Gourmet Nordic early Christmas dinner at Reykjavik, Iceland’s Satt restaurant

It had been a cold, sleeting day and night in Reykjavik. I just wanted a nice dinner for myself, by myself. Luckily, I was staying at Hotel Natura in Reykjavik; their restaurant Satt (Icelandic for “true”) was just starting a special buffet on weekends for the Christmas season. There’s a slight discount for guests staying at the hotel, it worked out to be about $58. I have to say, I really picked right!

This wasn’t some ordinary hotel buffet. It was warm and elegant, with a live jazz combo playing Christmas tunes. Wandering around the tables took a little of the chill off of dining alone.

It was an opportunity to sample Icelandic favorites, without being totally committed to one thing or another. Everyone started with a smoked goose soup served in a Ball canning jar and garnished with a dollop of rich creme fraiche and fresh herbs. Stunning! It had mushroom and poultry flavors in a bisque consistency.

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Canapes on the buffet included Iceland’s silky smoked salmon and gravlax, game pate’ with wild berries and a fat cap (I think it was reindeer), duck salad, smoked lamb, their famous steamed brown bread, another crisp flat bread, local seafood ceviche.

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For hot entrees, there was a selection of turkey and pork, carved to order. I was fascinated though, by the sides! There’s a famous nut loaf for vegans, but it’s so popular, people eat it as a side.

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The roasted root veggies included sweet parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes. I’m totally going to make this at home!

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I also spied and sampled “toffee potatoes”. Well . . . of course I did! They are lightly sweetened potato balls cooked in browned butter. I thought of making them at home, perhaps using a good hit of sea salt. Then, I snapped to: I can’t be perfecting a recipe for toffee potatoes! Goodness gracious!

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Then, I did a taste test of the potatoes gratin. I had to exercise every bit of willpower to not go back for seconds, thirds . . .

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The desserts included ice cream with various chocolate and strawberry sauces you could ladle on.

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