The food of Norway is heavily influenced by the bounties of the North Atlantic, which makes sense since the country has a coastline just shy of 78,000 miles. As well as fresh seafood like king crab, and salt fish like herring and cod featuring heavily on menus, Norwegians are particularly fond of salmon and trout, which they have been farming for centuries. Fish is often served cured such as gravlaks (sweet and salty cured salmon), and in the case of herring, pickled. These strong flavors are balanced with medium hard, nutty cheeses such as jarlsberg, or other dairy products such as sour cream. Bread is also eaten with meals at least once a day, either as toasted biscuits or soft baked. The usual type is dark brown, with the most popular variety being grovbread. The main protein in Norway tends to be game meats, and native reindeer and moose are local staples. Served with potatoes and root vegetables to complement the strong taste, the meat will be crushed with juniper berries and sweetened lingonberries. At lunchtime, meats are served cold since Scandinavia originated the mixed-platter smorgasboard, known as koldtbord (literally translating to "cold board") in Norway.
Bars and Pubbing in Norway
Alcohol and tobacco are notoriously expensive in Norway, due to high taxes on imported items. The weak exchange rates don't help visitor either, meaning a night out can get expensive quickly. Beer is popular and the country has a history of brewing dating back 1,000 years. At the turn of the 20th century it was not uncommon for every farmhouse to have its own micro-brewery, although this has largely died out and has been replaced by in-home microbreweries at independent bars. Wine is also popular in Norway, and traditionally is served warm called glogg (mulled wine).
Norway’s most happening city is Oslo although larger cities like Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim do rival it for nightlife. An incredibly laid back place in the capital to enjoy a drink, day or night, is Blaa (Brenneriveien 9, Oslo). Situated next to the Ekerselva River, the venue provides jolly folk music to create a festive atmosphere, although it’s never too loud to drown out the conversation between you and your friends. The Underwater Pub (Dalsbergstien 4, Oslo) is another fun and uniquely quirky Oslo venue.A boat hangs from the ceiling, and the walls are adorned with live fish tanks. Tuesday and Thursday are opera nights, with live performances by local trainees.
If you want a really late night out, head to Sikamikanico (Möllergata 2, Oslo), which plays electronic dance music and features internationally reknowned DJs. The Living Room (Olav V’s gate 1, Oslo) is another popular club, spinning a mix of disco, hip hop/trip hop and house/club/techno styles. A dress code is strictly enforced, with no jeans or sneakers allowed, so it is largely a dress to impress kind of club.
Dining and Cuisine in Norway
Everywhere in Norway will offer a top notch dining experience, particularly in the larger cities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. Some of the world’s most famous chefs operate in the capital , and you will find many of these in the Frogner district or the downtown area. Otherwise you can head to the districts of Youngstorget, Gronland or Grunerlokka to find a great range of restaurants suiting every budget.
Oslo contains all of Norway’s Michelin starred gems, such as Maaemo (Schweigaards gate 15 B, Oslo), which has been awarded two stars. Certainly, the meal is not cheap, but the lavish nine-course progression is set to impress, and the seasonal menu prides itself on only serving the best locally grown organic ingredients. Statholdergaarden (Radhusgaten 11, Oslo) also only use Norwegian fare and is known for its tempting seafood, meat and cheese courses on a seasonal set menu.
Bergen adds different hints and flavors of Norwegian cuisine, and specialties of the city include fish soup, cured salmon, spekesild (pickled herring), and game such as elk and reindeer. To Kokker (Enhjorningsgarden 29, Bergen) is a modern and upscale restaurant serving contemporary Bergen fare complete with an extensive wine list. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.
Trondheim is further north than both Oslo and Bergen, and the west coast offers regional cuisine that is different than inland flavors. For the widest selection, head to the Solisden district, east of the Nidelva River. Credo (Orjaveita 4, Trondheim) is a particular favorite, serving traditional Norwegian cuisine. The city also hosts an annual food festival in August called Trondersk Matfestival which is well worth checking out if you are in Norway at the time.