Thursday, March 15, 2012
You know when you’re traveling, and wandering around a new city and you start looking in windows? Even though you might be on your way to a great restaurant, or headed back to your cozy hotel room, don’t you always wish you could just pop into one of those homes, pull up a chair, and really find out what it’s like to live local?
While we were in Iceland two weeks ago we got to do just that. The day before I left for Reykjavik, I sent off a desperate email to the only person I knew living anywhere north of Amsterdam. Katrine Klinken is the head of Slow Food in Copenhagen, and we had become friendly during a beer tasting at the last Salone del Gusto (yes, that's how I meet people). Katrine wrote back right away, with one important name: Dominique, her Slowfoodish counterpart in Iceland.
Within an hour I had not only heard back from Dominique but at her suggestion had reserved a dinner at the home of an Icelandic family: Solveig's Kultur Kitchen. Perfect! (I love this internet thing)
But it turned out to be even more perfect than I had imagined. On our first evening in town Evan, Domenico and I got out of our taxi on a residential side street in the outskirts of Reykjavik. The glow from the candle-lit dining room through the window lit our way to the front door where we were greeted by Solveig who immediately ushered into her warm and inviting home.
I had actually managed a bit of research before, looking briefly at Solveig’s web site. Having left her 15 year job as the editor of Iceland’s major food magazine, she decided to start offering meals in her home that promised not just wonderful food, but also great company and live music.
The company part turned out to be Dominique herself, who caught us up on all that was happening with Slow Food in Iceland. We also got to meet Nanna Rognvaldardottir, the incredibly knowledgeable and prolific Icelandic food writer. It was like being in an Icelandic foodie dream.
In case you didn’t know it, Iceland is not just geysers and volcanoes. It is also home to some of the most exciting music festivals in the world. So the music portion of the evening was preformed by two members of Solveig’s family - her daughter Ragnhildur and husband Gunnar - who are both professional musicians. After a beautiful rendition of Summertime (which included unscheduled vocals from their incredibly cute and furry Depill) we moved on to dinner.
The table was simply set and the food delicious, unfussy and decidedly nordic. We started out with home made pate of reindeer and Icelandic mushrooms. The main course was medallions of lamb, served with mushrooms grown by a local producer. But my favorite course was dessert: skyramisu. That would be the Icelandic version of tiramisu, made with the local fresh cheese skyr, rather than mascarpone.
But the real treat, of course, was getting to know Solveig and her family, and Dominique and Nanna. As would happen, by the end of the meal not only did Solveig and I realize that we had common friends in Rome (that would be the only Icelandic family that I had ever met previously) but that we had also attended Boston University during the same years. And then there was Ragnhildur, the trumpet playing daughter, who was going to be at Evan's radio station in LA in April while her band toured the States. So, it seemed pretty much like destiny that we would all meet eventually. I'm just grateful that it happened in their wonderful home, in Reykjavik.
Solveig's Reykjavik Kultur Kitchen
I was in Iceland courtesy of the extremely generous Food & Fun Festival, as well as Iceland Air.