The wind was howling and the heavy gray clouds looked low enough to grab when I arrived at the lot where I’d been instructed to meet the team from KOKS. It was completely empty, other than my fun-sized rental car and a pair of shaggy black sheep who were inching their way toward the whitecapped waters of Leynavatn. I stared through the windshield, realizing that it doesn’t take long to get almost desensitized to how beautiful the Faroe Islands are, even when the weather is at its moodiest. Especially then.
You definitely run out of synonyms for “green,” should you need to describe the vibrantly rugged scenery that surrounds you as you drive from island to island. The word “verdant” was lighting up the left hemisphere of my brain when a Land Rover materialized on the dirt path that traced its way around the edge of the lake. When the driver opened the door, I climbed in and buckled up before we bounced from rut to rut on the way back to the restaurant. Yes, the restaurant — and the scuffed plastic Michelin Man sitting on the SUV’s center console isn’t just for show.
KOKS is the first Michelin-starred restaurant in the Faroe Islands, an 18-island archipelago that sits in the north Atlantic between Iceland and Scotland. It was awarded its first star in 2017, and added a second star two years later. It has been called the world’s most remote Michelin star dining experience — and, yes, that tracks — but it’s about to move about 1,300 miles further afield.
Earlier this month, KOKS announced that it would be relocating to the west coast of Greenland for the summer seasons of 2022 and 2023, where head chef Poul Andrias Ziska will take over the restaurant at Ilimanaq Lodge in the 53-person village of Ilimanaq. Overnight guests at the lodge will have the option of experiencing the 17- to 20-course KOKS tasting menu during their stay; other visitors can try to score one of the remaining reservations for the restaurant, which will seat only 30 people each night.
“Is it a crazy move? I don’t think it’s a crazy move!” owner Johannes Jensen told Euronews. “We are moving the terroir from the Faroe Islands to Greenland. We are still in the Nordics, we are still in the Arctic, and there are fantastic possibilities in what is available in Greenland.”
Ziska told Bloomberg that his approach won’t change, even though the scenery out the windows will. He’ll continue to forage for wild berries, flowers, and herbs, and the menu will still largely focus on “the clean, pure flavors of the ocean.” The biggest difference will be the addition of wild game, including seal.
Of the 17 courses that I experienced, the only two that weren’t pulled from the sea were the Faroese goose tartare and the fermented lamb. The others ranged from a savory disc of deep sea crab topped with caramelized onion foam and pickled elderberries, to a century-old Mahogany clam served with kombucha, elderberry flowers, and fermented gooseberry seeds, and a fermented ocean perch, grated over potato puree and fermented lamb tallow. (Fermentation is an important — and, at times, essential — part of traditional Faroese cuisine).
One of the desserts was made from limpets, which Ziska was excited about serving. “We’ve had it before, but not in the same way,” he told me last summer. “Limpets can be chewy and hard to eat, so we made a stock out of it that we reduced down with caramelized carrots and caramelized seaweed. We made it into a cream that we put back into the limpets’ shells, and the guests have to lick it out of the shell. Eating it is a very fun experience.”
KOKS at the Ilimanaq Lodge will be open from Sunday, June 12 through Thursday, September 8. The Tasting menu starts at 2100 DKK ($309). A wine pairing is available for an additional 1600 DKK ($235) and a juice pairing is 800 DKK ($117). Reservations can be made through the Ilimanaq Lodge website.