Country 096 – Iceland (Taste of Iceland)

Taste of Iceland 2019Location: 350 King Street West, Toronto

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.

Taste of Iceland 2019

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.

Taste of Iceland 2019

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.

Taste of Iceland 2019

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.


Country 023 – Finland (Fanny Chadwick’s)

: 268 Howland Avenue, Toronto

I’ll bet you didn’t know how multicultural pancakes are.  Check out their entry on Wikipedia; apparently about half of the countries in the world have their own variation on pancakes, which have been a staple at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.

And, yes, apparently Finland is one of the many pancake-loving countries out there.  Their take — at least based on what Fanny Chadwick’s is serving up — is kind of like a crepe, only thicker and with a more substantial chew.  Topped with a mango passion fruit compote, lightly sweetened ricotta and a bit of honey, and rolled up into dense, multi-layered rolls, they make for a hearty, satisfying breakfast.

The compote adds a nice balance of sweet and tart, with the blob of creamy ricotta on top rounding things out.  The honey is sparingly applied, so if you like your breakfast to be closer to dessert, you’d be best advised to look elsewhere.

I found it a bit too eggy both in texture and taste, but then I’m not crazy about things that are eggy that aren’t eggs (I’m indifferent to French toast for the same reason).  Despite that, however, I still quite enjoyed these pancakes.

You have a few choices for the side, but I went with the smoked fish, thinking that it was probably the most authentically Finnish.  I think it was salmon, but don’t quote me on that.  It was really, really good — perfectly tender, with a pronounced smoky flavour that didn’t overwhelm.  It was hot smoked rather than cold, so it had the flavour of traditional smoked salmon, but the texture of perfectly cooked fish.  It was great.

Fanny Chadwick's - Finnish Pancakes Fanny Chadwick's - Finnish Pancakes