Ever wondered what kind of cuisine Iceland has to offer? I was pleased to preview ‘The Icelandic Pantry’ at Borough Market; an Icelandic invasion which is bringing the best of Iceland’s cuisine to London.
This is the very first time Borough Market has hosted an Icelandic guest so it will be a unique opportunity to speak with and purchase directly from the Icelandic producers from Reykjavik’s largest farmers market. I can assure you they are all very pleasant and speak excellent English so you won’t need an Icelandic phrasebook to get involved!
According to the producers we met, what makes Iceland a bit different is that their food and production methods are shaped by a harsh climate which makes Icelandic food traditions rather inspirational. There was plenty of evidence of this on the evening from blueberry-cured Lamb to artisan pastries, the world’s only geothermally produced sea salt to an eco-whey drink blended with wild Iceland moss and Arctic thyme.
Iceland’s different regions are represented with organic lambs fed on Angelica to give it a special flavour from West Iceland, hot-smoked mackerel from the East and artisan rhubarb brittle from South Iceland. Some foods also give an insight into Iceland’s rich history, such as a special flatbread dating from the settlement in the 9th century.
Borough Market’s David Matchett describes the occasion as such: “The Icelandic Pantry event is an opportunity for the city’s food lovers to sample and learn about Icelandic cuisine, as well as a chance for local and small scale producers from the country to showcase and talk about what’s special about what they eat to a new UK audience. Icelandic people are among the healthiest on earth and are also one of the most resourceful, living in a harsh and unforgiving environment. They also have a focus on sustainability, which is a way of life rather than an aspiration, so as a market we have a lot of shared values and are excited to welcome them here.”
To whet your appetite, here are the artisan producers who are taking part:
OmNom – Bean to Bar chocolate producers. I have tried these already from the excellent Cocoa Runners and they make some of the very best chocolate money can buy. Well worth picking up a few bars.
Saltverk – The world’s only geothermally produced sea salt. A very impressive feat and truly eco-friendly as a machine free business.
Sandholt Artisan Bakery – traditional pastry (Kleinur) and rye bread.
Modir Jord – Organic farmers from the East with barley products and lactofermented root vegetables. Organic vegetable-based products and cereals, crispbread, jams, chutneys and more. I would never have guessed simple barley on a cracker could be quite so tasty.
Burid – Angelica products: jelly, chutney, jam and tea all made from the plant.
Ytri Fagridalur – Fresh Organic lamb which has grazed on Angelica Archangelica. I really enjoyed this lamb which has a distinctive taste.
Seglbudir – Fresh lamb and cured lamb, apparently the first Icelandic farm to set up production directly from their farm.
Solsker – Omar a giant Icelandic fisherman is bringing smoked and hot smoked Arctic char, mackerel and smoked cod roe to Borough Market.
Islandus Kruss – Whey soft drink with hand picked berries and wild herbs. This was a delicious burst of berries well worth trying.
Rabarbia – Rhubarb caramels and other rhubarb goodies. Sadly we missed these.
Bjarteyjarsandur – Award winning blueberry cured lamb. This was one of the stand out products and definitely worth buying at Borough Market.
Ican – Arctic Fois Gras, fresh cod liver smoked with beech. We all really enjoyed this served on a cracker, makes a great canape.
Osnes – herring with different marinades, including mustard and curry.
If you fancy exploring some interesting new culinary delicacies I heartily recommend you take a visit to Borough Market by the 10th of October.