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Award-winning cheeses and meat, traditional techniques used in new ways, and ingredients from both the fjords and the fields. The Stavanger region is truly the place to be for real foodies. Make sure you get to taste it all with these tips on where to visit and what to eat on your trip.

A treasure chest of culinary delights

In Fjord Norway, you'll find the Stavanger region, a treasure chest of local ingredients on the country's west coast. A mild coastal climate, combined with high mountains, deep fjords, and some of the country's largest flat lowland areas, makes it possible to grow and harvest a wide range of incredible food.

"In the region, you'll find fantastic, small-scale producers with a local focus, as well as larger food producers who deliver goods to the whole country. Big or small, it really seems like the people working with food have a great deal of respect for what they do. Quality is always in focus," says Jon Berg.

Jon grew up in the Stavanger area and is a real foodie. In addition to being a journalist and sommelier, he has written a book about food experiences and recipes from the Stavanger area. In his book Nordsjøvegen – fra Stavanger til Hidra ("The North Sea Road – from Stavanger to Hidra"), he guides the reader to must-visit places and eateries in the region. Stavanger has plenty.

"Slow growing, organic farming and animal welfare are clearly a priority. In my opinion, this is something you can really taste in the finished products. In the small municipality of Gjesdal, you'll see free-range pigs at the farm Tina's Pigs, while in Sola, just outside of Stavanger, Angus cattle graze freely," says Jon.

A culinary journey

Take a food safari through the region! Stavanger is surrounded by small islands that are rich in history, culture and nature. The mild and humid maritime climate makes the islands green for most of the year, and they are well worth exploring.

A 30-minute drive north of Stavanger, you'll find the historic Utstein Monastery on the Klosterøy island – one of eight inhabited islands in Rennesøy. The drive is worth the trip on its own, as you take small roads close by the fjord, from one idyllic island to another, passing animals grazing peacefully in the magical landscape as you wind your way to Klosterøy and Utstein.

Utstein was once the site of Viking King Harald Fairhair's residence. In the Middle Ages, it was a monastery, and in the 1700s, it became a manor house and was run as a farm until becoming a museum in the 1930s.

The island is also home to Klostergarden – a farm focusing on sustainable food production in a protected historical cultural environment. The farm is run by Inger Lise and Anders Schanche Rettedal, who are the 11th generation on the family farm.

Fine dining

With such an excellent selection of high quality ingredients just outside Stavanger's front door, it's no wonder why the city has several Michelin-starred restaurants as well as other amazing eateries. Apart from Norway's capital Oslo, Stavanger was in fact the first city in Norway to receive a star, first awarded to the incredible restaurant RE-NAA, located in the city centre, in 2016. Today, the restaurant has two Michelin stars and a set menu that focuses on flavours representing the region and seasonal ingredients.

"Our main advantage in having a restaurant here is that everything is so local. Seafood, vegetables, game, mushrooms. Everything we need is within a half an hour," says chef Sven Erik Renaa.

In the city, you'll also find the Michelin-starred Sabi Omakase, which was the first sushi restaurant in Norway to receive Michelin status. The restaurant serves authentic style sushi, known as edomae, prepared by Roger Asakil Joya – one of the few sushi chefs in Norway accredited by the AJSA, the All Japan Sushi Association.

If you want a table at one of these Michelin-starred restaurants, remember to book well in advance!

Traditional treats

But you don't have to visit a Michelin-starred restaurant to eat well in the region. According to Jon Berg, there are several must-visit places outside the city centre, many of which focus on more traditional, Norwegian cuisine. One of them is Lura Turistheim in Sandnes, located a 14-minute drive from Stavanger city centre, which has been making Norwegian food from scratch since 1949.

"They make komle (potato dumplings, usually served with salted meat) just the way I used to eat it while growing up, as well as some fantastic traditional kjøttkaker (meatballs), and of course the best dessert, karamellpudding (caramel pudding). A visit here is almost like visiting a food museum," says Jon. He feels it's important that people respect the history of the recipe and help bring that tradition with them into the future.

The art of preserving food

The food in Fjord Norway is very much shaped by the tradition of preservation. In fact, from 1900, canning was one of Stavanger's main industries! You can learn more about it at the city's own canning museum. However, the food traditions in Fjord Norway are built on even older preservation techniques. Here, the art of drying, salting, smoking, and fermenting food has been passed down for generations. These techniques are still used by some of the best restaurants in town.

"At Tango, we very much focus on ingredients in season. But, in order to extend and use everything we harvest throughout the season, we ferment a lot of food, too" says Jan-Erik Hauge, head chef at Tango.

Tango is an intimate restaurant with just 30 seats, located in the heart of Stavanger. In the restaurant kitchen, you'll find real food nerds, who wants to put the Stavanger region on the culinary map with their surprising flavour combinations, visually beautiful presentations, and excellent wine parings.

According to manager Tommy Oppedal Raanti, Tango chooses its ingredients very carefully. High quality and a local origin are both important to the restaurant.

"We work a lot with a farmer named Frode Ljosdal. He delivers fantastic ingredients, including squash, Jerusalem artichoke, tomatoes and kale, from his farm Brimse Gård on Brimse island, just outside Stavanger. The climate out there is different from the city. It's more sheltered from the weather, which means that spring arrives earlier," says Tommy.

The Stavanger region is also known for its large-scale cultivation of sweet tomatoes. At Orre in the Jæren area, you'll find Wiig Gartneri, one of Norway's largest producers, where many varieties of tomato and cucumber are grown.

"Wiig Gartneri delivers vegetables to shops all over the country, so it's massive. You'll also find tomato production on the Finnøy and Brimse islands," says Tommy.

Fresh from the North Sea

We can't talk about the Stavanger region without mentioning seafood. It's a coastal region after all! Before oil was discovered in the North Sea, Stavanger was a small fishing village, which was very reliant on herring.

Today, fish still plays an important role on the region's menus. Although you can get a wide range of fresh seafood year around, winter is definitely the main season for the freshest seafood. That's when the fjord is icy cold, and the fish and shellfish are juicy and plump. The seafood from this area is of such a high quality that it's exported to top restaurants across the globe. To get the freshest of the freshest, you should definitely visit one of the seafood restaurants in the area.

"Whiting, flounder, pollock, and haddock are common in the area, and we of course have lots of delicious shellfish as well. My favourites must be fresh langoustine or scallops," says Karl Erik Pallesen, chef and co-owner of Fisketorget in Stavanger.

Fisketorget is a combined fishmonger and restaurant in the heart of the city centre, just by the harbour, or Vågen as the locals say. People have been selling seafood here for over 150 years.

"In the restaurant, we make dishes purely based on what we happen to have in our fish counter. We have a goal of never having anything more than two days old in the counter, so people always know they will be served the freshest seafood. It's also a fun challenge for our chefs — they have to be creative to take advantage of the whole fish and constantly think of new combinations. The seafood is, of course, served with local ingredients in season," says Karl Erik.

Popular fish soup

One of the most popular dishes at the Fisketorget restaurant is its fish soup. In 2019, Karl Erik and his crew sold more than 38,000 portions! You can order the soup from the menu year round, but the restaurant also serves some seasonable specialties.

"I personally love cod season. Even though the fish comes from Northern Norway, it's like a celebration in the whole country. I also really like traditional fish dishes, like lutefisk (stockfish preserved with water and lye) which is common around Christmas," says Karl Erik.

Plant based in Stavanger

If you prefer vegan food, or if you're just looking for an amazing dinner experience, Stavanger has a real treat for you – the restaurant Bellies! According to local festival director Katrine Lilleland, Bellies is Norway's best vegan restaurant. You'll find the restaurant at the end of the Pedersgata street in the city centre.

Check out more tips from the festival director:

Say cheese!

In an old label factory in the eastern part of Stavanger, you'll find artisanal cheese maker Stavanger Ysteri. This part of town was once the main area for the canning industry in Stavanger. Today, many of the old factories have been transformed into modern, local food producers and trendy restaurants.

Stavanger Ysteri was established by Lise Brunborg in 2015 and has its roots in traditional cheese making. Lise and her team make cheeses from milk produced at Leikvoll Økologiske Gard, which is the only farm in the area that produces organic milk, located just outside the town. Stavanger Ysteri has a showcase window, so you can see how they make their tasty cheeses. 

In 2021, the delicious washed rind cheese Konrad won the title of Norway's best cheese in the Norway's national cheese championship. Naturally, chefs all over the country took note of its high quality: the 3-Michelin-starred restaurant Maaemo in Oslo even made a dish dedicated to its blue cheese Fønix! 

Another source of mouth-watering cheeses in the region is Voll Ysteri in Jæren. Its Jærosten cheese was awarded first place in the Norwegian farm cheese championship three years in a row. You should also visit the farm shop at Ystepikene in Varhaug, which is also located in Jæren. 

Want to explore more of the Norwegian kitchen? Check out our cookbook, full of delicious recipes and fascinating stories from the whole country.

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