Iceland: more than an ash cloud

In the aftermath of the volcanic ash extravaganza, “Michelin starred chef” probably isn’t the first phrase that comes to mind when you say “Iceland”. But judging by the tasty morsels I sampled last week, it soon will be. I was invited to an event to celebrate the awarding of a Michelin star to Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson at Texture restaurant in Mayfair.

Foolishly, I arrived too late to sample everything on offer but I did manage to nibble some unusual gastronomic delights, including bacon popcorn and some delicious Icelandic cod with chorizo and tapenade. Yum.

Texture tasting menu

It was good to be reminded of the creativity and talent that comes out of Iceland, especially during a time when the rest of the UK were grumbling and acting as if the Icelanders themselves had gleefully put a giant pin in the volcano and let it burst, causing havoc.

I’ve had a soft spot for Iceland since I first visited it on a Geography field trip years ago. It’s a stunning country, and one where the people seem very easily at one with nature. Being “eco” isn’t a trendy lifestyle choice in Iceland, it’s just the way things are done. I met one woman who had a geyser burst through her kitchen floor and instead of making a drama about it, she just shrugged her shoulders and set about shifting her kitchen a few inches to the west to avoid the spewing hot steam!

In fact, building houses to work in harmony with the local environmental conditions is something Icelanders are very good at. The picture below (found at eco blog Inhabitat) is an ecologically sound house that is designed to blend into its landscape by using natural materials, including a grass roof. The house relies on passive solar design, geothermal heating and hydroelectric power for its energy needs, and is made of salvaged materials where possible.

The Passive Solar Hof House in Iceland

I can’t write a blog post about Iceland’s creativity without mentioning its most famous export – the wonderfully eccentric Bjork. The photo below, part of a Nick Knight series, hangs in our flat and I don’t tire of its ethereal beauty.

Bjork

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