Patricia Noonan goes mid-Atlantic Nordic gastronomic…
I’m always up to try a new food experience, so having the opportunity to go to LUMA, on King Street West for a tasting menu spearheaded by Icelandic culinary expert Gísli Matthías Auðunsson, who curated the menu with LUMA’S Chef de Cuisine, Michael Wilson, and blended a little Canadian twist into the evening.
I must admit, I thought mostly of cod, haddock and vodka…but I’m happy to report that I learned something new about the culinary scene, never having been to Iceland. Lamb is one of the top meat sources, but the lamb has more of a sense of terroir, as Chef told me that they run around in the highlands, eating berries and other indigenous plants, herbs, and moss, giving the lamb a slightly gamey sweetness.
Our first course was Cured Leg of Lamb (air dried), with a sunchoke puree, black salsify chips, lightly smoked cheese and a scatter of nasturtiums. That slight salty taste to the cured lamb was a great melt-in-your-mouth moment, which created contrast to the fruitiness of the Leaning Post Rosé from Niagara, Ontario.
Charred Arctic Char was next with a creamy sauce of butter, new potatoes, apples, fermented radishes, with earthy angelica seeds and sorrel, and a delicate scatter of trout roe, which created delicious bursts of saltiness to contrast the freshness of the fish paired with Leaning Post ‘The Fifty’ Chardonnay.
Atlantic Cod fried in butter, with thyme, cauliflower, mushroom broth topped with grilled kale, sea truffle puree with pickled dulse was simply the freshest fish with an earthy depth of flavour due to the broth.
Our wine option was Leaning Post ‘Cuvee Winona’ Niagara, 2017,a cabernet-merlot blend or Leaning Post ‘The Fifty’ Pinot Noir 2018. The Pinot was the obvious red contender, even with the fish dishes, as the tannins were soft and the earthiness of the broth and other veg complemented that earthy, yet fruity, youthful wine.
Icelandic Provisions skyr mousse, served with arctic thyme granita, the most wonderful licorice meringues served like little sheets of snowy ice and wood sorrel, was deceptively light.
Finally, a plate of twisted donuts that looked beignet-like, with a dusting of cardamom sugar and why caramel.
Alas, no vodka. Reyka vodka used to be on the general list at the LCBO, so no chilled sips to start the evening.
Taste of Iceland continues until November 17, 2019. It includes literature at the Art Square Cafe, with Iceland’s First Lady, Eliza Reid, music at the Dakota Tavern and film at The Royal Cinema.
Patricia Noonan is a Toronto based food and drinks writer and educator. Follow her on Twitter at @lovetoeatndrink.