In Iceland’s cultural capital, old is the new Nordic.
During the annual Food & Fun festival held earlier this March, celebrated Nordic chefs from Stockholm to the Faroe archipelago converged on Reykjavik to compare recipes and share dishes using the far North’s bounty. But on my last visit to Iceland’s capital, I found the most creative presentations emerging in local kitchens, where Icelandic chefs have grown more confident in a purer interpretation of Nordic cooking, rather than a mashup employing imported flavors. Before dinner service, chefs pedal their bicycles to secret patches of watercress sprouting near hot spring outflows on the city’s outskirts. They wade into the frigid Atlantic to scoop up seawater in buckets and produce their own salt. Everyone waits with bated breath for the first Arctic crowberries to ripen. While I’m not personally a fan, horse is the animal protein du jour. (Their Viking ancestors ate it regularly.) And they espouse an Icelandic version of the zero waste trend: case in point, cod tongue is back in vogue. Here, the places to drink and dine in Reykjavik for a taste of the new, old Nordic, now.