Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Coolest Damn Hot House in Iceland

 Having spent the previous days driving through the rugged, cold, harsh landscape of Iceland it was as a bit of a shock to find myself sitting in a giant greenhouse full of enormous tomato plants, eating the best tomato soup I have ever had - seriously, this soup was fantastic and I have eaten a lot of tomato soup over the years - this was a bowl of pure heaven.

Fridheimar Farm is situated in the South West of Iceland, near Selfoss - about half an hour outside Reykjavik, here they grow tomatoes all year round, thanks to the geothermal heating and an amazing array of lighting for those dark winter days. Throughout the year they manage to produce 300 tonnes which, considering Iceland has to import most of it's fruit and vegetables, is impressive. They harvest everyday and send tomatoes off all around Iceland to the cafes, shops and restaurant.

On arrival at the farm - having driven down a long gravel track wondering if you've made a wrong turn! - you wander into a large greenhouse, past a small shop setup selling produce made on the farm from tomato chutney, tomato jam, tomato sauce and even a dessert sauce made with piccolo tomatoes.

Having browsed the store you then head into the main greenhouse full of the larges tomato plants I have ever seen. They are strong thick plants with vines laden with beautifully shiny tomatoes, all at different stages of ripening. And situated in this greenhouse is a little restaurant along with a bar, serving bloody mary's of course, and a large table covering in homemade breads, herbs, and a giant urn of tomato soup.

 We were greeted by the owner if the farm, Knutur Rafn Armann, who proceeded to tell us a little about themselves what they do there. He asked if we were going to have lunch with them and invited us to choose a table and help ourselves to soup and bread.

Obviously, I didn't need asking twice and I dived straight in.

When we got back to our table a plate, beautifully presented, of cucumber salsa, sour cream and butter had been laid out for us, along with a pitcher of iced Icelandic water with a tomato dropped in! the table was also set with a basil plant and herb scissors so you can garnish you own soup.

Whilst we were eating, Knutur joined us and told us some more about their greenhouses and tomato growing.

Knutur uses bumble bees to pollinate the flowers because not only are they good pollinators, he explained, they are also friendly and you can let them buzz around knowing they wont hurt you whilst your picking the fruit! We chatted for a bit and then he went of to greet more visitors whilst encouraging us to help ourselves to more soup if we wished.

As I have said this soup was the best I have ever had and I've managed to get the recipe - it's secret is a small spoon of mango chutney! But I think the reason it's so good is the Icelandic water. It's has pure fresh flavour - nothing added, and whilst we were in Iceland I drank buckets of it!

The tomato soup recipe is very simple.

1 pot of ripe tomatoes, a pinch vegetable bouillon, cayenne pepper to taste and cold water to just cover the tomatoes. Put all in a  pan and simmer for 30 minutes. When the tomatoes are soft blitz with a hand blender and add mango chutney to sweeten. A simply perfect recipe that I'm just about to try.

Have a great day
Love Lizx