the northern lights was what brought me to iceland last christmas.Â a wonderful ephemeral beauty that i was lucky enough to see on my second night there. it was a special moment. people were frantically snapping with their cameras, couples were cuddling and japanese tourists were up jumping and clapping.Â after all the thrill of witnessing it, i was happy enough to pack my bags and go back home, for i thought nothing else could have topped seeing the aurora
i couldn't have been more wrong and as i explored more of this land of ice, i was pleasantly surprised with all the food they had to offer. after a few days of gorging on smoked puffin and mink whale steak, i stumbled uponÂ café loki. located in the centre of reykjavik, this quaint littleÂ caféÂ hasÂ smoked lamb and homemade bread and cakes on their menu. i tried a plate called 'the icelandic braveheart' and it had five elements - flatbread, dried fish, fermented shark, a shot of brennivin (an icelandic liquor) and rye bread. the fermented shark had a strong taste of ammonia that shot up through your nose with the first bite, but was strangely pleasant. followed by a shot of brennivin and i was drunk by lunch time.
the real star of the plate though, was the rye bread. it was sweet, rich and moist but also light and it complimented the saltiness of the fish really well. i have been searching far and wide for a good rye bread post-iceland and nothing seems to compare.
i'm therefore very grateful that the owners of caféÂ loki have kindly given me the recipe for their homemade rye bread. they make it every night and cook it for 7 and 1/2 hours so it's perfect if you make it before going to bed and wake up to fresh rye bread. i've adapted their recipe to make a smaller amount, so this will make one 8-inch loaf.