Tag Archives: Lamb

Icelandic Cocktail Party

21 Feb

We threw a cocktail party / trip slideshow inspired by the food and drink of our trip to Iceland, squeezing about a dozen people into my tiny apartment.

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It started as an excuse to share the Brennivin (somewhat harsh icelandic schnapps with caraway), Lava Smoked Imperial Stout, and a cocktail centered around Birkir, the excellent birch-branch-infused liquer we’d carried back in our luggage (Birkir + lemon juice + simple syrup + soda water).

And then the planning spiraled a bit out of control, as tends to happen with dinner parties– we decided we needed to make individual-serving-size appetizers based on various combinations we’d seen in Iceland (lamb + rutabaga, arctic char + fennel + apple + dill, salmon + horseradish + cheese). Fortunately we were able to find char in one of the bay area fish markets.

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We tried a few ways of cooking rutabaga and ended up boiling and then deep-frying thick chips of it to layer carrot puree, lamb, fried onions, and salt on:

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The salmon (house-cured gravlax — raw salmon packed in sugar and salt and dill and let sit) with cheese, pickles, onions, dill on rye. This was all inspired by a dish at the “Unnamed Pizza Place” in Reykjavik operated by the Dill team that in retrospect I think was a substitution– the menu said it was salmon and fennel, but the first night we went there it came with cottage cheese and pickles and horseradish instead, which ended up being a great combination.

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Parnsip puree, arctic char (pan fried in butter), salmon roe, fennel (pickled and fresh), dill:

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A dessert hannah created visually inspired by the snow-covered lava boulders– Icelandic Skyr + dry chocolate cookies (almost sables) + a licorice caramel.

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More of the spread, before people showed up:

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All surrounded by souvenirs (lava, wool, volcanic ash) and a slide show of some memorable trip photos:

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Food in Iceland

24 Jan

Even beyond The Hot Dog (already mostly lamb), most of what we ate during an epic December trip across Iceland was lamb or arctic char (14 lamb dishes and 13 with char in 12 days)… The trip was more about the icebergs, the lava, and the hot pools than the food, but a few memorable bits:

Salted cod and tomato.

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But, even better, salted cod pizza from the pizza place with no name:

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Probably my favorite restaurant, Grillmarkaðurinn. Steak (the only beef all trip?) and lava salt and a bit of whale meat (itself very reminiscent of steak).

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Cooking Christmas dinner in a little guesthouse near Höfn. Had to unscrew the plastic handles from a stock pot to make something we could put in the oven, and the knives were so dull they could barely slice an onion.

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Homemade braised lamb stew and Brussels with fried mutton lunchmeat as a stand-in for bacon.

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Yet more lamb.

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Rye bread that was baked by burying it underground near a geothermal pool.

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Smoked puffin. Dark and a bit fishy.

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Wall of yogurt.

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Some amusing menu translations. We did not eat the “our least sustainable fish and a must try when it is available”.

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From Lamb to Plate

16 Sep

Last weekend I had friends over for a nice dinner: a delicious whole leg of lamb (from a local farm, slaughtered and butchered by a friend just a few days before), a salad of wild arugula + homemade ricotta + roasted yellow nectarines, roasted eggplant with dry-farmed tomatoes and preserved lemon, and a platter of five kinds of figs. This is the story of the food:

The lamb was from Amador Grazers (all grass fed, no antibiotics or growth hormones). If you’re not squeamish about such things, you can see a photo of my friend slaughtering and butchering it here.

I made an herb paste of rosemary, thyme, black pepper, sea salt, and about a head of crushed garlic, and rubbed it on every surface of the leg:

I let it sit for a little under an hour while I preheated the oven to “425” (which in my oven is 350). I put the leg in and roasted it for about 90 minutes, occasionally checking the temperature. When the inside of the thickest part hit 130 (and the thinner areas were at 135), I took it out and let it rest half an hour before carving. It was absolutely delicious– moist and so flavorful. I probably could have even gone more rare:

While the lamb was resting I improvised a sauce: I deglazed lamb fat and crunchy bits from the pan by adding some red wine and briefly boiling, then tossed in four diced up really soft figs and some mint and simmered it for about 10 minutes to reduce it into a sweet, rich sauce.

Earlier, we’d made ricotta (milk, cream, salt, lemon juice — I’ve made it before), which went well with the especially spicy wild arugula and some yellow peaches I’d roasted in the oven while the lamb was resting:

For dessert, a platter of figs, every variety I could find at the farmers’ market. Clockwise from the right: Black Mission figs (the common ones), Brown Turkish Figs, green Kadota Figs (my favorite: with an especially jammy pink center), a small black fig whose name I don’t remember, and Candy Stripe figs.

A good evening and good company.

p.s. If you’re curious how one transports a raw eight-pound leg of lamb on ice for an hour and a half without a car, here’s the answer: