18 November 2009

marshmallow lessons

I was one of the fortunate invitees to a rather spectacular dinner on Saturday night, at the now famous blue house. One of the temporary house residents A, a restaurant owner from Germany, had been in Iceland for the autumn lamb slaughter season, learning about where exactly the food's coming from. He'd also started producing a new lamb sausage, a perfect marriage between the texture and seasoning of the best dried German sausages and the smoky Icelandic lamb flavor. He' flew back to his restaurant a few days ago, so Saturday was his final hurrah of sorts.

On Saturday evening I walked to the Blue House in the velvety darkness, and as I neared the house the smell of delicious roasted things wafted down the street, carried by the snappy breeze pouring off the sea. Inside the house it was steamy and warm and full chatter as A put together the final touches on the appetizers. We sat down soon later, the sixteen of us crowded into the living room, friends and new additions alike.

To start, tender shrimp on bread with a homemade cocktail sauce that disappeared quickly from in front of this enthusiastic crowd, and then came the flavors I'd been smelling down the street. Roast pork, roasted cauliflower all toasted on the ends, herbed Bavarian-style dumplings poured over with sauce from the roasted meat, and a creamy thin-slice cucumber salad to offset the richness of the other flavors. Absolutely divine- decadent and infinitely edible, reminiscent of so many good times in Germany but done in a way that managed to be strangely light on the stomach. Of course we all ate too much but still managed space for the skyr tart that hid a treasure trove of booze-soaked cookies in the bottom. Even the Argentinian priest had to try some of that one.

And then, time for the after party even though we were all slightly comatose from the deliciousness. We pushed the tables aside and on came the SingStar, heavy on the German tunes since so large a proportion of the attendees were German. Nothing starts a party quite like disco-era Eurovision. Once everyone was warmed up enough we went outside to the grill-pit where a snappy fire had gotten started, over which we toasted marshmallows. The bag of marshmallows I'd bought were made by Haribo, and since apparently Europeans didn't grow up toasting marshmallows, the bag had printed a series of drawings to show how to do it. I had to explain to the assembled multitude how close to the fire to hold it, the proper brown-and-bubbly look to be going for, that a bit of steam is a good thing, that it's best when the thing starts to get misshapen, but beware of that hot sugar.

As we crowded around the fire, the massive darkness above us lit up with northern lights. They've been a rare sight this year so everyone marveled appropriately before turning back to the cozy light of the fire, the hiss of toasting sugar, and the friendliness that comes from a group of people from all over the world, somehow brought together on a gorgeous night on this strange rock of an island.


Professor Batty said...

The "awesomeness of Reykjavík living" tag has never been more appropriate. I can almost smell the food.

tsduff said...

You always make it sound so good. ummm.