I am back at the Gladmat food festival once again to be part of the team of judges that will taste and evaluate all of the participating restaurants. I believe there’s about 75 of them this year, so it’s going to be a tough job … Especially since the head judge and overall nice guy Olav Birkeland, aka Hobbykokken, has decided we will do the job in two days instead of three like last year. As always, I share my best recommendations from the food festival.
I will attempt to live blog this event – that’s why text and photos in this post will be updated on the go. You should also follow me on Instagram and Snapchat: andershusa to be up to date. We’re attempting a Guinness World Record this year by making me the first living and moveable recharging station. So, if you find yourself at the festival these days and you’re badly in need of more battery power to your phone – I can hook you up! Either with a brand new Rescue Juice (NOK 299) or simply exchange your empty one for a new (free of charge). I accept Vipps! For your information: I don’t make any money on this, it’s just for fun and to make sure Stavanger has never-ending power.
Also on the jury this year is my good friend André Blomberg-Nygård who is one of two food critics for Norway’s biggest newspaper VG. André, together with his colleague Erik Fosnes Hansen, and Amanda Bahl who writes for Bergens Tidende, are the only non-anonymous restaurant critics in Norway – to my knowledge. Blomberg-Nygård also has a blog, although he hates to admit it or refer to it as that. Check out Being Critical or follow him on Instagram if you want more regular updates. Lastly, the jury features Analiza and Elin who took part in 2015 as well.
We kicked off this year’s Gladmat food festival with a visit to Karl Erik Pallesen’s Fisketorget. They served us a three-course meal, opening with a selection of starters and snacks: Argentinian red shrimps, chili king crab & tomatoes from Brimse. Followed by a main course of hake and finally a chocolate sandwich dessert. Each dish was accompanied by a matching glass of wine.
Karl Erik Pallesen and his restaurant manager are both great hosts. No wonder Fisketorget was awarded the region’s most popular restaurant, as voted by the readers of the regional newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad. The produce is always top quality and super fresh since Pallesen has his own fish market smack in the middle of the restaurant. Fisketorget has that sweet balance of a casual restaurant serving rustic looking food, but cooked by highly skilled chefs to perfection.
Fisketorget was definitely a good start to this year’s festival. In 2015 they won the award Best Experience, and I have a feeling they might qualify in 2016 as well. By the end of the meal, André borrowed the stamp that my friend Ronny gave me in Singapore: #godtnokforhusa. Fisketorget was approved!
Update: Fisktetorget was just nominated in the categories Best Gladmat experience and Best Gladmat dish (NOK 30) for their fish soup.
A huge smile welcomed us at Tango Bar & Kjøkken. The young and talented restaurant manager Pål Gøran Stolt-Larsen Pettersen was happy to see the jury again. As one of Stavanger’s unquestionably best restaurants, they are most likely confident in their own level of quality.
This first visit was mainly to test their Gladmat dish priced at NOK 30. Tango won that category last year with a deep-fried crab cake. Once again, crab is on the menu, but this year as a Skagen salad served in a steam bun. A delicate looking dish, with perfect fluffiness to the bao and great value for money. The jury chose to nominate Tango again! Tonight we will be checking out the full experience as well.
Update: Tango just won the award Best Gladmat experience 2016! Read about the full meal here.
Kita Deja Vu by Night
Kita Deja Vu by Night is a new and exciting restaurant in Stavanger. It’s a Nordic izakaya, which is the Japanese word for an informal gastropub. Head chef Øyvind Næsheim has worked mainly internationally and as a consequence of that, he’s relatively unknown in Norway. According to my friend and fellow food festival judge André Blomberg-Nygård, Nesheim is probably among the most experienced chefs we have, though. A total of 12 years at the prestigious Nobu restaurants, both in London and Hong Kong, has given him an invaluable expertise in the field of high-end Asian cuisine.
Kita is located in the Gladmat stand Blå Fristelser, and they’re one of the restaurants that truly understand the core essence of this food festival. Ideally, the Gladmat food festival should give people a taste of what the entire region has to offer, both the high-quality seafood and produce and the cooking of all the restaurants across town. Every dish at Kita is priced at NOK 30 which means you can easily have a taste of everything and still have both money and room left in your tummy for more.
The tempura nori taco with crab risotto has all the elements of a good dish, as far as I see it. Crispy and soft textures make it more interesting to chew and a great flavor with the umami and sweetness of the crab balanced by the salt and richness of the risotto. Their main Gladmat dish, which we also nominated, was the soused herring – also known as Matjes or jomfrusild. Once again the tempura adds a crispy element and the sweet and sour ponzu sauce is a perfect contrast to the fattiness of the fish. An explosion of flavors in your mouth!
Update: Kita just won the award Best Gladmat dish 2016!
Kitchen & Table
A food truck with a ticketing system, and dishes that you can choose to either take away or enjoy at a table in their tent, shows that the restaurant Kitchen & Table by Marcus Samuelsson understands food festivals well. We tasted the Gladmat dish Beef is the new black, priced at NOK 30. Slow cooked beef served with a purée of corn and topped with pickled red onions. A good combination that tasted great! They got a nomination from us.
Komla & Cava
Coming from a marketing background, I love the name and concept Komla & Cava. The combination of the highly traditional Norwegian potato dumpling komla and the very untraditional pairing of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava is brilliant. The Gladmat food festival has requested more creativity and a modern touch from the participants. Komla & Cava delivers that, although it hasn’t changed from last year. Sadly we were served a fish soup that wasn’t very good, and their main dish of komla needs some improvements too. No nominations for the food here, but they got one for the stand! Next year they should try to pair the different dishes they serve with various vintages of Cava. That would be cool!
Prima Jæren along with Jacob’s Utvalgte was part of the huge stand at Hall Toll in the far north-western end of the festival area. Last year they served a pork rib sausage, and this year it was two different wraps with pulled pork and beef. Good quality meat and tasty tacos! We nominated them in the category Best Gladmat dish, but in the end they didn’t win.
Are you at the Gladmat food festival this year? Leave a comment below to let me know.