When the first Norwegians came to Trøndelag in search of food, they found life in the sea, fjords, lakes, forests and mountains.
Foto: jarle Hagen
A flock of sheep is grazing on a hilly headland on the coast of Trøndelag. The lambing season has just finished and a few dozen small, grey lambs have joined the flock of wild sheep. They stay close to their mothers and bask in the sun as they get some food.
A huge golden eagle watches on from a rocky outpost just a stone’s throw away from the flock. The king of the air sails toward the flock and hones in on the nearest lamb. It hangs there, floating on the air currents just a few metres above the defenceless animal. It assesses
the size and weight, decides and soars towards the next lamb, before pausing to reconsider.
“That freaked me out,” says the wild sheep farmer Eskil Sandvik from Frøya. He saw the entire chase unfold. “My stomach dropped. This was a young eagle. There are two types; they are either sceptical or a daring buffoon. A buffoon can go berserk among the young lambs and eradicate an entire litter within a short time, without getting any food. Consequently, it’s hard to keep one’s cool and not try to chase the eagle away. Nature will also take its course,” says Sandvik.
Sandvik is not alone in letting nature take its course, as Norwegians have done for thousands of years. No less than 3,800 wild sheep graze on the rugged island of Frøya on the coast of Trøndelag, summer and winter. These reclusive sheep are of an ancient lineage, which has survived world wars and industrial agriculture. Sandvik guides us across the overgrazed pasture on the way to one of his flocks.
As we approach the sheep, we soon realise that these are not ordinary clads of wool. “If we walk with the wind behind us, we won’t get close to them,” explains the sheep farmer. “They will run away.” Sheep can certainly run. Even without getting wind of people, the flock keeps its distance. The sheep run around us, before stopping to glance in our direction and then running past us at full speed. The photographer also moves quickly, as the term
photo chase takes on a new meaning. “Wild sheep prefer to be left alone in peace. If we interfere with them, they are unable to eat, give birth and feed their lambs. If the ewes feel threatened, they are willing to leave their lambs to fend for themselves,” explains Sandvik.
He explains how the wild sheep help to maintain the natural vegetation on the relatively treeless island. “The Sitka spruce that grows here was introduced, and the tree planting has threatened to displace the original vegetation. The flocks of sheep help to battle the spruce
trees by eating the budding trees and allowing the island to preserve its the unique bare and windswept landscape.”
«Hvis vi går med vinden i ryggen,
så kommer vi ikke nær dem.»
Credit: Jarle Hagen
“We have a legacy that cannot be
described or taken from us, even though throughout history many have tried.”
Sandvik and the locals of Frøya are but a few of the many Norwegians who live right beside their pantry. Proximity to the cycle of nature and a respect for the food has been passed down through generations and has become part of these farmers’ soul. In a country
where just five or six per cent of the landscape is suitable for cultivation, it goes without saying that those who have survived here never give up and can exploit the natural resources to their fullest. The combination of stubbornness and moderation has become a part of the Norwegian national soul, just as the image of small farms on mountainsides has become the symbol of the nation. In places like Frøya, small-scale production, local produce and traditional food is more than a trend.
“We have traced records from relatives right back to the oldest church register for Røros, dating from 1540,” says Eva Nordfjell. Eva is a Sami reindeer herder, with her own processing facility in Røros. “But my relatives have lived off reindeer since time immemorial,” she says. Archaeological finds show that the Sami have lived in Norway for 2000-2500 years. The earliest written records of the people were made in 98 A.D. by the
Roman historian Tacitus. The Sami originally hunted reindeer, and it was not until the 17th century that they began to tame large herds and follow them many hundreds of kilometres from summer pastures to winter pastures then back again. They practiced a semi-nomadic existence, moving their place of residence when the food source moved. Today, most
of the Sami live in the same houses year-round and use modern means of transport to herd their reindeer. “We have a legacy that cannot be described or taken from us,” says Eva Nordfjell.
As with all traditional production of food, the ancient methods of preserving and storing food have played an important role in the Sami culture. Drying, salting, curing and smoking of meat all take place in the production and retail building of Nordfjell’s company, Rørosrein. People come here from afar to buy fresh and preserved reindeer meat.
The concept of eating reindeer meat is quite natural to most Norwegians, but can often pose challenges for Americans. The key word is “Rudolf”. “Reindeer are not for decoration, but for food. People get an a-ha experience when they realize they can eat something they have a close relationship with – that we ‘know’ the food.”
Credit: Jarle Hagen
SUPPLEMENTING ONE’S INCOME
On the other hand, Americans love reindeer. Eva was once visited by a top general from across the Atlantic. He was accompanied by a large entourage including security guards. He was extremely keen to experience reindeer up close, and changed the official
itinerary for his visit to Norway so he could travel to Røros. Eva harnessed the reindeer to the sled, and took him on a sled ride from right outside the gamma (turf hut) set up to receive visitors. Midway into the trip, a cross-country skier approached at full speed in
the adjacent ski trail. “This frightened the buck, who raced up to the icy ski trail at a wild pace! I thought to myself ‘This won’t go well and I will end up being sued’. The buck suddenly stopped and turned around. The herd instinct kicked in and he wanted to return to the herd. He raced straight back towards the herd at 50 kilometres per hour and crashed straight into the gate, causing the general to fly off the sled,” says Eva.
But the general shone like a star and described it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Instead of being sued, Eva received a hand-written thank you card from the general in the post.
Like many others who live by animal husbandry, Eva cannot support herself solely by selling food. Most people buy affordable food at the supermarket. This explains why Eva supplements her income by offering Sami cultural experiences.
It’s worth noting that “domesticated reindeer” are not particularly tame. Each autumn the reindeer are domesticated, but as soon as they return to their summer pastures their natural instincts take over and the reindeer become wild again. “Building trust takes time and patience, so we take our coffee down to the enclosure and sit there with the reindeer who are about to be domesticated,” says Eva. Although she is the first to admit that her chosen occupation requires work from morning to night all year round, she says the lifestyle is worth the toil. “We can convey the experience of the sounds of nature, the sound of the hooves in the snow the calm – and almost wild – animal; the tranquillity of nature.”
It’s no exaggeration to say that a region right in the heart of Norway was extremely fortunate when Mother Nature allocated her resources. This region stretches from mild, humid coastal landscapes to cold, dry plateaus and mountains. There is something extremely special about the soil, climate and sea currents, not to mention the long, bright summer nights.
Throughout history, people have cultivated, gathered and learned what the soil and the sea will provide. This region offers perhaps the world’s best locations for Norway lobster, crabs, scallops and blue mussels. The fish and seafood harvested here is exported
worldwide. Specialties from the land include free-range pork and pigs fed on a diet of mushrooms, chicken, wild sheep and organic beef. Don’t forget the vegetables, berries and game, and everything
You will discover world-class produce and proud food traditions here, with more than 200 producers of food and beverage specialties alongside processing on a larger scale. Trøndelag is referred to as Norway’s leading food region, not least as a pioneering region
for organic milk and meat. Chefs and restaurants are proud of the local produce and use it in new ways.
Trøndelag boasts several world-class chefs and restaurants. For visitors with a curious palate, Trøndelag will offer one highlight after the other.
FOCUS ON FOOD
Visitors to the region will soon see that food plays an important role for many in Trøndelag. You will discover a multitude of culinary experiences – at restaurants and cafés, farm shops and accommodation providers. Culinary experiences often add that little
extra to the journey, and put Trøndelag in a different class from other destinations. Whether you go on a local food safari in Røros, rent a bike and ride from one farm-food outlet to another on The Golden Road (Den Gyldne Omvei), stay overnight in a lighthouse
with a picnic basket, attend the cod festival or go crab fishing – a whole host of culinary experiences await you in Trøndelag.
By now, you probably appreciate that there is no shortage of good produce and local products in Trøndelag. The food producers work closely with Trøndelag’s restaurant and hotels, and many of the best meals in Norway are served in Trøndelag. The prestigious restaurant guide, White Guide Nordic, features no fewer than six restaurants from Trøndelag:
In Trondheim, you will find long timers such as Credo and To Rom og Kjøkken, along with newer additions to the city’s food scene such as Røst Teaterbistro and Folk & Fe. Outside Trondheim, Buøy Gård at Salsbruket in Nærøy has gained a place on the list. A visit to any of these will virtually guarantee a culinary experience to please even the most discerning of diners.
The Head Chef at NordØst in Trondheim, Håkon Solbakk, was in the Norwegian Culinary Team that won the gold medal in culinary art at the Culinary Olympics. The Norwegian team won the competitions for both hot and cold dishes in 2016, meaning you are in safe hands with Solbakk as your chef.
THE CRAFT BREWERS HAVE ARRIVED
The trend of craft beer has long since reached Trøndelag. You can enjoy quality beers from more than 30 local brewers on tap or by the bottle. Those that stand out
from the pack include Klostergården on the island of Tautra, Austmann and To Tårn in Trondheim, Munkebyøl in Levanger, Røros Bryggeri og Mineralvannfabrikk
(pictured above) and Stjørdalsbryggeriet. The latter is famous for preserving the Viking tradition of brewing beer in smoked malt.
Two Trondheim pubs serve beer brewed on site: The pioneer Mikrobryggeriet and newcomer ØX Tap Room in the basement of the restaurant Frati on the main square.
RESTAURANTS IN TRØNDELAG
Serves multi-course menus based on the best local
produce from Trøndelag.
Inspiration menu and fine dining on the ground floor, and restaurant and cocktail bar upstairs. www.fagn.no
FOLK OG FE
Serves tasty and rustic bistro meals based
on local produce.
Serves set menus designed with your experience in
mind and with respect for the produce and producers.
TO ROM OG KJØKKEN
A wealth of quality produce from Trøndelag prepared with inspiration from the Mediterranean.
An exciting menu based on the best seasonal produce.
Tasty local food in wonderful surroundings.
Culinary experiences in the realm of the senses.
Serves meals based on local produce from fishermen,
meat producers and farm-based cheese producers.
Distinctive restaurant serving first-rate meals,
especially seafood and shellfish
Gourmet restaurant and brewery in historic surroundings
Serves local food accompanied by panoramic
views of the Trondheimsfjord
THE GOLDEN DRINK
We are greeted at the Inderøy farm, Berg Gård, by Svein Berfjord, a sturdy chap with a special interest in traditional food and drink. He shows us around the farm, where his family has long raised lambs and freerange pigs, produced cured meats and honey and much more. He shows us the farm shop where they sell their products. The next stop is the on-site restaurant serving food produced on the farm. He then takes us into the darkness, to the distillery and maturation room, where we taste self-produced aquavit and distillates of rowanberries and spruce shoots.
“We have produced caraway here since 2001, virtually
all of which is sold for aquavit production. Back in 2003 we had the idea of producing our own aquavit. We produce all the food we serve on the farm, but did not have our own spirit. Since the production of aquavit and caraway has strong traditions in Inderøy, we thought it was time to put back on Inderøy back on the aquavit map,” says Berfjord.
Inderøy Brenneri (distillery) was founded, aquavit formulas tested and spirits were produced. After achieving success with their “Inderøy Aquavit No. 1” and “Inderøy Taffel Aquavit”, Berfjord now has a new goal: “We want to develop a ‘pure’ Inderøy aquavit, flavoured exclusively by plants from Inderøy, such as dandelions, spruce shoots, bird cherry blossom and rowanberries. It will offer tastes you have never experienced,” says the farmer and distiller enthusiastically.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT AQUAVIT
Aquavit has been a traditional spirit in Trøndelag for centuries. The earliest written account of aquavit dates from 1531, and describes an aquavit sent from Bergen to Norway’s last archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson, at Steinvikholm Castle near Stjørdal.
Aquavit’s distinctive flavour comes from herbs and spices added after being distilled from potatoes or grain. The main spice is always caraway, while other spices include anise, star anise, dill, fennel, cardamom, vanilla, coriander and lemon peel.
For an aquavit to be called Norwegian aquavit, it must be matured in oak barrels for at least six months.
Linie aquavit is named after the tradition of sending oak barrels of aquavit by ship to Australia, crossing the equator (“linie”) twice before being bottled.
THE INNER LIFE
CULTURAL HERITAGE, NATURE AND FOOD IN INNHERRED
Rolling pastures and fields surrounded by gently rounded hills and mountains. The interior of Trøndelag is often compared with the Trønder himself: friendly, welcoming and at times dramatic.
The area Vinje visited is on the shores of the Trondheimsfjord, with fertile soil and a favourable climate. The farmers cultivate and nurture the soil, as they have done for more than 1,000 years. Innherred’s beautiful cultural landscapes warmly welcome you to
sweeping views of the rolling cornfields, world-class culinary experiences and an opportunity to relive the Viking Age.
The distances between fjord and mountain, town and wilderness are short. The area is popular for cycling, hiking, canoeing and fishing – and perfect for anyone who wants to explore deep caves and forests.
SHORTCUT TO GREAT TASTES
With its proximity to wonderful produce, The Golden Road (Den Gyldne Omvei) in Inderøy is a popular destination for visitors from near and far. This picturesque detour from the E6 highway will top up all your senses. Along the scenic route through golden corn fields, recognized food producers offer farm produce such as free-range pork and lamb and an abundance of fresh vegetables.
You will also discover award-winning cheeses, jams, cured meats, meat products, bread, cakes and much more. You can also buy something to quench your thirst, such as kombucha (fermented tea), craft beer and Inderøy aquavit based on local production of caraway and other herbs. Several of the farms on this route have on-site restaurants and cafés serving the
food they have produced with a combination of tender love and care and knowledge.
As well as food and drink, this route also features a host of art and craft galleries. Art enthusiasts should not miss the Nils Aas Kunstverksted (art studio) in the village of Straumen.
“No, these are the best mountains in the north, perhaps in the entire country. They are huge, they are rich, there are
fjords and landscape in the most delightful interaction.”
(Aasmund O. Vinje following his visit to
Inderøy in 1860.)
Credit: Jarle Hagen
THE SAINT KING
Many a significant event in Norwegian history has occurred in Innherred. The best known is
obviously the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, which claimed the life of King Olav the Holy. The
battle is re-enacted every year in The Saint Olav Drama (Spelet om Heilag Olav) during The Saint Olav Festival (Olsokdagene). The Egge Museum conveys the history of the chieftains and some of Olav Haraldsson’s worst rivals, while the monks of Munkeby represent the ensuing religious transition. The history is kept alive. Like elsewhere in Trøndelag, Stiklestad offers wonderful culinary experiences in a historic landscape.
If you are seeking an exciting inner and outer journey, you can go on a pilgrimage on the St. Olav Path from Selånger in Sweden to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Along the route, you will find local food and lodgings in historic surroundings.
Photo viking: Espen Storhaug
Photo bedroom at Husfrua: Jarle Hagen
Stiklestad – The cradle of Norwegian history. Pay a visit to the site of the battle in 1030 and learn why the battle took place specifically here.
Levanger – The town of wooden architecture. Experience Art Nouveau in Trøndelag’s first mercantile town after Trondheim.
Pick Up Café – Discover this pastel-coloured retro gem par excellence in the Vuddu Valley featuring old cars and a candle factory.
The Falstad Centre – Originally a children’s home, later a World War II prisoner-of-war camp and now a national centre for human rights.
The Golden Road – (Den Gyldne Omvei) – Take this charming detour off the E6 and visit distinguished local food and beverage producers, Nils Aas’ Art Studio and choose between accommodation options with character.
Sami culture – You can experience authentic Coastal Sami impulses at Saemien Sijte in Snåsa.
The Bøla reindeer– See the famous 6000-year-old rock carving.
Visit a summer mountain farm – From June to August, you can choose between 20 or more open summer mountain farms in the municipality of Snåsa.
Biking and hiking – Follow the gravel road to the world’s largest garden chair at Oftenåsen and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Trondheimsfjord and Steinkjer, or experience genuine wilderness in the Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella National Park.
Ride round the Borgenfjord – Rent a bike or an e-bike from Innherred Tourist Information Centre and experience the Golden Road on two wheels.
Festivals – The Steinkjer Festival in June, The St Olav Drama in July and the Hilmar Festival in November.
Bathing – Choose between the Dampsaga Bad water park and the town beach in Steinkjer or one of the many beaches by the fjord or sea.
Read more at: www.visitinnherred.com
Photo: Tom Gustavsen