A couple of months ago, I made my maiden voyage to Oslo, Norway. It is always exciting to be exploring somewhere new. And of course, it helps when my good friend, E lives in Oslo and was my tour guide throughout the trip.
One of the things that E wanted me to experience was an authentic Norwegian meal. Together with one of E’s Norwegian friends, JE, we made our way to one of the oldest cafés in Norway. Unfortunately the dinner did not turn out to be what we expect and left all of us dissatisfied and craving for a good dessert.
As it happened to be a Sunday, most of the stores and cafés were closed. While we were walking in search of dessert, we stumbled upon the Grand Café. To ensure we do not get disappointed (again), JE made a quick phone call to his friend and we were told the must-eat dessert at the café was the Napoleon cake.
The Grand Café is a historical landmark in Norway. Every year, the Grand Hotel (where the café is located) plays host to the Nobel Peace Prize banquet, and the Grand Café is patronised by the Peace Prize winners. Another famous patron of the café was Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It was said that Ibsen ate at the Grand Café every day, and he refused to have a conversation with anyone until he finished his slice of Napoleon cake. Of course, this got me really curious, made me dying to try the café’s Napoleon cake.
Napoleon cake is essentially a mille-feuille (or vanilla slice, if you are from UK or Australia). The Grand Café’s version is made up of three layers of puff pastry, and in between each layer of pastry is the generous filling of rich and creamy crème pâtissière. A thin layer of icing is spread across the top of the pastry which to my surprise is not overly sweet and rather delicious. A small dollop of raspberry coulis is served on the side to help cut through the richness of the pastry and give a bit of a refreshing touch. Like Ibsen, none of us were talking to each other while we were enjoying the cake.
The service at Grand Café was excellent too. The maître d’ was very friendly and warm, chatting with us (mostly E and JE as they spoke Norwegian). It was a wonderful experience dining in a century old café, eating a slice of cake that encompassed so much history.
The Grand Café
Grand Hotel Oslo
Karl Johans Gate 31, NO-0159
Tel: +47 2321 2000