Chef Aggi Sverrisson talks Icelandic cuisine
Icelandic cuisine has long been characterised by tradition and seasonality, two things championed by Iceland-born Aggi Sverrisson. After more than 20 years in the UK, he is now back on his home patch as head chef at Moss Restaurant at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon
It’s important to be an advocate for the ingredients your location is famous for and Iceland has the world’s best fish. My dream meal is a beautifully prepared fresh fish dish – throw in some Icelandic langoustines and sea urchins and I’m very happy. The crucial element is that the ingredients are as fresh as possible. All over Iceland we have small fishing towns where you can find fresh, high-quality fish – the best is in the northwest, as the ocean is much colder, making the fish firmer.
We are so lucky with our meat in Iceland – the lamb is truly the best I’ve tasted. A traditional dish that I remember eating a lot of when I was a child is kjötsúpa, a root vegetable and lamb soup, which you have in the winter and spring months. It’s the perfect example of Icelandic cookery – simplicity married with the best ingredients in the world.
Tjöruhúsið is a low-key restaurant in Ísafjörður on the Westfjords of Iceland, where guests are seated family style shoulder to shoulder in a building that used to be a tar factory. It offers a catch-of-the-day fish-in-a-pan-style buffet, and might include fish soup, salted cod, plaice and cod tongue – all of which I recommend.
Chocolate volcano dessert
I recently took a helicopter over the erupting volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula and was inspired by the sheer power of Mother Nature. I wanted to capture the effect of the volcano erupting in food form, so I created this chocolate dessert. The colours are explosive and it tastes good, too! Moss serves something you’re not going to eat every day. It’s a unique theatrical experience.
Bryggjan café-restaurant in Grindavík is famous for its lobster soup. You can also try its traditional Icelandic fish stew, plokkfiskur, or salted cod. One of its dining halls is right next to a fully operational net-making factory, which is visible through a glass window.
Icelandic salt is so good because it comes from some of the cleanest seawater in the world. In general, Icelandic salt production uses mainly geothermal energy to preheat, heat up and dry the salt crystals making the production close to leaving a zero carbon footprint, with zero CO2 and zero methane emissions.