“This is so fucking beautiful it’s making me angry” –my friend Godfrey, while overlooking the Gulfoss waterfall in Iceland. I nodded in total agreement, feeling utterly overwhelmed by the beauty we were surrounded by.
It was simply too much. I fell in love with Iceland many times during our week there, and a year later I got to fall in love with it again.
The Taste of Iceland Event returned to our city in November, giving Torontonians the chance to dabble in Icelandic music, films and food. Not surprisingly, Godfrey and I opted for the 4-course meal at Luma. We called a week in advance to make a reservation, and already there were limited time slots available. So like the seniors that we secretly are, we chose the 6:00 reservation.
Okay so this dinner was legit for two reasons.
1) Multiple utensils.
Like a pro, I started with the outer utensils and worked my way in with every course. (This is pretty much the only thing I know about dining etiquette.)
2) They didn’t just Google some Icelandic recipes. They actually imported a chef from Iceland for the occasion – an award-winning one too! Viktor Örn Andrésson is the head chef at LAVA, a restaurant located within the famous, fancy geothermal spa called Blue Lagoon, as seen below.
THAT is the face of a woman trying to forget she’s hours away from a flight home.
Our first course was lemon-cured Icelandic arctic char with barley, horseradish and cucumber. Just when we were ready to dig in, none other than Chef Viktor himself came to our table and provided the finishing touch: a dill vinaigrette mixed with dry ice. He scooped the vinaigrette on top of the char, and we watched as the smoke sizzled and danced on our plates.
Already, Godfrey and I were in Icelandic heaven. Truly the only thing that could have made it better was a Kaldi, our favourite beer in Iceland, and possibly the world. Behold.
This beer is made from glacier water so pure that it CAN’T be boiled. They actually HAVE TO add salt to it, just so they can… you know what? It’s probably better you don’t know. Wouldn’t want you crying into your next pint of Molson.
Next up: Icelandic cod and a lightly smoked langoustine salad with apple, black salsify and pickled onion. It even had dried seaweed söl all the way from the town of Stykkishólmur. Yes, most of their words are basically 14 consonants in a row. Trying to read maps while lost in Iceland was super fun!
As we chowed down on a delicious concoction of roasted lamb and wild mushrooms with a madeira glaze, we reminisced about our trip.
That time we hiked a gorgeous glacier in the rain with “waterproof clothing”. It was so beautiful I didn’t even notice until the very end that I was soaked to the bone, and had to change into Godfrey’s spare collared shirt in a bathroom diner. Worth it!
The boiling mud pools, the volcanoes, the geysers, and the geothermal spas that we ran into full-speed, with only our bathing suits on. In November.
That time we went to The Sea Baron, an unassuming, tiny food stop with the best lobster soup of all time. We literally sat on some sort of ghetto kegs at a shitty table and couldn’t have cared less.
I remember dipping bread in the curried, creamy soup while Bob Dylan’s “Times, They Are A-Changing” played above us, and I can honestly say it was one of my favourite moments ever.
And then of course there was our fruitless pursuit of the Northern Lights.
Time for dessert: Skyr and wild blueberries, chocolate cremeux, marzipan cake, hazelnuts, and lemon ice cream.
As I took my first incredible spoonful, the words WHAT THE FUCK erupted from my mouth suddenly. And there it was again – that overwhelming sense of beauty, driven us to curse words once more.
Someday I’ll go back to Iceland. But for now, a taste of it will do.