So my new life as a blogger begins. I hope to post frequently with new recipes, cooking tips, cooking gear tips, and ramblings from my life and travels. Speaking of travels, on Saturday, Jan. 22, we leave for a rather strange, but what I hope will turn out to be wonderful, adventure.
Non-stop, round-trip tickets from Seattle to Reykjavik, Iceland are just under $500 these days. Why would anyone go to Iceland in January? Two primary reasons: We’d like to see the Northern Lights so we hope for at least one clear night with a brilliant display, and the thousands of warm pools all over this geothermally heated island. We plan on at least once a day dunks like most residents of Iceland.
However, we just pass through Reykjavik on our way to London where we will park our heavy coats and boots with Scott Fletcher, the son of my dear friend, Rebecca Cody. Scott works for Google UK and has kindly invited us to use his flat as a temporary parking place.
Then, after about 24 hours of poking around that famous city, we are off to Mallorca for a week. They claim to have 300 days of sunshine a year, so our odds of beating the grey skies of Washington winters are quite good. I especially look forward to the local farmers markets. I dream of tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. It will be fun to explore this beautiful Spanish island, and get together with friends we met on a trip to Alaska in 2009.
We return to London for another overnight to pick up our cold weather gear and then head for Iceland. They celebrate the lengthening days with a winter lights festival in early February. The buildings in downtown Reykjavik are decorated with lights and street fairs offer the usual arts and crafts and folk dancing as well as Icelandic specialties. I am a little reluctant to characterize these specialties as cuisine. What is traditionally served during this festival is boiled sheep’s head and putrefied shark meat. Apparently, some eons ago, a shark, known to be poisonous, washed up on shore near a village that was experiencing a very bad patch. Villagers were starving and finally someone decided to eat some of the shark meat which was well past the best-by date. This unknown hero apparently didn’t care that he or she was risking death. Instead, there were no toxins in the spoiled meat. A village was saved and it became a national dish. My Icelandic friend Selma Bjarnadottir says she loves it. Her mother brings it when she comes to visit her on her farm near Rochester. “I have to eat it outside,” she explains. That it is an acquired taste is probably one of the greatest understatements of all time.
What we might be willing to try is the local brew, Brennivin, also called Black Death. Iceland had a period of prohibition but it was not as strict as it was in the U.S. Brennivin was still available but sellers were forced to put a skull and crossbones on the bottles. Thus, buyers would simply ask for a bottle of Black Death. It’s made from fermented potatoes and caraway seeds. It promises quite a kick.
When we return in early February, I will file a report about Spanish tapas and whatever we find on Iceland that might be of interest.
In the meantime, I do want to introduce you to Heather Cade. She will be opening up a new business upstairs from Buck’s Fifth Avenue in February. Oohlalacakery will sell baking paraphernalia and teach classes. She will also take orders for the most mouthwatering cupcakes you have ever tasted. Cupcake wedding cakes are all the rage and Heather can make a beautiful and delicious creation. She has even perfected vegan and gluten-free cupcakes. She has promised me a good recipe and I will put it in my blog when I return. Don’t wait for me to get back to give her cupcakes a try. It’s well worth parking your New Year’s resolution at the curb for one of these luscious treats. You can just walk around the block a few times while you are licking the last crumbs from your lips.
See you in early February. You can reach me at email@example.com