There are strange lights in the sky moving towards us, perhaps showing signs that a space ship might be landing on the glacier? This is what is going through my head as I drive with Eldhús to our next location at the Snaefellsnes peninsula. People gather here from all around the world once a year to feel the force of supernatural powers and welcome the aliens to earth. They believe that the volcano Snaefellsjökull (glacier) has a unique power that forms a special connection to the unknown. They say Snaefellsjökull (Glacier) is one of the most powerful spots on earth and I remember once over 500 people gathered here to meet with the unknown from outer space. It is also the location of our second evening at Eldhús, on the Snaefellsnes peninsula in Western Iceland under the roots of Snaefellsjökull.
Tonight's chef is Hrefna Saetran who is one of Iceland's most talented cooks, as well as a local television celebrity and the owner of two restaurants in Reykjavík. Hotel Budir has offered Hrefna the use of their kitchen to prepare tonight's dinner. It was great to see her face light up when she first entered Eldhús; there was real magic in her eyes! We discussed the murder mystery that we had both taken part in solving at Hotel Budir one dark night some years ago; it's strange how people like to play such games and tell each other ghost stories when they're at this place. It even inspired Jules Verne to write his novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and the story took place here in this very spot inside the Volcano.
As soon as Hrefna left the house to get on with the cooking there was a knock on the door. We were delighted to see the four friendly, smiling faces of our guests. Before we knew it we were all sat at the kitchen table in Eldhús enjoying a glass of wine. Tonight's guests are John and Sandra who are on their fourth visit to Iceland and Mick and Jan who are first timers. They all seemed to have a soft spot for Iceland, and when we asked John why he likes to come here so often he replied that it is because Iceland is probably his favorite place on earth. "It's so different to other places. There's no place like it," he said.
Soon Hrefna returned with tonight's lamb dinner and we could smell it straight away, delicious! But you can't serve lamb without explaining the quality of the Icelandic lamb to your guests! Icelandic lamb is free range; the lambs are born in early Spring and spend their short lives roaming free, often very high up in the mountains. During late August and early September the lambs are gathered from the mountains and then in some mysterious way they end up on our plates (we have talked about enough scary things in this blog post so I won't go into that). As a boy of twelve years old I was sent to a remote farm on the west coast to work over the Summer and the farmer and his wife paid me with two lambs at the end of my stay. I was a happy boy returning back to school that autumn, a little sunburned from my adventures.
Hrefnas dish was well prepared and only needed the final touches in the Chef's corner in our little house. The dish was lamb chops with duck served with potato comfit and greens and topped off with a pungent lamb sauce. Not food for aliens - that's for sure. I think bon appétit is in order!
Our overwhelming surroundings were a perfect setting for Eldhús, and we were Joined by two lovely couples from England. John Swindale and his wife Sandra are from Bristol and Mick Hazzeldine and his wife Jan are from South West of England (Exmoor to be precise). With the snowy mountains on one side and the unruly sea on the other, the wind battered the outside of our house but inside the guests enjoyed their meals.
At the last bite a nice smell of coffee filled the house and a common dislike for cod liver oil and a shared love for TV cooking programs brought laughter to the table. A good time was had by all in the house and the food was delicious. Thank you to everyone for a lovely evening.
Next stop: lunch in Stykkishólmur...