It's 3pm and night is falling here in snowy Kongsberg, Norway. This former silver mining town is home to the Norwegian mint, and also to Norway's oldest and largest baroque church, inaugurated in 1761 and seating 2400. The bridge over the river Numedalslågen (which could have been the filming location for It's a Wonderful Life) divides the town in two halves - old and new. The new side has the train station and a tiny shopping mall. The old side has the church and Cafe Lotte.
I've only been here a few days, but already Cafe Lotte is my favorite place in town. My general obsession, along with the fact that food costs twice what it does at home means I've been trying to find the places that seem to care about the food they serve. And Cafe Lotte's food is homemade and yummy. Witness their lovely selection of homemade traditional julekaker, many of which I purchased on an important research mission.
Yes, I'm putting that plate of cookies over on the left under the heading of research. Since I missed the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers cookie exchange (sniff), I have been feeling sorry for myself in a way that cookie research can only partially make up for. Luckily, Norwegians seem to adore their Christmas cookies as much as we do at home, although judging from what I've seen I would say the varieties are fewer and more traditional than ours. Wikipedia says that in Norway:
"A large variety of desserts, julekaker (Lit. "Yule cakes") exist. Traditionally, the mother of the house is expected to bake 7 types of julekaker. These are different for each county as well as the individual household traditions, but the most common are pepperkaker (ginger snaps), decorated with icing sugar frosting and can be used both for hanging up in windows or the Christmas tree. It is also a dear tradition to make a miniature scale house of gingerbread and decorate with candy and use indoors quite similar to a Jack-O-Lantern. Others are smultringer (doughnuts), sirupssnipper (lit. "treacle snaps"), sandkaker (lit. sandcakes), lefsekling (griddle cake) filled with an icing of butter, sugar and cinnamon. Also are krumkaker (lit. "Curl cakes") and Brune Pinner (lit. "Brown Sticks") sugar cookies. Many other types of Yule Cakes are varieted from sugar cookie dough."
The plate above carries Cafe Lotte's favorites. Starting from the pink one on the left they are:
- Pikekyss (meaning "girl's kiss" according to the nice lady at Cafe Lotte, a pink meringue)
- Brune Pinner (the brown square, aka "brown sticks," with almonds on top )
- Pepperkaker (the angel cutout, made with pepper and molasses)
- Krumkaker ("cone" cakes says Lotte's nice lady - she likes this filled with whipped cream - aka multe - and yellow cloudberries)
- Peppernøtter (the round one on the right, spicy and hard, I just about broke a tooth on one. Dipped in coffee is the correct way to eat it.)