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Try these fresh tastes of autumn

Lobster, lamb, and moose. Root vegetables that have grown slowly, steadily soaking up the sweet flavours of mother earth. Autumn is hunting and harvest season, when the forests abound with berries, mushrooms, and game.

Every season has its own flavours and smells.

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

Lobster, apple, and deer

In the western city of Stavanger, chef Svein Erik Renaa is the owner and manager of Re-Naa – one of several Norwegian restaurants that has been awarded stars by the prestigious Michelin Guide.

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

“Many 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 always changes to reflect the current season, and autumn is no exception," says Renaa.

"Deer and other game are key ingredients for us from September on, and the wonderful apples, pears, and berries of the season tend to characterise our desserts."

A more powerful taste

Many Norwegian food traditions are deeply rooted in the nation’s history of hunting, farming, and fishing. The 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, and grouse – all delicacies with a distinct taste of the wild.

Another very important ingredient is lamb – not only the main ingredient in the Norwegian national dish fårikål (lamb stew) but also the very essence of a number slow-cooked 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, so we add slightly more fat to it. It tastes a bit richer, basically.”

Nature’s own pantry

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

Drying, pickling, fermenting, and freezing are a few common ways of preserving what you pick, while the season’s apples are typically enjoyed in jam or pies.

Sven Erik Renaa enjoys harvesting himself, particularly mushrooms. However, the master chef readily admits that time – or a 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 great deal for the restaurant, of course. There’s a local retiree who provides us with a lot of mushrooms, and we buy everything he delivers. After all, this is part of his livelihood, and we want to support that.”

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