ABOARD THE VIKING SKY – Don’t know what I like best. The beautiful décor with sofas adorned with fur throws and soft cushions, the flickering light of a fireplace (safely burning on hot vapor) and the ever-changing sea scene outside the two-story windows.
Or is it the delicious Nordic comfort food. Salmon on dark bread with mustard dill sauce. Liver pate on rye with bacon and fried mushrooms. Split pea soup. Traditional Norwegian butter cookies. Slice of Fyrstekake (Prince’s Cake).
Or it could be the lovely story behind Mamsen’s name. Mamsen was what Torstein Hagen called his humble and hard working mother, Ragnhild Hagen. Her kitchen was a family safe harbor in any storm.
Now Mamsen’s in the Explorers’ Lounge on the Viking Sky is a loving tribute to the family matriarch serving food that Viking founder Torstein Hagen enjoyed as a child. It’s a good spot to enjoy a light breakfast or Nordic lunch buffet or late night snack.
As with all Viking Sky restaurants – except for The Kitchen Table where guests shop and cook with the chef – there is no extra cost to dine at Mamsen’s.
The dishware in Mamsen’s is the same design as the set Torstein Hagen remembered from his childhood. Coincidentally, the pattern was called “Tor Viking” – maybe a foreshadowing of what was to come.
One of the photographs in Mamsen’s shows the woman herself on skis, pulling her granddaughter Karine in a traditional pulk or sleigh.
“In the winter, when the sun hardly rose, she made hearty soups and stews from scratch,” Karine wrote in the Mamsen’s menu. “In the summer, when the sun hardly set, we ate lighter fare of cured meats and fish and open-faced sandwiches which we call smorbrod.”
The grownup daughter of Torstein Hagen, Karine Hagen is now senor vice president of Viking Cruises.
Although all the food I have had in Mamsen’s is delicious, my favorite is Suksessterte. A traditional Norwegian tart, it is often baked for family celebrations and especially popular during Easter.
Viking kindly shared the recipe for Suksessterte so I can make it at home. But I think it won’t be quite the same as sitting aboard the Viking Sky to savor this treat.
4 egg whites
5 ounces confectioners sugar
5 ounces almond flour (ground almonds)
Vanilla Cream Filling
31/2 ounces caster (finely granulated) sugar
3 ½ ounces heavy double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ ounces butter, room temperature
3 ½ ounces sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold in the sugar and almond flour.
Butter a medium spring form tin and spoon in the mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes until cake is golden. Allow to cool. Do not worry if the cake cracks.
For the custard, whisk together sugar, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently bring to boil, then strain over the egg yolks, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool.
Whisk the butter into the cold custard, then smooth over the macaroon base. Garnish with toasted almonds. Serves 6-8.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch