15 minute read

Treats, Sweets and Kombucha Brews

Co-founder Leif Arne with influencer and Sørlandschips ambassador Amalie Snøløs. Photo: Fahil Anweri

Crisps with personality

Sustainability, a low environmental footprint, innovation, local produce and crisps full of personality and flair: Norwegian crisps brand Sørlandschips is paving its own way making one of Norway’s most-loved snacks.

The story of Sørlandschips is like a modern fairytale. Co-founder Leif Arne’s friend returned to the south-coast town of Kristiansand from a holiday in Canada, carrying a plastic bag full of kettle crisps. Sharing the goods with his friends, the group mused about how inconvenient it would be to have to travel back to Canada every time they craved the thick, crunchy golden flakes that were unlike any other crisps they’d ever tried. “We’ll just have to make them ourselves then!” Leif Arne shrugged, and so they did – slicing potatoes, skin and all, dowsing them in peanut oil and baking them slowly in the oven. Sørlandschips was born, and the rest, as they say, is history.

30 years later, Sørlandschips has become one of the biggest and most-loved crisp brands in Norway and is the country’s defining brand in kettle crisps. Selling not only locally in Kristiansand but also nationwide, it has become one of the staples of the Norwegian concept of ‘lørdagsgodt’, or Saturday treats. Sørlandschips was the first brand to introduce Norway to the concept of kettle crisps, the rustic crisp utilising the whole potato, rather than peeling off the skin before cooking. This not only adds to the feel and the taste of the crisps but also helps battle food waste on an impressive scale. “It benefits both the taste and the environmental footprint of the brand,” says CMO Daniel Bernstein. “We save more than ten million potatoes’ worth of food waste per year just from keeping the peel on the potato!”

The potatoes are locally sourced, from 50 farms in the surrounding area. The farmers bring their potatoes to the factory, and 27 minutes later they can get a bag of crisps labelled with their own farm,

containing crisps made from their own potatoes, in return.

Adventurous and playful Not only is the environmental footprint important to Sørlandschips: the brand also contributes to the local community by training, employing and providing language courses to immigrants. This led to a 2021 nomination for Mangfoldsprisen, a prize awarded by the Norwegian government for outstanding use of immigrants’ skills in working life. “Having immigrants as part of our workforce brings a whole new warmth and joy to the factory,” says Bernstein. “We are that little crisps factory that is also a family.”

With a multitude of flavours, two different types of crisps (the original and the world’s thinnest version of the original), vegan options and a concept unlike any other, Sørlandschips has charmed its way into people’s hearts. The bags, rather than just depicting a generic bowl of crisps, all feature individual cartoon-like crisp characters – each with its own distinct personality, much like the different flavours. The sea-salt crisp hangs out on a sunny beach while the sea salt and vinegar character wears a sixpence and walks a dog draped in the Union Jack past a London phone booth.

Rather than the straight, thin, rounded flakes most brands present, Sørlandschips’ crisps are wonky, curly, folded and perfectly imperfect. During a poll a few years ago, the brand asked Norwegians whether they preferred the straight or the bent crisps, and the bent crisps won by a landslide.

This adventurous and playful spirit is also demonstrated in the flavours Sørlandschips presents. There are the familiar ones, like sea salt, crème fraîche, and sea salt and vinegar, but also some more unusual ones like sea salt and rose pepper, sweet chilli, and sea salt and truffles. A couple of times a year there are also special edition crisps being released, like the two varieties of very Norwegian Christmas crisps, which will return in time for the holidays: one with ‘ribbe’ (pork belly with cracklings), and one with ‘pinnekjøtt’ (that’s lamb ribs) – the two traditional dishes most Norwegians eat on Christmas Eve. Sørlandschips is one of the few snack brands out there whose merchandise is truly sought after. Wearing Sørlandschips products is so popular that the brand has opened up its own webshop, containing socks, tote bags, sunglasses, beach towels, shirts, and other fun things bearing the Sørlandschips logo and crisps characters.

Leif Arne, the co-founder and face of Sørlandschips, is still as involved as ever – not only in terms of the production, but also through social media, music videos, live performances and other appearances, tying it all together and giving the brand that personal, local touch.

Web: www.sorlandschips.no Facebook: SorlandsChips Instagram: @sorlandschips

Left: Freshly sliced potato ready to be cooked. Photo: Fahil Anweri. Right: Raw material manager Tommy Christiansen, co-founder Leif Arne and influencer and Sørlandschips ambassador Amalie Snøløs joining the harvest. Photo: Fahil Anweri

Nourish your senses with refreshing kombucha brews made in Norway

Inspired by the power of nature, Empress makes high-quality, sophisticated kombucha – an excellent non-alcoholic alternative.

our passion,” says Anna. “With the right balance of bitterness, acidity, and sweetness, kombucha is a great element to play with.”

Empress can produce up to 8,000 litres of kombucha per month. Among favourites in its line-up is an uplifting beetroot, turmeric and apple kombucha – a true immune-system booster. Another delight is kombucha with ginger, goji berry, and gotu kola, a stress-reducing herb. The result is a ginger-like beer with a herbal kick.

The artisanal non-alcoholic brewery Empress is the brainchild of Anna Karenina Anda Barron and Christer Andersson. Some years ago, they became obsessed with the acidic and sweet fermented beverage first introduced to them by Vanessa (@calikombucha), a fellow kombucha brewer from Cabo, Mexico. “Kombucha has many health benefits and hits the right spot between sweetness and acidity, which gives it a mature taste,” explains Anna. “Although it’s a traditional beverage, we found a gap in the market when it comes to nonalcoholic drinks tailored for adults. We want to empower people with uplifting alternatives that shift the way we drink.”

They set up the brewery in 2019, focusing on making high-quality products with sophisticated flavours. Here, the products are mindfully handcrafted using natural botanicals, ancestorial knowledge and modern alchemy. “Our brew lab is our playground, a space to dream, experiment, respect the craft and follow Tasty wine alternatives Empress is expanding its portfolio of fermented sparkling beverages inspired by

the world of wine. It creates exciting flavours by combining teas, fermented fruits, vinegar and botanicals with a kombucha base. The winealts are mildly sweet with a tangy, acidic taste and palate-cleansing properties, lovely to pair with food or enjoy just like wine.

Moonbrew Iridescent is like a pét-nat wine with a base of kombucha and fermented stone fruits, giving it a crisp and vibrant flavour with apricot, nectarine, elderflower and orange peel. It was referred to as “a fine stand-in for Champagne” in the Wall Street Journal feature Kombucha for Connoisseurs: The Best Bottles to Pair With Food by Julia Bainbridge.

Through a collaboration with Oslo Brewing Co., Empress has also crafted two mead-inspired honey wines. Ficus Zing is a modern take on honey wine with an exotic blend of fig, cacao and cardamom in symbiosis with citrusy orange peel and a gentle ginger kick. Woodland is a respectful ode to the Norwegian forest, a harmonious mix of wildcrafted ling flowers, pine, juniper berries, birch bark and blueberry. It has an elegant floral aroma with leafy pine notes and fresh minerality. All three winealts are natural and free from additives, contain less than 0.5 per cent alcohol, and contribute to some perfect food pairings. Close collaborations The founders have built a loyal community of followers through social media and continuously collaborate with local companies such as breweries and sustainable fashion and wellness brands. “We work with local farmers, foragers, tea and coffee importers, and other producers representing Norway,” confirms Anna. “Even if we are a fast-growing company, we haven’t forgotten what it’s like to start a business. Working together means growing together.”

Empress is available at cafés and restaurants, including some with Michelin stars. It can also be found in specialised shops and cocktail bars and at yoga studios, bakeries and coffee and tea houses, as well as Oda, the biggest food delivery business in Norway. The client base includes the yogi community and the fashion and design world, which hosts many events. One recent collaboration was with fashion house Holzweiler, serving non-alcoholic drinks at the launch of Vogue Scandinavia at Café Platz in Oslo. “We want to show that non-alcoholic cocktails can be both sexy and exciting,” smiles Anna.

While kombucha is a product to be enjoyed fresh, the wine alternatives are shelf stable. They have been tested on the US market with great acceptance, including the fabulous review in the Wall Street Journal. The aim is to grow organically and become a leader in the nonalcoholic field: “We want to impress the world with invigorating drinks.”

Anna Karenina Anda Barron and Christer Andersson, founders of Empress Brew.

Web: www.empressbrew.no Instagram: @drinkempress

Moonbrew Spritz A refreshing spritz with Moonbrew’s stone fruit and floral notes with a touch of aromatic citrus.

Ingredients: 30ml Everleaf Forest (non-alcohol spirit) 20ml grapefruit juice 2 dashes Angostura Bitters (optional) Top with Moonbrew Sparkling Tea

How to: In a glass with ice, add grapefruit juice, bitters and Everleaf Forest. Top with Moonbrew, stir gently and garnish with fresh botanicals. Sip slowly and enjoy!

This refreshing drink also goes well with gin and sweet vermouth.

Photo: Kouvolan Lakritsi Oy

A liquorice factory with a lot of soul

Sending liquorice into space, and creating the world’s largest bag of sweets – Timo Nisula, owner of the Kouvola Liquorice factory in Finland, has no shortage of quirky ideas for his business. There are no long production lines or heavy machinery at the Kouvola Liquorice factory, as the liquorice is prepared by hand, using traditional methods. It’s a labour of love.

Kouvola Liquorice has been the first to do many things: it was the first to produce liquorice beer, and also the first to send liquorice out into the stratosphere. In 2016, Kouvola Liquorice teamed up with renowned Finnish designer Eero Aarnio, who is probably best known for the Ball Chair he designed in the 1960s. As a result of the collaboration, the world’s first design sweet, titled Ghost, because of its shape, was born.

In the middle of the pandemic, Nisula felt he wanted to counterbalance the doom and gloom of the world. “I realised no one had ever made and announced the world’s largest bag of sweets, so I decided we would make one,” he says – and Kouvola Liquorice now holds the Guinness World Record for the largest bag of sweets, filled with salty liquorice and weighing in at 829.1 kilogrammes.

So what happened to all the liquorice after the world record was achieved? A local sports team helped divide the liquorice into small bags, which were sold at a local supermarket. Kouvola Liquorice then used the profits to buy a onebedroom apartment in Kouvola. “We bought the apartment and renovated it, and put out a call-out in a newspaper, looking for a person in need of ‘A New Start’, as we called the campaign. We received over 300 applications from various people who had fallen on hard times. We picked one person from the applicants, and they now live in the apartment and work with us,” Nisula explains.

“This is the issue with having an active imagination, which is probably the result of reading too many comics as a child,” he laughs.

Carbon-neutral liquorice Liquorice has been used by great kings and leaders for millennia, from pharaohs in ancient Egypt to Alexander the Great. The Kouvola Liquorice factory’s

story initially began in Vyborg in 1906, but after two world wars, the company was established in Kouvola, where the factory has been producing sweets since 1945.

Since the beginning, Kouvola Liquorice has been produced by hand, using traditional methods and a traditional recipe. Now, the factory has 25 employees, and everything from the start and all the way to the packing of the end product is done by hand. Kouvola Liquorice proudly uses good-quality ingredients and cooks its product with care and a lot of love, and they believe this trickles down to how the finished product tastes. “Our liquorice is cooked on a stove, by real people,” says Nisula.

In addition to having deep respect and commitment for the traditional way of making liquorice, Kouvola Liquorice also prides itself on striving to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. In order to do its bit for the environment, the factory is offsetting its carbon footprint by fertilising forests in Finland. “Instead of offsetting our carbon emissions by planting trees somewhere halfway across the world, I wanted to do something that would have an impact right now. So we decided to focus on forests in Finland and come up with something tangible that would have an immediate effect. We do things that really matter, and sustainability is very important to us,” Nisula explains.

“We are a small fish in a big pond, and we’re not even trying to compete with the big sweet manufacturers. However, the fact that we are a smaller company also means we can do a lot of things that bigger companies can’t. Having fun is important to me,” says Nisula.

Kouvola Liquorice might be a small company, but it has big plans. The company is planning to grow the business tenfold by extending its sales across Europe, Asia and Australia. There’s also an exciting new project underway: it is opening a second factory in an old school building. “It’ll be a place where visitors can come and see what we do and buy our products,” Nisula explains.

“The most important thing for us is to pass down our knowledge of traditional liquorice making to the next generation, and to be able to share our product with the world. We’re not a massive-scale production, but we have a lot of soul. Making the best-tasting liquorice possible is a matter of heart for us,” the liquorice factory owner concludes.

Factory owner Timo Nisula. Web: www.kouvolanlakritsi.fi Facebook: kouvolanlakritsi Instagram: @kouvolanlakritsi

The seven wonders of gastronomy

Seven super chefs are bringing the harbour back to the locals, as Seaside Toldboden mixes exquisite gastronomy with the best techniques from the world of street food.

Imagine enjoying experimental gastronomy in an open kitchen with astonishing views over the harbour, all in a very informal atmosphere reminiscent of a street food context. That is the reality at Seaside Toldboden in Copenhagen, where seven chefs with plenty of experience from all over the world are ready to serve up their specialities.

“Our vision is to give these chefs the chance to become independent and make their own food. They are extremely passionate about their cooking, and they like to experiment, which is why you as a customer can enjoy some incredible dishes here,” says owner of Seaside Toldboden, Jesper Julian Møller.

Each chef at the gastro house has their own signature dishes, so there are plenty of plates on the menu and something to suit all tastes – from oysters, shellfish, ceviche and sushi to grilled monkfish, tournedos rossini and souvlaki, as well as the more classic burgers and chips.

Sharing the harbour Seaside Toldboden offers high-quality gastronomy, but one thing that truly makes the place special is the way it combines the different techniques from street food. “All seven kitchens are open, so you can be just one metre away from the chefs and watch the process while they prepare your food,” Jesper Julian Møller enthuses. “Also, instead of waiting in line before being seated and served, you can order your food with your mobile phone using an online platform, while you sit and enjoy a cocktail on our heated terrace or inside on the cosy chairs with spectacular views over the harbour. To my knowledge, we are the only place in Copenhagen that mixes the best from restaurants and the traditional restaurant industry with the more informal atmosphere and techniques from street food.” Møller adds: “We want to share the harbour with all the locals, and we want our customers to feel like they are part of the harbour. The outdoor terrace will make you feel like you’re walking on a ship deck, and inside you’ll quickly notice that the colours and materials are inspired by the Royal Ship Dannebrog, which is moored right outside our premises.”

Indeed, everything about this place is special.

Photo: Danny Sakarov

Web: www.seasidecph.com Facebook: SeasideToldboden Instagram: @seasidetoldboden