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North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Gunnar Karl Gíslason , Jody Eddy , Rene Redzepi

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9. September 2014
An unprecedented look into the food and culture of Iceland, from Iceland's premier chef and the owner of Reykjavík's Restaurant Dill.

Iceland is known for being one of the most beautiful and untouched places on earth, and a burgeoning destination for travelers lured by its striking landscapes and vibrant culture. Iceland is also home to an utterly unique and captivating food scene, characterized by its distinctive indigenous ingredients, traditional farmers and artisanal producers, and wildly creative chefs and restaurants. 
Perhaps no Icelandic restaurant is as well-loved and critically lauded as chef Gunnar Gíslason’s Restaurant Dill, which opened in Reykjavík’s historic Nordic House in 2009. North is Gíslason’s wonderfully personal debut: equal parts recipe book and culinary odyssey, it offers an unparalleled look into a star chef’s creative process. But more than just a collection of recipes, North is also a celebration of Iceland itself—the inspiring traditions, stories, and people who make the island nation unlike any other place in the world. 

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Chef GUNNAR GISLASON opened Restaurant Dill in Reykjavik's historic Nordic House in 2009. His contemporary cooking celebrating Iceland's pristine ingredients and artisanal producers has garnered international acclaim and media. Dill has been nominated for the Nordic Prize and has earned numerous accolades including Iceland's restaurant of the year every year since it opened. In his spare time, Gislason can be found foraging with his children for ingredients to stock his restaurant's pantry, or salmon fishing in one of Iceland's glacial rivers.

JODY EDDY is the author of Come In, We're Closed, which profiled the staff meals of 25 of the world's best restaurants. A graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, she is the former editor of Art Culinaire. She first visited Dill in 2009 and has been a devoted disciple of Gislason's cooking philosophy ever since.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.


In 2009, Iceland was in the middle of what would prove to be, relative to its size, the largest universal banking collapse experienced by any country in economic history. The ongoing financial implosion sent the nation’s restaurants into a tailspin, as the cost of food skyrocketed and people could no longer afford the luxury of eating out. It is hard to imagine a more dismal time to open a restaurant, but Gunnar Karl Gíslason had no alternative.

Just prior to the crisis, Gunnar, who had introduced contemporary Nordic cuisine to his country, had left his position as executive chef of Vox, Iceland’s most esteemed restaurant, determined to realize his lifelong dream of opening his own place. Despite the financial maelstrom engulfing his nation, he decided to move forward on this idea. He chose the name Dill for the restaurant, to honor one of the nation’s most abundant herbs and to highlight the foraging principle integral to his cooking philosophy.

As the economy blazed a downward trajectory fierce enough to disrupt financial markets around the world, every one of Gunnar’s investors pulled out of the plan to open Dill in Reykjavík’s landmark Nordic House, designed by the famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The building, the city’s primary meeting place for cultural exchanges among the Nordic countries, seemed an ideal location for a restaurant celebrating the foods and cooking techniques of the region.

When the funding disappeared, Gunnar was forced to forge ahead with his plan with nothing but a resolute commitment to realize his dream and credit cards that “burned red” by the time he was finished. Since those dark days, Dill has become Iceland’s most celebrated restaurant. But there is more to the story of its success than indefatigable work and enormous credit card debt. There is a promise made. And a promise kept.

The purveyors promised to supply the Dill kitchen with either free or heavily discounted products until Gunnar found his footing and could afford to pay them back. In most parts of the world, this arrangement would be unprecedented. In Iceland, it is a way of life. Icelanders know a thing or two about transcending struggle. This innate knowledge, born of an ancient and perpetual negotiation with the environment for survival, inspires an invincible kinship among the citizenry. That affinity expresses itself in a fidelity resolute enough not only to withstand the near collapse of an economy but also to open a restaurant with little more than a dream and a promise.

After months of working twenty hours a day, seven days a week, Gunnar’s vision was realized, and his restaurant honoring Iceland’s culinary heritage by showcasing its pristine products on a contemporary canvas quickly earned unparalleled success. It garnered acclaim around the world, becoming the must-visit restaurant for Icelandic tourists, a destination restaurant for culinary adventure seekers, and, most important for Icelanders, an establishment that finally put their nation on the international gastronomic map.

As successful as Dill became, Gunnar never forgot the debt he owed to his purveyors. He expressed his gratitude first through the repayment of his monetary obligations and then through a renewed commitment to protect the venerable culinary traditions of Iceland by showcasing local products on his restaurant menu in fresh, innovative ways. His approach is never to mask the integrity of the ingredients but rather to allow them to tell their own story. In doing so, they link diners to the past while simultaneously propelling them into the future—the essence of contemporary Nordic cooking.

This cooking model has been embraced not only in kitchens in Iceland and its neighboring countries but also by chefs around the world who want to fortify their cooking with something more elusive than flavor. They are striving to stake a claim to important roles in society as architects, ambassadors, and educators of a revolutionized food system, one that values sustainability over industrialization, products with an historical pedigree over factory-produced foods without lineage. For Gunnar, a chef who has always been ardently committed to his producers, the terroir of his nation, and the traditions of the past, this role is nothing new. It is as instinctive to him as plucking sea urchins from a cold, frothy sea; harvesting seaweed the color of iron from a black stone beach in the shadow of a glacier; or gathering sorrel and angelica from craggy volcanic crevasses to supplement a restaurant menu that celebrates the local resources of a place that has been dubbed the world’s only sustainable nation.

Striking a covenant with the environment that you will never take more than you need and that you will fight to protect it as long as it provides you with the seafood, game, livestock, and produce necessary to survive is a way of life in Iceland. It was practiced long before the words foraging, terroir, and sustainability became commonplace. This simple cooking philosophy was employed by Gunnar years before new Nordic cuisine and The Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen (see page 259) came to be among the culinary world’s hottest buzzwords.

This book celebrates the cuisine and nation of a forward-thinking chef and the producers who supply his restaurant. The alchemy of the relationship between chef and producers, and between that pairing and the environment, is revealed in Gunnar’s contemporary recipes, which are approachable enough for the home cook, yet sufficiently challenging to entice the professional chef. Each recipe tells a story, contextualizing and integrating the tenets of the contemporary Nordic kitchen into the ongoing larger conversation in the culinary community, and by extension the world.

The principles of this modern Nordic culinary philosophy can be put to work anywhere on the planet. That fact prompts some questions: If any professional or home cook can celebrate regionality in his or her cooking repertoire, why is there such an intense focus on the Nordic countries leading the way? Why have the nations that hover so close to the Arctic Circle garnered such prodigious praise in recent years? Why are expectations running so high for the Nordic pioneers of the culinary world? It is because they are at the forefront of a revolution in our food system constructed on an ideology that embraces a respect for place as the foundation of their cooking style. It is a revolution that is not defined by innovation as much as it is by centuries-old principles.

This cookbook adds a unique voice to this conversation by examining the culinary narrative of Iceland, a fascinating nation with a compelling gastronomic heritage that until now has gone virtually unexplored. It opens the doors to an extraordinary country whose identity is shaped in equal measure by a rich, harrowing past and a bright future. Iceland’s citizens have endured a perpetual struggle to survive ever since their Viking ancestors settled the country in the ninth century, yet have now arrived at a moment when they are always ranked near or at the top of a United Nations–compiled Gini index measuring such factors as life expectancy, educational attainment, literacy, and general standard of living. Iceland is one of the most egalitarian countries on the planet, and modern Icelanders are content despite the sometimes difficult circumstances they endure. This cookbook illuminates the continuity of past, present, and future, through Gunnar’s contemporary recipes and through conversations with some of Iceland’s traditional food purveyors. Together, they are preserving their nation’s culture through the enduring language of food.

When I first...

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  3 Rezensionen
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great concept, interesting ideas, beautiful pictures, extremely complex recipes 9. September 2014
Von I Do the Speed Limit - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Recipes are way too time consuming and intricate for me!

Although I was—still am—intrigued by this book, I would suggest you check this out from your library first. Hey, if you have money to burn and plenty of empty space on your book shelves, go for it. I was so disappointed in the recipes that I was almost angry enough to give it a 2.5-3-star rating! But thinking further, I decided on a 4-star: It did open my eyes to the place, the culture, the attitude of Iceland. It also further developed my interest and quest towards making the most of what grows in my own yard, on the plains and in the waters near where I live.

It is a restaurant cookbook; Gunnar Karl Gislason, prior exec chef at Vox , a most esteemed restaurant in Iceland, is the author. He opened his restaurant Dill in Reykjavik’s landmark Nordic House when the economy was extremely poor. He worked with vendors, and they worked with him, with vendors putting off invoicing for better times. The chef and the purveyors bet on each other, and both came out ahead. It is a satisfying story. According to the book, the restaurant "honors Iceland’s culinary heritage by showcasing its pristine products on a contemporary canvas."

The way this chef portrays "contemporary" is not really suitable for home cooks, no matter how experienced and sophisticated they are....

You should definitely browse through the “Look Inside” feature on this product page. See the one picture of a finished dish? That is representative of most size portions in this book, main courses included. See the question/answer pages? The book is divided into chapters that highlight the vendors. At the beginning of each chapter, you will read a few pages that give insight into each vendor and their thoughts and lifestyles. There will be a question/answer section for each vendor (somewhat lame questions if you ask me….)

Suggestions for substitutions are supposedly provided for most everything. But the subs are so ambiguous, they make the recipes even more difficult than they already are.

I don’t know any other way to describe to you how these recipes read, except for giving you an example. Bear with me, or not: Of course you can stop reading any time after you get the gist of what I’m trying to convey: Four stars for spurring my interest and for the non-recipe content; two stars for how easy the recipes are to re-create:

So here is the first recipe—and it is a good representation for the rest of them; it is “Salted Cod Tartar, Dill Mayonnaise, and Dulse Powder:
You form your own opinion, okay?

It says prep time is about 2  hours (yikes!) (Plus 12 hours to freeze the cod.) But that does not take into consideration the prep for the angelica mustard, the pickled angelica, the sweet-and-sour dill oil.

For the dill mayo: You need an egg yolk and white vinegar and salt. You also need angelica mustard (page 139): For the mustard, you need 3 T minced fresh angelica. It says you can sub any herb for the angelica, but no amounts are given for “any” herb. You also need both black and yellow mustard seeds; dry mustard; juniper berries; allspice berries; cider vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt,  C pickling juice from pickled angelica ((page 137), on which page I don’t see any subs for the angelica stalks and their seeds needed to create the pickle)…...Oh, and it needs to sit for a month before using….. You also need 1/3 C sweet-and-sour dill oil (page 32): Combine  C fresh dill leaves (you know how tiny dill leaves are, don’t you?), oil, cider vinegar and sugar in a blender and process until smooth, then strain and transfer to a squeeze bottle.

For the Pickled Dill Stalks: You need stalks from  bunch of dill (How big is a bunch of dill??) You also need to refrigerate the dill stalks in their pickling liquid for at least 2 hours. Oh, no! Maybe they should have listed this procedure first….

Then the Crispy Cod Skins: Four, (yes, four) inches of oil in a deep, heavy pot. If you have cod skins fry them in the oil for 1 to 2 minutes. If you are not lucky enough to have cod skin, you can use salted cod chips (page 19) or crispy rye bread (page 72)……Please let your maid clean up the mess....

Cod tartar: Seven ounces cod placed in salted water for 30 minutes, drained, rinsed, wrapped, then frozen for 12 hours, then passed through a ricer while still frozen, then thawed for 30 minutes. Oh, no! Maybe this paragraph should have been first instead of two lines from the end…….

Oh, and you need powdered seaweed: (See note on page 310, where you learn that you need to dehydrate the seaweed in order to grind it: Place on a baking sheet, put in oven at lowest setting for 4 to 6 hours. Grind it in a spice grinder.)

To serve, you place a generous spoonful on each of four plates, dot with mayo, sprinkle with seaweed, garnish with crispy skin.

End of recipe…. Enjoy your spoonful......please, I beg you!

Other notes and observations:

--I am happy to know about sorrel ash (a staple of Iceland) and how to make it, as it is a cool weather constant in my gardens.

--I was hoping to learn to make beer vinegar. The directions say I don’t need to start with a “mother”, (but my past experience tells me I should….). The recipe does not explain/tell me the difference between using a “mother” and not using a “mother”. I’ve never had any luck making vinegar without a “mother”……

--I was looking forward to trying the cod soup, until I learned it is served as a few teaspoons of foam.

--I live in the country and we always keep a bale of hay on hand for our chickens, and when the author explained the technique of smoking with hay, he said to find a bale of hay and store it in your garage, and pull a few handfuls every once in a while to make hay smoke….No, no, no! You do not want to do that! Unless your garage is trashed and filthy already. You just don’t realize how messy that really is.….

--Here is a “great” recipe: Milk Ice Cream, Rutabaga and Apple Cider Granita and Sweet and Sour Dill Oil: It only takes 4 hours to prepare, but that does not include the 12 hours to make the ice cream. It also does not say how to come up with 3 C rutabaga juice. And I can’t figure out how to cut rutabaga cylinders from ” diameter cutters…..

I finally lost interest. This book is a fascinating read and the pictures are pretty, but the servings are sparse, the techniques too involved, and the instructions too time-consuming to wallow through.

*I received a temporary download of this book from the publishers. So I had been working with it for a few months prior to writing this review. I will not be purchasing this book. I will try to incorporate a few ideas I learned, and I will look for it at my library at a later date and read through it again sometime—but not too soon……
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4.0 von 5 Sternen One of the most beautiful cooks you will find. 18. September 2014
Von Terri Pena - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
A few months back I was lamenting to Husband about the lack of Scandinavian cookbooks, at least those available to us English speakers. It seems like a title comes out every few years but does not stay in print for long. A couple of good ones you can find now are A Kitchen of Light by Andreas Viestade, and Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann. If you move away from Scandinavia proper, and include the larger Nordic region, you still do not get much in the way of time honored cookbooks, but there is a brand new one that is a stunner. North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland by Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy.

Oh my. This is one of the most beautiful cookbooks you will ever find. The photography of the food, people, and landscapes are breathtaking. The recipes are surprising.

Many of the recipes and techniques fall under the category of "fine dining", using a multitude of ingredients and steps. But there are others that even a beginning cook could handle. The most surprising addition to many of the dishes are powders. Powders of all sort, dill, rye bread, seaweed, rhubarb...the list goes on and on. Getting cozy with these powders will open up a ton of flavors in the food you cook everyday. My one regret about this book is that there is not a "powder" listing in the index. To find them all you need to look at the recipe listings for each section.

The book is also surprising in the way it is broken up. Not by seasons, or courses, but by providers. A story about the local person who provides cod is followed by cod recipes and dishes that are special to the place where the cod is caught. Same goes for the mushroom forager, dairy farmer, sheep farmer, and salt maker. It is really a very cool idea.

Not every ingredient used in this book will be readily available where you live. Substitutions are given and Gunner says, "Cook until it tastes good and use what you have." A fine way to work in the kitchen.

This is a huge book that I expect will keep me reading and cooking for months to come.
1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Magnificent cookbook 23. September 2014
Von wow - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Iceland cooking

This is a great winter cookbook! From the pictures of scenery in this book I realized I must some day visit this place and conquer my fear of the cold!
This book is an eye opener to a culture we did not know about. Many of the recipes have to do with fish but there are still some dairy ones which you can make! A beautiful copy table volume, even if some of the recipes are too difficult for the average American to make.
. Even if I do not make most of the seafood recipes I drew inspiration from this cookbook. My favorite chapter was collecting seabird eggs. This is such a neat insight to the land.This is one of the most beautiful cookbooks you will ever find. The photography of the food, people, and landscapes are breathtaking. The recipes are surprising.
Not so much as the kinds of recipes but the chapter titles !
The Bacalao Producer
The Arctic Char Smoker
The Rugbraud Baker
The Fisherman
The Seabird Egg Collector
The Barley Farmer
The Dairy Farmer
The Birch and Mushroom Forager
The Sheep Farmer
The Hardfiskur Producer
The Salt Maker
The Goat Farmer
The Blue Mussel and Dulse Harvester

I loved how the author who has a restaurant honors the people of the land. "This book celebrates the cuisine and nation of a forward-thinking chef and the producers who supply his restaurant." Try this recipe and then order your book!
Bacalao Potatoes
with fennel Ribbons and Sorrel Ash
Serves 4 | Preparation time: about 1 hour (plus 24 hours to rehydrate the cod)

On a visit to northern Iceland, Gunnar and I stayed in an inviting apartment on the outskirts of Akureyri, the second largest town in the country (at a whopping eighteen thousand inhabitants) and Gunnar’s birthplace. The only thing our cozy abode lacked was blackout curtains. Not surprisingly, the blinding July sun that drenches the country in light twenty-four hours a day results in severe sleep deprivation for anyone not accustomed to it. Gunnar, of course, is accustomed to his nation’s days of perpetual light and slept soundly each night. Perhaps because he was not bleary-eyed by dinnertime (and because he is a naturally hospitable fellow), he took charge of the evening meal.

One of the first things he made was this creamy potato recipe incorporating Elvar’s bacalao. It was not his intention to prepare it every night, but we couldn’t seem to get enough of its comforting virtue. The bacalao infused it with just the right amount of brininess, and the pungent horseradish perked up any sleepy brains. It’s hearty enough to work as a main dish and also makes a fantastic side. One night, Gunnar served it on toast; on another, he substituted smoked haddock, an ideal replacement for the cod. The profusion of herbs he added was dictated by whatever we foraged that day. This dish, which is inspired by a popular lunch item at Dill, is festively attired with fennel ribbons, a soft-boiled egg, and sorrel ash—the latter a mainstay of the Nordic kitchen.

1 pound (450 g) salted cod
1 pound (450 g) waxy potatoes
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream, warmed

Sorrel Ash
Leaves from 1 bunch sorrel

To Serve
4 carrots, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces, and roasted
2 fennel stalks, cut into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler (see note)
4 eggs, soft boiled
Freshly grated horseradish, for finishing

To make the potatoes, immerse the salted cod in cold water to cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, changing the water several times to remove as much salt as possible. Remove from the water and, if skin and bones are present, remove them. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and roast the cod until warmed through, about 8 minutes. Once it is cool enough to handle, break into flakes, and keep warm.

To make the sorrel ash, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the sorrel leaves in a single layer on the prepared pan and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, until blackened. Let cool to room temperature, then pulverize the leaves in a spice grinder, transfer to an airtight container, and store at room temperature until serving. The ash will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Boil the potatoes in salted water to cover for 18 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain the potatoes, let cool just until they can be handled, then peel them, keeping the peel intact if possible.

In a saucepan, mash the warm potatoes and cream together until smooth. Add the warm cod and stir gently to incorporate. Keep warm.

To serve, spoon the potatoes into a bowl. Top with the carrots, a generous handful of fennel ribbons, a soft-boiled egg, and a spoonful of horseradish. Dust with sorrel ash.

To prevent browning, immerse the fennel ribbons in acidulated water until ready to use.
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