My two favourite things in life are: Neil and food. So, imagine my delight when Mr. Rogers himself told me that he was taking me on a surprise foodie date and that “you can’t dress too fancy” (!!!). It had been awhile since we had a good, ol fashioned, super planned, dress-up date, so I was very excited by the idea of it. And also annoying about it: Where are we going? What kind of food? Can I have a hint? I had a bunch of ideas of restaurants that I have talked about that we haven’t tried yet, so I suggested all of those. Nope. I’m the kind of person who LOVES a good surprise, so I wasn’t guessing too hard. Turns out, it was all in vain because I never would have guessed the answer.
Our Uber took us to Jump Restaurant just off Bay Street. I hadn’t heard about it before, but once inside the restaurant inside the concrete building it was quite posh and looked nice. I was like – cool, fancy restaurant, let’s do this! Then I started to notice all the pictures of icebergs that had recently been put up. Neil was like – do you know what this is? Still didn’t. Turns out, Jump had paired up with Taste of Iceland, a 4 day event celebrating the cuisine, film, and culture of one of my favourite countries. Remember the story about how Neil and I fell in love over a tasting menu in the land of fire and ice? Well, turns out he found a way to recreate the experience in Toronto!
Chef Sigurður Helgason flew in from Reykjavík to personally cook the four course meal, alongside Jump’s Chef Miheer Shete. We began the night with Brennivin-infused Icelandic mulled wine – SO YUMMY, and very festive. Brennivin is Iceland’s signature distilled liquor – it’s an unsweetened schnapps.
First up was an arctic char with an oyster emulsion and a dill vinaigrette. Funnily enough, Neil and I had been talking about arctic char (my favourite fish!) the other day at the grocery store because he hadn’t had it before. The oyster emulsion was so smooth, and the dill vinaigrette was the magic that pulled the dish together. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Coolest part of this dish were crackers that Chef Helgason brought in from Iceland that were baked geothermically – the bread was put in the earth overnight and heated by the underground volcanos. No big deal.
Course two was cauliflower three ways with line-caught cod. What I love about Chef Helgason’s menu (and cooking style) is the focus on local, seasonal, and organic foods. He brought these principles to the menu for this event, and the food really shone for it. I thought this was the prettiest meal of the night.
Next up was lamb with a celeriac puree. This was cooked perfectly, and the bits of kale satisfied my love of all things green. There was a table of ladies next to us who had started eating a bit before we arrived so it was all I could do not to stare at their dishes and listen to the explanation for them. Neil and I were in full fledge lovey dovey mode so I was able to stay pretty distracted reminiscing with him about meeting in Iceland and just our general head-over-heels-ness.
To finish the meal off we had an amazing white chocolate brownie with a skyr ganache. Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product quite similar to yogurt. This was Neil’s favourite dish of the night, and consisted of some really unusual (and delicious!) flavours. The skyr was SO creamy, I could have eaten a whole bowl of it.
We ended the night sappily telling the waiter our love story (perhaps fueled by the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc) who then went on to tell Chef Helgason. We had taken one of the latest tables of the evening, so by the time we were done, Chef was done cooking and he came over for a chat. It was so great to talk to the person behind the food, and to experience the passion he feels for his creations. When we head back to Iceland (which we are sure to some day), we will definitely check out his restaurant at the Radisson Blu Saga.
Date nights are the best nights. Can’t wait to eat more food and take more blurry photos with my British heart throb.