Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hurtigruten Dining

As I write this we're about three hours away from Bergen, the end of our Hurtigruten voyage aboard the MS Trollfjord. The sun has even decided to shine, just a little, on our last few hours at sea. Yesterday was sunny much of the day, giving me a chance to indulge in the jacuzzi one more time.

Once ashore we'll take the bus to our hotel, the Strand, stash our bags, freshen up then call Jean Sue's cousin Leslie and his wife Gry for a ride out to Radøy for the family reunion.

A few words (or more) about the food board the Trollfjord. Good and plentiful.

Although I'm sure it doesn't compare to the huge cruise ships plying the Caribbean and Alaskan waters, I enjoyed all our meals aboard the MS Trollfjord.

Breakfast was a typical Norwegian hotel buffet, with many different herrings (and a few other fish, like mackerel and sardines thrown in), eggs (usually scrambled, another hot egg dish which varied, hard and soft boiled eggs), breads and cheeses, cold cuts, breakfast sausages (which are more akin to cocktail franks), meatballs, fruit, yogurts, cereals, etc. Today's variation were some crepes with blueberry preserves.

The lunch buffert is even more plentious, with at least two hot entrees (one is always fish, the other usually some sort of meat -- I had delicious roast lamb one day) with vegetable and potato sides, cold meats and cold cuts, cheeses, salads, more herrings, soup, breads, etc. And the desserts. Sweet, but not cloying, almost always light in texture if not in calories. There would always be a couple mousse-like puddings, a couple of different cakes, various berry sauces, tea cookies, fruits.

Unlike the other meals dinners were served at assigned tables (we had a two-top so didn't have to make conversation with strangers). Fish was served three of five nights: arctic char, cod loin, and a triple whammy of halibut resting atop salmon with an accent of gravlax on top. Always served with delicious steamed potatoes and interesting vegetables. Reindeer steak greeted us the first night, and breaking up the fish nights was one dinner of a roast sirloin. First courses ranged from soups (potato leek once, fish soup another time), marinted reindeer, gravlax, etc. Desserts could be cheesecake, fruit soup,  panna cotta, ice cream cake.

If, for some reason, the dinner menu did not appeal (you can consult the week's dinner menu soon after boarding) you can request an alternate, though I highly recommend going with the flow.

Other than water, you'll pay extra, of course, for beverages, whether it be soda, wine or beer. And at normally high Norwegian prices, though not any more so than you'd pay at a land-based restaurant: $10 for beer no matter where you go, unless you buy at the supermarket. A glass of wine was abut the same price. Half-bottles of wine started at about $40, full bottles at $60 and up.

You won't go hungry, and what was even more astounding was the quality. Even if you don't like fish, you've got to eat it here. Norwegians depend upon and thrive on fish and, after a couple of milleenia, they've learned how to cook it. Firstly, it's fresh. Secondly, they cook it through but never too much. Even the fish on the buffet wasn't overcooked. Yesterday for lunch had a piece of saithe cordon bleu, saithe being a cod-family member (also known as coalfish). It was crisply fried, and maintained the crispness on the buffet; the interior was meltingly tender, juicy and tasty.

Of course, I immediately go for the herrings at breakfast and lunch. At breakfast they offer a plain pickled herring, another in mustard sauce, another in tomato sauce. At lunch the herring is served in three different sauces: matjes (sweetish wine sauce), curry, and sour cream.

Summary: When you travel the Hurtigruten, don't fear the fish.

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