SMAK: Northern Norwegian Cuisine on a Budget

Admittedly, I've been bashing Norwegian cuisine on this blog quite a lot lately but if there's one time I'll happily spend tons of money on Norwegian food, it's during Tromso Food Festival - or how it's actually called, SMAK! I visited SMAK Tromso Food Festival for the first time last year without really knowing anything about or expecting anything of it. Needless to say, I was completely blown away by how great the festival really is - and by how many people come to visit!

Simon and I made the mistake of heading to the festival on Saturday afternoon last year and the starving crowds desperate for free food, pushing others out of their way to get the biggest bites, definitely dimmed our experience a bit. Therefore we decided to head there early this year and leave before the big rush set in.

This may or may not have resulted in us being so full by 12pm that a little afternoon nap was necessary...

But enough on us now. Let's talk about SMAK!

What's so special about SMAK?

Well I guess I don't really need to tell you why a food festival is awesome, right?!

SMAK however focusses on Northern Norwegian cuisine and since most booths provide samples for you to try and special discounts on their actual products and meals during the festival, it is a unique opportunity for you to get to know Arctic cuisine on a budget!

Now, SMAK isn't exactly marketed as such to the tourism industry as they're still lacking an English website but I've seen quite a few tourists around who gladly listened to chefs and sellers telling them all about the weirdest Norwegian foods.

Plus, SMAK is definitely the only time of the year when you can try reindeer or whale meat completely for free!

You probably know that already but going out for a meal is incredibly expensive in Norway, and Tromso is no exception. If you're visiting and would like to try the local cuisine, you easily can end up paying $50 for dinner alone. And that's per person!

So yes, SMAK Tromso Food Festival is a wonderful reason to visit Tromso which makes late September probably the best time to visit when you're on a budget!

Highlights of this year

SMAK seemed a bit smaller this year but that might just be because we were there so early. It didn't lack in good food at all though and there were a few highlights I'd like to tell you more about.

First up: Authentic Italian gelato with an Arctic twist!

Yes, you read that right! Now one of the things I miss about living in Tromso is not having a real ice cream parlour around.

I mean, I get it - nobody wants to eat ice cream during a snow storm and of those we have plenty here during winter. But on those rare occassions when the sun does come out in summer and temperatures break the 20 degree mark, Italian gelato is something I crave when I'm sitting there with my Norwegian supermarket krone-is.

Luckily a company from the Lofoten Islands seems to have heard my prayers and found Arktis Gelato - real Italian ice cream combined with Norwegian craftmanship. The funny thing about their ice cream is that they not just produce chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Instead they are creative with their ice cream and produce typically Norwegian sorts, like brown cheese, liquorice, butterscotch, apple pie with cinnamon, almond brittle and even cloudberry vanilla.

Needless to say that this was the first booth Simon and I stopped to eat so we literally had butterscotch and raspberry ice cream for breakfast.

It was delicious!

Cheese from Finnmark

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that there are few things that I love more than cheese.

Unfortunately Norwegian cheese counters are mostly very boring, consisting of either brown or yellow cheese - the first way to sweet for my liking and the latter pretty much tasteless.

At SMAK, you can typically buy lots of goat's cheese and while I do like the taste of it, I can't imagine what it would taste like on a sandwich so I usually don't end up buying it.

At this year's SMAK however, we discovered Ostemaker Øverli from Finnmark who not only sold delicious Gouda but also Raclette and Parmesan cheese.

Needless to say that we bought two Gouda even though we still have tons of cheese from the international food market that was in town last month in the fridge. The one we bought however wasn't quite done aging yet so we see it as a wise investment for future gloomy, autumnal Saturday evenings!

Waffle Kebabs by Kitchen & Table

The booth of Kitchen & Table was the first one we stopped at last year, enjoying a very weird but delicious nitrogen ice cream and equally weird but good bacon-banana cookies.

This year, the restaurant that you can find at Clarion Hotel The Edge, served waffle kebabs. Yes, exactly!

Now Kitchen & Table is known for serving international cuisine with a Nordic twist so for SMAK 2016 they decided to take one of the most traditional Norwegian dishes, waffles, and turn them into kebabs. No big deal.

Unfortunately we were way too full to try them but I just loved the idea!

Baby Goat Meat by Mydland

Now before you get all animal protection on me, there was a time when I wouldn't have eaten baby goat meat either. In fact, when I first started dating my Sami reindeer-herding boyfriend Simon, he had a hard time convincing me to eat any meat at all as I was still a vegetarian back then.

I've gotten a bit more experimental when it comes to meat though, and after having an incredible whale goulash in Greenland last year, I do like to try different sorts of meat.

The baby goat meat we were served at Mydland's booth was absolutely delicious, as were the meals they offered. Simon got pulled pork for lunch whereas I only had space for a classic Norwegian hot-dog (pølse) after the huge ice cream I had earlier. We totally enjoyed our lunch and would have bought some baby goat if only one of us were actually smart enough to know how to prepare it...

Anyway, we had a great time at SMAK this year and still have some goodies left to munch on in the weeks to come.

SMAK Tromso Food Festival is held annually on the weekend of week 38 (yes that's a very Norwegian way of organising a calendar) so in plain English that would be the third or last weekend of September. SMAK 2017 will therefore most probably take place on September 22-23. I'll update this info if I find out that it's wrong.

What Norwegian food would you like to try?

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Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!

My favourite from last week was the post "Expat Issues: Where Are You From?" By What's Up, Swags?!

Being an expat means you never quite know what to say when people ask you where you are from. Depending on the situtation, who the person asking is and where we are situated in that moment, I sometimes tell people I'm from Germany and sometimes that I'm from Norway. I mean I LIVE in Norway so why should I tell people about the place I was born in? On the other hand, I can't quite tell Norwegians that I'm from Norway as I clearly am not. See the dilemma?!

Anyway, thanks for linking up with us Christy and for making us feel not alone with this!

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