a week off, seafood dinner with champagne and of course setting off our own fireworks. Let’s start with the dinner:
My regular readers know we love seafood and no wonder since we have such a long coastline and Norwegians are known as fishermen. Only the best is on the table this evening: lobster, crab, crawfish and shrimp – all naturel – and the whole topped with a bottle of champagne. To make it short: click the photo to bigify, sit in and enjoy!

Setting off our own fireworks:
Happy New Year 2013Ever since my childhood, I remember we were allowed to stay up until pass midnight to see the fireworks. I also remember passing this tradition on to my children and the day before we would build a big ramp to shoot them off with snow and ice holding bottles for the rockets. These days for convenience and safety, I’ve changed from rockets to a box of fireworks with only one fuse.
Part of the anticipation is to buy it the day before. They demonstrate all the kinds they have on a video and we bought one which lasted for a bit more than a minute. Everyone goes out to see and the children have fun with sparklers : -). How we buy it and do it is to be read in my post: .

Happy New Year:
A new year has just begun and from all of me to all of you dear readers I wish you all the best and:
Happy New Year – Godt Nytt År – Gelukkig nieuwjaar – Bonne année – Gutes Neues Jahr – Buon Capo d’Anno – Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu – Szczesliwego Nowego roku – Feliz ano novo – Feliz Año Nuevo !

Christmas Yule tree Santa or Nisse and food traditions in Norway

Norway Christmas Traditions #AChristmas or Yuletide and New Year are connected to very old traditions and important celebrations in Norway. Keep in mind we are on top of the northern hemisphere. After a long period of darkness and cold, no wonder people needed a break and celebrated “the return of the sun” – with wild feasts that lasted for days. These traditions are all based on folklore and myths since the return of the sun has an important influence on our daily life and calls for special celebrations. Imagine: In our capital Oslo (latitude of 60° North) right now has 6 hours of daylight with the sun really low on the horizon at midday, compared to 19 hours and hardly no dark at all at summer solstice.
In this post I`ll share some of the typical Norwegian Christmas and New Year traditions – the happiest season of the year – and I have made some photo collages to illustrate which I hope you like (click to bigify and enjoy!):

Christmas trees:
Norway Christmas Traditions #BChristmas trees became common in Norway from around 1900 and I guess you know it’s originally from Germany. Before presents are opened, we “go around the Christmas tree”; all the family holds hands to form a ring around the tree, and walk around the tree singing Yuletide carols. It was fun but hard when I was a child, only to see all the presents – however the adults knew we would be far too busy after opening them – so walking around and singing first, then the presents : -)
Most everyone has either a spruce or a pine tree in their living room – decorated with white lights, tinsel, Norwegian flags and other ornaments for Christmas. As a child and with my children of course, we made paper baskets of shiny, colored paper. The baskets can be filled with candy or nuts. Chains made of colored paper are also very popular.
To see a tree decorated outdoors is a new thing, but also more and more common. To the right in the pic, you see my parents tree on their balcony. Notice the bowl with Christmas porridge at the bottom and beside it: The Yule Log painted as a Nisse (more details below!).

Christmas food traditions – the Smorgasbord:
Norway Christmas Traditions #CFor thousands of years we have developed our food preservation traditions and our folk tales have over time become mixed with other European folklore, like for example Santa Claus (Nisse). All of this comes to mind when visiting my parent’s home for the Christmas Day smorgasbord. The house is filled with Yuletide spirit, decorations and food traditions which have been in our family for generations. Counting about 15 people, there is always a lot of food left, so join us, sit in and enjoy my childhood’s food feast memories in the photo. There will be served e.g. Ham, Pork Ribs, Tongue, Roast Beef, Lam Roll & Lever Pate and of course Salmon & Herring.

Remember all these are homemade with fresh meat coming directly from the butcher – made with love and care, based on recipes past on for generations! Just by thinking of it, especially when I enter my parents’ house this special day, I am literary taken down the memory lane – just by closing my eyes. I remember mom and grandma in the kitchen almost the entire month of December; the smell, the atmosphere, the excitement and the anticipation. There was something in the air – it was Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year!

Sweets and Nisse too of course:
Norway Christmas Traditions #DIf you thought the food and the feast ends here, you are wrong! No, when you are filled up with pork and lamb and ham and maybe had a short walk or a power nap to digest at least a bit, then the special homemade sweets were on the table. Typical it would be the home made marzipan served in a very old confect box and of course the Ring cake (in Norwegian, Kransekake).
Behind the top of the cake, you see some Santas or Nisse as we call them in Norway. So let me tell you a bit about him:

A Nisse is a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore originating from Norse paganism – actually close to what we call an elf. He was believed to take care of a farmer’s home and children and protect them from misfortune, especially at night, when the house folk were asleep – type Fjøs Nisse (Fjøs = barn).

Yule and Fjompe Nisse from Norway #1Nisse is the common name in Norwegian, Danish and the Scandinavian dialect in southernmost Sweden is Tomte and Tonttu in Finland. He was often imagined as a small, elderly man (size varies from a few inches to about half the height of an adult man), often with a full beard; dressed in the everyday clothing of a farmer. However, there are also folktales where he is believed to be a shape-shifter able to take a shape far larger than an adult man, and other tales where the Nisse is believed to have a single, cyclopean eye.

In the 1840s the farm’s Nisse became the bearer of Christmas presents in Denmark, and was then called Julenisse (Yule Nisse). This mythical character then turned into the white-bearded, red-capped friendly figure associated with Christmas ever since. Shortly afterwards, and obviously influenced by the emerging Father Christmas traditions as well as the new Danish tradition, a variant of the Nisse, called the Julenisse in Norway and Jultomte in Sweden, started bringing the Christmas presents in instead of the traditional Julbock (Yule Goat).

Ihope you have enjoyed my reminiscing of my childhood and a walk down memory lane. Christmas Eve is now upon us and its time not only to remember our traditions but to give them to our own children and families.
From all of us here to all of you: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ian Anderson with Jethro Tull concert in Oslo Norway

Ian Anderson Jethro Tull in Oslo 2012 #CAttending the Ian Anderson concert with his band Jethro Tull playing Aqualung, Living in the Past and of course Thick as a Brick, was a sensational nostalgic music adventure to me. I had the pleasure once before, 40 years ago and my very first concert ever. I was only 18 and for a country boy who just moved to the big capital Oslo, it was an almost indescribable adventure. People where drinking beer and there was an odd sweet fragrance in the air – they were screaming and clapping hands: I was overwhelmed *LoL*.
On the stage there was Jethro Tull from England leading by a long haired, tartan caped maniacal flute player named Ian Anderson: The concert is still reckoned as one of the great rock performances of the 70s. Most of the songs were in the album “Aqualung” released two months later. The year after, he made the album “Thick as a Brick” and of course it went through my head at this adventurous concert – this time together with my dear wife DianeCA. Our tickets were a gift from my friends at the “Boys Only” party when I turned 60 – some weeks ago. I gladly share our experience with you – this time with some collages of the photos – the light conditions where difficult, so I hope you understand:
Ian Anderson Jethro Tull in Oslo 2012 #A

Actually it was not Jethro Tull, only Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson on the posters this evening. Earlier this year it was 40 years since “Thick as a Brick” and with that in mind “Thick as a Brick 2” was made as a follow up album- however this time with Ian Anderson only on the cover.
Ian Anderson Jethro Tull in Oslo 2012 #B

It was the same band composition which Jethro Tull is known for: Guitar, bass, keyboards and drums – and in addition the boss’ with his special small guitar and his trademark: the Transverse flute. Besides, there was an extra vocalist, Ryan O’Donnell who also performed as an actor and mime artist – singing in a similar style and balancing out the more rusty voice of the boss.

The original work was performed as it was originally released on LP record – in two consecutive sessions. “Thick as a Brick” was originally featured a mixture of a prog-album and a rock opera. The so-called story – about childhood to Gerald Bostock was admittedly very in the background. In return here all the classic progressive elements with their frequent theme and tempo changes. It is not classic pop songs, but rather a coherent symphonic works. This could probably also be part of the reason that the material has been so seldom performed. The music was remarkable complex and unique in a style never copied through all these years.

The second half of the concert consisted of the raw material anno 2012. It continues the story of Gerald Bostock with a wide range of stories about what happened after adolescence. Unlike the first part of this disc consists of simple songs with a kind of cohesive story and not a coherent work. The material is also performed by this 65-year-old’s voice, and worked perfectly as successor to the first part of the concert.

And by “Locomotive Breath” as an encore, it was also a rehearsal with one of the classic songs from “Aqualung“. Although Ian Anderson doesn’t stand as long on one foot when he plays his flute solos, he is full of energy and the same enthusiasm and artistic aura which he had back in the 70s. A truly magical evening and a trip back memory lane all rolled into one.

7 years of blogging at RennyBA’s Terella

RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look backHappy blogaversary to Terella.no! As many of you may remember from previous years, my adventure with blogging started out as an experiment. I was lecturing a class in “Technology Business and the Society” at the Norwegian School of Management and among the topics was a new phenomenon; Blogging. Considering myself a network evangelist, the concept fascinated me and I decided to try starting my own blog. After a short time I was addicted as it seems blogging filled several needs in my personal interests. It filled my need to be social and meet new people, it fulfilled my interest in networking, my passion for technology, and last but not least it enhanced my enthusiasm for photography providing a place to share my interests with people from all around the world.

Blogging connecting people:
Oslo Blog Gathering Logo 365-400Over the years I have experienced many new and interesting things because of my blog. I have met new people who over the years have become good friends to me. I now have friends all over the world, and have both visited other bloggers and had many visitors in my homeland because of our connection through blogging.
Oslo Blog Gathering in 2010 is a good example of how blogging has brought myself and others together. Not only did I get the opportunity to meet many of my readers face to face, but many of those who started reading my blog have become friends with each other have built new friendships and new networks out from people they met in Oslo.

Living the good life through blogging:
In recent years living a good life – or as the Italians say “La Dolce Vita” has become more and more important to me! When I came down with Parkinson’s disease a few years ago I had to learn to slow down and give more focus to enjoying life. I quickly experienced that blogging also enhanced my personal enjoyment and quality time with my wife DianeCA. Diane shares my interest in photography and social media, and together our quality time together grows when we share it with others.
7 years of blogging at RennyBA’s Terella #B
We both enjoy photo hunting and trying to capture the magic of the day, the season or the moment. We often enjoy what we are doing that much more while we are imprinting a memory that we will later share with others. We have also traveled around Europe over the last few years and met up with some of our blogging friends. Almost anywhere we wish to travel we already know someone we can contact in that land.

Expanding to other social media – a bonus not a replacement:
In the past couple of years some of the time I used to spend blogging has gone over to new forms for Social Media such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. I don’t see these things so much as a competition to my blog as an enhancement. I use them to keep in daily contact with friends from the blogsphere – and while I may blog less often than I did in the beginning, I like to keep my theme – Norway and the Nordic countries; our culture, traditions and habits while keeping the quality of my posts at a high level. I feel it is more important that the reader learn something interesting from my posts then that they follow my daily movements.