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Friday, February 14, 2014

SMAK 2014

Last Friday, I went to a food festival trade-show in nearby Lillestrom.

I boarded the train and was off.

A ticket that makes sense only to NSB employees
Taking the train in Norway is like an adventure within an adventure, especially if you take the local (which I did) as opposed to the express (the express stops at Lillestrom and then the Airport).  
Picturesque Lillestrom 

Said adventure results from the number of stops required to reach the destination.  While the Express goes straight to Lillestrom, the local makes somewhere between 9 and 2034983298575 stops before arriving in the neighboring "kommune", a couple dozen of miles/kilometers away.

Some of the stops were quaint suburbs and some had motorcycle clubs associated with violence and death.  Fun times.

Now, the festival.

As a condition of my admission to the festival for free (sans the $45 entrance fee!), I have to blog about it.  

I'm not a food blogger so I'll just talk about all the funny things that happened accompanied by pictures!

"Find your booth"!  (Sadly, this was only meant literally and not figuratively)
 After leaving the train station, I was presented with two options.  Take a left and end up in "Downtown" (I did this after the trade-show… the less said, the better) or take a right and go to the "trade-show" area.  I imagined SMAK 2014 was probably to the right and, after seeing the area's goofiest looking Steak House and THON hotel, I was right!

The above picture was what greeted me outside the facility where the Trade Shows were held.  I'd described the outside facade as "reappropriated warehouse chic".

Inside, I got my "credentials" and started walking around.  My broken Norwegian didn't really play and I wasn't getting any headway at the first, two booths I stopped (I started in the trade-show area for kitchen appliances to test out my method of interaction to determine what would be most effective… i.e. get me the most free things).

After a few, more booths, I realized that if I portrayed myself as an American blogger writing about scandinavian culture who knew nothing about the nordics, I was believed, not asked any follow-up questions (like "Where can I read what you write?", "How can the failing newspaper industry afford to send someone galavanting through Europe?", "Why are you using an iPad as a camera?"), and offered more items than the rest of the public.

I have this guy to thank.

Anyway, I decided to start with dessert.

Here are the highlights:

This was like Strawberry whipped cream with strawberry sauce!

These are the guys that committed the strawberry-on-strawberry food porn
Stabburet was awesome.  In addition to that Strawberry^2 dessert, I also tried some Orange sherbet and their new vanilla… Meh.

But that Strawberry was the truth!

I didn't try these because they looked like they tasted like plastic, but they were pretty!

Soooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooood
 The next stop was Kulinar Is (which I'd been calling Kolboton Is because, as you can see, that's where it's made).

They got my attention now.

I literally hijacked their booth by eating about a dozen, different samplings of their ice cream (all was magical and delicious, but, as previously stated, I have a special affinity for Strawberry).

Confession time.  Food-wise, America does a lot of things great, in fact, better than any place I have been.  However, ice cream isn't one of them.  I discovered that sad truth when I lived in Belgium.

So is true in Norway.  Kulinar Is, like countless places in France and Belgium, is better than Baskin-Robbins, DQ, Friendly's, Haagen Dais, Ben & Jerry's, Good Humor, or the countless mom and pop shops I've been, too (yes, even you, Sugarland).

But don't get it twisted.  I'd still rather have the Apple Pie from Cold Stone Cremery any day of the week.

Moving on, I started eating animals like a vegetarian breaking bad.

Here are some of the highlights of that tour de force:

As I've said countless times in other posts, the standards for meat production and animal living conditions are significantly higher in Norway as not only compared to the US, but the rest of the world.

Does that make the meat taste better?  Some times.  The best tools in the hands of someone not prepared to use them the best aren't going to make great work.  Seasoning is still a new concept in my new home and so, the results can be hit or miss.

No place evidenced this better than the awful, panini booth that I stopped at first.  I don't want to put them on blast, but I'd advise against any non-Norwegian ethnic food here unless or yelp said otherwise.

That poor taste was quickly rectified with Røroskjøtt AS.

Their meat was tender, tasty, and, surprisingly, large in size (one always assumes that the food here is smaller).  Quite the pleasure to enjoy.

The next booth I stopped at was surprisingly empty.  They were a whole seller that provided whole chicken breasts and nuggets to restaurants and airlines in the area.  As part of a new campaign, they were offering chicken sausage.

And boy, was it delicious!

The guy running the booth nervously watched me munching on the sausage which made me feel kind of weird, but didn't stop me from eating seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths.  Finally, he asked if I enjoyed it and I was like "uh, yeah."

Then, he said "I have a confession to make about it"

I was quietly preparing myself for the following revelations:

"It is made from halal meat"

"Oh." I replied.  Then asked for sixths.  As-salamu alaykum

Before I finished, I decided to go to the beer, wine, and liquor section.  I was denied entry because my credentials weren't VIP.  My attempts at charming my way in fell flat as the security guard didn't understand english (or was very good at pretending she didn't understand english).

Fortunately, there were a few places that served intoxicants that were outside the designated area.  Why?  Because Norwegians like talking alcohol (like Jay-Z likes talking money).

This was something blue and tasty, but mainly cool looking!  The actual booth was an advert for dry ice cooling elements that didn't leak deadly gasses into your drink.  

Then came the highlight, my stop at Nogne Ø.  There I not only got two try litters of their awesome beer (Brown Ale and Global Pale Ale), but they also had some dried, reindeer with cranberry syrup that went excellent with the Pale Ale.

Highlight of the trip.

Confession Time #2:  For the past year, Nogne ø has been my third, favorite brewery in the world (Behind - Anchor Steam and Heavy Seas)


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1 comment:

  1. Hi Anthony,

    I heard about your blog through friends of friends in Norway. I was looking for an email on your page, but didn't see it. You probably have gotten this question about as many times as people have visited your page :) Maybe even written about it in on one of your posts, but I'ld like some advice about moving to Norway . I would love if you could email me or send me an email I can reach you at ?, Christine