“Think Nordic but even nicer…” enthused Diana Henry in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine (12 January 2014), following a trip to Reykjavik to check out the food. “The shellfish and lamb are the best I’ve ever tasted.”
In the decade since the much-lauded, two-Michelin-starred Noma opened in Copenhagen, and with Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson expanding his empire in London, Scandinavian cuisine – like its drama – has been making quite an impression. But could Icelandic food be the next big thing?
As with any good cooking, the use of fresh, local produce is all important. Wild herbs and berries feature widely when in season and aniseed is a key flavour with liquorice, dill, chervil and caraway finding their way into many dishes. Seafood is a staple (apparently many Icelanders refuse to eat it when abroad, saying it doesn’t taste the same as back home) and many foodstuffs – including fish, lamb, venison and even puffin – are often served smoked. Butter is used in preference to olive oil (it’s a long way from the Mediterranean after all) and skyr, which is similar to Greek yoghurt, is hugely popular.
As an illustration of the importance of food in Icelandic culture, the 13th Food & Fun Festival takes place in Reykjavik between 26 February and 2 March 2014. At the event, chefs create special menus prepared only from Icelandic ingredients and then compete to see whose three courses have made best use of the local produce. In addition to the outstanding culinary skills on show, the event also highlights outdoor adventure and the famous Reykjavik nightlife to create the ultimate recipe for fun. For more information see here.
Iceland Traveller is hoping to offer a trip for foodies, combining cookery demonstrations and food workshops with visits to producers and restaurants which make the best use of local ingredients. If this is something that might be of interest, please let us know.