2014 – The Year’s Best Meal
Last July I finally made it to Iceland – a place I’d always wanted to visit. Unfortunately I could only stay for two days but fortunately I found a little restaurant in the heart of Reykjavik that served me an amazing meal… the best of 2014!
Before arriving I knew a little about Icelandic food. They were well known for drying, smoking, salting many of their meats and fish. Upon landing at the airport in Keflavik I immediately picked up a brochure on dining destinations. It described some of the other foods that Icelanders considered "delicacies”. Things like blood and liver pudding, singed sheep heads, smoked lamb and, get ready, ram testicles. After checking into my quaint hotel I asked the owner what restaurant he would recommend – a place where I could get real ‘local’ cuisine. (It is the locavore’s central credo to A) always buy the regional specialties; and, B) purchase carbon offsets for all travel.) My host suggested the ‘Tapas House’. I was a little hesitant as it didn’t exactly sound too local. However, he assured me that they do a "Tivoli” feast which included seven different courses… so off I ventured.
The restaurant was a cozy place, packed with diners. I was given a seat right near the bar, my favourite spot in any restaurant, and was treated like royalty by friendly waitstaff (who came to get my impressions on each course). And here’s what they featured:
Course #1 – Smoked Puffin with Blueberry Sauce (interesting)
Course #2 – Icelandic Sea Trout (delicate and delicious)
Course #3 – Lobster Tail with Garlic and Cream (decadent!)
Course #4 – Blue Ling Cod in Lobster Sauce (lovely combination)
Course #5 – Icelandic Lamb (they’re famous for their lamb in Iceland, and deservedly so…)
Course #6 – Minke Whale with Cranberry Sauce (a revelation! Tasted like the best beef I’ve ever had)
Course #7 – White Chocolate "Skyr” Mousse with Passion Coulis (the chocolate and passion fruit were hardly local… nevertheless, I indulged)
To finish off the terrific meal I was given an eau de vie called Brennivin – it proved to be an excellent digestive. I walked back to my hotel satiated and smiling the whole way…
Note: More about the Locavores Credo alluded to early in this piece. Not only are true ‘believers’ required to eat local wherever they travel, and purchase carbon offsets, but they must also insist on sustainable foods. When they told me that Minke whale was on the menu I was a little worried. I asked for the manager, who ended up assuring me that the Minke whale population is abundant and sustainable. Generally the Icelanders are known to be prudent managers of their fish stocks. I hope they are correct about the Minke whale (subsequent research confirms that the population is stable)… as it is an amazing treat.