From hearty Scandinavian meat stews to delicate Atlantic salmon filets, here are the top 10 things to try in the innovative Scandinavian city of Oslo
Forget the common misconception that cured meat and variations of potatoes compose the diet of Oslo’s locals. While the city does provide meals more attuned to a Viking’s diet, other exquisite foods like heart-shaped waffles and dainty moulds of caviar decorate restaurant plates across the city. For a well-informed understanding of Oslo’s culinary culture, read these must-try recommendations and details on where to find them.
Among the best of its kind in the world, Norwegian smoked salmon plays leagues above the generic lox found in cafes elsewhere. The delicious fish matures at a slow rate, giving it a distinct, deep flavour. Savour the pink meat by itself or accompanied by brown bread generously spread with butter.
Where to try: Fiskerit Youngstorget (Youngstorget 2b) sells some of the finest smoked and fresh fish available in Oslo. Though their fish and chips claims the most popularity, their smoked salmon deserves the same recognition.
Gas stations, grocery stores, and street carts all serve hot dogs, or pølse, in huge quantities to meet demand. These treasured links filled with beef, pork, or reindeer meat are adorned with condiments like ketchup and mustard. Often wrapped in bacon, they fuel Oslo’s locals and present a cost-effective meal for travellers on a low-budget.
Where to try: For an exceptional experience, munch on a dog from Syverkiosken (Maridalsveien 45), an Oslo institution in business since 1979.
Kjøttkaker or kjøttboller percolates through a number of Scandinavian cultures, not just Swedish homeware stores. Swimming in brown gravy and coupled with potatoes and cabbage, Norway’s meatballs hit all the checkmarks of a well-balanced, traditional meal.
Where to try: The neighbourhood joint, Restaurant Schrøder (Waldemar Thranes gate 8).
Some say it’s barbaric, other’s say it’s gourmet. Smalahove, or sheep’s head, used to represent a lower class dish, but now sits on tables across Norway during the holiday season. Professionals prepare smalahove by first removing the brain and the ears, searing it on all sides, and generously seasoning it with salt before it is air-dried. Fight for the best part, or the sheep’s cheek, to taste the best cut.
Where to try: Smalahove makes an appearance around Christmas time, so it can be hard to find during other times of the year. For some of the best sheep’s head in Oslo during the holidays, head to Lorry Restaurant (Parkveien 12).
A secret ingredient to stews, or simply enjoyed on a slice of bread, brunost provides a sweet and tangy bite, courtesy of whey, a byproduct of cheese. Whey technically makes brunost a separate entity, but because cheesemakers produce it and consumers enjoy it like fine brie, many regard it as a part of the cheese family.
Where to try: Find brunost in the long spread of food at your hotel buffet, or purchase it at any local grocery store.
Don’t mistake this tube of caviar for your spearmint toothpaste. Salted cod roe mixed with sugar and a variety of other ingredients squished in the enclosure of a plastic tube involves itself in breakfast foods throughout Scandanavia. Zigzag the spread across open-faced sandwiches or dollop it on boiled eggs for an interesting take on a usual meal.
Where to try: Like any condiment, find it at the grocery or convenience store amongst other tubes of mayo and mustard.
These traditional potato dumplings couple well with any type of salted or boiled meat. Raspeballer allow for variation, with some even incorporating lamb or pork in the grated potato mix itself. Sample it with savoury or sweet compliments like jam.
Where to try: Kaffistova (Rosenkrantz’ gate 8).
Enjoy a thin waffle resembling the shape of five conjoined golden hearts. Eat them with whipped cream and juicy summer berries for the ideal bite after a long day of relaxing on the fjord.
Where to try: Heralds Vaffel (Torggata 7).
Norway’s lush forests cultivate a plethora of berry bushels, ripe for picking primarily during the summer months. These plump orange and pink treats look almost cartoonish and generally grow in the wild, making them an expensive purchase and a true gift from nature.
Where to try: Cloudberries sit atop many of Norway’s cream cakes, and also take the form of jams.
Distilled from grain or potatoes, aquavit, or the spirit of Scandinavia, tastes a bit like vodka but with the distinctive flavour of caraway. Before sipping aquavit, it’s appropriate to shout a skaal, or the equivalent of cheers.
Where to try: Pick up a bottle of the most famous aquavit, Linie, from any liquor store, or ask any bartender for a shot or an aquavit cocktail.
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