April 5, 2017
The old postman´s route between Esporles and Banyalbufar
If I were to choose a place to spend a few days this time of year, away from work and busy schedules, it could be the island of Mallorca. One of the things I love most about this island, and especially the west coast, is the similarities to Monteargentario in Tuscany; the same rugged landscape, the cliffs, the lush green colors everywhere..it strikes me as untouched and very real.
Being a passionate lover of the sea and laying in the sun for hours I decided this time to explore the opposite of horizontal sunbathing. Not sure it was a good idea for me, craving salt sea and lazy days and all, it turned out to be an adventure. A charming experience that made me think of the old postmen who actually took this route on a regular basis! And how they must have had some tough times getting the letters delivered. So in awe of hard working people, both back then and today, I recommend this stunning excercise, both for body and mind.
The walk between Esporles and Banyalbufar, is pure magic and bliss all at the same time. And a little exhausting I must admit. But as you go, listening to the sounds of nature, watching the flowers and the beautiful oak woods, ancient broken down olive terraces, it´s easy to forget about everything else. The beauty of it all is worth every aching blister. The simplicity, the pureness. I will go again.
After a while along cobbled paths and more holm oak woods, the route begins to descend steeply down to Banyalbufar giving you an amazing perspective on a gentle rural life there, and the surrounding terraces and Moorish irrigation systems, which made this part of the island such a successful wine growing area in its time.
The name Banyalbufar is a combination of Moorish and Catalan and means founded by the sea. This area was inhabited and cultivated by the Moors in the 10th century who created around 2000 terraces on the mountain slopes and a sophisticated irrigation system of aqueducts which still work today.
The founded by the sea was really what triggered me to want to end up in the little village of Banyalbufar, a little stone´s throw away from a crystal clear sea asking to be dived into. And that is just what I did, before heading back up the steep hills again.
February 9, 2017
FUELED BY PASSION
Jan Vardøen is a boat builder, entrepreneur, restaurateur, musician, film director, author. He is the mind behind and owns a variety of restaurants, a publishing company, a record label, a film production company, an accounting firm and an import business. He has released several albums and has made three movies, with a fourth in production. And he loves Italy!
Jan built his business empire from scratch and went on to transform the old working-class neighborhood of Grünerløkka. All his places have succeeded tremendously while a lot of the competition in his field suffer red numbers and short survivals. Villa Paradiso, Nighthawk Diner, Aku-Aku, Bar Bellini, Cafe Vespa, Bar Boca and Smelteverket, just to mention some. The list actually keeps going on!
He says the key to success is to be hands on, at all hours, do things yourself and develop an intimate relation with your work, and your customers. Know them , understand them, know what they want, what they need. Get under their skin, and deliver accordingly. If you succeed in doing just that, you will have returning faithful clients coming back for more.
Not long ago, Jan Vardøen ventured on to conquer the West side of Oslo, Frogner. A second Villas Paradiso opened a few years ago, and has been fully booked ever since. Frogner is an area more known for chic spots and fine dining, but, as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and it´s the atmosphere and how people feel that matters. Villa Paradiso in Frognerveien is a huge success and reservations need to be made weeks in advance.
His latest little venue in this part of Oslo, is Piccolo Paradiso Focacceria & Pizzeria in Thomas Heftyes plass, where I walked by the other day, went in and was overwhelmed with a sensation of Italy. And believe me, it takes a little to have that effect on me outside of Italy. The interior is exactly how you would expect to find in Italy; laid back, a little of this and a little of that. Beautiful dark brown Emperador marble tops, a simple counter to display the most delicious focaccia and pizza slices. Old glass panels decorated with fish motives which Vardøen tells me originally was the decoration in Berggrens Fiskebutikk just around the corner, in Eckersbergsgate, for his Piccolo Paradiso.
It´s so well done, so Italian in every way. So well worth a visit. Grab a piece and head on with whatever you´re doing. It´s like in Italy, where people go to the bar, stand by the counter, order their coffee or panino, finish it, says grazie, ciao arrivederci, and heads out. It´s not like the Norwegian coffee culture where people sit for hours drinking enormous caffe latte at all hours of the day.. Once inside Piccolo Paradiso, you should want to take the time to remain a little longer in the Italian spirito, bench up by the window, enjoy your slice of pizza or focaccia, and watch the day go by outside.
To me that is time well spent.
Buon appetito and complimenti Jan!