The snow and ice that had once piled up on the sidewalks had all melted away. My winter coat had rotated to the dark spot at the back of the closet. And sometimes, if you were lucky, the temperatures would SOAR above 10 degrees celsius.
It was the perfect time to throw out the old winter-time menu of warming food and turn to the fresh flavours of summmerrrrrr!
Nothing screams summer to me like Mexico! I tried my hand at making the authentic corn tortillas – courtesy of the great No Recipes blog.
Sure, they may have been seriously time-consuming and I felt like I was chained to the cooktop, but they were actually so authentic that one bite of the final assembled tacos immediately transported me back to my days of adventuring around Mexico. That country has some good street food. THREE tacos, filled with your choice of goodies, for a meagre ONE DOLLAR. Holy shit. I have to go back there.
There were some blue mussels leftover from an attempt at making paella (it was reasonable, just not the kind of paella I’d be proud to call a paella) and also a leftover Christmas present in the form of a piece of beautiful monkfish (hanging out in the freezer people!) that were just begging to be made into a bouillabaisse.
I found about a million different recipes for a ‘traditional’ bouillabaisse online, then became frustrated at the hugely different choices and finally just mashed a few of the recipes together in a way that I thought would be delicious. Nothing flash, just channeling some awesome chef vibes is all.
So I will share this recipe with you because it turned out delicious and I’d totally make it again.
There’s no quantities, because, um, that’s how I roll.
Things you need to make bouillabaisse:
some variety of healthy sautéing oil
onion, chopped finely
leek, chopped finely
garlic, chopped super finely
tomatoes, skinned and thinly sliced
potatoes, roughly cut into chunks
fennel, thinly sliced
fish stock (I just bought some from my local fiskeriet (fish shop), which luckily, happens to be the best fiskeriet in Oslo)
saffron, dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water
monkfish, cut into bite-sized chunks (you can use any variety of a firm, white fish that doesn’t fall apart easily and is capable of keeping it’s shape)
salt + pepper
Things you need to make rouille:
garlic cloves, lots of garlic cloves
What you need to do to make bouillabaisse:
1) Make the rouille. What exactly IS the rouille? It’s the delicious spread that’s slathered on the bread that’s served with the soup. It really does add that little bit of extra sumting-sumting.
2) Basically just smash all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle, starting with the garlic. If you don’t have one, like me, just chop the garlic as finely as possible, even smooshing it with the side of the knife from time to time and then place it in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and use a sturdy flat-bottomed glass or jam jar or something similar and channel a pestle. Channel a pestle real good, because this shit is going to be hard to come together. Persevere. Just remember that you will be spreading a RAW GARLIC mixture, similar to alioli/aioli, on crusty bread. So please adjust if you hate garlic or are a vampire.
3) Now to the business of the bouillabaisse.
4) Heat oil in a large stockpot and saute the onion, leek and garlic.
5) Add the tomatoes, potatoes, fennel and saffron.
6) De-glaze the bottom of the pot with the white wine. Then add the fish stock and simmer.
7) It’s also a good idea to add the herbs and orange zest at this point. Simmer until the liquid tastes delicious. Shouldn’t take long.
8 ) Add monkfish.
9) Add mussels and let steam.
10) Taste soup and season with salt + pepper before serving.
Total yum-ness guaranteed. You know, if you like fish soup and related dishes.
As usual on the weekend, one glass of wine with dinner turned into ten empty bottles and, because I have no other friends, I sat at home and had a youtube party with….my boyfriend? Très lame.
But I didn’t splatter this embarrassing story all over the internet for sympathy. No, I had to bring everyone’s attention to this atrocity that hung in our living room.
WTF indeed. One of the boys in the sharehouse totally loves this painting. It just makes my eyes bleed. WHO PAINTED THIS? WHY WASN’T IT BURNED AT FIRST SIGHT? So many questions that will never be answered.
Anyway! The opportunities afforded by lack of cold and snow seemed to be endless!
We caught a boat out to an island on the Oslo fjord.
Hovedøya is a pretty small island but it has a mini-forest,
…and a rocky coastline…
…perfect for lying in the sun, reading a book (me) or studying chemistry (Audun) and eating homemade sandwiches (both of us).
There’s that damn boat again! Always following me around it is.
There’s also a fort. Complete with cannons.
We lazed in the sun (I even got a major tan! Seriously, I think my skin was like a starved sponge soaking up the sun at cancerous rates), ate ice-cream then headed back to Oslo.
Springtime bliss. And uber cool sunglasses. That have since been stolen at a hostel in Madrid. I can hardly blame the thief. These sunglasses were amazing.
Also as the snow melts away, all the cross-country tracks magically turn into hiking trails! Music to my ears. One great thing about Oslo is that you can catch a subway to the end of the line and pretty much be in a forest. A properly big forest where you can hike and camp and fish.
We chose to try out Østmarka (literally ‘East Forest’) one sunny Sunday morn.
This is also where my camera lens decides to fail. Poor camera lens.
Beavers! Well, you know, evidence of their existence. Still good.
So much awesomeness during a short 4 hour hike. And only 20 minutes from Oslo centre. That’s pretty spectacular.