Icelandic culture descended upon unsuspecting Bostonians for four days this past weekend. The Icelanders came for Boston’s 3rd annual A Taste of Iceland, a festival hosted by Iceland Naturally, a council of Icelandic brands. They brought with them their cuisine, music, films, and a raffle to win two tickets to Iceland on Icelandair.
The festival featured a special Icelandic menu at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks from Thursday to Sunday as well as a series of free events over the weekend. The schedule for Saturday included ice skating at the Kendall Square Community Ice Skating rink, and at night 88.9 WERS FM presented a concert called Reykjavik Calling at the Paradise Rock Club that brought together Boston-based and Icelandic artists like Mugison, Dave Munro of Air Traffic Controller, and Eli “Paperboy” Reed.
The events concluded Sunday with film screenings at the Kendall Square Cinema. The Roving Reporter ventured around the festival to experience this eclectic combination of cultures.
Sarah Witt, employee at the Kendall Square Community Ice Skating rink
RR: What do you know about Iceland?
SW: I lived there for three months about five years ago. I worked on a sheep farm. You can hitchhike anywhere around the country, and it’s safe, which I did. This family took me in on their sheep farm/hotel where they do the bird-watching tours where the puffins come to the westernmost tip. I just love the country; I think the people are really reserved, and they’re very warm and friendly.
RR: What do you think of Icelandic cuisine?
SW: It’s horrible. I ate whale meat while I was there. In general there aren’t very many fresh fruits and vegetables. Their strawberries were okay, but other than that, it was horrible. I think I lost, like, 20 pounds. But they have good lamb meat.
Matthew Audette, chef at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
RR: You’ve prepared a special Icelandic menu with Icelandic chef Hákon Már Örvarsson—what makes Icelandic cuisine unique?
MA: The freshness, and how local all of the ingredients are to Iceland. Hákon Már Örvarsson brought all of his own ingredients with him…. He brought a lot of dried herbs, fresh herbs, blueberries, and this product called skyr, which is similar to Greek yogurt. That was something we talked a lot about…how we get the produce we work with. We both work a lot with local farms.
RR: What is your favorite item on the menu you prepared?
MA: He’s doing this lightly smoked Icelandic Arctic char, and it’s rolled in plastic wrap, lightly cooked, and then smoked on the way to the table.
RR: On the menu, you combine lamb and dried blueberries. What’s that like?
MA: The lamb is marinated, and then blueberries are sprinkled almost like a finishing salt. The blueberries have almost a coffee aspect to them, which has to do with the bitterness.