Announcing first ever vegan tour of Norway in partnership with Up Norway!

Words can’t describe how thrilled I am to announce this incredibly well designed, exciting and expertly organized first ever vegan tour of Norway!   This has been a dream of mine for quite some time, and I finally found a partner I am so elated to be collaborating with.

This incredible culinary-focused tour is designed by Up Norway,  a new company headed up by Oslo-based Torunn Tronsvang, a travel expert who has lived in a variety of countries and worked for many world class resorts and hotels.   The concept of  Up Norway is to bring you the true experiences of our country, not just the popular tourist spots that everyone else is offering.  Even as a native of Norway, I got super excited and intrigued reading about all their unique offers and off the beaten tracks destinations, I knew I had to somehow work with them.  You can imagine how happy I was when they expressed interest in designing a 100% vegan tour of my beautiful country!

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The readers who have been following me for some time, know that I am equally as passionate and interested about Norwegian history, culture and travel as I am about food. I believe they are all connected, and help people understand a country better; why they behave and do what they do, why the eat a certain way and what is important to them.  This is all part of a deeper experience when visiting another country, and is what I find more and more travelers are looking for. It’s not enough to go to the two or three major attractions the destination is known for and say to yourself “Ok, I’ve now seen their ‘culture’.”

The only way to really get behind the scenes and see how a country and its people really live, is to seek out experts who are native of that nation and who feel it’s their mission to give their customers a heightened experience and higher quality trip. This is Up Norway in my opinion; I can’t really think of another company in Norway who is as cutting edge, knowledgeable and creative in the travel industry.

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Most people when thinking of Norwegian food, think of smoked salmon, herring and goat cheese, but the truth is our culinary world is so much more than that!  Among other things, we have the world’s best strawberries,  flavorful plums, rhubarb and blueberries, the highest quality chanterelles and other wild mushrooms, the juiciest farm apples, as well as earthy and delicious beets and other root vegetables.  Southern Norway is known for its fruit and cider and we are also one of the world’s top producers of craft beer.  Let’s not forget Norwegians are huge potato lovers as many of you know and find ways to sneak them into just about every meal.  Is your mouth watering yet?

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This Vegan Trail tour of western Norway, was created to show you how much Norway truly has to offer and is a stunning combination of city and country life.   Starting in the east in Norway’s capital Oslo, we’ll travel west through the country to Hardanger,  which produces 40% of Norway’s fruit, including apples, plums, pears, cherries and red currants,  before ending the tour in the Hanseatic city of Bergen.

On our trip you will get to experience the beautiful and varied nature, travel through fjords, mountains and the apple orchards of Hardanger,  savor the gorgeous food and drink (all vegan of course!) and witness the creativity local entrepreneurs showcase when utilizing top of the line local produce, as well as visiting Oslo and Bergen, the two biggest cities in the country.

Highlights of this fantastic 13-day tour include:

✅ experiencing the wilderness of Oslo.  The beauty of our capital is you can have all the offerings of a cosmopolitan city, then travel 20 minutes outside of the center and you’ll be in the woods!

✅ go foraging and cook a beautiful vegan Nordic meal with your harvest

✅ stroll through the forests where Munch painted the famous “Scream”

✅ 2-day stay at the charming Utne hotel, dating back to 1722,  including a 3-course vegan dinner

✅ go on a fjord cruise in the UNESCO protected Nærøyfjord

✅ travel the cider route in the Hardanger area and lunch at the Cider house as well as visits to local breweries

✅ hikes, kayaking and visits to local folk museums

✅ experience the oldest stave church in Norway, Urnes Stave Church

✅ travel to Balestrand,  a village so idyllic it inspired Disney to use it as a setting for the movie Frozen.  The historic Kviknes hotel here has its own vegan chef!

✅ explore Bergen, one of Norway’s most beautiful cities and try out local vegan fare

And so much more!

For a complete description of the 13-day tour with pricing, visit Up Norway’s page HERE. 

Who’s as excited about this trip as I am??

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Special offer for my readers: 

If you mention Arctic Grub to Up Norway when booking your trip, you will receive a complimentary 90 minute online cooking class with me as well as my e-book, A Collection of Recipes from Arctic Grub, where I will teach you how to easily prepare some of my favorite, traditional Norwegian meals – all plant based! This all is valued at $499 and a great way to prepare for your trip.

If you have ever dreamed of visiting Norway – this is your sign.  An unforgettable trip like no other in existence has been put together just for you, to visit the land of the midnight sun. What are you waiting for? You only live once!

Hope to see you in Norway! 🇳🇴

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Fyrstekake; a Norwegian classic cake improved

I have to admit, fyrstekake was never my favorite Norwegian cake.  The versions I grew up experiencing were always very dense, sometimes dry and most often too rich to even enjoy more than one bite.  Perhaps this is why I’ve been hesitant to make it regularly.    I am thrilled to report that my efforts to veganize this cake produced a result I am much happier with than the cakes I used to eat as a child and one I wrote about before I went vegan.

Interestingly, ever since going plant based, I’ve been enjoying re-making classic recipes and have found that in many instances I’ve fallen in love with dishes that didn’t traditionally excite me. Fyrstekake is definitely one of these instances.

So what is fyrstekake? “Fyrste” means prince royal in Norwegian, so this really is a cake fit for royalty! Today, it might have a reputation as an old fashioned cake, perhaps not for everybody and definitely not a cake younger people make that frequently.  Filled with a delicious almond base similar to frangipane, and too much butter to admit, it’s rich, decadent and definitely all about the almonds.   While not the prettiest cake to look at, we all know looks can deceive, and when this cake is baked right – it’s juicy and super enjoyable.

Fyrstekake is for many people associated with Christmas, and is said to have originated sometime in the 1860s at Erichsen’s Bakeshop in Trondheim and was the bakery’s pride and joy – and secret.  The ingredients were always measured out and weighed the night before the cake were to be baked, after the bakers had gone home. Eventually, the bakeshop closed down, and the secret was out.

The trick to a successful fyrstekake is in the buttery dough.  Often there is too much dough compared to filling, which causes the cake to be dry.  Going more conservative with the amount of dough as well as making it lighter,  is key.   I like to use brown sugar instead of regular or confectioner’s sugar in the filling,  as I find it adds a nice caramel-like flavor that adds to the cake. Many recipes have cardamom in the almond filling while some don’t – I elected to omit it in this recipe but you can add in 1/2 tsp if you so wish. I also used Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, but if you can’t find that in your local shop, you can substitute 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds combined with 6 tbsp water).

Fyrstekake holds the memory of sitting outside our cabin in the mountains with an afternoon cup of coffee, enjoying the sun. It’s a rustic cake that is a meal in itself, and definitely will please those who are into hearty, nut-filled cakes.

Let me just forewarn you: this is not a cake you want to make or eat if you’re on a diet – there’s nothing light or healthy about it.  Loaded with butter, sugar and nuts, it’s a special occasion cake, but a little slice will go a long way, so make sure you have someone to share it with!

VEGAN FYRSTEKAKE

For the pai dough:

2 1/2 cups or 300 grams all purpose flour

1/2 cup or 100 grams organic confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp baking powder

2 sticks (about 200 grams) vegan butter

1 tbsp ground chia seeds combined with 3 tbsp water

For the almond filling:

2 sticks (about 200 grams) vegan butter

1 cup or 200 grams organic brown sugar

1 1/2 cups or 200 grams almonds, ground

2 tbsp VeganEgg mixed with 1/2 cup ice cold water

1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

3-4 drops almond extract (optional)

a little plant based milk for brushing on dough

demerara sugar for sprinkling on top of cake

DIRECTIONS

To make the pie dough:

Add the flour, confectioner’s sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor.  Process until a dough forms, add in the chia egg.  I like to grind the chia seeds in a blender with the water to make it more gelatinous first, I find that improves the blending.

When the dough forms, pour it onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into two; 2/3 should be for the bottom of the cake, and 1/3 for the top.  Shape the dough pieces into a circle, lightly wrap with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Lightly grease a round pie plate – mine measures 10 inches (25 cm).

Make the almond filling:

Grind the almonds in a food processor.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla paste or extract, VeganEgg mixture, then the flax egg.  Combine well.

Pull out the dough from the fridge. Roll out the large piece on top of parchment paper into a circle larger than your pan.  You’ll want to roll it out on a piece of paper or mat because the dough is very buttery and will stick and be difficult to transfer off the table if you don’t.  Carefully transfer the dough circle onto the pie pan and push it down and up against the edges. Cut off any additional overhang.

Pour the almond mixture into the prepared dough.
Roll out the smaller piece of the dough and with a pizza slicer, slice into 1-inch strips. Place them criss cross on top of the almond filling, brush the dough with a little plant based milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar (or regular sugar).

Bake in oven or about 50 minutes.   Check in on cake after 30 minutes – the dough might get a bit dark, so cover with foil for the last 20 minutes.

Let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before digging in!

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