8:47am

Wed September 25, 2013
Food & Food Culture

Getting A Taste Of Iceland Ahead Of Denver Showcase

If you try to use Google Maps to figure out how to get to Iceland from Colorado, it’ll admit that it can’t calculate it. As the crow flies, it’s about 3,609 miles. Of course, the Taste of Iceland aims to bring it all closer to Colorado.

But why wait? Instead, why not go to the source and sit down at the LAVA restaurant at the famed Blue Lagoon outside of Grindavik, Iceland.

Starting Thursday Sept. 26, Icelandic chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson of LAVA will be collaborating with local chef Tom Coohill to offer a unique Nordic Menu available through the Taste of Iceland festival. Think arctic char, fresh langoustine and free-range lamb, all sourced from Iceland.

Skyr, the Icelandic yogurt-like dish.
Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC

“Skyr of course, we’re very proud of skyr in Iceland,” said Vigfusson’s Sous Chef, Ingi þ Friðriksson. He’s describing the Icelandic cultured dairy dish that’s like a strained yogurt. “This is like, between yogurt and cheese. We are very proud of it and always trying to present it.”

It was a bit difficult to work across the language barrier, but I tried to learn from Ingi þ Friðriksson about what to expect for the latest edition of Taste of Iceland.

“We try to create a local food, we’re looking at that, we are looking at this Nordic Icelandic cuisine – using fresh fish which we get every day from Grindavik,” said Friðriksson.

Seafood is certainly part of it. There’s an Icelandic holiday dish, Þorramatur, where a traditional selection of foods is served. Among the cured meats there’s kæstur hákarl – a fermented shark. Also a year-round food in Iceland, it has a very particular aroma and is an acquired tasted.

“We sometimes use this shark just for taste. It’s very popular for Icelanders to let tourists try it,” said Friðriksson.

The pride in their cuisine shows through, especially when asking Friðriksson about presenting dishes that will soon be tasted over 3,000 miles away. “What I love is our fresh things we get every day like the fish we get every day, I love working here and it’s quite busy and love that. I love to present for tourists how fresh we are…”

Or you can hear that in Icelandic:

Friðriksson answers in Icelandic when asked "What is your favorite part of creating Icelandic cuisine that will soon be tasted so far from Iceland?"

Back for a second turn in the Mile High City, the four day event highlights the culture, music and food of Iceland. Last year’s inaugural event paired local and Icelandic musicians and a featured chef with local chef Tom Coohill at his restaurant Coohills.

Other events include a cocktail class with small batch Icelandic vodka made with arctic spring water filtered through lava rocks and the Reykjavik Calling concert. Local artists Jesse Elliot of Ark Life and These United States, Esme Patterson of Paper Bird and Tyler Ludwick of Princess music will collaborate with Lay Low, Snorri Helgason and Hogni Eglison for the concert.

A full schedule of weekend events can be found here.

Editor’s Note: Nathan Heffel is currently in Iceland, where he filed this story. You can follow his travelogue online at nathanice.tumblr.com.