We're moving shortly to a new apartment and as part of the move we've officially eschewed cable tv. I'm having a cable line run, but only for Internet. We'll also run our phone off of it.
One of the few things I will miss on cable in the Food Network. But I'm happy to report that the prospect of losing Emeril and Alton (ouch!) and Rachael (meh) has forced me to rediscover Ming and Jacques and those folks at Cook's Illustrated and a new guy, Andreas.
Andreas Viestad is the host for the first two seasons of New Scandinavian Cooking. Each week, Andreas takes us to a new location significant to Scandinavian (and especially Norwegian) culture and puts together some dishes that are unlike those being shown anywhere else.
I'm a bit biased towards the subject matter because I'm a quarter Norwegian, and have been fascinated by the idea of Scandinavian food ever since I sampled the Christmas boxes of traditional sweet baked goods my Norwegian grandmother sent to us in Chicago each year from her home in Santa Rosa, California.
But trying to find Scandinavian and specifically Norwegian recipes can be a challenge. Or it was a challenge until this show arrived.
Andreas is a strange but wonderful presenter. He's ostensibly very straightforward, but his rhythms and pacing are strange. I'm not going to say he presents like a Viking William Shatner, but its clear that his native Norwegian has a music to it completely different to that of English. The effect gives the impression Andreas has something he desperately wants to share and he's bursting to get it out, but he wants to be very precise in his language.
Andreas's enthusiasm is readily apparent. He's proud not just of the recipes he's sharing but of his culture. I've only had the good fortune to see two episodes of the show, "The Sun is Back" and "Town of Two Spirits". In each he was very happy to be there and pleased with the cleverness of the show he was presenting.
In "The Sun is Back", Andreas takes us to the ski resort town of Geilo (pronounced something like "Hee-lo") and discusses how oranges fit into Norwegian cuisine. In this episode alone, Andreas cooks with a blow torch, injects a chicken with a syringe, takes fish straight from the hole in the ice to the cast iron pan, and sets up a portable kitchen on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful snow topped range of peaks.
In "Town of Two Spirits" Andreas takes us to Trondheim, the former capital of Norway where stong drink is the order of the day. After setting up his portable kitchen to block the middle of a road (much to the annoyance and amusement of the people passing around him trying to do their everyday chores), Andreas makes Scandinavian mulled wine which is basically heated wine with orange, cardamom, almonds, spices, and a big splash of vodka. Later, he takes us to a top restaurant in Trondheim, Credo, where he makes Aquavit sorbet. Aquavit is very alcoholic and difficult to freeze, so he borrows some liquid nitrogen from the local techies and bare-handed pours it into a pitcher he then uses to pour the LN onto the aquavit.
370+ degrees below zero and he's bare-handing. Someday, Andreas will clearly be known as "lefty".
Check out the series - it's quirky, original and fun. Next season Swedish chef (bork bork bork) Tina Nordström will take over and guide us through Sweden and its cuisine, so get your Norwegian fix now.
In Chicago, New Scandinavian Cooking airs on PBS channel 20 (that's the one you don't have worry about seeing Tucker Carlson on) on Sundays at 3:30pm.