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Indulge yourself with delicacies this summer! You will find food festivals from north to south, and this weekend Numedal is the tastiest place to be.
Published: 29 June 2017
Norway is in the process of putting itself on the world map as a food nation. Chef André Hovdenakk Slettevoll at the Spiseriet restaurant in Stavanger is involved in the Nordic region's largest food festival, Gladmatfestivalen (i.e. Happy Food Festival) in Stavanger, which is 19-22 July this year.
"I think the Gladmat Festival means very much for Norway as a food nation. Food manufacturers from around the country are coming and get to show off their wares. The visitors are not just Norwegians, they are from all over Scandinavia," says Slettevoll.
He points to Norwegian seafood, fish, shellfish, and not least the game meat as something we can be extra proud of.
"I'm from Sunnmøre, and grew up with this food. I'm not really into hunting, but have done a little. The Norwegian game meat is absolutely fantastic," he says.
More about that later. Already this weekend, it is possible to taste your way through those Norwegian delicacies at Numedal food festival. If you have never tasted Old Norwegian Short-Tailed sheep (spælsau) from Numedal, it's about time. Just head to the former railway station, Rollag Stasjon, in the heart of Numedal on 30 June and enjoy a six-course meal based on local specialities.
We're talking cured meats, lamb sausages, cheese, locally brewed beer and fresh berries. After dinner you can compete in the a milking contest or try your skills at potato peeling. Or have a dance on the platform.
That same weekend is the Seafood and Fishing festival in Langesund. Chef Dag Tjersland, known from the Oslo restaurants Baltazar, Enoteca and Skur 33, is coming to the festival. There will also be a cooking school for children, lectures, and the sale of local delicacies at the big trade fair.
Norwegian Apple Festival, on 23 September in Gvarv. Here you eat Norway's best apples, and taste your way through locally produced food and drinks and join in the "Apple Pranks" with the children.
Smak Nordnorsk Matfestival (Northern Norwegian Food Festival) in Tromsø, 22-23 September
Norwegian Matglede (Food Enjoyment) at Geilo, 3-5 October
The Lofoten Food Festival in Lofoten, 14-15 October
But, as mentioned, it is in Stavanger that this summer's big food festival is taking place. Gladmat is the Nordic region's largest food festival, and attracts up to 250,000 visitors during the four-day event at the end of July. In 2017 the festival will be held for the nineteenth time, and the Spiseriet restaurant is one of the main contributors of food. Chef André Hovdenakk Slettevoll is involved in arranging a specially composed dinner which is being served in the restaurant.
"We anticipate having a thousand diners from Wednesday to Saturday. On Tuesday, something called Kokepunkt (i.e. boiling point) will be held, which is an event where industry people gather and enjoy mingle food and professional enrichment. We'll be there as well," he says.
He believes the trend of fine dining is about to shift. After the financial crisis, people have become more interested in simple food.
"I feel the trends are moving more toward rustic food. There are of course many who like fine dining, but there has just been a financial crisis. Døgnvill is a burger joint that is chock full all week. We don't offer much in the way of burgers, but it will be more rock and roll. Grilled heart salad, fish and such things.
He also believes that the trend of fusion cuisine, as we have seen for a while, is about to shift.
"It appears that things are moving a bit toward pure flavours. I personally like fusion cuisine, and add flavour to the food with soy, tapioca and other things, and I think it's a bit silly to set boundaries and limit oneself within a given box. So I think you should use what you have available. Otherwise, it quickly becomes difficult to be creative," he says.
He is too busy himself to enjoy the festival while it is going on. Slettevoll admits that he is not a festival person.
"At any rate, I'd rather go to a street car festival," he says and smiles.
"Sometimes it's nice to experience something that is not all about food."
If you're not tired of food after the Gladmat festival, go ahead and make the trip north. Trøndersk Food festival in Trondheim is held 3-5 August, based on local produce from Trøndelag. On Saturday night, you can have a seat at one of the tables among the ten featured restaurants, eating seafood from the archipelago, reindeer meat from Lierne and sweets from Røros. Later on, you can enjoy a festive evening with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and guest soloists.
And as long as we're going non-stop. The Shellfish Festival in Mandal 10-13 August is the largest seafood festival in Norway, and attracts visitors from the entire region each year. They aren't stingy with the good vibes here, and with "teddan i vannet" (the toes in the water), you can enjoy the best seafood Norway has to offer while enjoying the tunes of famous Norwegian performers.
The small town in Southern Norway fills up with 60,000 food-loving people, and there is a carnival, food market, exhibitors, a cooking school for children, the World Championships in shrimp-peeling, street food, street musicians, market stalls and shopping around the clock.
Those wanting to squeeze the most out of summer should head to Ålesund between 24-26 August and check out the Norwegian Food Festival, which is being held for the thirty-third time. Here you will find among other things, the world's largest whale restaurant, and you can take part in a beer-brewing course in connection with the Ålesund Beer Festival held at the same time.
Last, but not least: The Bergen Food Festival is held 1-3 September, and is Norway's largest festival for local foods. Here you can catch the semi-final in the cooking competition "The Norwegian Meal", which designates Norway's best culinary products.
There will also be free cooking classes with a focus on healthy and sustainable food. In the "Inspiration Tent", free courses will be held throughout the weekend that are open to all -including courses in herring dishes, the use of ramsons (i.e. wild garlic), fish gutting, sourdough, seaweed and kelp, by-catch, the history of dried fish, and much more.
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