Nature wines and creative cooking on Midsummer's Night
On midsummer's night on Saturday a pop-up restaurant will take place on the upper floors of Harpa concert hall. Pop-up restaurant Borðhald and wine importers Berjamór will be uniting for a unique experience of new Nordic cooking and nature wines.
The three young men organising the event are chefs Kjartan Óli Guðmundsson and Freyr Karel Branolte, and waiter and wine importer Axel Age Schiöth. "The idea came to us after spending some time in Denmark eating at fantastic restaurants there. Pop-up restaurants are very popular there but hadn't really started in Iceland. So we started our pop-up events last winter and will be hosting two such events this summer, the first being this Saturday night," explains Kjartan.
"We wanted to introduce Axel's amazing wines. They're new to the Icelandic market and we wanted to pair wine with food. The idea has progressed and what we're doing now is simply cooking great food and pairing it with great wine." But what exactly is a nature wine?
"They are organic wines where the whole wine making process is without any additives. Nothing is put into the wines and nothing is taken out. They are hand-crafted wines made by visionaries and they develop a unique smell and flavour," explains Axel. "In our case they provided us with inspiration for food and are an experience in themselves." Most of the wines he imports are from France but some are from Italy, Germany and Spain.
"Until now we've selected the food to pair with the wine, but on Saturday night we're doing the opposite. The menu is the main thing and the wines are selected to reflect the food," explains Freyr.
Kjartan adds that they only use seasonal ingredients from Iceland or neighbouring countries."It's very important to us to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Our cooking is what you would probably call New Nordic, or even New Icelandic. We use Icelandic ingredients and take inspiration both from traditional Icelandic cooking techinques and other cultures, Japan in my case." He explains that for example he's been experimenting with an old method from the island of Grímsey to dry-age meat. "They used to wrap seal meat in kelp to keep it from turning. I'm using kelp to dry-age foal meat. It gives the meat a full, umami flavour."
Other dishes on Saturday night's menu include oysters in kimchi, King crab, monkfish and vegetable dishes. "It's summer so we're using a lot of Icelandic herbs such as angelica, sea lily, arctic thyme, oyster leaf and meadowsweet. We're picking them all by hand out in nature or on the shore," explains Kjartan. So what should people expect on Saturday night? "People will be greeted at 18.30 with a cocktail at the gorgeous Björtuloft hall in Harpa where there are outstanding views and a balcony overlooking Reykjavik. From there on we embark on a culinary journey of seven dishes and seven nature wines long into the night, which will obviously be a bright one, seeing as it's Midsummer's Night, one of the brightest days on the calendar, and also a magical one. We promise a great foodie experience and lots of fun."