This is a story about an extended morning with Nora; a Norwegian beauty with whom I had the luck to live together. Nora is the master of a steady stream of black coffee, canned sardines and occasional midnight aquavit shots accompanied with charming small talk. But she reached the top of her Scandinavian hospitality once when she returned home with a luggage full of delicatessen from Oslo and set us up a huge breakfast table. That was my introduction to the Norway style of spending the Sunday mornings while watching the ocean from large windows, as I like to imagine.
When Nora opened her luggage, I felt like a child on a Christmas Eve with unknown presents awaiting. She brought numerous types of cheese which didn’t taste like cheese at all, gluten-free wraps and crackers, several kinds of smoked salmon, tubed caviar spread (definitely tasting better than the Ikea version) and game meat salamis.
Norwegian breakfast / brunch is high on protein, caffeine and omega 3. In general, Scandinavians are great supporters, and perhaps even the inventors of salmon & dill combination and they do not shy away from this combo even in the morning. Perfect creamy scrambled eggs with dill are served with freshly pulled smoked salmon. Black coffee is a must for the morning-kick effect but it’s supplemented with a fresh orange juice for an additional vitamin boast.
Nora started with potato based gluten-free wrappers, rolled with cheese and Valerian salad inside and cut into pieces. We placed them on plates decorated with more Valerian green.
We had two types of very specific cheese: Brunost is a whey-based product in the form of a brown block; one needs to use a cheese slicer to cut it into paper-thin slices. It’s sweet & salty with an intense caramel taste and so delicious that I got the impression that it’s a must-have in every fridge for good. I imagine sneaking in and stealing one more slice, just to close my eyes and enjoy the creamy sharp taste. This is a pure comfort food but it’s nothing like your ordinary cheese, I wouldn’t even know what to pair it with.
The second brown cheese is a different story. It’s called Gamalost, is a distinctive Norwegian cheese with a spongy texture made from skimmed cow’s milk, almost falling into pieces when cut. Yet, it’s definitely not for vanilla people, the taste is very sharp and stinky. I like to think that it’s a Viking invention, created to judge how tough you are. This could be a part of a Viking coming-of-age ceremony: If you can eat a whole block without shedding a tear, you deserve your title. The cheese stank all over the flat so much that it was competing with all those salmon and fish spreads lying around. But the taste, again, was so intense; it brings tears to one’s eyes if caught off-guard.
Then Nora prepared perfect soft and creamy scrambled eggs based on her mother’s recipe. For the best result, eggs should be cooked in butter on a non-stick pan with low fire. You only need fresh eggs, butter, dill and salt. Here is the method: Crack the eggs on a pot; lightly mix them with chopped dill and salt. Then add them on a pan with butter, swirl and sweep with spatula until they’re creamy on low fire. Just remember that it’ll continue cooking even after removing from fire, just be careful not to overcook the eggs. We want creamy, not dry. And it goes without saying; serve them with freshly pulled smoked salmon.
The table is nearly ready when we placed the black coffee and fresh orange juice to wash everything down.
This was one of the most pleasant mornings. We spent several hours preparing, chattering about differences in customs, sharing childhood breakfast stories and enjoying the precious view from our large windows, despite having no ocean in front of us. I have to confess that eating fish in the morning is an unusual idea for me, but I think I can live with that. I was as awake as I could ever be after all this healthy protein boast; ready to deal with whatever the rest of the Sunday was about to bring my way.