A window into food culture
In photos: Takk for Maten author Whitney Love takes us on Food Safari in the tasty and picturesque town of Røros
Røros, Norway, has long been on the foodie map for chefs and food enthusiasts throughout Europe and the world. The local food culture has become so sought after that the local tourist office now organizes intimate group tours (simply called “food safaris”) around the local area to check out the culinary highlights and food history in the Røros region. Most tours are 4 to 5 hours in duration and all tours offer food sampling and foodstuffs for purchase along the way. All food safaris begin at the tourist office and may be booked in advance.
During my recent food safari, I enjoyed the “Aursunden Rundt” tour which explored the area around the Aursunden lake. Our tour made stops at four locations, all with a unique story to tell about the food culture around Røros.
First stop on the tour was at Stensaas, a butcher that focuses on reindeer and other game meats such as deer and elk. Stensaas is also well known for its rakfisk, which is traditionally eaten in the spring during Easter as well as during other times of the year. Three generations of the Stensaas family have run this operation, growing it to be one of the largest reindeer processing operations in Norway.
Open since 1780, Ærverdige Skottgården was formerly a working farm and the local area’s post office. We enjoyed lunch in the summer house, and here is where I tasted snarøl for the first time. This homemade carbonated beverage is made from vørterøl, a malted drink, which is high in b-vitamins and iron. It’s likely that vørterøl is a mainstay from the days when Norway and Demark were one country, as the largest producer of this stuff is in Denmark.
Lunch was comprised of gravlax, smoked hyse (similar to cod), lammerulle, cured reindeer heart, rakfisk, and deer tongue. All this was served with Røros butter and sour cream, homemade cranberry jam, and Røros flatbread.
This family-run deer farm lies 30 minutes from the town of Røros and has been in operation for more than 15 years. Several hundred deer roam free here and feed on grass as well as treats provided by the Torsvoll family. Focus at this stop on our journey was placed on the importance of good food and the hunting tradition in the area.
Outside of our lunch stop, our coffee run at Kalsa Gårdsbakeri proved to be my favorite stop on the food safari. Run by a lovely woman named Tove, this farm bakery served 100% handmade pjalt (a cross between American-style biscuits and Norwegian lapper) and lemse (similar to but not quite lefse; made with organic Røros tjukkmjølk, an agriculturally protected dairy product). Alongside both we were served gom (caramelized milk whey) and some of the best coffee I’ve ever had in Norway, while we sat in the old sommerstugga (summer house).
Whitney Love is a cookbook author and blogger. She hails from Tucson, Arizona and is currently living in Stavanger, Norway. She runs the English language blog Thanks For The Food where she documents her love affair with Norway through the lens of traditional and modern Norwegian gastronomy. Find her online at thanksforthefood.com.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 5, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.