Taste of Iceland hit Seattle not too long ago. The event is a wonderful festival celebrating Icelandic food, drink, music and art promoted by IcelandNaturally.com, a site devoted to promoting Icelandic culture and tourism.
Let’s get on to the food and drink part. The highlight for me was an exquisite four-course meal — complete with signature cocktails and wine pairings — served up at Dahlia Lounge, the flagship Seattle restaurant owned by celebrity chef Tom Douglas. I can honestly tell you that this was one of the best meals I have ever had.
When you think of “Icelandic Cuisine,” you might either draw a blank or have visions of cold fish served in broth in a big bowl, a la Vikings. But you’d be wrong. Award-winning Chef Ylfa Helgadóttir, chef de cuisine and owner of Kopar in Reykjavik travels the world showcasing Icelandic ingredients and techniques. She collaborated with Dahlia Lounge’s chef Brock Johnson and staff to deliver a truly outstanding and unique menu and dining experience.
Now, before I get into the menu, signature cocktails and wine pairings (two wonderful Washington wines were selected), let me tell you that it was no small undertaking to source the ingredients. Ylfa’s recipes were rendered into 2,000 plates of food over the event’s four days. Get this. Dahlia Lounge was shipped 120 kilos of lamb loins, 80 kilos of langoustine, 70 kilos of cod and 40 kilos of skyr yogurt. In addition, accompanying ingredients included: 50 pounds of button mushrooms, 90 pounds butter, 80 pounds of rainbow carrots, 80 pounds potatoes, 10 gallons of different aiolis, 5 pounds of honey, 20 pounds foraged oyster mushrooms, 50 pounds arborio rice, 7 pounds of salmon roe, 15 gallons of langoustine stock, 30 pounds of seaweed salad, 20 pounds baby squash and 10 pounds of dill.
There were three signature cocktails and each of us tried one. Gail loved the Arctic Trident, which turned out to be a masterful blend of Brennivin (Iceland’s national spirit), Cynar and sherry. Kevin tried the Smoked Reyka Martini which had an interesting and tasty twist: cod stuffed olives, while I went for the Huckleberry Icelandic Mule with its unexpected kick of Brennivin. What a way to start the evening!
The Meal with Wine Pairings
Soon, we were moving on and enjoying the first course of our meal: Icelandic cod, lemon & dill. The cod was tender and augmented with a dill mayo, lemon ginger jus, seaweed salad and pickled cucumber. The bar for the rest of the meal was set very high. Pairing: Brennivin, Iceland
Next, we were presented with the Langoustine Risotto. Light and creamy risotto was perfectly
done and served with butter fried langoustine (a Norwegian lobster) and Atlantic shrimp, topped with a lobster Champagne sauce, fennel and apples. The flavors all worked together beautifully — the crispness and tartness of the apples married so well with the butteriness of the lobster and shrimp and the arborio rice was the perfect foundation for the dish. Pairing: Airfield Estates Sauvignon Blanc, Washington
The main course was one we were really looking forward to as each of us loves of lamb: Icelandic rack of lamb with crispy fat. Port creamed foraged mushrooms, garlic confit, grilled carrots with a bearnaise foam completed this dish to make the entire plate extra special and extra tasty. The textures at play were very interesting: the crispiness of the lamb and the velvety smoothness of the sauce and mushrooms were very impressive. Pairing: Kiona Red Mountain Syrah, Washington
Finally, we were treated to a dessert of Skyr sorbet & caramelized white chocolate. Raspberries and the caramelized chocolate cream cheese mousse hit just the right note of tart and sweet, melt in your mouth goodness. Pairing: Strevi Moscato D’Asti, Italy
Look for my takes on some of these creations and cocktails soon. In the meantime, góða heilsu.