Norway's Coastal Kitchen
Take a tour through the world’s finest pantry.
WORDS ANDERS HUSA
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A voyage along Norway’s coastline is more than just a cruise through incredible landscapes. It’s also a culinary journey – one that’s not only delicious but sustainable, too. The chefs on board Hurtigruten’s ships emphasise procuring and preparing locally farmed food, and work with suppliers along the coastline to bring guests the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible.
I board the ship at Ålesund to sail north to Tromsø. On only my first day at sea, I taste some of Norway's finest farm-to-table dining. Local supplier Ole Christian Skaugen, from Dybvik, has delivered klippfisk (dried and cured cod) to be served as part of the evening meal. The three-course meal begins with carpaccio of his Gran Reserva klippfisk brushed with olive oil and parsley. It's followed by melt-in-the-mouth leg of lamb raised near the village of Hellesylt, and ends with a dish whose name translates “veiled peasant girls”. It is made using apples from Hardanger. A gourmet meal is best enjoyed paired with equally fine wines, so I select the recommended wine package to accompany the dishes I've chosen. A glass of Hurtigruten's own-label white wine, José Maria da Fonseca from Portugal, with its bouquet of fresh lime and good acidic balance, is a perfect accompaniment for the klippfisk. A more robust red wine works well with the lamb, and a Tokay at the end of the meal is a sweet preface to my apple dessert. This is just the beginning of our voyage through one of world's most abundant larders. Between Bergen and Kirkenes, you can taste lamb from Geiranger, king crab from the Barents Sea, cheese and cod from Lofoten and reindeer from Finnmark. Norway's pantry is full to the brim with delicacies.
When the ship arrives in Trondheim the next day, I dine at Kysten, the onboard, à la carte restaurant, where lunch is enjoyed with a couple of bottles of Arctic craft beer, made at Mack, the world's northernmost brewery. An entrée of perfectly cooked pan-fried scallops from Frøya is superb. They’re velvety smooth inside with a crunchy outer crust, and served with cauliflower purée and small chunks of chorizo from Stranda. It is the artful combination of tastes and contrasting textures that makes this dish so exciting. On board Hurtigruten's ships you can choose between three-course dinners or bountiful buffets, all created using fresh, seasonal ingredients. While you're relaxing on board or enjoying excursions, local fishermen are out securing the day's catch, such as Arctic char from the deep, cold waters of Sigerfjord in Vesterålen. In fact, if you've ever wondered what it's like to fish for one of the region's most famous ingredients, you can join the King Crab Experience. Join fishermen, pull the cages from the depths and learn how to prepare these monsters the traditional way.
71 and Counting Norway
It is the artful combination of tastes and contrasting textures that make these dishes so delicious and exciting.
Photo: Peder Songedal
“Procuring, preparing and serving fresh, locally produced food is vital to the coastal experience. Our local interaction also generates positive ripple effects and good stories from the communities we visit. Our passengers experience an authenticity few others can offer. They can even buy some of the local products on board the ship. That way they get to savour their Norwegian coastal experience a little longer.”
— Chef Eirik Larsen
I don’t opt for the Arctic char for my final dinner on board, but almost turn blue from excitement over what I do choose. I’ve selected a live king crab from the fish tank. The kitchen chooses a very simple presentation, and serves the big crustacean with freshly baked bread, aioli, soy sauce, mayonnaise and a simple salad with finely julienned pickled vegetables. With the juice of a grilled lemon, it’s all that’s needed to let the sweet, delicate meat of the king crab – and the legs hold so much of it – play the leading role in its own culinary performance.
Photos: Agurtxane Concellon.
After a meal fit for a king, the ship sails to Svolvær in the Lofoten Islands and I venture onto the deck. The evening turns magical as the ship enters Trollfjorden. The following day, I disembark at Tromsø, where ice blue seas and snowy white mountains greet the ship’s arrival. My Hurtigruten voyage is over but Chef Eirik’s day is just starting as he prepares tasty culinary creations for the next food enthusiasts to board.
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