þriðjudagur, júlí 11, 2006

barbecues and ballgames

'Tis the season of summer here in Iceland. And even though that often means temperatures in the low-50s and lots of blowing rain here in the south, it doesn't make it any less of a grillin' season for us hér á klakanum. Icelanders embrace grilling as thoroughly as they embrace loud motorcycles, summerhouses set in lava fields, and package vacations to Mallorca. Of course, the grilling here takes on an Icelandic twist, as there are varieties of meat here simply unavailable to Joe Sixpack back in Attleboro, Mass.

On my way to a cookout a few weeks back, I picked up a package in the Krónan walk-in fridge that advertised itself as being ready-to-grill meat, some kind called "hrefnukjöt". So I took that over to my pal Bent's place and he looked at the package and laughed. It was a Minke whale steak. So we threw that on the charcoals - it was bag-marinaded already - and it cooked up just great. Red and juicy and like a good steak. The steak of the sea, you might say.

Then on Sunday I went over to Dr. Draupnir's Esja-side retreat in Grafarvogur. This is another Icelander with the celebrity-cooking abilities of an Emeril Lagasse, married to his very own Julia Child. He's famous for his annual puffin feast, and this Sunday he was, he told me, experimenting with grilling puffin breasts outside. He had marinaded them in beer, olive oil, and rosemary all day, and they grilled up great. This was my second time eating puffin and it was even better this time. The meat is also red, and tastes vaguely fishy. The marinade had imparted some new flavors to an old poultry fave and it was spectacular dipped in the ubiquitous Iceland garlic sauce.

The Iceland Report: bringing you carnivorous updates from the Land since 2004. From a guy who was a vegetarian since 1997.

Since Iceland is a big-sky country, and in summer has even more sky to go around on account of the endless light, today's word of the day is sky. When I first learned the Icelandic word for cloud (ský) I thought it was an odd coincidence. Of course, it's not a coincidence at all. The English word sky entered English from the Old Norse around the year 1220, when the Old Norsemen in Iceland had already been holding big-sky big-grillin' midsummer parliamentary assemblies for around 300 years. It first meant "cloud" in English, but then it subsequently morphed into meaning the whole sky, not just the clouds in it.

6 Comments:

Blogger gk said...

I know what you mean, I think about 5 of 7 dinners that I had last week where grilled. You should try grilling some “Skötusel”. I know it is not very nice looking but very good. You season it with a bit of garlic pepper you’re your good to go.

11.7.06  
Blogger JB said...

I'm there. I'll pick some up for my next grill-B-Q, which will probably be tomorrow at this rate. Or, I can even grill it at lunch on the company balcony grill we just got.

11.7.06  
Blogger Syngibjörg said...

In my family hrefnukjöt and lifur is known as "Súkkulaðikjöt".My mom knew that me and my brothers didn´t like it very much and it was for dinner at least once in a week. That was her way to make us eat that with potatomouse and brown sauce. She put the meat in milk for 24 hours to take the taste of Lýsi away. Never the less I could always taste the lýsi and find the smell.Horrible. Today I eat hrefnukjöt if it´s in a barbeque sauce and has been there for at least 24 hours.
But you should try Skötusel.Grilled with garlic butter is just brilliant.

11.7.06  
Blogger JB said...

Ingibjörg, thanks for the tale of the "chocolate meat". And I'll be buying skötusel for lunch tomorrow now, such is the warm reception from you Icelandic readers.

In late-breaking news, the Wall Street Journal did a page-one piece today on Jón Ásgeir, Iceland's corporate-raider tycoon. The reporter on that story had contacted me (via this blog) a few months back for background on the Land. And when he was here in town, E and I hosted him for the traditional lamb dinner. Grilled, of course.

11.7.06  
Blogger gk said...

Maybe you should get into extreme bbq-ing.

11.7.06  
Blogger Kristen said...

That's it. I'm totally petitioning the Shaws to stock puffin meat. We must have it for Awesome Barbecue II.

11.7.06  

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