In the Norwegian TV-show “Gutta På Tur,” two of the country’s most decorated cross-country skiers, Bjørn Dæhlie and Vegard Ulvang, together with chef Arne Brimi and TV-host Arne Hjeltnes go hiking, hunting, and fishing. At the end of each show, they cook a meal from whatever they’ve caught. The meal is either cooked in the wild or in a lodge along the route. Now, attempt to bring that atmosphere into a restaurant, and you have Vaaghals. The twist, of course, is the modern cooking techniques, ingredients, and presentations, which lend some inspiration from the New Nordic cuisine. They also specialize in dry-aged meat from their own curing cabinet. I wanted to show Arnold Lan a restaurant where the food reflects the Norwegian cuisine, but with a modern approach to ingredients and presentation. “Who is Arnold Lan?” you might be wondering. I’ll get back to that shortly, but first a few more words about restaurant Vaaghals. Full disclosure: the food was comped this day, drinks were on us.
Traditional Meets Modern at Vaaghals
The quartet from Gutta På Tur has teamed up with experienced restauranteur Jørn Lie. Lie’s background is from the highly traditional restaurant Gamle Raadhus in Oslo, located in one of the city’s oldest venues. As if to further highlight the concept of traditional meets modern, Vaaghals is located in the middle of Oslo’s new financial district Bjørvika. A stainless steel kitchen and solid glass walls meet wooden beams and otherwise rustic interior design details. The kitchen is completely open towards the restaurant. There are hardly any borders between chefs, waiters, and diners. All the food is served in the middle of the table and is supposed to be shared. To uphold traditions, Vaaghals uses the old Norwegian word skifte instead of sharing, though.
Photos by Arnold Lan
Now, why was I here with Arnold Lan, and who is he? We have to backtrack a few days, to Mathallen. I was hanging out in Bondens Butikk chatting with my friend Joachim. Suddenly, this American film team showed up asking about dried whale meat. Joachim offered them the closest thing he could find, which was dried reindeer meat. The guys continued asking questions about reindeer, but Joachim got too busy with customers, so I answered them. Before I know it they wanted me to repeat my story about the Sami people on camera! Long story short – I was introduced to Arnold Lan, and this is how he looks like!
Arnold Lan is a Chinese-Canadian who had been chosen for the American TV show called Dream Jobbing. For two weeks he was living his dream, traveling all over Norway, and working as a photojournalist for Visit Norway USA. He was granted full control over their Instagram account. Talking to Arnold at Mathallen he asked about my interest in food. We exchanged contact information (read: Instagram accounts) and a few days later he contacted me again. He wanted to see Oslo from a foodie’s point of view! I could think of many places I wanted to show him, but I figured Vaaghals would be perfectly informal, while also showcasing a modern yet traditional Norwegian kitchen.
Obviously, Arnold wanted to take pictures for me, but I also brought my camera to get several perspectives. Most pictures are credited to Arnold as you may notice. I chose almost all from his library and only a few of my own, he is a professional after all. This is the meal we enjoyed together.
Have you been to Vaaghals? I would love to hear what you think in a comment below.
This was a sponsored invitation by Vaaghals. The restaurant had no influence on the content of this article, there is no form of cooperation between us, I was not obliged to publish anything, and I received no monetary payment.