Title:North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland
Author: Gunnar Gíslason, Jody Eddy
Pub. Date: September 9th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Ten Speed Press
Four and a half stars.
North is a cookbook that represents a glamorous, upscale take on the foods of Iceland. More than just recipes, this book includes essays and interviews with the food producers of the exotic ingredients used to make these dishes possible.
If you don't know by now from my reading my blog, you know that I'm a foodie, and a bit of an admitted snob (it happens when your dad is a chef. Oops). That being said, I confess that I had no idea that Iceland had a unique cuisine. It makes complete sense of course, but I was completely unfamiliar with it. This book was equal parts gorgeous and informative, and I can safely say that I definitely need to try some Icelandic fare.
First of all, I was really amazed at the amount of information that's packed into this book. There's informational blurbs about some of the more "exotic" (by American standards) ingredients and the techniques to follow as well as facts about the region. This was coupled with interviews and essays written by artisanal food producers that I didn't even know exist. From sea bird egg harvesters to collectors of birch, this book gives a great insight into the culture.
This is coupled with some stunning photography. The included shots of people, landscapes, prepared dishes, and ingredients are equally striking. Viewing pictures of the stunning ice and forests and animals of Iceland helped to set the tone of the book, and the shots of the recipes are all enticing and very chic looking, making even dishes that hadn't sounded good to me look delicious.
And then of course, there's the recipes themselves. They tended to lean on the more complex side of things, but each technique and recipe is well explained and elaborated. I also appreciated that the author acknowledged that Americans usually don't have access to the same kinds of ingredients, and offered substitutions that are more widely available. The chapters are divided mainly by the ingredients used, and I think that's a handy way to go about the organization. The dishes I'm most eager to try and prepare are, in no particular order: Rapeseed Oil Cake, Cider Apples, Buttermilk Ice Cream, and Pine Tree Oil, Blue Mussel Soup, Dry-Aged Beef, Celery Root Salad, and Mushroom Aioli and Fried Goose Breast, Celery Root Two Ways, & Parsley and Dill Oil.
In short, this book is one to pull out when you aim to impress. It's not for those who only enjoy meat and potatoes- there's some seriously creative dishes and ingredients. I'd recommend it more for experienced cooks and not beginners, but it's definitely one that I'd like to keep in my personal library for when I'm feeling extra creative and fancy.
Thanks to Ten Speed Press and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.