Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The first of the strange meats

The afternoon following dogsledding was about visiting cafes, checking out the local cathedral (interesting and iconic), and walking around the city until we had our big dinner plans.

This is where we really got adventurous. We had heard about Grillmarkadurrin from Trip Advisor. It was ranked the second best restaurant behind Fredrik V, which unfortunately was completely booked for the nights we had open. 

So we rushed over there, knowing that we would have to make it a quick one to make our northern lights tour later that night.

I'm really sad we didn't get to spend more time with the food, because it was an adventure.

This is what we had:

Everyone started off with really amazing homebaked bread with lava salt. The salt is supposed to have a sort of ashy woody flavor because it had ashes added to it, but really it just tasted like salt to me. The texture was surprisingly crispy though, which was amazing against the creamy butter and amazingly soft bread (had a nice crust too).

Next was our slew of appetizers. This was the duck salad, probably the least exotic of them all but still a delicious staple. Really nice flavorings - sweet and succulent, not dry.

Pork ribs. Again, not original but good in its own right. I think not everything can be unusual when you're trying something new so there's something to fall back on, should you decide it's just not your boat.

The first of the weird ones: whale meat. This was specifically minke whale. Several menus that we saw differentiated in that way: just whale, and minke whale. I guess minke whale is considered more specialty for some reason. No idea what the other kind of edible whale is.

I'll admit that this was a weird one at this restaurant. Just for the sake of spoilers we did have a lot of these exotic meats again in other restaurants and they weren't the same. The experience varied from restaurant to restaurant...which makes me wonder how long they keep whale meat fresh. Certainly there's a lot when one catch is made so I imagine it might be for a little while. Not like a fresh weekly delivery.

Anyway, this was...odd. Texture like beef (steaky, with a muscley toughness) but it had a really almost seaweedy nose. Like sea beef. I didn't much care for it, actually, it had a strange aftertaste like I'd eaten something almost fermented. I was disappointed since whale is so highly controversial. I didn't seem worth all the trouble based on what I'd had.

Mini burgers of puffin, whale, and lobster. These were cute and interesting. The whale in this serving was much more nondescript - like any other minced meat. Tasty and juicy, but strangely like normal red meat.

The lobster was good also but again, I've had very good lobster in my life so this was just alright. Tasted like lobster, looked like lobster...was lobster. Not worth it's extremely high price for this mini burger.

Puffin. Ah puffin. In my stone heart way I felt absolutely nothing but culinary joy biting into the puffin burger, which resembled a sort of meaty dried date. It was...completely delicious. Tender, red, sweet with a nice sauce. I really enjoyed this. Shame that they're so cute in real life. Why why why.

And something that stirred much controversy and conversation at the table - horse meat. I was curious about this especially because the UK had had its hidden horsemeat fiasco and I wondered what all the fuss was about. Clearly this was a normal dish here too, not like it's a special thing.

This was also fantastically delicious. Softer than beef it more resembled a farmed deer - tender texture like a filet mignon but with a strange aftertaste that was almost bitter. Again, had another experience of this at another restaurant later, but this was my first impression of horse. Interesting and not at all undesirable.

A lot of folks at the table disagreed. They thought it was gross and wouldn't eat it again (Actor and American J among these folks). The rest of us thought it was interesting but not great. Would eat it again (and we did).

The others had shared seafood platters but since we were so in a rush to make it back home for our tour I didn't take photos of the regular items. More decent food coverage at other restaurants.

And then we rushed back in time to...wait half an hour for a bus that never came. But I'll get to that in the next entry.

Exotic meats badge, collected!

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