Taste of Iceland brings a nordic preview to Toronto this weekend


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Image: Tiffany Leigh

Taste of Iceland returns to the city in full force this year; hosted by Iceland Naturally. The four-day long festival hopes to inspire Torontonians to soak up the Nordic country’s cuisine, music, film and literature. Iceland is full of enchanting natural wonders, beauty and creativity - but if you’ve yet to visit the breathtaking land, fear not, they’re conveniently setting up (temporary) digs in the heart of downtown Toronto with numerous engaging and informative events — many of which are free.


(IMAGE: TIFFANY LEIGH)

 

One of the highlights is the Icelandic Menu at Leña. It's a gastronomic collaboration between Chef Viktor Örn Andrésson and Leña’s Executive Chef Julie Marteleira, alongside Chef Anthony Walsh. Their specialty menu is only available this weekend and features a host of Icelandic delicacies (flown in especially for this occasion) which include grilled langoustine, Arctic char, lamb and skyr.


(IMAGE: TIFFANY LEIGH)

 

Participants of this ticketed dinner event will enjoy cocktail pairings alongside the four-course meal crafted by award-winning mixologist Kári Sigurðsson.


(IMAGE: TIFFANY LEIGH)

 

The First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, encourages everyone to take advantage of additional “tastes” on offer. In fact, her return visit is fitting and heartfelt, since she was born near Ottawa and as a student she attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto and established a kinship with the Toronto and its citizens. Reid explains: “Our desire is to introduce people to Iceland’s diverse and welcoming culture. The best part is that the Taste of Iceland festivals we host in cities around the world - such as Toronto - offer direct flights to Iceland via IcelandAir; so if you happen to fall in love with what you experience and want to immerse yourself in all our country has to offer, you can easily book a ticket the following day.”

The program offers Icelandic tunes, which you can soak up at The Horseshoe Tavern with Reykjavik Calling; contemporary art at The Spoke Club; and films by up-and-coming Icelandic filmmakers at The Royal Cinema, perhaps the not-to-miss event is the one hosted by the First Lady herself: The Write Stuff: How Iceland Inspires Lovers of the Written Word. This event is an opportunity to hear about the power and importance of the speaking storytelling tradition in Iceland. 

In addition to being a Reykjavik-based writer and editor who co-founded the Iceland Writers Retreat, Reid says that the country has a rich and revered culture of the written word. “Historically, we were people on an isolated island in the south of the Arctic Ocean for hundreds of years - although we didn’t have great architecture or paintings compared with other countries - we expressed ourselves through the written word.  And it is the reason why literacy is still of the utmost importance to us. In fact, The Saga of Icelanders (prose narratives about life and events which occurred from 9th to the 11th century) are exemplary of literary excellence and historical tales; we still teach it in our schools today because we’re very proud of it.” 

Reid adds that it accounts for the country’s cultural pursuits and that the government fosters and supports such creativity.  “It is not uncommon to meet an accountant who also happens to be a crime writer or a guitarist in a band — the government offers grants for its citizens who enjoy ‘wearing many different hats’.” Icelandic society collectively supports these endeavours; it stems back to their ancestral roots and expressing themselves through various outlets.

Visit the website for the full list of detailed events.


(IMAGE: TIFFANY LEIGH)

 


(IMAGE: TIFFANY LEIGH)

 

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