On a chilly fall morning in Stavanger, Norway, we were determined to triumph over the wind and rain.
Clutching our umbrellas as we walked the cobble-stoned streets during an excursion from Viking’s Jupiter, we didn’t have much time to explore Norway’s third-largest city.
We had already toured the city’s Norwegian Petroleum Museum, a lot more interesting than it sounds, and were ready to see some of the city on our free time.
But our determination to explore didn’t last long once we spotted a cozy little corner cafe, not too far from the waterfront, with a sign out front advertising hot chocolate.
I’m glad we gave in, closed our umbrellas and opened the door to Sja Inge. Inside, the friendly owner Inge Anda told us that the hot chocolate was just acclaimed on social media as the best in the world.
I wouldn’t disagree.
“We use Belgian chocolates, whole milk and real whipped cream, nothing artificial,” Anda told me. “Two tablespoons of sugar. Not too sweet, just enough to make it good.”
This is not a hot chocolate topped with so much whipped cream that you need a spoon to eat it. And this is not like the hot chocolate in Spain that is so thick you are reminded of pudding.
Instead, this is a milky and smooth blend where the whipped cream is already easing into the liquid, adding a richness and depth to the drink. Small nubs of dark chocolate float in the center, delivering a momentary burst of flavor before they melt in your mouth.
This could very well be the best hot chocolate in the world. It fits with my preference for a milky blend with chocolate that is not overwhelming. Served in a plain white cup and saucer for 45 Norwegian krone, about $5 US, it was an inexpensive indulgence in a country that can be pricey for U.S. travelers.
We wished we had more time to spend at the friendly space.
The cafe is also noted for its desserts, the most popular of which is a chocolate cake with apricot filled with hazelnut cream. I had a sample and it was divine.
Sja Inge’s Norwegian fish soup is its overall biggest seller, Anda said. I could see why as I watched one of the workers pour a steaming portion into a bowl. Flavored with bacon, garlic and a touch of curry, the soup is filled with local salmon, shrimp and vegetables.
It would have been a fine meal on this damp day and I wished I had had time to stay.
For more information, check out the restaurant’s website below.