Rupert Parker Eats His Way Through The Food of Trøndelag at two different festivals at the same time.
The Trøndelag region sits right in the centre of Norway, halfway up the country. From fjords to farmlands, its diverse landscapes play a crucial role in shaping the flavours that grace its plates. The waters are full of fish, reindeer wander the pine forests, and the fertile hilly terrain produces high quality fresh fruit and vegetables.
No surprise then that it was voted European Region of Gastronomy in 2022 and a good place to start a guide to the food of Trøndelag is Trondheim. It’s the largest city and offers a wide range of dining experiences from simple eateries serving traditional dishes to upscale restaurants with Michelin stars. All emphasize sustainability, seasonality, and localness.
Many of the secret ingredients in the dishes of the region’s restaurants grow wild. Jim Stene’s company Trøndelag Sankeri collects plants, berries, kelp and seaweed from all over Trøndelag for around 130 top Norway chefs. He himself goes out every day in spring, summer and autumn and employs 18 additional foragers. Amazingly they collect around six tons a year, including 2.4 tons of mushrooms.
I get to spend a morning with him on the shores of Trondheim Fjord where my job is to pick my own lunch. Fortunately he’s there to help me identify everything edible – plants, flowers and seaweed all go in my basket, but I spot the wild raspberries on my own. We end up with fragrant meadowsweet, wood sorrel, yarrow, pea plant, ground elder and even nettle tops. This delicious salad is topped with smoked reindeer, and dressed with his homemade ramson (wild garlic) mayonnaise.
My visit coincides with the Trøndelag Food Festival, an annual event in the centre of Trondheim. Here more than 170 producers from the region showcase their products. Norwegian ingredients take centre stage, with vendors proudly displaying locally sourced seafood, game, berries, and dairy products. The festival also provides a platform for renowned chefs and emerging talents to demonstrate their creativity.
Live cooking demos, interactive workshops, and masterclasses feature throughout. And it’s not just about local food but also a reflection of the city’s multicultural population. From Thai street food to Italian pasta dishes and Scandinavian delicacies, the festival transforms Trondheim into a global gastronomic melting pot.
And, if you’re thirsty, just opposite, is the Trondheim Brewery Festival, highlighting beer from local, national and international breweries. In addition there’s also a selection of cider, mead and coffee. It’s an opportunity to meet the brewers and sample some of the best brews in the world.
Another local tipple is Aquavit and the region is the heartland of this traditional spirit. The cool climate, abundant botanicals, and rich cultural history contribute to its distinct character. Typically made from a base of grain or potatoes, it’s distilled and flavoured with a mix of botanicals, the most prominent being caraway. Others might include juniper, angelica, coriander, and citrus peel.
In the bar of the Britannia Hotel, executive bar manager, Øyvind Lindgjerdet, mixes an Aquavit cocktail before giving me a guided tasting. Young Aquavit, known as “clear”, or “white”, is typically unaged and boasts a fresh mild flavour profile. It’s an excellent entry point for newcomers as it showcases the core botanicals without the influence of its storage vessels.
Matured Aquavit is aged in barrels and develops a more complex flavour profile, influenced by the wood and its previous contents. The most famous is Linie Aquavit, matured in oak casks, on boats that cross the equator twice during transport. You can even watch their voyage on the company’s webcams.
Gammel Opland Aquavit offers a range of aged varieties that capture the essence of Norwegian heritage. My favourite is the small batch, aged in Bourbon casks, highly recommended by cocktail maestro, Øyvind.
150 km south of Trondheim is the historic town of Røros, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a unique collection of traditional wooden buildings. Apart from its copper mine, it’s famous for its locally produced food particularly flat breads, dairy products and game.
Reindeer are an integral part of the region’s indigenous Sámi culture and around 40 families tend herds of around 20,000 animals. Stensaa’s is one of the country’s largest and most modern reindeer slaughterhouses. It’s one of the stops on the Røros Food Trail which winds its way through charming farms, artisanal workshops, and traditional restaurants.
Dairies produce distinctive cheese varieties including Rørosrømme, a soft, sour cream-based product and Pultost, with a strong aroma and sharp flavour. Another distinctive product is Tjukkmjølk (thick milk) where excess milk is fermented with the leaves of butterwort plant. It has the consistency of yoghurt, but slightly sourer, and is certainly unique.
For an authentic Trøndelag experience, I get a lift on a horse and cart to Volldalskoja. There’s no electricity here but inside the wooden building is a blazing wood fire with candles on the tables. I dine on flatbreads, stuffed with fish, slow cooked elk and wild blueberries. There’s local beer to wash it down, and there’s a feeling that nothing has changed here for centuries.
Of course the region is no longer European Capital of Gastronomy but that hasn’t stopped them upping their game. The food of Trøndelag festival is bigger and better than it ever was and Trondheim’s restaurants have a total of three Michelin stars. And now I’ve learned how to forage, there’s no need to go hungry.
Tell Me More About this Insider Guide To The Food Of Trøndelag
The Trøndelag Food Festival takes place every year in August.
Visit Trondheim has information about the food of Trøndelag festival and the city.
Visit Røros and Østerdalen has information about the town and region.
Visit Norway has information about the country and the food of Trøndelag Festival
Norwegian flies direct to Trondheim from London Gatwick.
The Gatwick Express is the fastest way to the airport from central London.
The Britannia Hotel offers elegant comfort in a historic building in the city centre.
The Streif Café is next to the river by the cathedral and has an excellent bakery.
Kraft Bodega is next to the harbour and does wonders with local ingredients.
The one star Michelin Speilsalen in the Britannia Hotel stages exquisite champagne lunches at the weekend.
The Spontan Vinbar is recommended in the Michelin Guide and serves inventive food.
Trøndelag Sankeri offers guided foraging expeditions with lunch.
The Røros Hotel is a short walk from the historic centre.
Kaffestuggu is a traditional restaurant in the centre.
Verthuset Røros uses local ingredients and serves excellent reindeer steaks.
Volldalskoja is 40 minutes from the town, near the Swedish border, and offers candlelit dinners with music.