Back in Oslo

Occasionally we decided to dine in, I was making dinner and did the shopping, I mean, this was my vacation after all. I went to the butcher counter and picked something out. I thought it was beef ribs, like flanken or something. The usual butcher was not there but the not-as-friendly-as-most-Norwegians butcher said, “bibringe.” Which of course meant nothing to me and since I didn’t understand him and he could only repeat it, not knowing the word in English and I only know this word because that is what it said on the butcher paper when he handed it to me. It was definitely something that would require long low braise. I got a bunch onion and onion related vegetables and a couple of handfuls of the lovely orange chanterelle mushrooms we don’t get in the US. And braised the whole thing in butter and red wine.

Fried potatoes and grated fresh horseradish on it. It looked and smelled lovely but the meat left very much to be desired, it was all gristle, and fatty, nearly inedible meat. What little of it there was to eat was delicious. The next day I made soup out of the remains of the meal. 

Bibringe soup. It was delicious. 

The MTA Song, or, He Never Returned

While the trip to Brooklyn was made much more difficult because of my own blunders (I will concede that the nice man from the NYC transit authority [MTA—Metropolitan Transit Authority] did really help out when I was in distress), the MTA did not help when, after the hellacious walk up and down 2 long flights of stairs in the Hoyt Schermerhorn station to get to the other side, I got onto the train and following a slight delay a lady announced via the speaker system that the train was now an “express train,” at which 2/3rds of the people on the car jumped up and left. 

If you were, say, a New Yorker who knew what the fuck you were doing, you might know what to do. Me, I sat there dumbly wedged into my seat by my “baggage” (and perspiring at an alarming rate what with the physical exertion, not to mention the mental stress caused by the mounting fear that I’d end up in, Christ, I don’t even know where…Coney Island? Coney Island with a settee-sized suitcase and a torn rotator cuff) then immediately, but not quite before I’d wrestled my bags out into the aisle, the lady changed her mind and announced it wasn’t an express train to Scranton after all, and everyone got back on. We all continued on as if nothing had happened. 

My fate is not unlearned, (See the MTA Song). I am returned to Oslo. 

After a joyful reunion with the Royal Indian Mounted Food Control Police (not to mention the joyful sharing of the lugging of the suitcase from the airport), we were off to dinner in Oslo which after all is what we’re ultimately here for isn’t it? Well, I am anyway. We hiked off to Cru (it is delightful to walk unencumbered by furniture), a lovely little wine bar where pigs in a blanket were on the menu (meny in Norwegian). To me, pigs in a blanket are cocktail wieners wrapped in Pillsbury crescent dough which generally I think of as 50’s cocktail party food, I’d happily eat them but they are not something I think of as restaurant fare. Given the loveliness of the place I thought maybe they’d use local sausage (polse in Norwegian—this language is so confusing to me, oddly I know the words for menu, sausage and lingonberry, and that’s pretty much it) and their own pastry. Imagine my delight when the sausages, not at all cocktail sized, arrived wrapped not in pastry but in bacon. OK, cholestoral bombs but hey, red wine cancels it all out. Besides, they were delicious. 

So was the wine.

Oslo bound

So I’m in Oslo now having survived the brutal trip from Milwaukee to the Newark airport, and from there to Brooklyn where I spent the night with my nephew and niece (Hi Gail, I didn’t have time although I did think about you quite often while I was there whirlwinding my way hither and tither) and then it was back to Newark and off to Oslo the next day.

Newark is the only city in the country with a direct flight to Oslo. And if you want to stop for a night and see your relatives or college friends in NYC it’s a simple trip from Newark to Penn Station as I discovered on my last trip. Unfortunately, after that, getting off the train and standing alone in the bowels of New York City with the swirling humanity surrounding you can be a tiny bit off putting and the New York subway system leaves much to be desired in terms of getting elsewhere.

On my last trip the unhelpful guy at the “information” desk in Penn Station told me angrily that there are no subways leaving from Penn Station “IT’S A TRAIN STATION!!!” which is technically true. But, I discovered this time, you can simply wheel your bags over to the 34th Street subway station which is practically visible from that information desk. From there according to Google Maps it’s a 20 minute trip to Brooklyn. What Google Maps does not explain is that the reason the line on the map from the 34th St station to Brooklyn changes color is that you have to change trains at some point. And theoretically this too should be easy if you were, say a New Yorker, and knew what the fuck you were doing.

I may have mentioned that I don’t travel lightly. I have BAGGAGE. In more ways than one. My suitcase is pretty much the size, weight and shape of a davenport. But this trip to Brooklyn with a train change, seemed not so daunting even with a couch. I mean, I have done it before, fer chrissake, I thought. You get off the (let’s say) A train and transfer at Hoyt-Schermerhorn to the G line (that’s 8 stops down). Easy. You don’t even have to go to a different platform. Just get off and get onto a G train. You just need to be sure the train you’re getting onto is going in the right direction.

Gosh, I thought distractedly, these stops have the same names as the ones we just came from. So that was fun. I leapt off the train (as much as one can leap with a divan) at the next stop which, if you were, you know, a New Yorker, you’d know you CANNOT TRANSFER AT THAT STATION TO THE OTHER SIDE!!!! Fortunately a very nice employee of the NYC Transit Authority opened a chain link gate allowing me to actually get to the other side. It was nice but it did involve quite a great deal of stairs. There’s more, I’ll spare you. I got to Brooklyn had dinner. My niece and nephew took me to have pizza. That alone would have been enough to have made up for the difficulty of the trip but this pizza was right straight out of this world. I cannot even explain why it was so different. But it was. Unlike anything I’ve ever had, and worth a trip back to Brooklyn although maybe not on the G line.

The next day rather than endure another hellish campaign across and through the pitiless and confusing underbelly of New York with a 74 pound suitcase twisting my arm out of my shoulder joint I called Uber. It was expensive-ish and super slow. Christ, traffic in New York. But anything would have been better and cheaper than the subway and the orthopedic surgery I was sure I’d need.

Art in Oslo

So I went to the modern art museum in Oslo. They have this as a part of their permanent collection. I was thrilled because I actually have this in my house. But it’s on the floor in my shower.