I just got back from a wonderful trip to Iceland! We spent two days in Reykjavik and three days driving the Southern coast. It was a beautiful, magical, vast country and we saw some crazy scenery.
Our first night, we had a meal at Dill, one of the nicest restaurants in Reykjavik. It was certainly the fanciest meal I’ve ever had. Even though I didn’t cook it, I thought it could have a place on this blog (I obsessively took pictures of each course and tried to take notes as best I could). I’m going to use this post to start a series called “Delicious Meals,” a space to post about restaurants I’ve been to that have been particularly notable and kind to my allergy.
Dill was extremely accommodating to our dietary needs. They made sure each of my plates was completely dairy-free, while making different augmentations for my friend Misha, who is a vegetarian. Kari, our third friend, was able to eat the original dishes with no substitutions. Part of the fun was comparing and contrasting our dishes to each other. It made it even more special!
They began our meal with six “snacks,” or very small, interesting dishes.
The first snack was presented on a little tree. Cod chips for me and Kari and parsnip chips for Misha. I don’t think I’ve ever tried dried fish before but it felt very Icelandic.
The second snack was a little carrot sandwich. The dairy version included goat cheese, my version was an egg cream and the most delicious, flavorful mushrooms I’ve ever had.
The third snack was homemade mayonnaise with a dried catfish powder. Misha’s vegetarian version had pickled cabbage. The catfish powder sounds crazy but it kind of reminded me of whitefish salad. Delicious!
The fourth snack was a little beetroot roll up stuffed with chicken liver and roasted yeast. I’ve always loved chopped liver so I was excited to try it in a bit of a different form. It was another super flavorful bite.
The fifth snack was beef tartare. For Misha, it was pears with parsley and fried celeriac. The beef tartare was amazing. Now I want to eat all the raw meat! Probably not the best plan.
Our final snack was barley porridge with a fried egg yolk and sausage. Misha’s had no sausage but it did have skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt that is everywhere. Kari’s dish had both sausage and skyr. This dish would make such a delicious breakfast, it was sprinkled with some type of crumbs that added a crunchy texture.
Already full, we were presented with a bowl of sourdough bread and a choice of three, five, or seven courses. We agreed on three almost immediately, and started in on the bread. Served on the side was Icelandic butter for Misha and Kari, and whipped lamb fat with herbs for me and Kari. Sounds ridiculous, but butter is pretty much whipped fat too, right? It was so great. Next to our spreads there was some homemade sea salt (we then had a conversation about how to “make” sea salt and if we should maybe take some sea water home and try it).
Our first course came out as we finished our bread. For Kari and me, it was salt cured cod with an apple purée, celeriac, and shaved fennel. Misha’s dish was roasted rutabaga with cream cheese, sweet and sour dill oil, and millet. The contrast in flavors and textures in this dish was really striking. Salty cod with a sweet apple purée is a combination I would not have expected. I’m going to try and take some of these ideas back into my own cooking.
Our second course was braised beef cheeks with potato purée, pickled onions, and thyme. There was a thyme cracker on top. Kari’s version had creme fraiche in her potatoes. Misha’s version had barley and sunchokes instead of the beef cheeks.
Our final course was dessert, and it was one of the most interesting. Celery sorbet with roasted oats, celery, and fennel. Their version included skyr on the bottom. Celery sorbet was so interesting and refreshing. Kari said it would be delicious in a cocktail. The roasted oats added a lot of crunch and sweetness to an otherwise pretty savory dessert. I couldn’t finish my plate, I had to throw in the towel. It was an incredible first night in a new place, and the craziest meal I’ve ever had.
Here are a few other photos from our trip in this magical country: