Dinner in Oslo

We walked through Grünerløkka to get to the apartment, past loads of bars and restaurants. We were heading to the West of Oslo, to the fifth floor of a square, brown-brick building that looked like it was built in the 60’s. The small and rickety lift could only carry five people at a time so we had to wait for the couple ahead of us. When we eventually piled in we saw that the lift only went to the fifth floor, it was all we needed but it was strange, the building clearly had more than five floors.

We arrived and took in the view, it was pretty good.

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Håkon was making us dinner tonight. It was looking pretty lavish, there was home-made pasta and slow-cooked lamb, haloumi and chocolate moose.

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We started with a Spanish Cava, we drank to Norway and we drank to an evening of food and wine. Sparkling wine is a particular indulgence in Norway, the government controls the sale of booze and it’s taxed heavily. It’s the same in Sweden and Finland.

It seems the government gets a discount for buying in bulk ie. buying for the whole country, and any profit goes to the government for hospitals and police and all the other costs that come from a night on the piss.

The downside is that the bottle shops have limited opening hours, they close even earlier on Saturday and they’re not open at all on Sunday. Drinking in Scandinavia requires planning.

The first course was blanched asparagus with a white wine reduction. A whole bottle of white was boiled down to about 100mls of syrup; add a big chunk of butter and you have a real rich, real tasty sauce.

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The conversation was just as rich, we talked about Norway and how it’s a lot like Australia, both countries having new found wealth based around mining, they’re the nouveau riche of the West.

Norway’s deposits of oil in the North Sea have made it one of the richest in the world. Oslo is regularly ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world. But what’s most interesting is that the government retained a lot of control of the resource through its having a 67% share in Statoil the major oil and gas company in the country. As such the country has the highest standard of living in the world. In Australia the profits from mining go largely into private hands, and more often than not the profits go offshore.

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(Luckily my beanie matched the lounge, could’ve been awkward.)

We fried haloumi but we didn’t have any lemons, so we brushed it with truffle oil, it turned out quite good.

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As we started on red wine the topic turned again to booze and it seems in Norway the alcohol tax is a flat-rate, meaning the very best wines are super cheap in Norway, plus, the government has so much buying power they often get first dibs on the best French vintages, life’s good, shame about the weather.

The pasta took a lot of work, kneading the dough and rolling it out. It’s tricky to get the consistency right and even harder to get it rolling through the machine without falling apart. Håkon had the knack, it turned out pretty great.

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It was served with a kind of ratatouille made with slow-cooked lamb. It was meaty and hearty and luckily we had a ballsy Shiraz to go with it.

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Before desert was served we talked about the building. I was intrigued at why the lift only went to the fifth floor. Håkon tried to explain it, but I’m still confused. It seems there are two lifts, one services the bottom half of the floors and the other goes to the top floors. But, there are some floors that don’t have access to a lift. It supposedly increased useable space. Wine and engineering is a tough combo, I was just glad we weren’t any higher than the fifth floor.

Desert was chocolate moose with whipped cream and freeze dried raspberries.

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Oslo doesn’t grow a lot of its own produce due to its climate. But there’s plenty of cash floating around so they import most of what they eat; avocados from Peru, capsicums from Spain and bananas from Columbia. The raspberries were concentrated and sweet and the chocolate smooth and bitter.

It was getting late and I couldn’t eat another bite and there were lots of empty wine bottles. We walked home and the cold air on my face was a welcome relief.

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