föstudagur, september 22, 2006

the chef

I've been lucky to have some excellent visitors recently. A few weekends back, it was former roomie and legendary chef Adam Ross (veteran of Blue Ginger, Rialto, and Salt's in Boston, now head chef at Cocotte in Brooklyn) and his lovely girlfriend Abigail. They were on a tear through Europe and Reykjavík was their last stop before heading back to the 2-1-2. But not before the Culinary Master invented his own take on fiskibollur (fish balls) right here in my kitchen, using fresh salted cod drizzled with roe sauce and served over a base of savory potatoes. It was far and away the best meal I have enjoyed all year. Adam is the kind of guy who cooks by touch, and I got to watch him in action at the Hagkaup supermarket in Seltjarnarnes, where he spent about 40 minutes surveying all of the available ingredients (lamb hearts, anyone?) while he invented the meal in his head, plate-to-garnish.

Yesterday I got word from Abigail that she's rolled out a video of the Iceland portion of their trip. Fire it up, Iceland dreamers. And how about a guest chef stint next spring in the 1-0-1, Rossini?


Blogger Djaddi said...

Damn, I want talented chefs as friends too! :).

That's a cool video too, by the way.

I have been to Iceland in the past (for two weeks) but I'm quite likely to move to Iceland in 2007 (to be with my soon-to-be wife who has to do research there). So I've been enjoying reading your blog Jason (I think I've read it all by now!) for a slice of Icelandicana (if there is such a word).

Blogger apross said...

I gotta say, for an adventurous eater like me, Iceland is a trip. Maybe you natives don't realize how bizarre it is to come across a vacuum-packed, split lamb's head at your local supermarket, but I doubt you'd find that in NYC, where they say you can find anything if you look hard enough. Although we didn't eat any lamb's head, or puffin, I did enjoy the foal ("the veal of horsemeat") sandwich, and I'm still debating on whether to offer some smoked whalemeat at our wine-and-cheese cocktail party tonight. However, I couldn't really get into the fermented shark, as my culinary training kept telling me that fish reeking of ammonia is NOT OK to eat. (I could go into exactly what is causing that ammonia flavor, but somebody out there might actually enjoy eating rotten shark, and anyway the nuts-and-bolts of the urinary system of the cartilaginous fishes isn't really that interesting.)

Incidentally, I'm planning on offering fiskibollur at Cocotte soon, although as we are nominally a French restaurant, they will be called quenelles de brochet, sauce Nantua.

Blogger JB said...

Jason/Jade: Awesome, keep reading and keep commenting!

Rossini: The chef speaks! Great to hear that you'll be offering the Vesturbær-inspired dish back in the 7-1-8. How did it go with the smoked whalemeat? Did you boil it or just slice it up as-is?

By the way, I just hosted my friend from the Philippines here, and we ate the hákarl on the balcony last night with the traditional Brennivín chaser, and she said, "That's it? I was expecting something much worse." Apparently the Filipino Squid Paste is on the same flav-length as Iceland's rotted shark.

Blogger Djaddi said...

Whoops, I see some confusion here. I called you Jason when your name is Jared. Sorry :). And I'm a guy even though my name is Jade :).

Blogger JB said...

Jadeson: Yeah I get it all the time. In the States having the name "Jared" was difficult because people would always say, "Nice to meet you Gerrold/Jerry/Jason/Jimbo/Sally." when in fact I don't have a speech impediment and have 30-odd years of practice in pronouncing my first name clearly. People just hear what they want to hear, in this and many other matters.

And here in the Land, it's hard because Icelandic doesn't contain the "J" sound at the beginning. (They say "Yah-red" here.) So in situations where it doesn't really matter, such as a burger-ordering scenario, I just throw out a ridiculous old-school Icelandic name like "Játvarður" or "Jörmundur" and see how they handle it.

- Játvarður "Játti" Jörmundsson

Blogger Djaddi said...

I hear you. My name is not American so it can be confusing; thus for burgers I give my name as Jack. And 25% of the time that gets understood as Chuck :).

Blogger JB said...

Chuck: You're a man after my own heart. My fake name in the States was "Billy" which seemed to go over pretty well at the TGI Friday's on Newbury Street (RIP). Maybe you should choose a more readily understandable fake name that really has nothing at all to do with your own. I mean, get silly! No limits! Become "Steve" or "Mike" or "Biff".


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