The moment I received the shocking message of all times from my Canadian, I wanted to get away from Helsinki for a short weekend break. I had been planning to visit the last Scandinavian capital left for a while, so I immediately bought my ticket to Oslo and left Helsinki for a 3-days visit to the land of coziness. Three days were enough – I fell in love with the city. I am pretty sure it also has something to do with my host – The Norwegian – who was the best host ever: welcoming, helpful, funny, optimist, a bit dreamer (like me) and always having a big smile on his face, with his slanted eyes making him cuter and cuter. Until my little trip to Oslo, for about a week, I hadn’t slept, at least not without taking sleeping pills, but in Oslo, in The Norwegian’s home, I felt so comfortable and peaceful that I slept like a baby.
I didn’t know what to expect from Oslo – I had just a little bit of knowledge on Norway in general. I knew what I wanted to eat though – kvæfjordkake – but alas, we could not find it anywhere. I have to do a second trip to Northern Norway to eat it and see if I have been baking it correctly or not.
Oslo is a nice little city – it does not represent so much urban lifestyle as Stockholm or Copenhagen but it is certainly livelier than Helsinki. I don’t know how they manage to do that, but wherever you go – cafes, bars, restaurants – you feel like home. People look much more approachable than any of the Nordic capitals. No, I didn’t approach any of them, but they looked nice!!
Anyway, if you plan to buy a cheap ticket from Norwegian Airlines and fly to Oslo for a weekend trip, here is what you can eat:
1. Restaurant Schrøder: Meatcake with mashed peas, potatoes and cabbage
There is a strange thing going on between all these Nordic countries: they are crazy about meatballs and each one of them has their own version, which actually more or less taste the same as others.. After tasting Ikea’s Swedish meatballs and Finnish Grandma’s meatballs, I tried this time Norwegian meatballs, which is named “meatcake” actually. It is rather big (hence the name “cake”), a bit juicy, very tasty and is served with mashed peas, potatoes and cabbages. It was the first time ever that I ate mashed peas and it was quite tasty, even though I am not a big fan of anything mashed.
Restaurant Schrøder is a brown cafe – the term “brown” for a cafe comes from the dark wood used inside. When The Norwegian asked me what kind of restaurant I wanted to eat at and what I wanted to eat (it would be the first dinner in Oslo), I said that I wanted to eat something from Norwegian cuisine, at a restaurant mostly for locals. And so we went to this modest, laid-back, casual neighbourhood restaurant. If you want to know more about this restaurant, prepare your google translate page (unless you speak Norwegian) and check out their website: http://www.restaurant-schroder.no/
2. Cafe Laundromat: Big Boy English Breakfast – “Eat, Read, Wash”
If I lived in Oslo, this cafe would be the one place I would spend almost all my free time. The use of colours, wood in interior, furniture and other decorative stuff around, all invite you in and make you want to stay there all day, eating, reading, meeting friends, writing your blog posts, or drawing your Absurdgalleriet.
We went to this cafe for breakfast and I had one of the biggest breakfasts ever there: Big Boy English Breakfast. The past week before Oslo I had not eaten anything much, so this big breakfast plate kind of felt like a little bomb in my stomach. But do not be mistaken – it was a dellllicious bomb.
The Norwegian took many photos of me in this cafe and of course one of them made it to Facebook profile photos album. If you want to know more about Cafe Laundromat, click this link and right after, buy your ticket to Oslo: http://www.laundromat.no/
3. Olympen Restaurant: 1.Beef stew, 2. Entrecôte with béarnaise sauce and fried potatoes
This restaurant was one of the biggest places I’ve ever been – in third dimension. It had huge walls, on the huge walls there were huge paintings, hanging down the huge ceiling there were huge chandeliers… I felt like a hobbit. Yet, it was beautiful and the food was absolutely delicious. I ate the beef stew, and it was one of the softest, juiciest beef I have ever eaten, with a rich taste thanks to the creamy sauce. I am not normally a big fan of red meat but I preferred it to fish – I eat a lot of Norwegian salmon in Helsinki anyway – and I am glad that I did so. I really would like to learn how to cook so soft red meat.
The second option I wrote, entrecôte, was The Norwegian’s dinner plate, and he looked very happy about it and said that he liked it so I also recommend that. If I ever go to that restaurant again, I will try that one myself.
If you want to know more about Olympen restaurant, check out its website, again in Norwegian (oh but it’s a beautiful website!!): http://www.olympen.no/
4. Frognerseteren: “famous” apple-cake
The reason why we climbed up to this restaurant was in search of kvæfjordkake actually. The Norwegian thought, if there is one place in Oslo that had that cake, it should be that one. Alas, there was no kvæfjordkake. But there were other delicious cakes which would instantly increase the sugar level in your body, plus the atmosphere inside was rustic, traditional and historical. I chose Napoleon cake since the apple cake looked huge but I regret it now, I wish I had that one. The Norwegian ate the apple cake, well well, he knows what he is doing!
Besides delicious cakes and the beautiful interior, plus fantastic view, the trip to the restaurant is quite magical too. I forgot the concept of hills and mountains while living in the indefinitely flat Finland. Just about half an hour from the center of Oslo, you have Frognerseteren Restaurant on a hill. In winter time, when there is snow all over, people go up the hill to ski or sledge down. Others, like us, take the metro and go round and round and up to finally reach the restaurant.
I have a plan also for this restaurant in my next trip to Oslo: I will eat lunch or dinner, then the famous apple cake! If you want to know more about Frognerseteren, click: http://www.frognerseteren.no
5. Suksesskake (Success Cake in English)
We could not find kvæfjordkake, but we found suksesskake! I did not note the name of the cafe we ate it, but you can find this cake in several cafes or bakeries.
Suksesskake is a bright yellow dessert, with a rich almond cake as the base and flavourful, silky (and yellow) egg cream on top. It is very tasty, however, I personally found it a bit too sweet. So one normal slice was too much for me. Especially after the lightness and richness of kvæfjordkake, this cake did not win my heart much. Nonetheless, it is a must to taste it.
Yes, it was a beautiful weekend. Yes, Oslo is beautiful. It is full of cozy cafes and restaurants. When you look at the menu in any restaurant, you see a modest list of dishes that may not be interesting (in a good or bad way) in name and most probably you can guess what the dish is. The difference is how well they are prepared and how rich the tastes are. A simple beef stew can create wonders inside your mouth, while you are surrounded by cheerful groups of people enjoying the moment. And The Norwegian, my Norwegian, is the best of best – I was an emotional wreckage when I first landed in Oslo, but within 3 days he lifted my spirit. He has the biggest heart in the world.