Sognefjorden and Flam (Gourmet Chick in Norway)

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Norway is the sort of country that spoils all other landscapes for ever. It is hard to compare to the majestic fjords, towering cliffs and luminous green grass. We flew into Bergen for the bank holiday weekend and made our way immediately to fjord region, travelling to Sognefjorden which was about four hours drive. The scenery on the way is just stunning so the drive there is really part of the whole experience.

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Boat trip on the fjords
 
In researching the trip I got some great tips from Nordic Nibbler and A forkful of spaghetti. I learnt that seafood plays a huge part in the Norwegian diet which is not surprising given the long coastline of the country and the pristine fjords. What is more surprising perhaps is that Norwegians also eat reindeer. Most of the reindeers natural predators have died out so every year the government counts the reindeer and farmers are allowed to cull a certain amount. The farmer who ran the property we stayed had recently killed some reindeer and was busy skinning them then leaving them to hang for a week. I found it fascinating but perhaps some people wouldn’t! Besides the seafood and reindeer I was also keen to sample Norwegian berries, brown cheese and cinnamon buns all of which came with recommendations.
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The view from the house we rented
 
Vangen Cafe
Unfortunately our first meal in Norway was pretty atrocious, we stopped at the small town of Voss and headed to the guidebook recommended Vangen Cafe for lunch. There weren’t really any Norwegian dishes on the menu so we had to eat flaccid reheated lasagna and a rubbery veal schnitzel with greasy chips. It may have got a guidebook recommendation but this was one cafe that is not getting a recommendation from me.
 
Details: Vangsgata 42, Voss, Norway (Ph +47 56 51 12 05)
Damage: Reasonable
3/10
 
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Reindeers being hung at the farm
 
Aegir Brewery
We were staying in the tiny village of Flam, a further hours drive from Voss. There is really only a choice of about three places to eat in Flam and the friendly owners of the house we had booked recommended the Aegir Brewery which is a new addition to the village. The brewery itself is well worth a visit with its striking Viking style architecture. A huge fireplace dominates the room and you can sit on reindeer fur rugs around the fire while you sip on your beer. It produces five micro brews and you can do tastings or just opt for a pint. The light wheat beer was particularly good.
 
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The smorgasboard at the Aegir Brewery
 
The Aegir Brewery also runs a restaurant which offers a buffet of Norwegian food for 300k (£30). It felt very touristy to eat at a buffet but I placated myself with the thought that the word smorgasbord is actually Scandinavian and a buffet style of eating is actually quite traditional. As far as buffets go, this was pretty good. The best options were clearly the different varieties of smoked and cooked fish served with rye bread to begin. The smoked salmon was delicate and almost translucent and coloured a vibrant orange. The other Norwegian specialty of reindeer was not so successful. The meat was served in a creamy stew with lingonberry jam which is a fairly traditional way of eating it. However the reindeer itself was tough and chewy. Desserts of a pavlova style slice and logs of airy chocolate mousse helped erase the reindeer memory.
 
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Chocolate mousse and coffee mousse at the Aegir Brewery
 
Details: Boks 44, Flam, Norway (Ph +47 57 63 20 50)
Damage: Pricey
6/10
 
 
Gourmet Traveller Tips
Bergen is a two hour flight from London and we flew with Norwegian air (£110 return) and then hired cars, it is also possible to get to Flam quite easily by train but we wanted the independence of our own cars.
 
From Flam there are stunning walks in the surrounding fjord region and we also did a two hour ferry ride along the fjord to explore the region from the water.
 
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The Bergtun house
 
We stayed at the idyllic Bergtun house. The house sleeps eight and has the most amazing views out over the fjord. It was clean and welcoming inside, well equipped with kitchen equipment, flat screen TV, wifi and even its own boat and very reasonably priced compared to other accomodation options we tried. Between six people it worked out to be the equivalent of £50 a night each. The owners, Anders and Sue who live on the farm just up the road were very helpful and own a few properties in Flam (Anders’ family has lived there since 1600) so be sure to get in touch with them if you are visiting the town.
Details: Flam, Norway (Ph +47 57 63 22 45)
 
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in this post on other travels in Scandinavia, in Denmark or this recipe for potato rostis with smoked salmon.

12 comments

  1. OH. MY. GOD. That view from your house…. I believe there is currently a BA sale on – I’m getting some ideas….

  2. Thanks for the mention and so glad you had a good time. It is indeed a beautiful country, and I see the sun even made an appearance for you!

    When I first arrived in Norway I was also a little surprised at how popular reindeer meat is. I now love the stuff and, when done properly, there’s nothing more comforting than hot reindeer stew on a cold winter’s day.

  3. OK, You have convinced me to visit Norway.

  4. Glad to hear you had a good time in Norway. I remember that smorgasborad too! Everything in the dessert menu came out in gelatinous slabs. And RM ate barely anything, not being a fan of smoked salmon 🙂

    Jetsetting Joyce

  5. Lovely story and lovely photos but that reindeer head is creeping me out!!!

  6. This post really makes me want to go back home-home on holiday. Summer Norway is beautiful. Next time I go it will be dark and (hopefully) snowy.

    Agree with Catty that the reindeer head on the green grass is slightly disturbing. Then again, I once went on a school trip to see poor Rudolph get slaughtered…

  7. I know we Aussies are meant to do a little travel when we come over here, but you really do take the cake! What gorgeous scenery! Worth eating a little reindeer for!

  8. That view is smashing! 😮 I could stare at that for hours on end. And as a smoked salmon freak I think I could devour that whole plate easily (preferably while looking out that window! ;))

  9. I’m not sure what I’m more jealous of the views or the chocolate mousse!! Norway looks amazing lovely post! Nuala

  10. Brilliant. That view is stunning. I don’t know much about Norweigan food, save the dill and fish, but it sounds interesting enough. Shame about the reindeer being tough.

  11. Greedy Diva – I know amazing isn’t it. I highly recommend.

    Nordic Nibbler – yes I think I may just have had a bad reindeer experience

    Laura – It was great and not as expensive as I had expected

    Joyce – I think we went to a different smorgasbord to the one you went to – they are very popular in Norway!

    Catty – it is a little disturbing isn’t it

    Nordica in London – I love it a school trip to see Rudolph’s demise – that is back to nature for you!

    Lex Eat – the scenery in Norway was literally breath-taking

    Lorraine – It was a good country for smoked salmon freaks

    DNA equals food – I think the view was the best part actually

    Lizzie – I didn’t know much about it either so it was good to discover a bit more

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