The Faroe Islands have many small villages, and there are not many restaurants outside of the main city and capital, Tórshavn. Often the villages don't have a place to go out to eat or purchase food. They do have one great thing going on, however, that you must try if you get to visit: heimablídni. Heimablídni means "home hospitality." A number of families open up their home and will cook you dinner. We had the pleasure of booking a heimablídni at the home of Onnu and Óla who host regular supper clubs open to the public in their beautiful home on the water. Onnu and Óla are sheep farmers and they serve food from their own farm. Onnu opened her home to our group and cooked us a 5-course, traditional Faroese meal.
Our meal started with a shared cup of Lívsins Vatn, a Faroese akvavitt, and cured lamb sausage. Similar to a salumi, Onnu explained this sausage is a way to use meat from older sheep, usually tougher meat. They've certainly got that figured out because it was so delicious! The appetizer was served with a traditional rhubarb drink, to which she recommended adding a bit of Faroese vodka. Once we sat down, we enjoyed dish after delicious dish: salt cod with egg and potatoes, carrot and kohlrabi soup, fried cod, and lamb with caramelized potatoes and cooked cabbage (with fish for the pescatarians). Onnu paired each course with a beer from the two local breweries on Faroe. Our favorite was Rabarbuølvín, a rhubarb "beer wine" from a brewery just down the road. Everything was amazing!
Faroe food relies mostly on fish and lamb. A traditional preparation of lamb that we got to try at Onnu's is called skerpikjøt: a wind-dried, fermented mutton, which she served on the soup. The meat is hung in a drying shed (hjallur) for 5 to 9 months and is cured in the natural sea-salt air. Eating at a Faroe Islander's home was an absolutely lovely experience, and it was the most magical way to get to know more about the culture, food, and traditions.
Onnu was thrilled to see us knitting during the meal as she herself is an avid knitter. She said we were the "weirdest" group she had hosted, as she had never had knitting guests! At the end of the meal, once she was done cooking, she sat down with our group and a cup of tea and asked if we wanted to see her knitting. Of course, we did!! It turns out, Onnu is a great knitter. She showed us many sweaters she had knit for herself and her family. She almost only used the Faroese wool for her knitting. She said she liked to knit garments "to work in" i.e. hard-wearing, warm sweaters to farm and tend sheep in. Like most Faroese knitters, she never uses patterns, but just made the designs up in her head. The traditional Faroese style of sweater is very simple colorwork, usually with just two colors--sometimes with three--and almost always with natural colors of the sheep. Most of the Faroese patterns are just four stitch repeats that make simple, beautiful geometric designs. Onnu was very proud of a sweater she knit for her son, a recreation of a sweater in his favorite popular Danish tv show. We were smitten, a woman of our own hearts. Thank you Onnu, for opening your home and giving us such a unique experience.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on our visit to feed sheep at a sheep house and meet the owner of Faroe yarn company, Navia.