September 11, 2011
Bergen, Day 6: Norwegian Food Explosion at Bryggen Tracteursted
The food just kept coming. And coming. And...coming. Until Morten, Kåre, and I were faced with a sort of mini buffet of Norwegian tapas more appropriate for a party twice our size. Whoooops.
WELL THE ONLY SOLUTION IS TO EAT IT ALL, I SUPPOSE.
Why did we end up with craptons of food? Because we weren't in charge of ordering it. Morten invited us to eat at Bryggen Tracteursted—located in Bryggen, more specifically in a schøtstue that was built in 1708—since it was part of the restaurant group he was working for. And since he knew the chef, we received a special meal, "special" meaning "nearly half of the menu." (Amusingly, the menu calls the dishes "savoury smallbits." It also calls them "Norwegian tapas," but "smallbits" is obviously the superior name.)
Now, a bunch of photos.
First, an assortment of bread accompanied by oil, Ramsløk butter (a sort of garlicky butter), and bacon fat topped with bacon bits.
The star dish of the night was the breaded fried cod tongues with remoulade. My criteria for "star dish" is when I continue to eat the dish even though my brain says, "Robyn, if you eat any more, you might pop a vital organ. Is it worth it? Popping an organ is serious stuff. Think about it." I didn't really think about it, but thankfully, nothing popped. To my knowledge.
This Icelandic food blog says, "Cod tongues aren't really tongues, but rather the fleshy, triangular muscle behind and under the tongue." (Wait, the tongue is behind and under the...tongue?) I haven't poked around a cod's mouth lately/ever, so I'll accept that description. The restaurant's menu just had this to say: "Cutting out cod tongues are children's work. They got paid per piece, and was a great way for them to acknowledge hard working life." Child labor rarely tasted so good.
What's so dandy about this muscle? When breaded and fried, cod tongues are lightly crisp on the outside and sort of creamy soft on the inside, with a faint sweet flavor, not bearing any resemblance to the body muscle. I've read comparisons to scallop, but they reminded me of sweetbreads more than anything else. If you like fried nuggets of stuff (and, gosh, why wouldn't you?), you'll probably like fried cod tongues.
Now I need to find out why cod tongues aren't a more well known dish. They're delicious, seemingly simple to prepare, and, to my taste buds, quite inoffensive. (Googling pointed me to this restaurant in Newfoundland that serves them topped with crispy pork bits. THAT SOUNDS AWESOME.) Admittedly, I've never scoped out a seafood counter for cod tongues, but in my 26 years of life, I hope I would've noticed 'em by now. Somewhere out there is a bag of cod tongues with my name on it. I must find it.
Next to the cod tongues are "Ulrik" sausages and potato salad with spring onions. I don't remember much about the sausages, but the potato salad was one of those dishes I kept wanting to eat despite my stomach reaching 200 percent capacity. I don't know for sure that Norwegian potatoes taste better than American potatoes (most of my potato-eating in America is in the form of french fries), but...hell, they probably do.
Although I liked just about every other dish, none of them stuck in my mind as well as the cod tongues and the potato salad. These menu descriptions will have to do. From left to right: liver paté with bacon and pickled onion, trout tartar with quail eggs, and cured ham with herb cream.
Smoked herring with apple and beet salad, a repeat of the cured ham, and aquavit marinated salmon with asparagus and sour cream dressing.
Cured sausage with herb cream and flatbread, maybe the same salmon as before or another fish I can't identify, and that good ol' potato salad with spring onions.
King Oscar sardines with toasted buttered bread. Not exactly a "must order" considering most major supermarkets in the US carry King Oscar sardines, but they are good.
These two plates featured two kinds of pickled herring, the specifics of which I can't recall. ;_; As for the other dishes, there's smoked herring again, smoked elk and cranberry wrapped in potato bread, and marinated deer with rowan berry jelly.
And after all that...
Coffee, sweetened by everyone else's sugar cubes. Because I don't like coffee that much. But being surrounded by coffee lovers = PEER PRESSURE, I MUST CONFORM.
Cheese plate with apple marmalade. There's the creamy cheese, the veiny cheese, and the plain cheese.*
* Not the real names at all.
Lastly, for dessert, wafer cone with cloudberries and cream, and aquavit-marinated berries with another sort of wafer cookie.
The bill came out to 2047 kr, about $370. Yeah, that's...that's a lot more than I ever spend on a meal in NYC. But eating out in Bergen (and I'd guess most of Norway) is considerably more expensive than eating out in NYC. And our dinner could've technically fed four people. So. Yup.
I'd recommend Bryggen Tracteursted if you like sharing lots of little Norwegian dishes and sitting in a super old, historical building. ...I'm not selling it very well, but hey, that's why I take photos. Morten would know better than me about the uniqueness of the menu, but I think he told me it's a good place for traditional Norwegian/Bergen cuisine.
And then it was time to say bye to Morten (if all goes well, I'll see him again at Christmas). :( He's a weird one. Thank god, or else we couldn't be friends.
Posted by roboppy at 12:35 AM
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