In the murky depths of Tangafjøður, not far from the Faroes’ capital, Tórshavn, the lobsters are famed for their size and succulence. Along with giant, copper-coloured horse mussels and dainty ivory-tinted scallops they represent the freshest, most sought-after culinary treasures in the Faroes.
At Koks restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Kirkjubøur it’s no surprise that seafood makes it on to the 17-course tasting menu that has won the islands their first Michelin star. Such accolades don’t normally go hand in hand with a cuisine that derives its distinctive flavour from mould, a key feature of Faroese food that is aged through fermentation. Skerpikjøt (wind-dried mutton) is a national favourite, hung unsalted in sheds close to the sea until it grows a patina of fine blue fungus. The Faroese call this fermented food ræst (they do it to fish, too), and Koks includes versions of these classic flavours on the gourmet menu. Add palate-cleansing rhubarb compote, sea tangle, winged kelp or even fulmars served with beetroot, and you begin to understand why this small restaurant was at the forefront of the Nordic food revolution. In 2004, chefs across Scandinavia created the New Nordic Food Manifesto, aiming to produce food that was pure, simple, safe and sustainable.
But the Faroes’ climate presents its own inimitable challenges – 120mph winds blew Koks’s traditional meat-hanging shed into the sea just before Christmas. And foraging for wild sorrel, angelica and sea purslane occupy the sous chefs for several hours a day.
Dining out has never been a strong tradition here, but head chef Poul Andrias Ziska’s artistry is changing that. The announcement that Koks had won a Michelin star immediately resulted in hundreds of bookings – and getting a table in the short summer season is going to be tough. It’s all part of the Faroes’ success at attracting tourists to a destination that is generally windy, wet, cloudy and cool. Hotels for this summer are virtually booked solid, and every day sees more local people advertise rooms on Airbnb.
• +298 333 999, koks.fo
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