A taste of Iceland in Brooklyn’s Norman

Festival lets New Yorkers experience a gourmand’s delight without leaving their backyard

The interior of the Norman restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Norman
Though you can’t always taste Iceland there, Norman’s open kitchen serves up contemporary cuisine seven days a week.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

On Saturday, September 30, I had the great pleasure of dining at Norman’s Taste of Iceland event, a gourmand’s delight. Diners had a choice of two- or four-course tasting menus, one crafted by Norman’s American chef, Andrew Whitcomb, or one by visiting Icelandic Head Chef from the Blue Lagoon’s Lava Restaurant, Viktor Orin Andrésson. I choose the latter for its Scandinavian allure.

There was also a choice of three cocktails chosen to complement each course, (except dessert), created by Icelandic mixologist Kári Sigurðsson, “head bartender at Apotek Restaurant (which holds the title of Best Cocktail Bar in Reykjavík).” I chose only one signature drink, as I wanted to make sure I could find my way back home.

The first course was gently smoked Arctic Char, paired with a lovely medley of flavors: bits of dill, green apples, and roe, all enveloped in a creamy texture. The culprit? Icelandic buttermilk. The subtle earthiness was intoxicating.

For a beverage, I choose the Skógarfoss Sour, a green drink named after an Icelandic waterfall. It delighted with surprising hints of dill syrup and estragon (tarragon) tincture. The base content of my drink was Brennivín, which literally means “burned wine” and is a quintessential Icelandic liquor made from potato mash and flavored with caraway. Brennivín is also known as The Black Death. Until very recently it could not be bought in the United States.

My third course starred two cuts of Icelandic lamb: a fried fillet and grilled sirloin, seasoned with Arctic thyme and other spices. The lamb was tender and each cut was surprisingly distinctive. The meat was accompanied by lovely potatoes and earthy red cabbage prepared with a delicate touch.

The dessert was a velvety melding of sour and sweet, comprising Icelandic skyr with tinges of wild blueberries, warm blueberry cake, chocolate, and hazelnuts.

Did I forget the second course? No, I saved the best for last. I encountered a forest on a plate, as a mound of spruce branches enveloped in mist was presented by the guest chef himself, Viktor Orin Andrésson. Atop rested a grilled Icelandic langoustine, a mouthful of sea and smoothness. On the side there was a small gift in a ceramic container. I opened the lid with anticipation and inside was a luscious langoustine soup.

Each course was the perfect size; I was satiated. I really wanted to savor, which I did, dining solo for a little over two hours. Between bites I gazed out beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer a wonderful view of an expansive sky. The cost was $55, very reasonable for such an experience.

Even though I have spent time in Iceland on two occasions, it was wonderful to take a trip there while remaining right in my own backyard. Encountering these new tastes, flavor combinations, and nomenclature became an adventure in itself, transporting me to this remarkable part of the world.

Norman is a Scandinavian venture, created by culinary Nordic rock stars Fredrick Berselius and Claus Meyer. Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, it includes a bakery and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The name Norman harks back to an earlier time, when this now-industrial part of Brooklyn was verdant and owned by Dirck the Norseman, a settler from Bergen, Norway.

This tasting menu was part of a larger four-day festival held throughout Brooklyn, Taste of Iceland in New York City 2017, which also spotlighted Icelandic literature, design, films, and music. Don’t be dismayed if you missed this unique event, particularly the meal at Norman, because the restaurant is a wonderful dining experience at any time.

For more information on Norman, visit www.restaurantnorman.com.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 20, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Victoria Hofmo

Victoria Hofmo was born, raised, and still lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the historical heart of Norwegian New York. She is 3/4 Scandinavian: 1/2 Norwegian and 1/4 Danish/Swedish. Self-employed, she runs an out-of-school-time program that articulates learning through the arts. Hofmo is an advocate for arts and culture, education, and the preservation of the built and natural environment of her hometown, with a love for most things Scandinavian.