In our last CSA box we unexpectedly got some late-season rhubarb, which led us to think of more unusual ways in which to use it than our first instinct, pie. Globally, rhubarb is popular in Scandinavia, especially Norway and among Norwegian-Americans. Rhubarb entered Norway in the 18th century as a decorative plant, but made its way into the kitchen by the 1800s. It was also able to flourish in the harsh Norwegian climate, which added to its popularity. An iconic Norwegian recipe is for Rabarbrakake, or rhubarb cake, a simple cake filled with rhubarb and topped with almonds. Here is a recipe for Rabarbrakake from North Wild Kitchen (pictured below), and you can find other versions from Ramshackle Pantry and Outside Oslo.
Tag Archives: Norway
Together with Fika (review coming soon), Oslo Coffee represented our foray into Scandinavian coffee culture while in NYC. Oslo Coffee (328 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) is super tiny, consisting of only a few tables, two benches outside and not even a public bathroom (we asked). The menu consists primarily of coffee or tea, and most people get it to go, though it seems like the other locations are a bit bigger and have more seating. However, despite the tiny size, the store is cute and welcoming. There are also some pastries on offer if you are feeling peckish. The coffee is specially roasted by the owners in New York City, but in the Norwegian Style, home of arguably the world’s most exacting coffee culture. There are 3 house coffee blends named after Norse gods: Odin (Espresso), Freya (Dark Roast) and Thor (house blend). We ordered an iced coffee made with Odin, and it was surprisingly smooth and mellow, and perfect for one of the first iced-coffee appropriate days of the year. They don’t take credit cards though, so remember your cash.
We recently wrote about the vibrant coffee culture in Scandinavia, particularly Norway. Adding credence the near-mythic status of Scandinavian coffee is “Bean Everywhere” a wordless video tribute to Scandinavian coffee by the South African Coffee publication, The Coffee Mag, with the much different Turkish coffee in the mix as well. If you are a coffee lover it is definitely worth a watch.
Shops featured in the video:
One half of the ETW team is crazy about coffee. However, we were both surprised to learn about the corner of the world where coffee reigns supreme: Scandinavia. Honestly, when we first think of coffee, our mind goes to Italy (Bialetti, Cappuccino, etc), but per capita, Scandinavians consume more coffee than any other countries (think of the Swedish tradition of Fika). It turns out that Finland is the number one consumer of coffee per year at 12 Kg, followed by Norway and Iceland at over 9 KG apiece. Norway in particular is known for its particularly fastidious coffee culture, and Norwegians often win the World Barista Championships.
So how is Norwegian coffee different? Norwegians tend to like their coffee black (called sort kaffe in Norwegian), prepared one cup at a time. The roasting is also different in Norway, and is particularly light, imparting an almost fruity flavor in the coffee. World Barista champion Tim Wendelboe discusses some of his tips for brewing a good Norwegian cup of coffee here, with emphasis on every step of the process. The Dear Coffee I Love You blog took a coffee-tasting tour of Oslo, and found a wealth of cafes serving amazing coffee, including Wendelboe’s cafe. Obviously, the Norwegian coffee scene is thriving, and you can keep up with the latest updates on the Nordic Coffee Culture Blog. The particular Norwegian way of making coffee has even reached Tokyo, with the opening of furniture/coffee shop Fuglen.
In grocery stores in Madison it is not uncommon to see packages of lefse in the dairy case, though we had never once encountered them in Chicago. So what are we missing here in IL? Lefse are thin Norwegian potato pancake-like creations that are generally used like tortillas – and can be stuffed with sweet or savory goodies. Lutefisk and Gravlax get more attention when discussing Norwegian cuisine due to their reputation as acquired tastes, but who doesn’t like potato pancakes?
Most lefse are now machine made, and in the US, are usually only available in places with large Scandinavian populations. However, but the tradition of homemade lefse still live on in pockets. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an interesting piece about Countryside Lefse in Blair, Wis, a company that still makes Lefse by hand. In fact, according to the University of Wisconsin, the tradition of lefse is more alive in the Upper Midwest than it is in Norway! Wisconsinite LeAnn Ralph has a Lefse recipe, if you’d like to try your hand at homemade.
Lefse by Litherland
This Norwegian import, (pronounced “yet-oast”) is hands-down one of the most unusual and distinctive cheeses the eaters have ever sampled. Gjetost is actually known as Brunost (literally ‘brown cheese’) in Norway. If that weren’t confusing enough, Gjetost goes by a variety of names across Scandinavia (Sweden – mesost, and Denmark – myseost). Gjetost is made from goat and cows’ milk and whey, which is boiled to a caramel brown and a soft consistency. Due to this caramelization, the cheese has a sweet, burnt sugar taste. Gjetost is commonly served sliced very thinly on top of fruit or crackers. This unusual cheese is commonly available at Whole Foods and many specialty stores. The most common variety in the US is is Ski Queen, which is found in a distinctive red package, as seen below.
flickr photo from [oknovokght]
Julmust is a Scandinavian soda that is sold only around the holiday time. So – like many other Christmas items, now that the holidays are over – Julmust goes on sale. We visited World Market on New Years Eve, where we found that Guttsta Kalla Julmust was on sale for the bargain-basement price of $0.49! Having never tried Julmust, we decided it was a must-buy. Two of the main ingredients in Julmust are barley and hops, similar to beer. However, Julmust is not fermented, so it is non-alcoholic. Upon tasting, we ascertained that Julmust is pretty much beer with juice. On top of the hoppy flavor, Julmust did have some holiday spiciness, but it was not necessarily our cup of tea. Though we concede that Julmust is a fine holiday tradition, it’s definitely an aquired taste.