CRISSCROSSING OUR WAY
SHIFTING INTO AUTUMN
Our first summer of food and farm tours is coming to a close and we want to thank all of our guests for the wonderful times we´ve had together exploring Iceland and Icelandic food!
Now fall approaches us, the nights grow darker and longer and soon the leaves will take on the most amazing colors. Although the season marks getting into one´s regular routine of work and school after the summer vacation, there are many exciting fall-related activities we Icelanders look forward to.
For instance going to “Réttir”, a sheep-round up where farmers and their families help gather sheep that have been left to roam free in the inland during the summertime.
Collecting all the sheep from the mountains is quite an effort, considering that there are more sheep than people in Iceland (500 thousand vs 335 thousand). The herding is mostly done by foot or on horseback and takes at least 2 – 3 days. It is, however, very much a social event, where relatives and friends come from the city to help out. After the sheep have been rounded up and allotted to the farmers the celebration begins. “Réttarball”, the “roundup party” is truly a night to remember, characterized by traditional Icelandic songs, dance and drinks.
FOOD AND FUN STARTS TODAY IN REYKJAVIK
This weekend Reykjavik will be full of very happy foodies enjoying the 16th Food and fun festival. The festival has been an annual event since 2002. Every year more and more master chefs and food lovers meet in Reykjavík for a culinary celebration and cooking competition. 16 top restaurants in Reykjavik invite guest chefs from USA and Europe to take over their kitchen for a few days. They will in turn use their skills and imagination to create gourmet menus with Icelandic material. The visiting chefs bring their style and traditions to the high quality Icelandic food produce and the outcome is bound to be exciting.
Reykjavik has many outstanding restaurants where Icelandic chefs practice their art every day. The Food and fun festival brings fresh energy to the kitchen. Judging from the photos the chefs have great fun experimenting with the food and sharing the outcome.
From the start the Food and fun festival has been a success on all levels. The visiting chefs get well acquinted with the Icelandic food produce as they are required to use only Icelandic material for the centrepieces of their dishes. They bring their own approach to the Icelandic ingredients, which often is very inspiring to their Icelandic colleagues. An international team of celebrity judges rates all the food and three chefs are chosen as finalists to compete for the title of Food and Fun Chef of the Year. The prestige of winning the Food and Fun title has put some upcoming master chefs in the limelight, thus paving the way to further success.
Many a food enthusiast will go through the weekend in a culinary bliss. After all, what can be nicer on a dark winters night than spending an evening in good company over an exciting meal? Food and Fun is a true adventure for the taste buds!
THE FIRST MICHELIN RESTAURANT IN ICELAND.
DILL restaurant just became the first Icelandic restaurant to earn a Michelin star. Ragnar Eiríksson, head chef at DILL, accepted the Michelin Award in Stockholm on behalf of the restaurant, accompanied by his partners. Icelandic chefs and restaurants have been flourishing in the last few years and keep getting better all the time. This Michelin star confirms the quality of the culinary arts in Iceland.
DILL restaurant has been chosen the best restaurant in Iceland by the White Guide Nordic, Nordic Prize and others. The food is in the style of the New Nordic, with a truly artisan approach and giving great care to details.
When travelling with Crisscross we often visit the beautiful and very friendly goats at Háafell goat farm. When the first settlers came to Iceland the Icelandic goat was among the livestock they brought with them; cows, sheep, pigs, horses, chicken, cats, dogs and goats. For more than 1000 years Icelandic farmers have been breeding the animals more or less isolated from other countries livestock. This has resulted in special Icelandic breeds of farm animals. The Icelandic horse is the most famous of these livestocks, with it’s riding qualities and modest size. The Icelandic settlement goat is much less known.
Goats were very common in Norway, where many of the early settlers. Place names all over Iceland suggest that goats have been kept here as well in the early days. Through the ages sheep and cows became the most common farm animals while the Icelandic goat was not held in high esteem. By 1960 the Icelandic goat was nearly extinct with the total amount of goats in Iceland going down to less than 100 animals.
In the last 50 years the interest in keeping and cultivating the Icelandic goat has been growing. Many farmers that focus mainly on sheep or cows also keep a few goats. The number of Icelandic goats keeps growing and now they are almost 1000.
Johanna Thorvaldsdottir fell in love with the Icelandic goat at an early age. When she took over the farm at Háafell she immediately added three goats to the farm’s livestock. Today she and her husband run the only goat farm in Iceland with 200 goats. The goats are very colourful and every spring new variations are born. Johanna takes good care of the varied produce of the goats, making cheeses, sausages, soaps and face creams. Goats are not sheared as you do with sheep, but by carefully combing the goats one collects their soft and incredibly warm wool, which makes a lovely knitting yarn. Furthermore some of Johanna’s goats have shown considerable acting talents, as can be seen in certain episodes of the television series Game of Thrones.
CNN Travel recently published an exciting list of top 17 destinations to visit in 2017. The travel reporters for CNN are real globetrotters, who have practically been to every corner of the world. The Top 17 list includes a great variety of destinations; cities, islands, beaches, national monuments and cultural events. These places offer a wide range of experiences, but reading through the list we can sense the reporters appreciation of delicious local food, fondness of animals and wanting to get off the beaten track.
It comes as no surprise to us to find West Iceland on this list of the 17 most exciting places to go to in 2017. While tourism in Iceland has increased enormously in the last few years, most tourists choose to spend some time in Reykjavik and visit popular spots in the South-West of Iceland or along the South coast.
Other parts of Iceland have perhaps been less accessible until recently and are opening up more slowly.
By putting West Iceland on this list CNN Travel follows in the footsteps of Lonely Planet Guide Books, who placed West Iceland number two on their list of Top 10 regions of the world to visit in 2016. What makes West Iceland an interesting tourist destination, according to Lonely Planet, is the relative ease with which it can be reached, thanks to its proximity to Reykjavík, and the fact that the region captures “all the best of Iceland’s off-the-charts wildlife and nature”.