Friday, April 13, 2012

Iced in DC...

Sous Chef, Sarah Biglan and Chef Thrainn Freyr

by contributor Donna Shor
Photo credit:  Taste of Iceland

The Vikings have landed!  Iceland took over DC.

No, not the football team, but descendents of the early settlers of Iceland who will be on the DC scene for the next four days from the “land of fire and ice” to share Iceland’s culture with us during “A Taste of Iceland.”

The celebration’s intriguing events feature Icelandic cuisine brought here by a leading Iceland chef, music (a hotter than hot band in a free concert) and two of Iceland’s newest hit films whose showings are also gratis.

Sponsored by Iceland Naturally, a partnership of businesses and organizations featuring the best of Icelandic products in North America, it includes among others, Reyka Vodka, (produced with pure spring water filtered through lava rock), Icelandic Glacial Water, and sustainable, premium quality fresh fish. Icelandair, which is part of the group, has just launched its seasonal non-stop flights from Dulles to Reykjavik, the country’s capital so you can easily enjoy this fascinating land’s wonders on the spot.

The kickoff reception was held last night at Ris, the West End restaurant owned by Ris Lacoste, the iconic, award-winning DC restaurateur. Her pioneering insistence on the freshest of products makes her restaurant the perfect place to celebrate Iceland’s fish.

Chef Thrainn Freyr
To cook it for “A Taste of Iceland” at the restaurant from today through April 15 is Chef Thrainn Freyr, World Culinary Cup Winner and Bocuse d’Or competitor, who, in partnership with the restaurant’s Sous Chef Sarah Biglan, prepared dishes previewed at the tasting reception.

This is the four course menu to be served at Ris for the next four days, delighting area foodies with the ”A Taste of Iceland” dishes: Slow Cooked Icelandic Char with tarragon flavored aioli; next,  Wild Caught Icelandic Cod with special “Geysir” rye bread crumbles and citrus sauce. (Geysir rye is baked in a geothermal hot spring at Haukadal, Iceland.)  

For the fourth course, Icelandic Free Range Lamb, the Roasted Shoulder and Grilled Loin served with glazed Jerusalem artichokes, dried grapes, roasted almonds and infused dill. Concluding the feast is Viking Skyr Tiramisu, a skyr and cream cheese mousse with spicy cake, coffee syrup and coffee ice cream. (“Skyr” is an Iceland cultured dairy product which has been a staple there since the Vikings. It is fat-free, fresh and creamy and thicker than yogurt.) 

To match the festivities, Ryan Smith, a member of the Ris bar team, has originated the Reykjavika10l, a cocktail which comprises Reyka Vodka, Corsair Gin, a house-made vermouth and a twist of Meyer lemon. .

The Alternative/Indie band Of Monsters and Men (OMaM) and Lay Low will continue their North American tours with a free concert on Saturday, April 14 in Maryland at Colesville Road’s Fillmore Silver Spring. There will be no cover charge, the doors open at 8 PM ( 

Expect a crowd; the venue holds 2,000. 

After their March concert at the 9:30 club to rave reviews, their April concert at the Black Cat was “very, very sold out” with long lines waiting for the club to open. Their new album came out the next day. Lay Low is the alter-ego of Icelandic singer and songwriter Lovisa Elisabet Sigrunardotter, an acclaimed artist.

The movies Summerland and Inni will be shown one day only, without charge, on Sunday April 15 at 1pm at AMC’s Uptown One on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park. Its story line has heroine Lara able to communicate with the dead thanks to an ancient elf-stone found in the garden of her family home. (Remember, Iceland is the homeland of the elfin trolls.) 

At 2:30 Inni will be screened. It is the famed Sigur Ros’ second live film after 2007’s documentary Heimo. It wraps the viewer in a one-on-one relationship with the band and shows how it feels for both band and fan to experience Sigur Ros live.

And Iceland just keeps on giving. Washingtonians can visit for a chance to win an Icelandair trip to Iceland for two. There they can visit the geothermal springs, spot the volcanoes, and bathe in the famed Blue Lagoon, with its beautifying mud and ride horseback through the landscape and, not to forget, eat the fish and drink the vodka.  And though it is on the edge of the Arctic Circle, the warm Gulf Stream reaches it.

Gudmundur Arni Stefansson, Iceland’s genial new ambassador to the U.S., said he hoped
“A Taste of Iceland” would inspire Washingtonians to come to “the land of fire and ice to see what makes Iceland unique and fun.”

He drew laughter when, after being asked what time of year was best to visit Iceland, he answered with a twinkle in his eye: “ January, February, March, April, May….”