There are a few restaurants on the planet that people talk about buying a ticket to as a destination in itself: in the (old days) El Bulli, Fat Duck, Noma, Per Se. I would add to the “must eat” world class culinary list Koks in the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are under the sovereignty of Denmark, in the North Atlantic. The scenery is unparalled: cliffs, fjords and rock formations look like sets from a science fiction movie. The picture windows of the Hotel Foroyar, where the restaurant is located, allow you to take the grandeur in. Bill Clinton has stayed at the Hotel Foroyar.
Their tagline is, “We tend the Faroese taste and odour paving the way for breathtaking experiences.” That’s pretty heady stuff! Cuisine is local, Nordic and often wild-harvested. It’s very accessible: no Pilot whale blubber that I could see. Presentation is super imaginative, incorporating lots of local materials and themes. Check out the slideshow! I’ve been traveling all around the world this year and many restaurants take tourists for granted — grabbing their cash and slapping together plates. In high contrast, Koks takes you back to the concept of fine dining and all of its pleasures. Dress is business and there is an open kitchen. They could probably make a fortune by booking chairs around the counter! Dried cod hangs outside, doing its drying thing, in true Faroese tradition.
Koks’ offerings are in the form of a prix-fixe menu: you pick out from 4, 6 or 8 courses and whether you’d like matching wines. They also have local beers and cider.
The first amuse bouche served was dried cod fish. It was crispy, like a Caesar salad crouton, but potato chip in shape. Alongside it was dried European flounder skin, which had a toasty bread flavor, not “fishy” at all. There was a dip, a creamy remoulade with herbs. It was presented on a dried fish spine and rock, reminding you of its recent home in the sea.
The second amuse bouche consisted of dried shrimp, with an herb cream. They reminded me of Asian fish crackers.
The third amuse bouche was lump fish roe with sour cream on Romaine lettuce with micro flowers. It was light and tasty.
The fourth amuse bouche was wild cress from the forest with horseradish and radish cream: pungent, astringent with a creamy/rich contrast. You eat it with your fingers and a demitasse spoon. A hot towel was then brought, because fingers were used in eating.
For the fifth amuse bouche (!), a Faroese veal rib was salted and roasted. It’s great with the local beer, Okkara. It’s more flavorful than the typical American milk-fed veal.
Rock sea salt is served in a salt dish.
The courses are served at just the right pace. For the bread course, there was wheat bread and local beer mash bread. Sour cream with Sweet Cicely fennel and also a firm burnt butter was served with it. The butter had a smoky, sweet flavor.
The first official course was Monkey flower, watercress oil, fried buckwheat, raw Faroese salted cod, fresh cream cheese. It was very Spring-like, with a wild herbal flavor and crudo texture. The greens had a bitterness.
The next course was skate, wood sorrel, fermented plums, mashed potatoes and burnt butter. The fish was salty-sweet, mild and tender. It was really a great dish and buttery. If I had to say anything against this gorgeous meal, it would be that perhaps it and the next dish were a little similar, with lots of butter.
The next dish was European flounder, polenta, wild sorrel, burnt butter, celeriac, parsley. The fish was tender and nicely seasoned, with very creamy polenta.
The next course was a globally rare delicacy: Faroese lobster! Apparently, chefs at Denmark’s Noma, top chefs in Vegas, Vladimir Putin’s chef and chefs in Dubai are clammoring for Faroese lobster, probably even the Russian guy in the commercial with the giraffe wants it . . . but they can’t have it! It was served with smoked pine, salt of seaweed. Salt of seaweed is a distinctly Faroese gourmet item: ancient in origin, it’s seaweed that’s been dried in the sun and ground, to utilize its saltiness. The course was presented on rocks. Cream for the dish was served in a scallop shell with micro flowers. I think this was the finest lobster I’ve ever had in my life! It was very tender, smoky and flavorful.
The next course was veal, baked Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, fried leaves of Angelica. It had surprisingly bold flavors! The veal was tender and fatty, marbelized. I would describe it as the Nordic equivalent of chimichurra steak.
Dessert was caramel ice cream, salted foam, baked celeriac, malt and dried berries. This was a powerful, most interesting dessert! It had salty, sweet and forest flavors. The umami was completely unexpected in a dessert. The creation had a good crunchy texture aspect to it. It was served with a Burgenland beerenausele, a sweeter late harvest wine from Austria. I got to study about Burgenland’s wines last year.
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