We actually didn't have time to really eat out in Tromso, since our hosts were so interested in having us save money. Though this is an extreme kindness, since they were vegetarian this started to get a little hard for Hong Kong P. Especially since food was being shared amongst everyone and it seems Norwegians eat less than we do. Needless to say we didn't have enough food with us and the next day, meat was definitely purchased at the museum. In either case, here's a small summary of the eats that went down in Tromso:
Pre-dinner snack: the brown cheese of Norway.
This is actually something German K had been wanting to try since Oslo. Apparently she had read about it somewhere and had been dying to try it.
The conclusions? Absolutely delicious, and very unlike any other cheese I had ever tried. This one was made of goat's milk, but the way our hosts described it to us, it's made from the leftovers of the normal cheese process. I'm not sure what this really makes it, but the end result is a creamy semi-soft cheese that has a texture a lot like Crackerbarrel cheddar. But higher quality.
The taste was kind of like nutritional yeast - little bit sweet, sort of spicy, with a little bit of a bite. You're supposed to eat this type of cheese on sweet bready things, like waffles or pancakes with jam. I thought it would be amazing with salty things like mayo or remoulade, which kind of disgusted our hosts, but whatever, to each their own. I did try it both ways later that night when they brought their midnight snack stash out (much to Hong Kong P and my delight, because we were starving), and they're all delicious combinations.
I've found out since this experience that you can actually get this in the States, though it took some digging - it's found at Whole Foods and other specialty stores. Whoo! I've never seen it in Finland, though I can't say I've searched that hard either. Definitely something to be gotten.
Dinner: vegetarian Norwegian style.
I have no pictures of this because that would have been weird and maybe slightly rude, but what they made us was a medley of roasted vegetables and plain white rice.
...and that was it.
This was split between us (three girls), the hosts (a couple) and their friends (two guys and a girl who came a bit later).
...there was a single baking tray of veggies and a small pot of white rice.
Not wanting to be rude none of us took seconds and each of us had a small plate. Like the size of a dessert plate.
I love hosts who are interested in cooking for us because it's completely sweet and wonderful. If I had known this (the lack of food) was going to be the case I would have picked up something more than two types of beer to contribute to dinner when we were at the grocery store (btw the beer was super appreciated and none of the other friends contributed...so maybe contributions aren't considered normal):
These beers (or so we were informed) boast that they are from the most northern brewery in Norway. Clearly these were the ones we were going to buy, and buy we did. It's a local brewery. Very nice. The one on the top (in the red can) is their special Christmas brew. Very tasty and easy to drink.
The next day, at the Polaria museum, Hong Kong P and I descended upon the cafeteria with a hunger not otherwise shown to the other eateries we'd visited thusfar. She ordered a salmon sandwich and a tea (not the most in the world but things are expensive), and I ordered this slightly freaky but curious seafood sandwich:
Little clams, krab, and crayfish. Cold, with butter, in a baguette. I was wondering to myself how long it would take before I freaked out (cold seafood is a wonder at a raw bar, but otherwise it can be kind of creepy if there's no cream sauce...butter was not what I was expecting)...but it was surprisingly fresh. Considering this was at a museum it was pretty great. Very high quality, and not very expensive - the equivalent of less than 10euros. Not bad considering a hot dog (which are oddly popular in the country) cost anywhere from 4-6euros.
And to top it all off I had a fruit smoothie. I just needed something fulfilling that I could carry around and nourish myself with.
The smoothie was awesome. Nothing special in it of itself, but it was exactly what I needed (except that it was cold instead of warm...because I was cold all the time...it was -8C or so outside...so not like anywhere you went made you warm).
After this we hurried to catch our plane back to Oslo. It was at the Oslo airport that Hong Kong P and I finally broke down and got a real meal. We had enough time between our flight back to Helsinki to really dig in and get something nice. Plus all of us had our leftover kronors to spend. And spend we did. Luckily there was a pretty real restaurant there to eat from, and they were serving a Christmas meat special. Yes, MEATS.
I've never been so happy to eat meat in my life (that's not true, there've been other times...but this was definitely one of those times where I could feel malnourishment given the cold conditions starting to affect my being). Anyway, the Christmas plate:
Red sauerkraut (or at least something that was extremely similar to what I've had before), potatoes with gravy, white sausage, pork belly, some sort of meat loaf, and stewed pork.
It was like the man call for food. And it was glorious. I don't think any of us talked for half an hour as we all ate (German K got a salad).
Admittedly my stomach kind of hurt after it, but it was sort of the good kind of hurt. The "I truly needed something filling" kind of hurt. Ah, the feeling of full. I had forgotten what it felt like after so little food over the past 36 hours.
And thus ended the food portion of our Norway trip. I didn't get to try seal or whale (which were my food goals for the trip, but we didn't stop into any restaurants that were serving it, otherwise I would have dove right in), but that's alright, I'll have other opportunities, especially if I do indeed get to Iceland to see the aurora sometime next year. Hong Kong P has tried whale before and she says it's like really bloody beef. I look forward to it.