A guide to Norway's Trøndelag – this year's European region of gastronomy

Welcome to Norway, where the weather is chronic but the food is iconic!’ laughs Amanda Hausken, who’s taking me on a boat tour around the pretty city of Trondheim, as rain starts pelting down from a steely grey sky.

She’s not wrong. I’ve spent the past few days visiting restaurants, producers, foragers and farmers, to find out why this area was voted this year’s European Region of Gastronomy – the first time anywhere in Norway has won.

Trondheim, its third-biggest city, sits in the Trøndelag region, halfway down the country. It’s surrounded by vast tracts of natural resources – fish-rich waters, pine forests fullof deer and fertile, hilly terrain where there’s just the right amount of sunlight to nurture plump, fresh fruit and vegetables.

With a population of just over 200,000, it has a surprising proportion of Michelin restaurants – there are three (see box, right), including one with a green star for sustainability.

Thanks to its location on the Nidelva river, which flows into the fjord, Trondheim was a significant trading centre. Amanda steers us past a range of primary-coloured wooden wharves and warehouses, replicas of those which, from the 17th century onwards, were used to store grain, sugar, salt and fish (tours from £37pp).

The day before, I head out to the shores of Trondheim fjord to, somewhat dauntingly, pick my own lunch with foraging expert Jim Stene. He’s accompanied by magnificently moustachioed chef Lars Laurentius Paulsen, owner of Trondheim restaurant Troll, who will cook what we find (no pressure, then).

Jim gives me a crash course in identifying edible plants, flowers and seaweed – an outdoorsman at heart, he quit his office job in 2019 to forage full-time, and now supplies freshly picked ingredients (including herbs and insects) to more than 130 restaurants in Norway.

We spend a couple of thoroughly wholesome hours immersed in nature, surrounded by pine trees. We present Lars with several boxes filled with a variety of plant life, including fragrantly scented meadowsweet, aromatic wild coriander and fleshy chanterelle mushrooms.

He magically turns these, with the addition of a few more ingredients, into a delicious four-course feast, with gravadlax and ramson (wild garlic) mayonnaise, and roast venison with wild mushrooms. It’s eaten, idyllically, al fresco, by the scenic edge of the fjord’s gently lapping shore.

Back in Trondheim, the annual Trøndelag Food Festival is in full swing. A collection of more than 170 producers from all around the region, it’s a fiesta of enticing aromas. Tasting is the name of the game andI stuff my face with a variety of samples, all made from locally sourced ingredients, proffered by hearty, beaming Norwegians at every turn.

There’s smoky reindeer sausage, offered by a twinkly eyed Sámi woman in traditional dress; some vinegary pickled herring; an unusual dark-brown cheese; and some very chewy shreds of dry, salted codfish (a popular bar snack in Norway, I just can’t see it taking off in the UK).

Many of the producers know each other. It’s a very supportive community, says my guide, Maya. ‘The unique thing about Trøndelag is that we have the land, the ocean, the vegetables… combined with tradition and innovation, it all leads to some interesting opportunities among producers and chefs.’

On my last evening I encounter a more alternative chef. Bjørn Fjeldvær holds supper clubs at his home in the Ilevollen district, born of his passion for his country’s ingredients and flavours.

A consummate host bearing a resemblance to Antonio Banderas, he serves homemade dishes alongside strong aquavit, while treating guests to songs on his guitar (£83pp, visitbjorn.com).

Warm, boozy and delicious – it’s an evening that sums up the Trøndelag region perfectly.

Three Michelin-starred meals

A personal approach

Now that’s getting personal with your food (Picture: Geir Mogen)

Innovative head chef of Credo Heidi Bjerkan won the inaugural Michelin Guide Sustainability Award in 2019. She knows the names of every cow that provides her with meat and milk (their pictures are on the wall) and regularly visits farmers and suppliers to ensure her ingredients are of the highest quality.

Tasting menu from £211pp.

Multi-course cuisine

It’s elegant, it’s delicious (Picture: Speilsalen)

Speilsalen is located within the historic Britannia hotel. Under world champion chef and 2017 Bocuse d`Or silver medalist Christopher Davidsen, it serves a multi-course tasting menu made up of exquisitely designed and flavourful dishes in an elegant, formal setting.

From £211pp.

Fresh and Fagn-tastic

Now that’s fine dining (Picture: Fagn)

With a name that means ‘welcome’, Fagn offers a fine-dining experience on the ground floor with a more casual bistro upstairs. Former owner and head chef Jonas Nåvik was the first in Trondheim to receive a coveted star, thanks to his philosophy of using simple fresh ingredients to create delicious dishes.

Ten or 20 course tasting menus from £208pp.

Rooms at the Britannia hotel from £233pn. Flights from London to Trondheim from £105 return. For more information, visit Explore Trøndelag

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