travel

Great Arctic Eats, Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø, Norway

Do you love to eat in a town with just the right amount of people, that is 68,000? Do you crave an bustling town with an invigorating night life? Do you absolutely need art, history, and fantastic scenery? Do you want to take classes at the world’s northernmost university? Are you okay with learning Norwegian to get free tuition? Do you want it all by being above the Arctic, yet experiencing a sub-Arctic climate? Is it essential that you dine on tasty food? Then, oh my gosh, Tromsø, Norway, is the place for you.
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Let’s visit Tromsø’s five best restaurants as TripAdvisor(tm).
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The must-go-to restaurant is Restaurant Smak. I want to go there. I want to go there. If you dine at Smak, please enjoy a meal for me and do let me know how you liked it. True, it’s a bit pricy, but I have never, no not ever, seen an Arctic restaurant with more glowing reviews than this establishment. People rave about the attentive servers and the high quality of their fresh food. The restaurant ensures the freshness of their ingredients by buying only food from the neighboring farms. It’s not surprising then, that Restaurant Smak gets a perfect 5.0 rating. Do try their Jerusalem artichoke soup, white asparagus, wild lamb, cod cheek and hot dogs. And for dessert, try their dill and caramel sorbet. Meals run from three-to-five courses and can take two hours, but the time will fly because everything at Restaurant Smak is good as it can be. I really want to go here.
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Winning the silver medal on our restaurant tour is Raketten. It is a hot-dog kiosk, but what a hot-dog kiosk! This small building serves such good food and has been such a mainstay to the community over the decades that the powers that be designated it an Important Cultural Monument. Can your local fast-food joint boast of a distinction like that? No, I didn’t think so. Keep a sharp lookout on Raketten as the outside line of dedicated hot-dog lovers can be over a hour. Sit by the nice, cozy fire and enjoy some gløgg, a hot punch made with red wine, brandy, sherry, almonds, raisins, and orange peels. What more do you need?  Or perhaps you prefer a delicious hot chocolate topped with marshmallows? Be sure to try their reindeer sausage. Is this a great town or what?
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Third place on our dining tour is Svermeri Kafe Og Redesign. The atmosphere is cozy and the staff is friendly and attentive. It serves delicious fish cakes and desserts. They really, really make fantastic soup and cakes. The number of reviews praising their soups and cakes is legion. I think I’d order their wild-blueberry pie. They even make gluten-friendly cakes. Don’t miss this place.
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We now visit Art Cafe. This is an all around good restaurant with pleasant lunches and fine dining at night. Art Cafe possesses a super cozy atmosphere and a friendly staff. The restaurant is decorated with authentic artistic decor which you may purchase. The jazz bar sounds nice as do the reasonable prices. Many tantalizing dishes abound including: reindeer stew, king crab soup, shrimp, mussels, Norwegian cheese, beef bourguignon, and Greek salad.
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We finish our culinary adventure at Mathallen. It’s named after Allen, the local high-school math teacher. No, not really. It does serve great Scandanavian and European dishes. Mathallen’s uses fresh ingredients from local sources. The waitstaff is pleasant and knowledge. All the food is brilliantly presented. Mathallen gives good value. Restaurant goers praise the seafood especially the herring, cod, salmon, and whale. Fans of meat really should go for their deer and reindeer steaks. And who could resist trying their ice cream made from sour cream and hazel/plum sauce? Don’t forget their satisfying local beer.
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Tromsø’s restaurants
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By far, the best two way to reach Tromsø are by plane and by car. (Although motoring can get exciting when the fog rolls in.) You could visit the town by cruise ship as well. However, you’d have to be extremely patient if you wish to get to there by train. The Norwegian government has been debating extending the rail network to Tromsø for decades. You’d do much better riding reindeer and even then who knows if they know the way?
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Go on the Fjord Excursion by RIB. For how could you possibly travel all the way to northern Norway and not visit the nation’s fjords up close. The guides on the speed boats are quite knowledgeable and the fjords spectacular. If lucky, you can see orcas, sea eagles, reindeer, and seals come near your boat. Well, maybe not the reindeer, they tend to stay on land. Dress warm, it can get cold and rainy out there. You might even experience a blizzard. Astoundingly, many  people really want to experience a blizzard on the sea. At any rate, hot chocolate and cinnamon buns await you at the end trip. Mmm.
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Be sure to go on Night Reindeer Sledding with Camp Dinner and Chance of Northern Lights. Well, the name tells you what to expect, doesn’t it? So don’t think the tour guides can guarantee you the Aurora Borealis. Ahem. The trip is organized even to the point of having lasso tossing and other activities before the tour even starts. Or maybe just drink hot chocolate they serve. Until you go to where it’s really cold, you won’t appreciate how wonderful hot chocolate can be. But this excursion really is tailor made for reindeer lovers. Reindeer pull your sled! Your feed the reindeer! The reindeer feed you! Wow! Wow! Sure, the reindeer feed you from a limited menu, but they feed you! Okay, enough exclamation points. Dinner is a traditional reindeer stew served at major celebrations. Can you get that amazing dish at your local drive through? No, I didn’t think so. And learn about Swami history and culture from the pleasant Swami guides. I want to go on this one.
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People with not enough time to get out of town should make their way to the Polar Museum. There might be no better place in the world to learn about legendary polar leaders and expeditions. Learn about fishing and hunting expeditions to even farther north Svalbard. (Warning to animal right activists, this really isn’t a place you’d want to visit.) Others will want to see a trapper’s hut and the objects needed for Arctic survival. You can even learn the truth about polar bears wandering the streets of Tromsø. Egad, that sounds ominous. Probably isn’t though. Probably. At any rate, I want to head out to Tromsø even more
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Tourists with not much time, especially seal lovers, will want to visit Polaria. It’s a cozy place with the emphasis. See seals frolic up close. Try to get there for the seal feedings. Spend the money and feed the seals yourself. What fun! Polaria fills their aquariums with fishes and plants you won’t find anywhere else.
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As always, “Good eating. Good traveling.”

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Simplify Solitaire

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve spent the Christmas bonus on a week-long vacation on the sun-lit beaches of Hawaii. You’re up earlier than your spouse, rather earlier as you’re just so excited to splash in the warm ocean water. But it’ll be two hours before he wakes up. What to do? You decide to play solitaire to pass the time. Only the game takes so freaking, but find you can’t  ever leave anything unfinished.

He arises and cajoles you to take to the beach. Enthralled in your game; you do not. He pleads again. You do not hear him. He says he is heading to beach and asks you to join him later. You favor him with a perfunctory wave. He leaves.

Finally, the game is over. You look at your watch. Oh my gosh, is that the time? Oh my gosh, is that the day? Horrors, you have played the entire vacation away. Your plane leaves in hour. You shout for your husband. He does not respond. There is a note on the table. He found a beautiful mango heiress while you were playing solitaire. He’s going to spend the rest of his life with her on the French Riviera.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now we all know the object of Solitaire is place the right cards on an ace. This, as we have seen above, can take a lot of time. My brilliant idea is to shrink the 52-card deck down to one, the ace of spades. As you soon as you play this card, the game is done. You can get one with your life. You and your wedded love remain inseparable. Life is good.

I show to the right a simulated game of Ace of Spades Solitaire. You’ve won!

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: I simplify, observations, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Great Arctic Eats – Ölafsvik, Iceland

Do you love to eat? Do you enjoy bracing sea breezes, lava flows, chilly glaciers, and relaxing hot springs? Do you dislike great throngs of people? Do the need to meet people who believe in elves? To the point that construction workers must first determine if elves dwell on the proposed site? Well then, Ölafsvik, Iceland is the place for you.
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There are four restaurants listed in TripAdvisor(tm) for Ölafsvik! Let’s dine at them all.
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The must-go-to restaurant is Sker Restaurant, especially if you’re vegetarian. People rave about their veggie burger. Of course, being in Iceland on the coast, they serve delicious salmon and cod. Their fish and chips is first rate. The friendly, helpful also serves good pizza and an amazing salad. You have a choice of a wonderful view of the town or the harbor.
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Second on our restaurant tour is Hraun Restaurant. It specializes in seafood, serving tasty: calamari, fish soup, lobster tails, and a great fish and chips. This establishment is also friendly to vegetarians. Vegetarians love the veggie taco. The staff is truly nice and the overall atmosphere is cozy. Try the delicious apple pie and caramel pie. They even serve piri-piri chicken, a spicy dish from Africa. Who knew?
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Winning the bronze medal is Kaldilaekur. It’s a delightful cafe and pub. Go there for breakfast and try their excellent oatmeal porridge and fresh apple cubes. Efficient, friendly servers bring amazing coffee and beer. (I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a top-rated restaurant that didn’t employ friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable servers. It’s something all restaurants could do well to emulate.) Anyway, be sure to try their great fish soup and their traditional meat soup as well. Then order the date cake for dessert.
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We now visit The Secret  Spot.  It is said to have the best fish food in the world. Try the superbly breaded fish and the several sauces that accompany it. The staff is friendly AND they have a putting green outside for their guests to use while waiting for their food to be served. How fantastic is that? I want to go there.
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Ölafsvik’s restaurants
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The four best ways to reach are by: air, sea, car, train, or even a combination of these. The traditional ways are really the best. As you can see from the above photo, the town has a bench for all to use, but Ölafsvik has so much more to offer.
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Be sure to visit Ölafsvikurkurkja. This striking modern church displays unusual lines. Everyone tells of the church’s beauty on the outside. No one seems to go inside. Why? The church resembles a ship from the side. It is also supposed to look like a cod from above. How do visitors know this? Are we to believe that tourists manage to levitate over the church but never find a way to go inside? Oh well, if you do go to Ölafsvik, please go inside and let me know what it looks like. Then pause and reflect at the beautiful waterfall across the street.
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Hike to Bæjarfoss. It is a stupendous, beautiful waterfall with a nice drop. You can see a beautiful church from up at the top. Astoundingly, it’s just an average waterfall for Iceland. However, you are here in Ölafsvik. So go see it. It’s only a short walk from the town. Beautiful lupines abound near the falls.
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Be sure to see Pakkhús Snaefellsbaejar. Say that three times quickly. This museum is fun for the entire family. It seems to cover everything Icelandic. The exhibits include: art galleries, town history, food, and a kids’ section. The museum has a nice gift and coffee shop.
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Don’t you dare miss going on Loki Tours Whale Watching. All sorts of whales can be seen including: humpbacks, orcas, and minkes. You can also spot puffins and dolphins. Excursion goers should be aware, though, that the amount of whales spotted varies greatly from perhaps one to quite a few. Also, bring a coat and a hat. It’s cold out on the water. The staff is friendly and professional. Go on this one for me. I’d surely go.
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Finally, visit Lysuholl. This farm is the place to go to  if you find there’s just too many people for your liking in Ölafsvik, This farm is in the middle of wide-open and beautiful countryside. Being Iceland, there’s also quite a striking glacier to be seen. Is this a great country or what? Stay the night here in one of its cozy cabins. The breakfasts are bountiful and delicious. It’s the perfect getaway for relaxing and enjoying. And oh my gosh, if you love horses, ride their horses.
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As always, “Good eating. Good traveling.”

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: Arctic eats, food, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Arctic Eats – Narvik, Norway

 

Do you love to eat? Are you like Goldilocks in that you don’t like too many or too few people around?  Do you like the cool, bracing outdoors? Do you like history, beautiful mountains, and skiing? Well, Narvik, Norway is the place for you.
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There are 24 restaurants listed in TripAdvisor(tm) for Narvik! Let’s dine at the top five eateries.
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The must-go-to restaurant is Linken Restaurant and Bar. Be sure to try their turbot and cod. Fiskehallen also serves great local game such as venison, reindeer, wild boar, and ptarmigan with berries. Ptarmigan with berries! Where else can you get that? And wild boar! You can’t get that in my home town of Poway, California. They also serve reindeer-and-roes soup. Go there, go there and have a meal for me. The rooftop view from Linken is fantastic. Take in the town of Narvik and the beautiful mountains. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They also have reindeer tartar. Enough said. Go there.
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Second on our restaurant tour is Fiskehallen. As might be expected from a restaurant whose name means “Fish Hall,” it specializes in fish and seafood. But they do fish so well, perhaps even having the best fish in Norway.  The atmosphere is cozy, the portions are big, and everything is served by a friendly staff. Be sure to dine on their huge, fresh shrimp (OMG),  cod, Arctic char, and pan-fried halibut. Their side dishes are also tasty. Save room for their rich chocolate pudding and ice cream.
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Winning the bronze medal is Milano Restaurant Narvik. Scandavia’s Arctic Circle seems to favor Italian restaurants named Milano. Perhaps Milano is a chain and is winning over all the Northern diners. Milano of Narvik certainly serves great Italian food. They specialize in tasty pizzas. They also serve chicken meals and kabobs. Their large portions are served by a great, caring staff. The tea is great.  If I were to go there, I’d be tempted to sample a slice of their nacho pizza. Nacho pizza, north of the Arctic Circle, who would have guessed it? I am happy to relate that Milano Restaurant gave food during the Christmas season to locals hurting from the recent recession.
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We now visit Kafferiet Resurante og Bar.  Enjoy large portions in a cozy atmosphere. Be sure to try their reindeer shank, cod fillet, and leg of lamb.
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Special mention goes to Sushi Point.  A great staff serves tasty, fresh sushi at a good price. Sushi in the Arctic, this is a great town.
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The four best ways to reach Narvik are by: air, sea, car, and train. The fifth through seventh best ways will most likely take significantly longer and be less enjoyable
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Be sure to visit Narvik Krigmuseum.  This museum does a superb job of honoring the achievement and the courage of the Allied forces fighting the German invaders in 1940. Not only does it relate the fierce battles, but it also devotes a section to analyzing the big questions of war and human rights during conflict. It’s interesting and informative exhibits make it well worth a visit, particularly for history buffs. There’s also a nice little coffee shop and gift shop. Go there
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Then take the cable car to Narvikfjellet. This is resort is quite popular with the locals. It boasts of world class off-piste skiing. I don’t honestly know what off-piste skiing is, but it is world class. This skiing resort has some of the largest vertical drops in Scandinavia. Yikes for me, but fantastic for dedicated skiers. But don’t worry,  Narvikfjellet is also suitable for families and beginners. Admire the breathtaking view from the top and enjoy scenery from the cable car.
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You should probably visit Narvik Kjøretøyhistoriske Museum. Kjøretøyhistoriske translates as Vehicle History. That’s all I really know about the place. The museum earned a rare, perfect rating of 5.0. Yet no one left a review. Why? Why was that so hard? Perhaps the exhibits entranced the visitors so much that they were at a loss for words.
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Next on our museum tour is the Narvik Museum. It receives a still quite good rating of 4.0. However, its guests proved to be much more helpful than those went through the doors at Kjøretøyhistoriske. This museum tells the story of Narvik’s development. It emphasizes the stories of the iron-ore mines, the rail transport, the harbor, and the town’s tunnels and bridges. A section of the museum devotes itself to the great fire that destroyed the town’s old wooden center. Don’t forget to ride in an authentic iron-ore car.
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Finally, please visit the Polish War Memorial and pay your respects to the braves Polish sailors who died fighting the Nazis in 1940. They are especially worthy of our admiration for they sailed all the way here, despite losing their homeland to the Germans in 1939. To remember.
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As always, “Good eating. Good traveling.”

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: Arctic eats, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken With Coffee Sauce

Sao Tomean Entree

CHICKEN WITH COFFEE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 teaspoon salt
2 red chile peppers
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
½ cup brewed coffee
1 cup white wine
9 coffee beans
¼ cup heavy cream

Serves 2. Takes 40 minutes.

PREPARATION

Cut chicken breasts into 1″ cubes. Rub salt onto chicken cubes. Seed and mince red chile peppers. Mine garlic cloves. Add butter to large pan. Melt butter using medium heat. Add chicken cubes. Cook for 12 minutes at medium heat or until the sides of the chicken cubes start to turn golden brown. Turn cubes enough so that they brown evenly.

Add red chile, garlic, and bay leaf to pan. Cook at medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken cubes and set aside. Add brewed coffee and white wine to pan Cook until sauce reduces by half. Stir frequently.

Add coffee beans and heavy cream to pan. Stir until well blended. Return chicken cubes to ban. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove bay leaf. Goes well with rice.

TIDBITS

1) It costs a pretty penny for NASA to shoot one of its rockets into space. For those rockets–whether they carry amazing machines for carrying out zero-gravity experiments, taking astronauts to Mars, or people who named the murderer before you could watch that must-see mystery movie on a way trip to Pluto–use expensive rocket fuel Just like us, NASA too has a budget. Sure, its annual budget is tens of billions of dollars more than ours, but the concept is the same.

3) Heavier payloads on space missions require more fuel than lighter ones. So budget conscious NASA is always looking for ways to save weight. NASA particularly favors this entree because it combines a nutritious, satisfying meal while, at the same time, providing those hard-working astronauts with their caffeine fix. There’s no need to stow heavy coffee. No heavy coffee, less need for fuel. Less fuel, more things that can taken on the spaceship. More things aboard, more instruments. More instruments, more experiments. More experiments, more knowledge gained. Soon we will be living in a Golden Age. And we’ll all owe it to the entree from Sao Tome.

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, international, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Great Arctic Eats – Utsjoki, Finland

 

Great Arctic Eats – Utsjoki, Finland

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Are you a diner who shuns crowds, but loves saunas* and watching reindeer ? Do you love words with “aa” in them, such as “kalastaa,” the Finnish word for “fish?” Indeed, do you love Finland but feel uncomfortable with large crowds of Finns who often congregate in the country’s large cities? Do you wish to dine above the Arctic Circle? Well make your way to Utsjoki, Finland, the little town that has it all.
* “Sauna” is “sauna” in Finnish. See? You’re speaking like a native already.
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There are five restaurants listed in TripAdvisor(tm).  So, the competition for your patronage will be fierce indeed. Let’s  visit the local eateries.
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The top rated dining establishment is the esteemed Restaurant Deatnu. They serve traditional Sámi dishes. Yes, they do wonders with reindeer, local berries, and fresh fish. The restaurant has a nice view and a friendly staff. But please, please try the salmon soup.

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Next on our restaurant adventure is Restaurant Aurora Holidays. They serve great local food. Try their delicious reindeer and cod. For dessert, you would do well to order their great sticky cakes. The restaurant looks out on a soothing river. Maybe you’ll even see some wildlife. This pleasant restaurant is run by the family who owns it.
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Winning third place is  Utsjoen Kylatalo Gilsa. It’s known for its hot drinks. Not only is it a charming cafeteria will the flavor of local culture, it also has a grocery store. It’s your one-stop place for food. And remember, you’ll love their buns.

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All self-respecting towns will have a great hamburger joint. Annukan Grill fits this bill nicely. And oh my gosh, oh my gosh, they have a reindeer burger. I want to go there!
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Honorable mention goes to Restaurant Pub Rastigaisa. It serves pizza and has a bar. This restaurant received many reviews written in Finnish, so you know the locals frequent it.
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Utsjoki, unlike many of the other towns reviewed in Great Arctic Eats has a road going in and out of it. It can even boast of a spectacular bridge going into Norway. So you’ll be able motor into town. No dog sleds and hiking needed to get to Utsjoki. Well, I suppose you could charter a plane from Helsinki, but if you want to travel by yourself and see soothing scenery, travelling the last leg of your trip by car really is the way to go. Anyway, there are many must-see sites in Utsjoki.

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Be sure to visit Kevo Strict Nature Reserve.  This place boasts of extremely beautiful hiking routes. You’ll find you self losing track of time while viewing the entrancing scenery. So, be sure to bring a watch with an alarm on it, as the park gets dark at night.

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By all means, see the enchanting church huts. They’re beautiful in their simplicity. All in all, it’s wonderful way to learn Finnish history while staying outdoors. None of that entering the bowels of a stuffy museum for us. The site sports a splendid, little craft shop and a waffle cafeteria. What more could want?

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Drive over the nearby Sàmi Bridge. It’s boasts an elegant, yet impressive dressing. It’s perched over a river dividing Finland from Norway. The bridge and its surrounding are especially beautiful in the twilight. Plus, it doesn’t take much time to take it all in. Just drive your car over the bridge. If you want a quick bit of beauty, this bridge is for you.

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Try to see the beautiful Utsjoen Kirkko. This is the northernmost church in the European Union. So there. The church’s architecture is both pleasant and impressive. Go inside and spend some soul-soothing time with God.

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If you prefer guided tours rather than thrashing about by yourself, look up Aurora Holidays or Tundrasafari Finland. And at the end of a glorious visit, simply unwind at Utsjoki DiscGolfPark.

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As always, “Good eating. Good traveling.”

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– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: Arctic eats, humor, international, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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