Maggots aren’t usually something you would expect to be served at a Michelin star restaurant, but this is exactly what had been put under my nose at such an establishment.
The little dried worms lay motionless in a dish of fermented lamb broth, which produced a whiffy odour that reminded me of my childhood, playing in farm barns with manure underfoot.
This was only the fifth course out of 19 at the newly-crowned Koks in the remote and windswept Faroe Islands, but already my tummy was starting to grumble in a state of mild confusion.
Foraged finds: Koks restaurant is the only Michelin star eatery on the Faroe Islands – it is located on the island of Streymoy. A chef checks on some salted cod left to dry, left, while another cook dissects the breast of a fulmar bird, right
The tasting meal, using primarily foraged ingredients, had started with a chunk of pilot whale blubber wrapped in a bunch of herbs.
Thankfully the nub of translucent fat was overshadowed by the mouthful of greenery, which was a little tricky to eat in a lady-like manner.
A swig of the flowery Larmandier-Bernier champagne helped wash away the residue of leaves and stalks from my teeth.
Next up, a mahogany clam served raw. The molluscs can live up to 500 years, but hopefully this one was still within its sell-by date.
Lost in concentration: Chefs from Koks add the finishing touches to a dish, with tweezers used for precision
Fresh from the fields: The tasting meal started with a chunk of pilot whale blubber wrapped in a bunch of foraged herbs (left) followed by various dishes including a portion of freeze-dried cod bladders on top of a stack of fish bones (right)
Extra crunch: A cheese cracker with fermented lamb tallow (left) and a selection of fresh greens ready to be washed (right)
‘Are you sure we’re meant to be eating raw shellfish,’ my dining companion Duncan whispered to me as we sat in the homely, ocean-fronting dining room on the island of Streymoy.
Despite his fear, the brown-sauced morsel was divine, with a fragrant dill oil adding a depth of flavour as it slid down my throat.
The next course also caused us to stop and think, as the waitress presented us with two crispy, freeze-dried cod bladders.
The stale organs were a little like pork scratchings, although the cod spine decoration did cause me to think I was munching on fish bones.
The appetizer crunched between my teeth but luckily my fillings survived and we ploughed on with our culinary adventure.
Swept away: The restaurant, which is hugely popular with local diners, boasts stunning views of the rugged ocean front
Fresh produce: A chef forages seaweed from the Faroese coastline (left) while chef Simone Mistarz presents a platter of seafood from the fjords (right)⠀
Exterior shot: Koks restaurant is nestled on the sea front in side a cosy wooden lodge, complete with a grass roof
The crab course was a little tamer, with a seaweed-wrapped parcel of pinkish meat served on a wooden spoon.
But the tameness soon evaporated as we were served up slices of wind-dried mutton.
The waitress even brought out the mottled lamb leg – which had been left to hang for around nine months – to show us where the red strips of meat had come from.
Luckily it had escaped the invasion of maggots, apparently one of the biggest problems when leaving meats out in the wilds to dry.
Despite the unappetising visual, the slices of skerpikjot – as it’s traditionally called – melted in the mouth, with some rye bread adding some texture to tender layers of lamb.
I’d never had anything quite like it before and it certainly made the silkiness of Serrano ham seem like sandpaper in comparison.
Food for thought: Mousse made from dulse seaweed, crystallized dark chocolate, fermented blueberries and leaves made from dried blueberries (left) and traditional cheese biscuits served with a lamb tallow cream spread (right)
Fishy business: A plate of mackerel and turnip sits ready to be devoured (left), while some Faroese queen scallops rest on a bed of rocks (right)
As with everything we sampled, the attention to detail was on point, with each concoction served on a kooky piece of earthenware.
At one point we were presented with two grindaknívur – Faroese daggers, traditionally used by whale hunters to dissect their kill.
The implements featured handles made from smooth dark wood, with depictions of whales and love hearts in a metal inlay.
When we heard what we were going to be cutting with them however, the romanticism soon started to wane.
‘We go and collect the fulmar chicks from the sea when they are too fat to fly and this is what the next dish is. Fulmar breast with beetroot,’ the waitress said.
I joked to Duncan that the beetroot juice looked a little like blood as we spliced up the plump baby bird fillets.
In full flow: The Faroe islands boasts dozens of waterfalls. The stunning Mulafossur Waterfall, above, is located by the remote community of Gásadalur on Vágar island
Wildlife watch: Nature is a big attraction on the Faroe Islands with puffins and sheep roaming the landscape
Wild at heart: The Faroe Islands is a self-governing archipelago and part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It comprises 18 rocky, volcanic islands connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges
I felt a little bit guilty as I instantly enjoyed the pink meat and went back for more.
The tender chunks were perfectly seared and the taste was akin to duck but much less gamy.
The other winning dish – and one of the more ‘normal’ plates of food – was the meaty monkfish.
The bottom-dwelling sea creature had been wrapped into a tubular sausage shape and it was served with an elderberry sauce.
The berry flavour perfectly complemented the creaminess of the fish flesh, and we both silently spooned our bowls clean.
After 14 savoury courses it was on to desserts.
Photographer’s dream: The Faroe Islands (located on a map, left) for exploration by car, but the stunning scenery will cause you to take dozens of pitstops
Although small and remote, the Faroe Islands are packed with a unique spread of features from waterfalls (left) to colourful housing (right)
A dish of ‘sorrel and grass’ granita certainly cleansed the palette and closing my eyes I could easily imagine rolling around on a freshly-cut lawn on a summer’s day.
But maybe that was all the wine talking.
Koks’ paired tasting menu comes with eight generous pours of whites and reds, which complement the dishes extremely well.
A Fino Sherry from Andalusia was a favourite but the local gin cocktail was a little funky, with a grass-taste permeating the green-coloured concoction.
We popped the final dish into our mouths – a chocolate, thyme and walnut truffle – before calling a taxi back to our hotel.
We’d been on quite a taste adventure at the Faroe Islands’ only Michelin star restaurant, speeding around the rugged landscape through platefuls of flavour.
I’d almost veered off track with the maggot and fermented lamb broth, but head chef Poul Andrias Ziska’s 18 other treats pulled me to the finish line.
I’d definitely go back for a second lap.
Koks is open Tuesday to Saturday from 6:30pm. The tasting menu is priced at £160. A wine paring costs an extra £125 or diners can opt for a juice paring at £57.
Hotel Føroyar offers 4-star accommodation in the capital city of Tórshavn. Rooms start from £170 with breakfast included.
To explore the islands book a day-trip or hiking excursion with Reika Adventures.
Flights to the Faroe Islands via Copenhagen with Scandinavian Airlines start from just £117 one way or from £223.80 return. This is for departures from London Heathrow with SAS Go Light.
Visit Faroe Islands’ tourist board website for further information: www.visitfaroeislands.com.