The Arctic Connection
By SG Séguret
What do Appalachia and the Artic have in common, you might ask. Or Asheville and Reykjavik, for that matter?Apart from their romantic ring, each is home to a food culture that embraces local and seasonal ingredients. They have skyr curd (a soft cheese similar to yogurt), we have goat cheese. They have halibut and Greenland musk ox, we have trout and grass-fed beef. They have lichen, we forage for mushrooms. Our common love for local edibles will be showcased in The New Nordic Table event on March 24 at Warren Wilson College.
Katie Button, executive chef and co-owner of Cúrate in Asheville, will team up with Gunnar Karl Gislason, co-owner and executive chef of Dill in Iceland, to explore the parallels between Appalachian and Arctic cuisine. The event is hosted by Cúrate and Warren Wilson College, with help from the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Asheville Wine & Food Festival.
The afternoon will begin with a foraging and ecology expedition led by Gislason and ethnobotanist Jay Bost to identify ingredients indigenous to both regions. A tour of the college’s farm and garden will follow. The evening gathering will kick off with hors d’oeuvres and drinks, including cocktails crafted from a birch liqueur distilled at Dill, and culminate in a meal celebrating ingredients and techniques unique to Nordic cooking.
Foodies across the globe are focused on Nordic cuisine, with Denmark’s Noma, currently ranked the No. 1 restaurant in the world by The Academy, a group of more than 800 leaders in the restaurant industry. Button is currently interning under Noma’s co-owner and chef René Redzepi, and will bring back her knowledge to share at the dinner. “Some ingredients are similar—abundance of root vegetables, chestnuts, dandelion shoots, watercress, this thing called onion weed,” she says. “They also incorporate Douglas fir into their cooking, and funny enough, if blended with a little acid, it tastes like grapefruit.”
Noma’s goal is a striking echo of the farm-to-table and Slow Food philosophies prevalent in the mountains: To express “the purity, freshness, simplicity, and ethics we wish to associate with our region, to reflect changing of the seasons in the meals we make, to combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.”
WANT TO GO?
An Adventure in Cooking: The New Nordic Table with Chef Gunnar Karl Gislason of Dill in Iceland and Chef Katie Button of Cúrate
Saturday, March 24
Warren Wilson College Garden Cabin and Gladfelter Café, Swannanoa
3 p.m. Native Ecology & Foraging with Chef Gunnar & Jay Bost, 4:30 p.m. Warren Wilson College garden & farm tour, 6 p.m. aperitif and Nordic dinner
$25 foraging expedition, $110 per person dinner