I think I fell helplessly in love with the world’s northernmost capital as the plane approached the large island from the southeast, even though it signalled the start of what is probably a gruelling journey of packed tours exacerbated by a persistent flu.
Its notoriously changeable weather was in full force out of Keflavik airport, snowing small flakes as we queued like squashed illegal migrants on a tug-boat tussling for a space on the city shuttle. Coming in winter means spending one’s days in near-darkness with slivers of daylight, cloudy skies, hail and snow, but the prettily-lit streets and white surfaces makes it a classy Santa-land.
Apartment K is cosy at first glance, until it started to resemble a prison cell with kitchenette and a tube-like shower spitting out sulphuric-tasting water. TC’s first approving glance quickly turned vitriolic – a quick call to the fairly sheepish reception counter merely elicited the response that geothermal spring water that supplies Iceland in abundance tended to taste like that but was “very good for body”. Situated next to a bar that belted out endless techno music into the wee hours and spitted out rowdy and drugged-out teenagers, sleep deprivation was a given.
We wandered blind into the Fish Company for dinner the night we landed based on the amazing reviews on the Icelandair inflight magazine only to realise that we walked into a fine dining restaurant. Throwing our momentary monetary woes to the gusty wind outside, we walked in and took a culinary trip around the country that involved Icelandic resident ingredients and meats – fish, lamb and dairy. Caught in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic around Iceland, fish and seafood (along with technology of course) were the commodities that hauled the country out of its prolonged poverty into economic prosperity – until 2008’s financial downturn.
I don’t usually blog much about food, but I think the 4-course meal was lavish and superb, combining an eclectic amount of ingredients that actually had me purring with each bite.
It looked like this:
Langoustine & Haddock: slow cooked & spruce smoked haddock & fried langoustine, soft fennel, rye bread potato, grilled cucumber, buttercream & foaming fennel
Salmon: malt & orange cured Salmon in mustard glaze & dill crust, seared celery purée, roasted bread ice cream & herb blend
Lamb: fried leg of lamb & juicy lambshank, fried brussel sprouts, potato terrine, caramelised turnip paste & thyme lamb glimmer sauce
Skyr – creamy skyr mousse& white chocolate party with blueberry ling froth, oatmeal lava & blueberry skyr ice cream
I’m normally squeamish about fish but this blew all preconceptions about lamb and fish out of the window. TC told me in sombre, no uncertain terms that I’m on my merry way of being a food snob.