October 19th, 2022
October 19th, 2022
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Thanks to the Scandinavian food revolution of the last few years, traditional dishes and their ingredients are back, looking cooler and tasting fresher than ever... served on rocks, jellyfish or Norwegian Wood. Isn’t it good?
Nordic food is seasonal. The smartest way not to starve, but keep vigorous while staying up north, is to seek local food in season when it is at its maximum- flavour peak and freshest on the market. A few general guidelines: the season for vegetables, fruits, berries, beans, and mushrooms starts with a bang in August; the same goes for the North Sea crabs, and lamb.
Mmmm! You can get fresh saltwater fish all year round, but the peak months are at wintertime, or as fishermen always say – every month that doesn’t start with an ‘M’ is mackerel month, oh wait, except May. Last but not least, try Norwegian strawberries in July; they’re so tasteful, as they’ve been ripening in the long Nordic summers.
As of September 2022, Norway has 14 restaurants with a total of 17 stars in the Michelin guide. One of these restaurants is Speilsalen in Trondheim where Head Sommelier and four times Norwegian Champion of Sommelier, Henrik Dahl Jahnsen, pair delicious wines from the hotel's rich wine cellar. At another Trondheim-restaurant, Credo, Chef Heidi Bjerkan was awarded the inagural Michelin Guide Sustainability Award in 2019.
Trondheim and the Trøndelag region is truly emerging as the top Nordic food destination. It is awared European Region of Gastronomy and will host the World Cheese Awards 26-28 October 2023.
In Oslo, Michelin chef Esben Holmboe Bang has opened 4 new restaurants within the last two years, and the ambitious expansion includes brasserie The Vandelay next to the mothership Maaemo, the cocktail bar The Conservatory, Kafeteria August and french inspired Mon Oncle. Beef Wellington with a French twist has never tasted better!
Surveys show that Norwegians drink the most coffee in the world (after the Finns). Our average Norwegian's favourite is boiled and infused filter coffee, but do not worry: there are espresso bars on every corner. Barista culture has flourished and many tend to be very proud of their product. It is the clean Norwegian water and the light roasting that brings all the tasty flavours out in Norwegian trademark coffee. But beware: because of extended social reforms regarding maternity leave, mothers get over a year to hang about, and their main activity is lazing elegantly in coffee shops. All-day. All week. Fathers, too, get three months, and few of them pass up the chance.
Even if we are in the middle of a Protestant heartland, with
formidable alcohol taxes yet widespread binge-drinking, there are numerous respectable bars in the main cities and towns. And although this being close to the North Pole, as part of the hipster trend the Norwegian bars and cocktail scene has flourished hand in hand with a barista culture, and bartenders tend to be very proud of their highly inventive products. When in Rome, ask for local aquavit cocktail specials.
Truth be told, brewers are the last anarchist punks in the world, and in Norway, most of these fat and hairy pale ale punks reside by the fjords. The regional brewing flagship lies a couple of hours to the south of Oslo, Nøgne Ø (or ‘naked island’, a term coined by Henrik Ibsen). Nøgne Ø offers the widest variety of ales. On the west coast in the narrow fjords there are plenty for fabulous braumeisters: Kinn Bryggeri on the island of Florø, and infamous Ægir at Flåm in the tiny Aurland Fjord. Further North: Inderøy Gårdsbryggeri by Trondheim. The Vikings are famous for their mjød (mead), created by fermenting honey, but they actually drank much more beer. Skall! Or skull!
Traditional Norwegian farmhouse ales were often brewed with the ingredients that were readily available on the farm. As a form of practicality and efficiency, farmers would store and reuse their yeast from batch to batch in a kveik ring - a small sculpture made from wood - that allowed the yeast to be preserved through drying in the open air.
Unlike most other yeast strains, Kveik is fermented at high temperatures and ferments very quickly, creating a product that is ready for consumption mere days after it is brewed. Thus, Norwegian kveik creates some of the freshest beer in the world.
Family-owned Voss Brewery carries on the traditional methods of brewing farmhouse ales and modern American style ales over open fires in copper kettles. Their beer is as connected to the landscape as the friendly folks are, with hops growing around the back porch and the annual creation of a “forage beer” made from entirely locally found ingredients.
In a small neighborhood outside of Bergen, lives the spirit of Bareksten, literally and figuratively. Both are wild, dramatic, and in many ways dark and mysterious. Bareksten strives to bring Norwegian plants to life in spirit form, finding inspiration from the nordic woods, valleys, and mountains that surround this hidden gem.
The literal spirit is the gin: a London Dry style with unmistakable Norwegian identity. Norwegian potatoes, botanicals and berries are the baseline, including wild ingredients like lingonberry, blueberry, rhubarb, elderflower and rosehip. These elements, combined with pristine glacial water, are distilled in small batches using copper stills to create a gin that is, without a doubt, one of the very best in the world.
The figurative spirit is that which its owner, Stig, embodies. When he enters the room his presence is like that of a viking stepping off his ship. But quickly one will realize that he is a friendly, approachable fellow who is eager to share his spirits with you.
Over the last few years, natural wine has grown in popularity. In the simplest terms, this is wine is made from grapes not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. It is needless to say that the sustainability aspect of wine production is becoming more important for the everyday (or every-weekend) wine drinker, also in Norway.
Oslo has an expanding scene of interesting wine bars for all tastes, from classical to natural wine. One of our favourites is the small and intimate Territoriet. With over 400 different wines this bar is a place for wine aficionados and wine enthusiasts alike. Another notable mention at the top of the new MUNCH museum, is Kranen, a cocktail bar with an incredible view of the Oslo cityscape.
Norway’s craft beverage scene reflects the natural world around it: from endless summer sunshine that nurtures local ingredients to pure alpine water that has been embraced by the glow of the Northern Lights. After visiting our farmhouse breweries, neighbourhood distilleries, and local taverns, you will leave wondering how much extra room you have in your suitcase for another souvenir. Let us introduce you to 'Cider from Hardanger' - the first Norwegian alcoholic beverage to obtain the Protected Designation of Origin label, a level of global recognition reserved for the finest beverages in the world.
Apples flourish in Norway’s climate where orchards have been cultivated for centuries. English monks who migrated to Norway in the 1300s shared their knowledge of fruit production with local farmers, who then crafted their abundant harvests into crisp ciders. Production boomed until 1921, when strict country wide alcohol bans led to a halt in formal cider production. For 70 years cider was kept alive by clandestine craftsmen, enjoying it in the home and with guests during special occasions.
The pendulum of prohibition swung back in the 1990s when production was once again legalized and farmers were allowed to sell cider directly from their farms. This shift has led to increased orchard to glass opportunities for farmers and cider lovers alike, creating authentic and delicious agritourism experiences in several fjord regions of Norway.
Cider from Hardanger is distinguished by a slightly acidic note balanced with fresh, aromatic apple flavor. Apples grown at the latitude of 60 ° N benefit from an ideal climate and growing season. Long, hot summer days boost sugar production in the apples, while the cool autumn nights encourage acid production to balance the sweetness.
Myken Island in the North of Norway, 32 km from the mainland, is the definition of a micro community. The twelve residents in this fishing village make it “micro”, and the daily gathering at the grocery store for waffles and coffee are part of what makes it a community.
Myken Island is the world's first Arctic single malt whisky distillery, where the spirits are crafted from desalinated Arctic sea water and aged under the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights.
Inspired by the ocean, the wild weather and Fedje island's distinct nature, the female investors behind Feddie Ocean Distillery are set to create the world's best whisky, just a short boatride from Bergen. Because the world of spirits is dominated and run by men, founder Anne Koppang has started this ambitious project with the ambition to encourage women to step up and invest, to learn and to experience the fun of it.
At Up Norway, we would love to include one or more of these local foodie experiences in your journey - or maybe even create a whole journey around them. Get in touch, and let us show you the way to Norway's best-tasting treasures and the passionate people who create them.
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Liv is obsessed with travelling and has spent the last decade abroad. After many years away from home, she has a newfound interest in the history of Norwegian food heritage including local food traditions, food foraging and sustainable food and drinks production.
Perhaps you would also like to venture on a journey to eat and drink your way through Norway.
Travel Content Creator