Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gladmat festival: gladmat Stavanger 2012

Today began the Gladmat Festival 2012, a food festival in Stavanger that happens every year and which is the opportunity to taste a lot of food at great prices. Translated literally, it means "happy food" (probably in the sense "enjoy the food"). Last year the festival was unlucky with the weather. Fortunately, this year, it opened on a sunny day.

First of all, there are regular events on the stage, so it is worth checking the schedule (sorry, I only found it in Norwegian) if you intend to go to the festival. Below, people making an incredibly big pancake.

Please note that in the following reviews you will see some stand numbers. To find them on a map, go here and click on the purple banner. 

Cheap options

Actually, most stands offer small portions for a great price. Even though, 3 stands should be mentioned here as they offer particularly cheap options.

1) Coop and its Barbecue (stand number 69)

Coop is proposing a grilltallerke (barbecue plate) for 30 NOK with the 3 pieces of meat and a bit of salad. For the meat, you have the choice between a sausage, pork ribs  or a burger. The burger was not convincing (dry, no taste) but the other 2 were nice (you can order 2 sausages 1 rib for example, or 3 burgers if you want).

Another notice about Coop: they also give you the alternative to go for healthy food. Lots of fruits, vegetables, are available. Heart-shaped cucumbers were sold out quite quickly though.

2) Stavanger Aftenblad is also participating! (stand number 61)

This year, Stavanger Aftenblad is proposing three small plates:
- fiskesuppe for 30 NOK
- bacalao for 35 NOK
- a strawberry and yogurt dessert for 30 NOK

The dessert was quite nice, we did not try the 2 other dishes.

3) Gilde for sausages (stand number 59)

Gilde is proposing a sausage with bread for 10 NOK. Difficult to make it cheaper. Also, the choice of sausages you can get is quite wide (only some of them are shown in the photo)

The popular and classical stands

Here are some popular stands. There are other popular stands, making an exhaustive list would be impossible.

1) Samba grill and its Brazilian skewers (stand number 80)

Every year, Samba is a popular place to get skewers and this year is not different. People are queuing a lot and this cannot just be due to the Brazilian girls preparing the skewers, can it?
Count 40 NOK for a skewer with chicken, 50 NOK for a shrimp one and 60 NOK for a beef one. The Feijoada (Brazilian stew) is at 100 NOK.

2) Indian Tandoori and its authentic Nan (stand number 39)

Indian Tandoori has made it clear: no compromise with the Nan, they make it in front of you, in a real tandoori oven, and the result is visible. Impossible to get a seat there, people queuing at all time (and just try to cut the queue to see how serious these waiting people are about it). The Tikka Masala (curry based stew) is served in two portions: 70 NOK for a small one, 110 NOK for a big one. The rice is included. The plain nan costs 25 NOK and is not included. The dish is not spicy at all. Good news for those who cannot eat spicy food, bad news for those who like spicy food.

3) Skeie Gård and its burger (stand number 73)

Many stands propose burgers, so when you see so many people queuing for a burger at the Skeie Gård stand, there must be a reason. Either it is because the girl at the stand is very sexy (and she is), or it is because their burgers are among the best of the Gladmat Festival. 100% pure beef without additive, home made bread, fried onions, cheese, ... The meat was juicy, but was so big that the very center of it was not cooked enough. Still, it is a great burger. The burger costs 100 NOK.

4) Scandic Hotels and a nice 4 course menu (stand number 26)

The Scandic hotels stand is also a good choice: tasty food, comfortable seats, good service and nice prices. This year, they propose salmon cubes with coriander, chicken surprise (liver pate), something called "burning love" (with bacon and onions) and rosmarin marshmallow. We especially liked the salmon and the "burning love" . The chicken liver was good but the taste is really strong so you need to like this type of food.
1 item costs 30 NOK, or you can have the full menu with the 4 dishes for 99 NOK.

5) Le café français for a dessert (stand number 81)

A crêpe (French pancake) and chocolate marshmallows or strawberries: isn't it a killer combination?

The original ones

This is probably my favorite category (isn't trying new food better when you have the possibility to get to taste small portions for nice price?), I have selected 3 stands for you.

1) Gådjå serving Ethiopian food (stand number 22)

The 3 meals you can get there are:
  • Dårå Wått: vegetables "alicha" style, chicken, onions, Ethiopian spices, egg and Enjera (something similar to savory pancake, used a bit like bread). This dish is a bit spicy, but good, full of flavor and original.
  • Gådjå Tibs: beef, tomatoes, peppers, chili, salad and Enjera (see previous note). We did not try this dish.
  • Yetsom Wått: vegetarian dish with misir (something to do with lenses), vegetables, spinach, salad, chili and Enjera (see note about Dårå Wått). We did not try this dish either this year
Small portion of dårå wått

The three dishes are available in 2 sizes: small and big. The small size is probably enough if you want to taste some food from other places. Small size of the 2 first dishes cost 45 NOK, big size 89 NOK and the third one cost 35/69 NOK. You have also the possibility to get a plate with a mix of all three for 98 NOK.

2) Peru/Chile and Norwegian food (stand number 84)

It is interesting to see a stand mixing the 3 (Peru/Chile is understandable but Norwegian food too?). The Norwegian food is limited to Komler/Kompe/Raspaboller (globally the same dish, different names). Today we tried the Chilean Chicken skewer. It was served with a potato salad. The skewer was good, the chicken was tasty, but the potato salad was not really good. The dish costs 55 NOK.

3) Persian food (stand number 14)

This stand proposes several things: beef skewer, chicken skewer, shrimps skewer. We noticed that the skewers were not the same on day 1 and day 2, so you may not get the same skewers as on the photo below.

Today, we tried some interesting and quite good meatballs. What made them special was the fact that they contained rice and vegetables. The sauce was a bit spicy though.

A bit of seafood...

You may have noticed, I like meat. A lot. For those of you who like fish, I have checked some options though (what wouldn't I do for my readers).

1) Vestgaard mat and its beautiful 5 small dish (inside the Coop stand)

This is one of the best looking food of the festival. Unfortunately, a bit badly situated (quite a lot of passage so that people don't have much chance to stop or have a look). Count 150 NOK  for the whole menu or around 30 NOK for one item (25 for the caviar, 50 for the soup, 30 the others).

2) Fisketorget with fish soup and Bacalao (stand number 54)

Nice stand, lots of sitting places, ideally located. the food looked great. Maybe a bit expensive, though.

3) Sjøhuset Skagen (stand number 79)

Looked very nice too, but a victim to its own success (quite difficult to find a seat).

Juice, anyone?

You can find 2 nice stands next to Coop (no stand numbers, they are inside the coop stand according to the map). One proposes juice from Aronia berries (choke berries), the other proposes rhubarb juice. Both are good, both are probably healthy and both offer free samples. The rhubarb stand even proposes a cup of juice for 10 NOK (not sure for the other stand).

Best locations

Some places are clearly better than others to eat (less packed, elevated, outside, ...). Here are two options.

1) Barca food: nice terrace (stand number 49)

2) Veteranskipet Sandnes: eat on a boat (maybe stand number 89)

What about kids?

Such an event is for adults. They eat, eat and eat even more. For children, this can be boring. Fortunately, you have 1 stand that is really focusing on children: the IVAR stand (stand number 74). Quiz, games, small gifts, everything is gathered to make this stand a success for children, not forgetting that they learn about recycling etc... Congratulations to IVAR for their stand and for doing a great job year after year so that children can enjoy this festival too!

A big thanks

To anyone who have helped me with this article: people working at the festival who let me take some pictures of their stand,  random people who let me take some pictures of their food (probably thinking I was crazy)... And a big thank to you who are reading this article because without readers, it would have no meaning. Finally thanks to Arnaud for following this blog despite the fact that he is not even living in Stavanger.

If you went to the Gladmat festival this year, you are welcome to leave a comment (about anything you liked yourself, anything you disliked, etc...).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A new Italian in Stavanger: il Piccolo

NB: This is the original review of the restaurant, for a small update, have a look here.

Date of the meal: 07/07/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order and price: 3-course menu 250 NOK
Address: Lyder Sagens gate 18

Il Piccolo ("the small one") is one of newest restaurant in Stavanger and Stavangourmet was happy to try it for you and review it.

Located in the city center but not on the harbour side (more towards Arkaden, Sony center, Wayne's coffee, ...), il Piccolo is the restaurant of the hotel Myhregaarden (quite new itself), but of course, you don't need to stay at the hotel to eat at the restaurant. For people curious about history, there was actually another Italian restaurant at the same place some years ago (called "Simone"). The place became a buffet restaurant after that but did not have much success and it is now "il Piccolo".

Their 3-course menu is quite attractive (250 nok for starter + pizza/pasta + dessert) so we decided to go for it. It was also good to provide you with many photos/dish reviews, as this place is quite new and no other reviews are available.

As the place is new and maybe because of summer holiday, the restaurant was quite empty. Despite this, we had to wait for a while to be served. I am not sure if this is because everything is relatively new or if the restaurant purposefully had few staff because they knew there would be few customers.

My wife went for the pasta salad (summer time!) and chose to have it with tuna (the choice was between chicken, ham, shrimps and tuna). It was nice but some pasta were not cooked enough.

I went for the minestrone soup. At the beginning I was a bit disappointed as the taste was close to boiled water plus vegetables but after a while, the taste became more homogeneous and the soup was good. So it was just a matter of waiting a bit and mixing the soup a bit more. There was a nice variety of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant/aubergine, ...) and they were well cooked (not too much, not too little). Also, be aware that the soup is quite big, so should only be taken in a menu by those with a big appetite.

For the main, we had the choice between any pizza or a pasta dish from the menu (including risottos and calzone pizzas) which is really good. My wife went for the pizza capricciosa: tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom and cooked ham. My wife enjoyed it and thought it was quite good.

I went for the risotto with game (wild animals meat) and spinach. The dish was good but spicy. The rice was tasting a bit like saffron rice but harder (which I think is a good thing for a risotto). The game tasted a bit like chorizo, at least some of it. The sauce was good but spicy and the menu did not mention it.

Finally, the desserts: my wife ordered strawberry ice cream which was beautiful with small pieces of fruits and I went for a limoncello dessert as I really like the taste of lemon. It was really good and I recommend it to people who like lemon.

Otherwise, the service was good, the restaurant is beautiful (I like best the part with the kitchen which is the original part of the Simone restaurant, the other room having been added afterwards), and the menu is a good value for the price.

Let's wish good luck to this restaurant, hoping they get more customers and that they will handle it properly.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

China Town: a good chinese restaurant in city center

Date of the meal: 04/07/2012
Number of people: 2 adults and 1 child (2 yo)
Order and price: 41 Vermicelli spesial 169 NOK, 45 Chicken with vegetables & cashew nuts 175 NOK,  Chop suey de luxe 199 NOK
Address: Skagen 14, 4006 Stavanger

China Town is very central since it is located in one of the most busy streets of Stavanger. Located on the second floor above Newsman, facing the Sportsbar and Cardinal. It has been there for a while and I have been there many times (with my Italian friend, with my Norwegian friend, ...). Yesterday, I went there with my wife and my son and I decided I should review it.

To begin with the accessibility, China Town is unfortunately one of the few places I know that are completely impossible to access if you are in wheelchair or have a baby sleeping in a stroller. It is situated on the second floor of the building and there is no elevator. Even the steps to enter the building are quite difficult to take with a stroller.

Concerning the menu, the choice is quite wide. There is a lunch menu (Monday to Saturday from 14:00 to 18:00) with prices ranging from 85 NOK to 120 NOK, a children menu (sausage, chicken, chicken wings or fried rice) and of course a dinner menu, including dinner courses (between 200-300) that are quite good value for the money if you are a big eater.

Yesterday I went for what I think they do best: the "chop suey de luxe" hot pot. For the sake of objectivity, my Italian friend likes the seafood version of it better (called Sea Lord in the menu). Anyway, I think those hot pots are good options. Not too salty, not too greasy, just well cooked, nice flavor dishes. As most of their dishes, those hot pots come by default with white rice but you can order fried rice or noodles instead for a small additional fee. I would not recommend it though as it may hide the subtle taste of the dish itself. For picky people, there is a small spelling mistake in the menu, the correct spelling is "chop suey", not "chop seuy".

I ordered fried vermicelli called Vermicelli special for my son. I wanted to change a little bit from the fried rice (children menu) we generally order when we go to this restaurant. The dish was  quite nice but a bit too salty and too much pepper. I liked it as I like pepper but I would not recommend it for children, people who don't like pepper or as a side dish (the taste would be too strong). In case you wonder, there is a small mistake in the menu again, they used the Norwegian spelling "spesial" for both the English and the Norwegian version of the menu.

My wife went for the "Chicken with vegetables & cashew nuts". The dish looked great but she was actually a bit disappointed with it. The chicken was good, the sauce was fine but the bamboos did not taste good. It was the first time she had this particular dish so it is difficult to say if this was just a one time problem with this dish or if this dish in general is bad.

Otherwise, the prices are correct, the service is fine, the restaurant is clean and spacious, so all in all China Town is a good restaurant situated in the city center of Stavanger, except it is not accessible to all. I would recommend the hot pots or if you are a big eater, why not try one of the dinner courses.