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Visit Norway- Pickled Mackerel & Ramson Recipe from Oslo’s Maaemo Restaurant

Mackerel Appetizer

I hope you’ve been following along with my Visit Norway series. Up until now I have been presenting mostly broad information about the cuisine of Norway, as well as fun things to do (and eat) in Oslo. I even did a post about the nightlife in Oslo.

But today I want to get very specific. There’s a new restaurant in Oslo. It’s called Maaemo. Though it’s been open since December 2010, I say “new” because Norway has seen nothing like it before. Maaemo (Finnish for Mother Earth) is one of just a very few (only?) Norwegian restaurants that uses 100% organic, biodynamic or wild produce, coming almost exclusively from Norway. Their philosophy is groundbreaking, and the story is fascinating. Worthy of a post all its own– so I asked Nordic Nibbler to come with me to Maaemo. Tomorrow, he’ll have a very in-depth interview in a guest post.

The time I spent with Maaemo’s chef Esben Holmboe Bang and co-owner and sommelier Pontus Dahlström was probably the most exciting 2 hours of my entire stay in Norway. They took me into the kitchen. The chef taught me to make my own vinegar powder. Previously I bought vinegar powder to use as a super-charged sour element in some of my cooking. It adds so much flavor (especially as a garnish) without adding any liquid. So it’s possible to use it in ways traditional vinegar could never be used. So I was already a fan of the ingredient– but the commercial stuff doesn’t even come close to the intense flavor of what can easily (I learned) be made at home. I promise to share the technique soon.

Visit Norway- Nordic Nibbler’s Interview with Maaemo’s Esben Holmboe Bang & Pontus Dahlström

Maaemo's Esben Holmboe Bang (l) and Pontus Dahlström (r)

When fellow food blogger Greg Henry, who writes the SippitySup blog, announced he’d be visiting Norway at the request of the Norwegian Travel Bureau, and asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest post for his blog I jumped at the chance. I had mentioned a new Oslo gourmet restaurant to him that I had been to a couple of times. The restaurant had opened a few months previously and serves only organic produce that originates almost exclusively from Norway, something that has never been attempted before. I had been utterly wowed by the food I tasted there, so we struck upon the idea of me interviewing some of the people behind it to hear their story of how this restaurant came to be and a bit about their philosophy. Maaemo’s Esben Holmboe Bang (l) & Pontus Dahlström (r)

The story of Norway’s most exciting restaurant starts, rather mundanely, at an office Christmas party in 2009. But this was to be no ordinary Christmas party. Gathered together was the staff of Kolonihagen, a café and supplier of organic produce in Oslo run by Jon-Frede Engdahl, a charismatic Norwegian entrepreneur. At the party, Engdahl stood up and gave a speech in which he revealed an interesting fact: the folks at a certain French tyre company had mentioned that there were no Michelin-starred restaurants serving entirely organic produce. The gauntlet had been thrown down and Engdahl’s interest was piqued.