There isn’t a single Icelandic restaurant in the GTA, so if you want a sampling of their cuisine, the annual Taste of Iceland — in which a chef from that European country is flown in to cook a five-course meal for the weekend — is your only option.
It’s not a bad option. It’s certainly pricey — with tax and tip factored into the $76 per person price tag, I think it probably adds up to about the same as half a dozen typical meals I’ll eat for this blog. But you get what you pay for, and aside from some surprisingly abysmal service at host restaurant Luma, it was a memorable meal.
My good friend Wikipedia notes that the most common foods in Iceland are lamb, dairy, and fish; all three were represented in this meal, with the courses consisting of cured leg of lamb, charred Arctic char, Atlantic cod, skyr mousse, and doughnuts.
The thinly-sliced cured lamb was really unique, with a mild funky flavour and nice pops of texture from the crispy little chips made from salsify, a parsnip-esque root vegetable. The crumbles of smoked cheese were also a nice touch.
The two fish dishes were easily the highlight; both were amazingly well prepared and featured some seriously tasty accompaniments. In particular, the Arctic char was almost ridiculously moist and tender, and featured a rich butter sauce that I wanted to fill a pool with and swim in. The fermented radishes did a great job of cutting through the indulgent sauce.
As for the dessert, the skyr — an Icelandic yogurt — was incredibly creamy, and was complimented perfectly by the slightly tart wild blueberry puree and the fragrant, licorice-infused meringue crisps. The doughnuts were a bit too dense, but came with an intensely delicious caramel sauce that was so good it really didn’t matter.