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Chefs garnishing food in kitchen Chefs garnishing food in kitchen
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Umami, Harstad.
Photo: Benjamin A. Ward / Visitnorway.com
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Norwegian food culture truly comes to life as the leaves are falling.

Autumn flavours

Every season has its own flavours and smells.

While the months of spring and summer are perfectly suited for light, refreshing meals, a richer and more powerful cuisine – often made with patience – typically dominates the Norwegian diet as the days grow shorter.

Smalhans, Oslo Smalhans, Oslo
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Smalhans, Oslo.
Photo: Benjamin A. Ward / Visitnorway.com

Lobster, apples and deer

In the western city of Stavanger, chef Svein Erik Renaa runs and owns Re-Naa – one of five Norwegian restaurants with stars in the prestigious Michelin Guide.

The award-winning culinary artist has his own autumnal traditions and favorite commodities.

Re-Naa, Stavanger Re-Naa, Stavanger
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Re-Naa, Stavanger.
Photo: Tom Haga / Renaa Restauranter

"A lot of things come to mind – first and foremost various kinds of mushrooms early in the season, and obviously lobster from October on. The weather change in September usually makes for great root vegetables. The colours of nature are inspiring to me as well."

The menu at Re-Naa reflects the current season at all times. This autumn is no exception, Renaa says.

"Deer and game meat are significant commodities to us from September on. And the great apples, pears and berries of the season tend to characterize our desserts."

A more powerful taste

A lot of the Norwegian food traditions are deeply rooted in the nation’s history of hunting, farming and fishing. Lobster season lasts from October to Christmas, while sea trout and crab from Northern Norway are among the treasures hauled from the sea in the same period.

The hunting season provides the country’s dinner tables with meat from reindeer, moose, deer, venison and grouse – all delicacies with a distinct taste of the wild.

Steigen, Nordland Steigen, Nordland
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Steigen, Nordland.
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

Another very important commodity is lamb – not only the main ingredient for the Norwegian national dish fårikål, but the very essence of various slow-cooking autumn dishes for many.

Sven Erik at Re-Naa points out the differences between cooking in the different seasons.

"The way we cook changes slightly during the autumn. When it starts to get chilly outside, we need more power in our food, adding slightly more fat in it. It tastes a bit richer, basically."

Skarvheimen, Buskerud Skarvheimen, Buskerud
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Skarvheimen, Buskerud.
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / Visitnorway.com / Visitnorway.com

Nature’s own pantry

Autumn is also harvesting time, and many Norwegians spend their spare time outdoors, gathering fruits, berries, mushrooms and clams while enjoying nature and getting exercise.

Drying, pickling, fermenting and freezing are only a few ways of conserving the catch, while the season’s apples typically reach perfection as jam or pies.

Steigen, Nordland Steigen, Nordland
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Steigen, Nordland.
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

Sven Erik Renaa enjoys harvesting himself, particularly mushrooms. However, the master chef readily admits that time – or lack thereof – makes it hard to pursue this activity on a regular basis.

"I try to get out there as often as I can, but we purchase a lot for the restaurant, of course. There’s a local retiree providing us with a lot of mushrooms, for instance, and we buy everything he delivers. After all, this is part of his livelihood, and we want to support that."

Steigen, Nordland Steigen, Nordland
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Steigen, Nordland.
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

Seasonal food and drink

Don’t know where to go? Find out were to eat below.

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