The Faroe Islands are an 18-island archipelago on the edge of a continental shelf in the North Atlantic that stretches from Scotland all the way to Iceland. Precipitous mountains plunge into rolling blue-grey surf. It either rains or snows 200 days a year. There are more sheep than people. From a distance, they look like a collection of skerries. Up close, they’re like nothing you’ve ever seen, a fantasy world of emerald green hills, broad empty valleys, and the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
It’s a windswept landscape, and the last place on earth you might expect to find a two-starred Michelin restaurant. But try telling that to the chefs at Koks Restaurant on the island of Streymoy. They always knew what was in their oceans, had confidence in their air-dried lamb.
They knew the awarding of those coveted stars was only a matter of time.
The Faroes are a sieve, a purifier which siphons and combines the nutrient-rich waters of competing Atlantic currents that rush through them twice every day, feeding hundreds of fish species, molluscs and seaweed all waiting to be harvested from Koks’ “pantry”.
Dining here is more experience than meal. A traditional fermenting hut on the edge of a small lake doubles as a tasting shed. It was there that I began my most memorable culinary journey with a glass of gooseberry and lemon thyme juice accompanied with dried cod skin chips. A 4WD Jeep, procured from an African safari company, then took me down a heavily rutted trail along the lakeshore to the kitchen and dining room inside a historic 18th-century turf-roofed farmhouse.
My 17 courses came out in quick succession over the next three and a half hours. Scallops served so fresh the barnacles were still moving in its shell. Mahogany clams, the oldest living things in the Faroes that can be as much as 500 years old served with a tart of squid ink. A langoustine liver, a strip of leek sprinkled with char from the grill resting in a cheese sauce, cod with blue mussel in a parsley sauce. A turnip grown in a nearby field to help cleanse your palette before the arrival of the pilot whale heart.
Purity and complexity in abundance at the ends of the earth.
Koks serves a maximum of 24 diners in a single seating each night. Tasting menu $368; with wine pairing/champagne/coffee/tea/sweets add $281.
Find out more: koks.fo