Food and Fun Festival Returns to Reykjavík

A waiter holding two dishes in Hlemmur Food Hall

Fifteen Reykjavík restaurants will take part in the 20th edition of the Food and Fun Festival, which returns to the Icelandic capital March 1-4, mbl.is reports. Foreign chefs will be invited to cook at the restaurants, where they have the opportunity to get to experiment with Icelandic ingredients. Hungry foodies will be able to book a table around mid-February.

“There are a lot of foreigners that attend the festival, there are a lot of tourists that are curious about Icelandic cuisine,” says Siggi Hall, a master chef and one of the festival organisers. “Once upon a time there were few tourists at this time of year but that’s no longer the case. Today, many people come here for the food, because the food is without a doubt the third or fourth attraction, besides nature and the northern lights.”

Food and Fun was originally organised to attract tourists to Iceland during the off season as well as to showcase the country’s agricultural and seafood products. During the festival, foreign chefs from the USA and Europe team up with local restaurants to create gourmet menus at affordable prices. As the festival website points out, not only do the foreign chefs get to know Icelandic ingredients, but they can also make locals see those ingredients in a new way, such as using Icelandic skyr for sauces rather than desserts.

In previous editions of the festival, celebrity chef judges have also been invited to rate the culinary creations, and three chefs have been chosen as finalists to compete for the title of Food and Fun Chef of the Year. A list of participating chefs and restaurants from past years is available on the festival website.

Can you tell me more about the delicious Icelandic lobster?

Langoustine

Q: Last time I visited Iceland, I ate Icelandic lobster. It was delicious. Can you tell me more about it?

A: The Latin name of the species is Nephrops norvegicus and it’s a type of small lobster. In English, it goes by the name of Norway lobster, Atlantic shrimp, scampi, and langoustine. It’s the only lobster caught in the waters around Iceland, so in Icelandic, it’s simply called humar (lobster), even though the technically correct term is leturhumar (Norway lobster).

The tail is the only part of this lobster that’s large enough to eat. A popular dish in Iceland is humarsúpa or lobster soup, a hearty soup with curry powder, vegetables, and langoustine best eaten with a dot or heavy cream and chives on top. You can find frozen langoustine tails in most supermarkets and they’re easy to prepare if you would like to have a go at it yourself. However, if you prefer dining out, it might be good to know that the lobster capital of Iceland is Höfn, a town in the east. Höfn is famous for its lobster cuisine, from lobster pizza to grilled langoustines served with garlic butter.

You will find plenty of options in Reykjavík, too. You might want to check out The Seabaron’s menu next time you’re in town, their lobster soup is the stuff of legends!

The langoustine is undoubtedly delicious but unfortunately, the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute has recently expressed concerns over langoustine stock numbers and in recent years, catches have been on the decline. According to a scientist from the institute, a fishing ban (or lobstering ban, in this case) is a possibility, although further research is needed.

Organic Lamb Meat to be Exported

sheep, round-up, réttir,

Organically certified sheep farmers in Iceland are looking to sell their meat to European markets, Bændablaðið reports.

Sale of lamb meat has been steadily declining in Iceland over the last few years, causing many farmers to stop their production and turn to other sources of revenue. At least six sheep farms in Iceland are certified organic and now those are looking to sell their lamb meat to Europe.

Andrés Vilhjálmson, head of export for Icelandic Lamb has been in contact with potential buyers overseas and is confident the deals will go through. According to Andrés, the transaction has been delayed due to the fact that, up until this point, organic lamb meat hasn’t been especially distinguished from regular lamb at the pertaining product facilities. After the next slaughter season, however, organic lamb will be separated as such and shipment to Europe can begin.

“Next season we plan to send most if not all organically certified lamb meat out of the country,” Andrés says, “which is around 20 tons of meat. We can expect organic lamb meat to command up to 15 to 20 percent higher prices in the markets we’re pursuing than regular lamb meat. A big part of that money would go straight to the sheep farmers.”

“This is hugely important for everybody, but especially for us organic sheep farmers, of course,” says Halla Steinólfsdóttir, farmer from Ytri-Fagridalur. “Our stubbornness and belief in the organic lifestyle is paying off,” she adds, urging the Icelandic government and the Farmers Association of Iceland to pay more attention to organically certified produce in their policy making and marketing in the future.