After we got back from Mykines, we did some more exploring around Streymoy and ended up back in Tórshavn for dinner. From 1940 to 1948 the Faroe Islands were under British rule, since the British pre-emptively “invaded” after Denmark fell to the Germans to protect the islands from also falling into German hands. While that occupation was shorter than the American occupation (and later post-war NATO presence), the British occupation did leave a lot of little bits of evidence all around the Faroes. Old foundations of observations posts in the mountains. Artillery pieces on the hill over Tórshavn’s harbor. The airport itself was originally built by the British (with its locations chosen since it was well-protected from naval bombardment). And, on a cultural front, a love for fish and chips. One of the better places in the Faroe Islands to get “Fiskur v. Kipsi” is called “Fish and Chips” (again, the Faroese tendency towards relatively simple names for places).
I mentioned a few times that I didn’t stay in a lot of “hotels” in Réunion during our visit, since a substantial fraction of the lodging on the island is distinctly less formal than a typical hotel, ranging from our mountain gîtes, to a handful of Chambres d’hôtes (basically, B&Bs), and other alternative lodging arrangments. After our hike up Piton de la Fournaise, we came across one of the more memorable gîtes, Matilona in the quiet village of Ste-Rose on the northeastern coast of the Island. Matilona is a rather funky place. It doesn’t really have any one place you can stand and take it all in, so I didn’t really get a picture, but Matilona is built out of a sprawl of several little buildings, Matilona was originally a supermarket, but it’s been turned into a guest house with quite a few rooms (ranging from simple, compact rooms for 1 or 2 people, to large multi-bedroom suites, to the multi-floor suite we stayed in on one end of the complex). A surprisingly large common area, two common kitchens, and a large outdoor common space are all there for guests, as was a very nicely maintained swimming pool. The owner also maintains a collection of local plants, and keeps chickens in the back of the property. The overall vibe that the owner is trying for (with more than a little success) is that you’re staying in a quirky friend’s house.
Our second day of exploring the Western Coast of Réunion had us staying in the resort town of Hermitage-Les-Bains. It’s definitely a resort town, dominated by several large resorts, and the local dining scene caters to it, with a rather large assortment of restaurants offering up large buffets and extensive cocktail bars. While a few of these places (La Marmite and Coco Beach in particular looked like they had a rather nice assortment of Carris and seafood), we opted to check out one of the quieter places a bit off the beaten path. Our first attempt was the diminutive and subtle L’Arc en Ciel, which looked phenomenal, but were unable to fit us in. But around the corner we found Le Manta, a pleasant restaurant built around two very large and lush outdoor dining gardens (one smoking, “le section fumeur” is still alive and flourishing in France) and a rather extensive menu built around Réunionnaise Creole cuisine.
Another of our recent road trips was to the NH Seacoast area, primarily to go to the most excellent NH Hosta Nursery. Afterward, we explored the area, primarily by ducking over into Newbury, discovering two very nice craft breweries (Riverwalk Brewing and the NBPT Brewing Co). After enjoying both of these destinations, we were hungry for a bit of dinner, and decided to head up the road to Seabrook, NH for Jasmine’s Famous Roast Beef and Seafood. As I have mentioned in several other reviews of New England Roast Beef joints, the Roast Beef sandwich is a bit of an art form here: Once you get to the coastal region, all sorts of places are available that sell two things: roast beef sandwiches, and all variety of fried seafood. Not sure where the combination came from, but it’s a common one. But the thing that ties so many of these places together is the focus on a basic sandwich: roast beef.
After a pleasant day trip to Bruges, we took the evening train back to Brussels, where Sophie took us to one of her favorite seafood joints, La Marée. Is located a few blocks to the west of Place Ste Catherine, which used to be the big open air fish market of Brussels. It isn’t anymore, but that area (especially the restaurants lining the West side of Place Ste Catherine) is still the epicenter of seafood dining in Brussels, and La Marée, while not being one of the big places right on the Place, is still a good go-to place for good seafood.
There are three food items I always think of when I’m in Maryland for business: Crabs, pit beef sandwiches, and crabcakes. I’ve reviewed a few crabcake places before (like G&M in Linthicum), but on a recent trip to NASA Goddard, several of us wanted crabcakes for lunch, and Lambert’s had be recommended to us by a few NASA folk. Lambert’s Seafood is one of those places you really have to know about by recommendation or reputation, since, aside from one tiny ~4″ tall sign on the front of the strip mall, the place is completely unsigned, and you’d never know this place was there. Even looking at the front door, there’s no clear “Lambert’s” sign or anything.
Our last meal in Reykjavik was at the Reykjavik branch of Rub 23 (the original is in Akureyri). Rub 23 is basically an Asian Fusion place that pairs Icelandic ingredients with Asian ingredients (the name comes from several specialty rubs, their schtick is that you can pick your own combination of meat and rub). It’s a fairly trendy place, and one of the harder places to get into on a weekend in Reykjavik, but we managed to score a table, and opted for the tasting menu.
Well, our “Great Circle” tour of Iceland had finished, but we weren’t quite done with Iceland, having another two days in Reykjavik to explore. With our various diversions on our last day of driving (including a return trip to Hveragerði to take a long hike to check out the Varma (“Warm River”), fed by hot springs), we got back into Reykjavik rather late and several places were booked solid for dinner (it was a Friday night), but we didn’t have too much trouble getting Sjávargrillið (“Seafood Grill”) for dinner. Sjávargrillið is one of the up-and-coming trendy restaurants in Reykjavik (the head chef was Iceland’s 2010 chef of the year), but it’s menu is still pretty approachable: the primary theme of Sjávargrillið is “Icelandic Seafood”, with a nice variety of fresh and smoked seafood dishes, but they also offer several “Feasts”, including their “Grill Party” (basically a chef’s choice multi-course special), a lobster feast, and a “Taste of Iceland” feast (puffin, shag, and minke whale). While all of these were very tempting, we ended up settling on the daily special, the perch.
After leaving Fjalladýrð, we spent the bulk of the next two days exploring the Eastern Fjords, working our way down to Höfn in the Southeast. Höfn is famous in Iceland for it’s Langoustines (Norway Lobsters), so when we were looking for dinner, we found that most every place in town had fresh langoustines, grilled with butter, parsley and garlic. After looking around and sizing up some of the options, we decided to go to one of the best-regarded places, Humarhöfnin. Humarhöfnin has a nice location in downtown Höfn, a block off of the harbor in an older building that apparently used to be a consumer cooperative/department store. It’s a nice restaurant space with a pleasant vintage interior (including a rather cool Art-Deco inspired staircase that’s obviously been there since the 1920s or so), with large upstairs and downstairs dining rooms. Despite not having reservations and the place being busy, they were able to seat us right away downstairs (thankfully, as we watched an entire busload of tourists—the same tourbus we encountered back in Myvatn, actually—go upstairs), and relax with a beer (Borg Bjartur Blond Bjór Nr. 4, a Dortmunder-style Blond beer from Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson) as we looked over the menu.
Well, the 2012 round of travels continues, this time with a trip to Iceland (for pleasure, it’s been on our to-do list for years). But before I could start reviewing Icelandic food joints, we had to actually get to Iceland. Which means a plane flight. Which means airports. Which often means airport food. As I’ve commented before, airport food is generally a dismal experience. Airport dining options are generally limited, overpriced, poor quality, and, bizarrely, often seemingly unaware of the fact that they are located in an airport and their customers have planes to catch (Yes, Todd English’s Bonfire at Logan, I’m still pissed at you…). But we again found ourselves with a red-eye flight across the Atlantic, and our bus schedule leaving us some time to kill in Terminal E before our flight. Not having quite enough time to take the Silver Line over to South Station, we had to find some dinner at the airport. While I’ve had some decent meals at the restaurant located right outside security in Terminal E, I decided that this time we’d mix it up, and walk over to Terminal C (as an aside, it’s an interesting walk, since you go through the remnants of Terminal D, which has been subsumed by Terminals C and E) to check out the Logan Airport edition of the Legal Sea Foods chain (this is their “Legal Sea Foods” location in Terminal C, they also have a “Legal C Bar” in Terminal B, and “Legal Test Kitchen” in Terminal A)….