Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

16/11/2009

Oslo: Mamma Afrika

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 09:58

I forgot about one of the better meals I had in Oslo!

Mamma Afrika (Schweigaards g 12, Oslo 0185) is located in a unit on the first floor of a bus station–not the most appealing of sites, but this restaurant is warm and welcoming. My local guide warned me that it is just round the corner from what passes for a crime-ridden and generally dodgy area in Norway.

The vegetarian choice on the tiny menu is limited to a platter of various vegan items, served on one injera and with another, but there’s more food then than you might think. I got two different lentil wats, spinach, cabbage and a potato dish, all individually seasoned and distinct from one another. There was also no compromise to local tastes, and the food was as spicy as you will find in Ethiopian restaurants all over the planet. Best meal I’ve had so far in Oslo.

There are a number of other Ethiopian and Eritrean eateries in Oslo, all of which appear to be vegan-friendly.

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10/11/2009

Oslo: The Fragrance of the Heart

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 13:22

The Fragrance of the HeartFragrance of the Heart has two vegetarian cafés in Oslo, and before leaving for the airport I visited the one inside GlasMagasinet, a department store on Stortorvet. The café is located by the entrance to the store on the corner with Møllergate, by the large ochre-coloured half-timbered building.

A department store café is never going to score highly on atmosphere, and I think they’d done pretty well, but it still felt like eating in the staff canteen of a New Age hobbit hole. Decorating a vegetarian eaterie with dangling slices of seashells was also a little odd.

Fragrance offers a set menu at lunchtime for 99Kr, which is outrageously good value in Oslo. It consists of a small bowl of soup and the curry of the day. The soup was lentil, and was thick, rich in flavour and warming. The curry was probably curry by Norwegian standards, but I would have called it a pea and mushroom stew. There was no detectable chilli in it, though the rest of the tomatoey sauce was rich with other spices, and contained plenty of coconut. It too hit the spot on a frozen November day.

Dessert is not part of the set menu, but knowing the odds of eating anything substantial for the rest of the day were quite remote, I had a slice of the wholemeal apple pie. There did not appear to be any vegan cream options to go with this, so I had it on its own, but it was moist enough. The coffee is also good, and the meat-eating partner was more than satisfied with the omelette baguette which was apparently much larger and more filling that it appeared.

08/11/2009

Oslo: Vega Fair Food

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:48

Sunday is a bit of a dead loss in Oslo, but Vega, located in a former hydrotherapy baths run by the Seventh Day Adventists, is the one exclusively vegetarian place that is open that day (but not, obviously, on Saturdays).

The old Kurbadet entrance.It’s a bit tricky to find. You need to go in the main entrance to the baths (Kurbadet), which looks locked. It isn’t – you just need to turn the knob. Turn left, though the most spectacular Arts and Crafts corridor and turn right just before you get to the door of what used to be the men’s bath.

English is spoken, and they will guide you through the options available to you, and let you know which few dishes in the buffet are not vegan. This afternoon, the only things that weren’t were a pasta salad containing feta, and the lasagne. The lunch buffet was 125 Kr., drinks other than tap water extra.

Keep going down this corridorThere was a creamy asparagus soup, and a wide variety of salads to choose from. The hot dishes were the aforementioned lasagne, stir-fried mixed vegetables and rice – I didn’t bother as the salads were more than satisfying. By the bread were a couple of chutneys–a fantastic banana one, and an Indian style one consisting of large pieces of green chilli and whole cloves of garlic. I liked that one even more.

The atmosphere is exceptionally peaceful and relaxed. There are no windows in the dining area, yet it didn’t feel like I was in a hole in the ground. The loos are worth mentioning, too. Outrageously clean is the default in Oslo, but considerable care had been taken in their decoration too.

Update: I returned the following spring, and the food was even better. The only pain was the woman outside who wanted to evangelise me, even though she spoke bugger-all English.

06/11/2009

Oslo: Indian House

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:36

Oslo is the most expensive city I’ve ever visited, more so even than Tokyo. Never mind that beer that’s worth drinking is about £9 a pint, my native guide informed me that if I could find a main course for less that 100 Kr., that would be regarded as incredibly cheap.

On arrival, I didn’t have much time to decide where to eat, so we decided to play safe(-ish) and go for a curry. A quick search indicated that Indian House (Fred Olsens Gt. 11) had a reasonable vegetarian selection and it was close to the tram from our hotel, and the pub where we’d arranged to meet a friend. I had the mixed vegetable pakora to start, and followed it with Rajmah Masala – a red kidney bean curry. We were warned that Norwegian tastes tended to the bland, and they offered to make the dishes a little hotter for us.

I’d neglected to ask for no dairy (I was knackered, okay?) so the pakora came with a yoghurt sauce as well as a very tangy tamarind one. Okay, that was my fault, but the bigger surprise was discovering that cheese is apparently a vegetable as the pakora were cauliflower and paneer. I invoked travel rules, and made a mental note to check next time. I think the restaurant might make their own paneer, as it had a much better texture than the commercial stuff. The main course had been made hotter by simply adding chili. As the other spices were also under-represented, this just led to an unbalanced flavour, with the chilli dominating everything. Pity, as the dish is one of the standards that is rarely served in British curry shops.

To continue the bad start to the trip, the pubs we were hunting, Gambrinus, was not at the address we had for it, and there was no evidence that there had every been anything other than a jewellery shop there. Our friend had found an alternative address, but that was occupied by a loud rock bar. This suited us fine, and the beer wasn’t entirely bad (Leffe Bruin and Bedweiser Budvar in bottles) or excessively expensive so we stayed there.

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