17/02/2018

Oslo: Best Places For Coffee


If you've been following us for long enough, you'd know that we love coffee almost as much as we love food. Here we are in Norway, the second highest coffee drinking nation in the world, so naturally we made it our quest to find Oslo's best cup of coffee. 

The best places are well documented across the web and we are very aware that we didn't get chance to visit some of the most famous places, but non the less, here is our top five.

1. Hendrix Ibsen
Vulkan 20, 0178 Oslo
★★★★


On top comes Hendrix Ibsen, a coffee shop inspired by music and Jimi himself. As well as a shop area full of classic rock vinyls and the finest coffee equipment is an amazing cafe selling a wide range of your regular drinks and light bites. But to make this place even more unique comes the Nitro Coffee. It is the first place in Norway to sell this iced drink, which is served on draught like a beer. It is extremely strong and certainly powered us up for a long day of exploring. 

2. Talor and Jørgen
Youngs Gate 9, 0181 Oslo
★★★★


Inspired by a recommendation from Bean there at, our first stop on James' birthday was Talor and Jørgen. To our surprise there wasn't a seating area inside, but we relaxed by the coffee bar chatting to the owner about his cafe and the amazing treats on offer. The salted caramel popcorn and oreo doughnuts were divine, and we were in complete envy of the previous customer who took a box of 12 away with her. Norway tends to prefer filter coffee instead of the likes of cappuccinos and lattes, but they were very happy to make us two cappuccinos which were perfect too.

3. Peleton
Torggata 35, 0183 Oslo
★★★★


Peleton is a bike inspired cafe and restaurant with not only fantastic coffee, but with a specialism in pizza. Unfortunately we didn't get to try any food, but the decor was far from plain and in the coffee we found the perfect way to watch the world go by before setting out on a long afternoon walk.

4. Nor​ð & Natt
Hagegata 22-24, 0608 Oslo
★★


We didn't come to Nor​ð & Natt especially for the coffee - we got far more than that and you can read all about it here. Coming at the end of a memorable meal we tried out two different Norwegian blends, typical of their filter coffee culture. 

5. Cafe Roleur
Ullevålsveien 16A, 0171 Oslo
★★


After an afternoon out at Vigelandsparken, we made our way back into town and ready for a warming drink. Cafe Roleur is perhaps equally as famous for its wine and beer offering, but we stayed only for a taste of their Columbian blend coffee, which with hints of caramel was very tasty indeed. 

Visiting in the middle of a very long Scandinavian winter, it was easy to see how Norway gets through 9.9kg of coffee per capita, per year. We found ourselves seeking it several times a day and we weren't let down in the places that we found. 

Have you been to Oslo? Been to any of these places or found some of your own gems? Let us know in the comments below.

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15/02/2018

Oslo: The Culinary Deluxe Food Tour


Following on from our food tour outings in Lisbon, we took to Oslo and couldn't let the opportunity pass to do another. The Culinary Deluxe Food Tour, led by fantastic guide Jean-Pierre, led us to four different local spots, all with a fascinating history and tremendous food.

Meeting downtown in the shopping district, our first stop was Kaffistova - a restaurant with an abundant array of Norwegian classic dishes, some of which were very new to us indeed. Fresh from the North Sea first came a platter of shrimps, cod, oven-cooked salmon and smoked salmon, which the Norwegians classically eat as breakfast with bread and butter. However, the bread we were lucky enough to taste has actually become the most expensive in the world, and doesn't look like bread at all actually...


We allowed ourselves to get comfy in Kaffistova as to our surprise we'd be having a second, this time hot dish in the wonderful restaurant. We had a choice between a number of dishes, however most of the 10 strong group chose a reindeer meat dish with vegetables and potato. Reindeer, or venison as its better known as in the UK is hugely popular in the Nordic regions and was extremely tasty and tender. Jessica was that taken by the salmon tasted as part of the starter, that she opted for it again as a main, this time with cucumber, potato and a delicious sauce. Again the fish was divine and cooked to perfection - it pretty much melted in the mouth. 


Not only were we having an education in Norwegian food, but their culture as a whole. Next door was a Bunad store. Bunads are traditional clothing Norweigians wear on important occasions - they are extremely old fashioned, and crazily expensive! But interesting, non the less. 

Not only did we learn about that but the time that someone attempted to blow up parliament buildings, and how different life is for prisoners in Norway compared to anywhere else. All we'll say is they are treated like kings and are evidence that there is too much money in the Norwegian economy! Despite being French, our guide had impeccable knowledge of the city and country. 


After having a starter and main, we were excited to see where our dessert stop would take us. On the high street is a tiny, and we mean tiny waffle shop where we all had a choice of toppings between Nutella and strawberry jam. As always, we got one each and shared the delight of both. They were freshly made in front of our eyes and the black coffee gave us the energy for the long walk ahead. 

Oslo has trams everywhere, and we came to realise on the first day that they are very expensive to use. Luckily, we had our tickets paid for by the tour which took us to a quarter of local restaurants and markets. From there we took a lengthy walk in treacherous conditions, and used our Swedish counterparts who were on the tour to give us an education on how to walk on thick ice. Jessica had tears, I tumbled twice but in the end, we made it to our next destination!


We arrived at an amazing indoor food market with every Scandinavian cuisine on offer. But we were here for only one thing... cheese! We sampled several Norwegian cheese and bread bites, some strong, mild, white, blue and a delightful fig marmalade. But the one that stood out from being most unique was their brown cheese, which is famously and exclusively Norwegian. It is made on a wood fire to allow it to caramelise and the sweet taste comes from it being over-cooked. It's quite unusual, perhaps fudge like in taste but definitely not like cheese as we know it. We couldn't come to Norway and not give it a try though!


And finally, we ended the tour in a small bar not far from where we started the tour. We enjoyed three different local beers - a blonde pale ale, a stronger seasonal beer and finished with an incredibly smooth IPA. Despite the tour technically coming to an end and Jean-Pierre having to say his goodbyes, the entire group stayed behind and got to know each other better for a good part of the evening.

Along with fellow Brits, Irish, Swedes, and an American we talked about everything from Netflix series' to the different country cultures around the table. As always, the food was fantastic, but the company was what we'll always remember the most from doing tours like this.


We had the most amazing afternoon and fully recommend the Deluxe Food Tour to anyone looking for not only the best local food, but general local knowledge and a lot of fun! 

A massive thank you to our fantastic guide and all at Trip2Scandanvia!

Disclaimer: we were given complimentary tickets to the Culinary Deluxe Oslo Food Tour in exchange for an honest review.
However as always, all pictures and views are our own.

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10/02/2018

Oslo: Nord & Natt, Tøyen

Baked porcine mushroom and ginger butter toast

Our European foodie adventures continue! It is our first time in Scandinavia and after hearing about their 'small plate' dining culture, we were out to find and experience the very best of this. And boy, did we find it.

Nord & Natt in the district of Tøyen offer the very best Norwegian cuisine, sourcing all ingredients from local farmers and putting the flavours together in a way which may challenge perceived norms. They work with the seasons and nature to bring their customers the best Nordic dishes in a classy environment with first class customer service. 

Norwegian winter cod with cursed meat and lemon mayo

We chose from the chef's tasting menu, comprising of five dishes. We started with the above cod starter, which was unbelievably tender. We learnt that tradition in Lisbon is to not use knives on fish out of appreciation and that you simply don't need to, and that is the same case here. It almost fell apart when putting cutlery anywhere it. The softness of the fish was balanced by a small crunch from the cured meat and a kick was provided by the lemon mayo. It was a brilliant start and we knew we were going to be in for more mini treats to come!

Norwegian pale ale

Our fantastically attentive and knowledgable waitress was always on hand to offer advice on drinks that would go with the food we were having. We chose a dry Norwegian pale ale with hints of orange and it was absolute top quality. 

Next up was the baked porcine mushroom and ginger butter toast (see top of post). It's hard to imagine variants on the presentation of mushrooms on toast, and this one certainly took us by surprise when it arrived at our table. It was perhaps the most flavoursome mushroom we've ever come across and the toast gave us a little something to clear up the delightful ginger butter. 
This dish perfectly represented what Nord & Natt are all about - Norwegian food, done differently and better. Each detail politely screamed quality, careful thought and surprise. But our culinary journey had only just begun, and we were now on to the main course.

Porchetta with gramolata and spelt risotto

This was our favourite dish out of the five. The buckwheat risotto was perfect in texture, full of flavour from the garlic and occasional burst of cranberry, and the porchetta was beautifully moist and tender. 

There is the option to have the tasting menu with or without the cheese course, which each comes in at NOK 420 (approx. £38) without, or 550 (approx. £50) with. That sounded a lot to us before we came, but having spent a day in Oslo prior to dining here, we came to realise that it's very reasonably priced for this part of the world. Normally going for the 'cheap eats' when we travel, we took exception with it being a birthday and we're so glad we did. 

Cheese plate with white wine

Now on to not one but two desserts, and with the recommended white wine we enjoyed it alongside the very strong white and blue cheeses, delicious bread and marmalade. Every mouthful had punches of immense proportions, and it was down to the final dish of milk ice cream to calm the senses.

The flaky biscuit and hints of caramel ended the meal perfectly, and we left feeling that we really had been on a culinary journey through Norway. Each dish was delicious in its own unique way, yet complimented it's predecessors and successors like magic. It seemed like our drinks were made to go alongside what we were eating, and the service and atmosphere were perfect for the occasion. 

Milk ice cream with caramel and hazelnut

We highly recommend Nord & Natt if you're visiting Oslo and are looking to experience their cuisine in style. A massive thank you to all at the restaurant for having us. 

Food: ★★★★★
Customer service: ★★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★★★
Toilets: ★★★

Disclaimer: this meal was complimentary to us in exchange for an honest review.
However as always, all pictures and views are our own.

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08/02/2018

Restaurant: The Dysart Arms - Bunbury, Cheshire

Sunday roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and vegetables - £14.95

It was a week before my, James' birthday and as we were jetting off to Oslo for the big day itself, we took the trip to Chester for the weekend. Starting things off with Afternoon Tea in Manchester on the Saturday, we spent the Sunday out in the Cheshire countryside to enjoy a proper pub lunch with the grandparents. 

Deep fried cod in beer batter with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce - £13.45

The Dysart Arms is your quintessential British village pub, complete with open fires, bookcases and most of all, fantastic food and drink. One thing is for certain when visiting a Brunning & Price restaurant (there are several around the North West), and that is you are going to leave with a very satisfied tummy. I sadly missed out on a starter knowing that a main course might leave just another room for a pudding, but I couldn't even get that far today. 

Scampi and chips in a basket with green salad and tartare sauce - £13.45

My fish pie was stunning, full of flavour with plenty of salmon, haddock and prawns, and fantastically presented. With Jessica going for the cod and chips and others going for the scampi, it was a table full of classic dishes, but done very, very well. 

But it was the roast beef that drew most jealousy from other parts of the table. The impressive meat and Yorkshire pudding, rosemary roast potatoes and a big helping of vegetables will surely bring us back here again. 

Fish pie - salmon, smoked haddock, prawns and egg with French style peas - £14.50

I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday with the family, and I'm already looking forward to an inevitable return. On a summer's day, the large back garden would be great for enjoying pints, and the village of Bunbury is perfect for afternoon walks. Fingers crossed I've got room for a sticky toffee pudding next time!

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★
Atmosphere: ★★★
Toilets: ★★

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03/02/2018

Afternoon Tea: Lounge on 12 - Spinningfields, Manchester


Our Lisbon posts have come to an end, but fear not, we are back in the not so sunny Manchester for something we haven't done in too long - have some Afternoon Tea!

We headed up to Chester to spend some early birthday celebrations with the family and to start the weekend we took the short trip for what has actually been so long awaited. James and I purchased a gift card for his parents to have tea here at Manchester House for Christmas, and they very kindly returned the favour for our birthday presents so we could all go together. That was nearly a year ago, and finally we found the chance to come. 


Upon arrival we took the lift up to floor 12 where we expected some spectacular views of the city but unfortunately we couldn't see further than the nearby office blocks. It was a shame but we tried to ignore that and focus on what was to come, and looking around us and seeing the range on the Afternoon Tea selection confirmed we were in for a real treat!

We opted for the classic Afternoon Tea for £25 per person which included assorted sandwiches, scones and strawberry jam with clotted cream, a selection of pastries and cakes and a choice of tea or coffee.


The presentation was terrific and each item was divine with it's own taste and complimentary to the next. We would have liked to have seen more savoury items as it did have more sweet treats on the top tier, but that didn't take away how delicious it all was. 

With every Afternoon Tea we have, we always look and think it won't be able to fill us up, but as always, we were certainly more than satisfied. There will never be a better way to spend a relaxing Saturday afternoon!

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★
Atmosphere: ★★★
Toilets: ★★

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01/02/2018

Lisbon: Inside Lisbon Food & Wine Tour


We ended our Lisbon trip as we started it... on a food tour! We don't usually do more than one in a certain place, but we underestimated the Secret Food Tour in terms of its wine offering so booked this as well. But of course, we soon learnt that the Portuguese seem to drink it like water, but no complaints from us - we had two fantastic evenings out if it! 

It was intriguing to compare the two tours and we actually revisited two of the stops from a few days earlier, but as we tried different delicacies, we were very happy and we were knew we were in for some fantastic food and drink.

Starting at Rossio Square, our first stop was Cafe Beira Gare, which translated into English means "by the train." As you may guess, it was located next to the station that goes to nearby Sintra, which we were gutted we didn't have time to visit during our time in Lisbon. 

Here we tried cod fish cake bites which are normally enjoyed like this as a snack, or part of a main meal including rice. The green wine which was on draught... yes draught ladies and gentlemen, was superbly refreshing. 


Walking up towards Castelo de Sao George and taking a few public passenger lifts to avoid the hills, we arrived at our second destination, Espumantaria do Petisco. We yet again enjoyed some sparkling green wine but it was strangely a fact about the glasses we drank it from which was more memorable - they were shaped and moulded to the size of Marie Antoinette's breasts... weird. 

Interesting fact for all you Japanese food lovers... tempura was the Portuguese's first! They won't let you forget that here in Lisbon, so some tempura green beans, wasabi sauce, sardines and toast topped with codfish was an all round delight. 


Following a walk back into the city centre we stopped at Manteigaria Silva, a charcuterie where we drank Porto Wine from the Douro Valley, and a marmalade and cheese combination which at first sounds like a bit of a mismatch. That is certainly acknowledged in its name of Romeo and Juliet - the blend of flavours is not meant to work but it just does! 

Thank goodness the food we had been eating earlier in the day and on the tour kept us from feeling it too much, but at the point of taking shots of Ginjinha, the group started to become a bit more lively and vocal! The highlight of any food tour we've been on is always meeting the people in the group and the guide. This time we were joined by people from USA, Singapore, and a fellow Londoner. 

Exchanging business cards and chatting about travel stories and ambitions is always so intriguing. It's so easy but simply talking to people from different backgrounds and from the place you are visiting is one of the most spiritually enhancing things you can do whilst out travelling. Going on tours like this give you the push to take that opportunity and you'll undoubtedly make friends along the way.


Our final stop took us back indoors at Chamines do Palacio where we rounded proceedings off with a selection of tapas style meats and vegetables, and any last drops of wine we could bare to take. 

Overall we had a fantastic time on the Inside Lisbon tour and would fully recommend it to anyone looking to get a real insider's view on the best food that the city has to offer. Our guide was extremely helpful in not only making sure we ate and drank the best, but finding out more about Lisbon and the best ways to spend our last day in the city.


A massive thank you to Inside Lisbon for having us along!

Disclaimer: we were given discounted price to the Inside Lisbon Food & Wine Tour in exchange for an honest review.
However as always, all pictures and views are our own.

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