One especially delicious ‘just go‘ reason to visit the Faroe Islands is the opportunity to dine at Koks restaurant. Located at Hotel Foroyar with sweeping views over the town of Torshavn and across the bay to the island of Nolsoy, the restaurant features haute cuisine dishes “designed to delight guests with the essence of Faroese culinary heritage” using ingredients almost exclusively sourced locally. For English speakers, the restaurant’s name might sound a bit unappetising, but don’t let that put you off … or expect anything salacious. It simply means “cooks” and is apt enough given the magic done there.
At the Koks helm is Head Chef Poul Andrias Ziska. Only in his mid twenties, Ziska was born and raised in the Faroes. Having earned a degree in Gastronomy at the Food College Aalborg in Denmark, he started his professional career at Koks in 2011. Later, he worked in Copenhagen at Geranium (two Michelin stars and ranked 45th among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants before returning to Koks only this February. The man is one to keep on your foodie radio. And for uber keen gourmands, a trip to the Faroes for a feast at his hands would not disappoint.
As a “pioneer of the New Nordic Kitchen,” analogies with top rated and celebrated Danish restaurant Noma are inevitable. I’ve never been to Noma but I did once enjoy a few dishes prepared by its chef Rene Redzepi. I reckon there’s an element of homage to what’s doing in the Koks’ kitchen and an effort to further the cause of fine dining with regional and seasonal focus. Whereas Redzepi’s reach spans the entire Nordic region for ingredients for his innovative recipes, Ziska keeps his search as local as possible. To the best of my knowledge everything I had from his 13 course tasting menu (except for the wine) was actually raised, caught or foraged in the Faroes. All of it was incredibly delectable too … and resulted in what was probably the best meal I’ve had this year – and definitely the most intriguing.
The menu’s five appetisers followed by an assortment of dishes inspired by traditional Faroese cooking wowed and surprised with their flavour and elegant presentation. Raest crisps (wafer thin crisps made from the dripping of air cured lamb) were an especially savoury treat for whetting my appetite and building the anticipation for each dish. Sea urchin with with sea purslan, dill, cucumber and apple was terrific. And pine smoked langoustine an absolute thrill for my joyful palate. A simple Skyr (Icelandic style yoghurt) with chervil for dessert followed by a herbal tea ended my experience on a grounded and refreshing note.
Backing up Ziska and sous chef Áki Herálvsson’s brilliant cookery was sommelier Karin Visth’s fabulous wine list consisting mostly of natural (and primarily French) wines. Each quaff paired perfectly with each course with a few stand outs grabbed my attention. A gorgeous and somewhat licorice German Pinot Noir – Spätburgunder “Kalkmergel” 2009 from Weingut Knipser, Pfalz – was particularly noteworthy wine that I’ve now added to the top of my short list.
Keep an eye out for more posts in my Faroes and Away miniseries.
Koks is located at the four star Hotel Foroyar, situated on a hill above the captial city Torshavn and about an hour’s drive from the airport. Find out more at koks.fo.