While in Bergen, you must taste the following:
1. Vafler and brun ost (waffles and brown cheese).
Sounds wrong, but is actually pretty damn tasty when done right. Bar Barista makes them (I believe it’s called ‘the classic’ there, order it with brun ost), or of course you could make your own if you have the equipment. Brown cheese is caramelized so it’s a bit sweet – surprisingly good with a waffle. Norwegians are known to put brown cheese and jam on waffles at the same time, this is also surprisingly decent. Seriously.
I was 100% skeptical when I first encountered waffles and brown cheese in the wild (read: in a free lunch at my faculty welcome day). I would have NEVER considered putting cheese on something sweet (I know in some parts of my country it is considered acceptable to put cheese on a dessert pie, but I definitely would never consider that), but now trying waffles and brown cheese is one of my top recommendations for anyone looking for a Norwegian food experience.
Reindeer soup really very tasty. Apparently some people really like reindeer steak. There is also the option of reindeer hotdogs (although not they don’t necessarily taste that different from a regular hotdog). But, reindeer is a must try if you are a meat-eater.
3. Ripe Norwegian berries
It’s getting late in the season, so if you can still find and pick any strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries on a hike (the mountains are full of them at the height of the season), do it immediately! But, if you see Norwegian berries in the stores, it is well worth it to splurge now and then, they won’t be here long!
4. Fish cakes
You have to try some fish cakes at some point. You can always buy them at a grocery store, but if you feeling just a touch fancier than grocery store fish cakes, you could consider Søstrene Hagelin.
5. Fish soup
It’s a Bergen classic. It is creamy and pretty delicious. Many restaurants in town sell it.
6. Svelle (puffy pancakes)
Especially with smørkreme – “butter cream” (admittedly this is basically frosting, but very buttery frosting). For some reason these tend to be available on select ferries, so if you are taking a ferry on a Norwegian adventure and you stumble across this delight, you simply must try it. Are there svele with brun ost also? Yes, yes there are. Have I tried them? No, I am sure they are delicious, but I’ve tried this and there is no going back.
Truly fresh hearty Norwegian bread from a bakery is pretty amazing. Even Gødt Brød, “Good Bread” is a reasonable bakery choice and basically lives up to its name. Although I am sure there are many other great bakery choices.
8. Freia Chocolate bars
You have to try these. Specifically my favorite is Freia Kvikk Lunsj Melkesjokolade:
Freia Kvikk Lunsj is a large milk chocolate bar with sea salt and broken up Kvikk Lunsj inside (pictured above)… not to be confused with Kvikk Lunsj itself which is basically a Kit Kat but better (pictured below), because dat chocolate is so good.
Even better than the “better Kit Kat” called Kvikk Lunsj is…
9. Sport Lunch
An even better better Kit Kat! These are actually from Sweden, oops! But that’s okay, it is still culturally relevant for us foreigners! Just don’t tell the Norwegians it’s better than the Norwegian Kvikk Lunsj, some of them are still a little salty about having been ceded to Sweden after the Napoleon wars 😉
Okay, I am giving one more shout out to the best kebab in this city, Nirvana Kebab (I would get the Kylling Rullekebab). Why should I emphasize this? Is Norway a traditional kebab country, and are there a lot of good kebab places in the city? Sadly the answer to both is emphatically no, which is why it is so important to know about Nirvana. However, while kebabs are not specifically a culturally Norwegian food, it is very culturally Norwegian to get “nattmat“, especially after a big night out. Nattmat is basically take out food – often more of the ‘junk-food’ variety – pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers… and kebabs! If you are out on the town and, perhaps your judgement is a bit, shall we say… more liberal than usual, you may be open to any old nattmat. No, friends! Don’t do it. Go to Nirvana.