A curious facet-effect of Iceland’s banking crisis has been a next increase in tourism and a growing buzz around the kingdom’s particular cuisine, writes Amy Guttman Strolling down Laugavegur, evaluating it to a visit here six years ago, little on Reykjavik’s excessive avenue is recognizable apart from the memento save selling volcanic rocks and Northern Lights-themed trinkets.
Boutique windows as soon as filled with international labels now show off regionally designed visions of the Icelandic lifestyle: warm, however fashionable garb, and minimalistic, practical goods. Reykjavik may be very much in style, thanks to tourism officials and a savvy advertising and marketing team at Icelandair.
When the 2008 banking crisis devalued the krona, Iceland became a lower-priced destination for the first time. Officials fast shifted their advert campaigns and turned a volcanic eruption and a economic downturn into a traveler boom. That fulfillment and Iceland’s financial healing suggest it’s not cheap. However, the delicacies that have emerged as an unintended consequence of each crisis and travelers’ inflow make Iceland a vacation spot for meal adventurers.
Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, a food historian, says a mixture of things, inclusive of the excessive value of imports, a renewed interest, pride in buying nearby, and tourism demand for an authentic meal lifestyle fuelled a culinary revolution.
‘There were no contemporary Icelandic delicacies before the tourism boom,’ she says. ‘Before the crisis, humans ate amazing, imported foods, like caviar and Kobe pork, but that all stopped whilst it has become too expensive. Many Icelander’s notions we handiest had things like a fermented shark. However, our food is a lot greater than that. We had just forgotten.’
Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason, who co-based Iceland’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Dill, become a few of the pioneers. Gíslason has moved to New York to open Agern, wherein he’s already earned a Michelin big name for his Nordic dishes.
Following in Gíslason’s footsteps is a wave of cooks who’re excessive in the call for. At the time of my go-to (though he has because he moved directly to launch his very own restaurant), Haukur Már Hauksson is head chef at Grill Market, a restaurant presenting a custom-made grill with coals that warmness up to one,2 hundred°C.
The impact is food that’s seared at the out of doors, soft on the inner. Grill Market’s rooms, decorated with slabs of wood and stone, are full every night time. Its purchasers, says the chef, are a barometer for u. S. A .’s financial health.
‘Before the disaster, it changed into Icelandic bankers consuming foie gras, making plans trips on their private jets,’ says Hauksson. ‘But then the balance tipped. During the peak of the crisis, it was the simplest tourists. Now our clients are about 70 percent travelers.’
The appetites of these new consumers have pushed a collective desire among cooks to be greater creative. Grill Market’s menu has emerged as increasingly more Icelandic, with gadgets inclusive of lava salted Skyr butter and beetroot-cured Arctic char. A smooth, succulent shark dish arrives tableside on a smoky grill with a trifecta of textures, flavors, and visuals. The food is innovative, memorable, and nice of all, light.
‘That’s the first-class thing that got here out of the tourism rush,’ says Hauksson. ‘They desired local substances. We don’t have a whole lot of variety, so it’s no longer that smooth. However, people are working with what we’ve. For instance, we purchase sea truffle from a provider who infuses seaweed with truffle. It has a diffused, buttery flavor.’
Nine months of winter limits Iceland’s agricultural output. Barley is the only grain that may be grown, but Icelanders possess a survivor’s intuition, and its isolation forces invention. Hauksson excels at pairing ingredients that seem like unlikely bedfellows yet bring about best suits, like poached cod with a purée of inexperienced apples. It’s a dish that, pre-disaster, wouldn’t be served in any Icelandic restaurant, says Rögnvaldardóttir, due to the fact fish turned into in no way on the menu:
‘Before, you can only get suitable fish at home. It was a regular aspect you cooked five days per week. You didn’t want that in case you ate out. And cod changed into something we were given money for exporting. It became too highly-priced to devour. Now the eating place fish subculture has exploded.’