Iceland: Land of Fire, Ice & Fabulous Food
Just Why is Iceland Hot for Foodies Right Now?
Having recently been awarded their its first Michelin-starred restaurant, find out why Iceland is hot for foodies right now as we talk to Ragnar Eiriksson of Reykjavik’s DILL…
Ragnar Eiriksson is cooking up a storm in Iceland. “We’re definitely up and coming on the world’s foodie hotlist,” says the head chef at Reykjavik’s DILL restaurant – the recipient of Iceland’s first-ever Michelin star last month. “It was obviously a huge honour and I am very chuffed, but it should be kept in mind that this is not something achieved by one little hairy dude from Reykjavik; it is the combined effort of a small but awesome team at DILL. I am just very excited to see Iceland finally on the culinary map.”
That’s right, Iceland – where hundreds of years ago hardy settlers established a gastronomic legacy of dried fish, smoked puffin and fermented shark – has become one of the world’s most desirable destinations for food lovers.
“There are nice restaurants popping up all over now, and so many young and talented chefs graduating from culinary school every year.”
The dishes at DILL look stunning. Every week the restaurant devises a new seven-course menu, each dish paired to perfection with a fine wine. Expect little clay pots housing mouth-watering delicacies such as Arctic char with fennel or pork belly with honey and parsnips.
“Flavours, it’s as simple as that,” says Eiriksson when we asked him where he found his inspiration. “I try not to spend too much energy on plating. Let the ingredients keep their natural shape and allow them to shine.”
You can never go wrong with seafood in Iceland – the coastline is riddled with fishing harbours where lobster, sea trout and cod are landed daily – but the Iceland’s volcanic interior is also a source of delicious ingredients. Grazed on mountain slopes where wild herbs infuse their meat with rich flavours, organic lamb and reindeer frequently appear on menus, along with wild berries plucked from the tundra and freshwater fish like Arctic char and salmon.
Combining traditional recipes with state of the art methods, Eiriksson and his team are on a mission to rediscover their Nordic culinary roots while exploring new ways to create their dishes. Seasonal ingredients are top of their agenda.
Spring is long awaited in Iceland, I’m looking forward to going foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms; it’s my nerdy little hobby! One of my favourites is angelica, a hardy northern plant that has a taste profile somewhere between fennel and celery.
And what culinary highlights can guests look forward to at DILL this summer? “We will just be carrying on using our weird local ingredients that will probably include dung-smoked trout, caviar ash egg, seaweed and of course angelica.”
Four more great places to eat in Iceland this summer:
Jamie’s Italian Iceland Hotel Borg, Reykjavik
Jamie Oliver’s new Iceland venture offers ‘Fantastic Fried Gnocchi’, ‘Truffle Shuffle’ pizza and other Italian favourites at Hotel Borg – a 1930s Art Deco hotel set on one of Reykjavik’s beautiful city squares. According to Oliver, Iceland is the perfect spot for his latest restaurant “with a rich heritage, fantastic food scene and real passion and love for locally sourced ingredients”.
We recommend: Reykjavik Explorer
Hotel Ranga near Hella, South Iceland
Ranga’s gourmet restaurant is based on the concept of a farmer’s market. “My main goal is to use local ingredients that are in season,“ says head chef Karl Johann Unnarsson. Modern Nordic in style – with a hint of French and Italian – beautifully presented dishes include melt-in-your-mouth seafood and mountain-reared lamb. The restaurant‘s floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular views across Iceland‘s beautiful south.
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We recommend: Summer Nights at Ranga
Hotel Husafell Borgafjordur, West Iceland
Contemporary, eco-friendly Hotel Husafell is fast developing a reputation for fine dining in Iceland’s Wild West. Bursting with local flavours, the menu features sophisticated and imaginative dishes using seafood, lamb, wild game and other Icelandic delicacies, while the restaurant’s picture windows frame stunning views of the surrounding fells and woodland of Borgafjordur.
We recommend: Northern Lights, Glaciers & Waterfalls
Hotel Siglo Siglufjordur, North Iceland
Gaze out of the restaurant windows of this stylish new harbourside hotel and you might catch a glimpse of one of its chefs selecting seafood from local fishermen. Freshly-caught fish, simply grilled and served with a light creamy sauce, is a highlight here. Across the marina, and popular with locals, Hotel Siglo’s bright red Kaffi Raudka serves everything from coffee and cake to traditional Icelandic hashed fish.
You can combine all of these foodie highlights in our nine-night Iceland in Style holiday, which includes stays at each of the hotels above, as well as an overnight in Reykjavik’s brand new Hilton Canopy, just a couple of minutes’ walk from DILL restaurant.