Gásadalur, Vágar, Faroe Islands
The remote Faroe Islands offer a different sort of dining adventure. Gásadalsgarður is as cosy a guesthouse as you can imagine. The adjacent café offers breakfast staples, good coffee, lovely cakes, cold meats, cheeses and, very possibly, fermented, air-dried lamb, should you want to go authentically Faroese.
West End, London, UK
“Waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!” “That’s the garnish, sir…” Archipelago is one of those slightly random London restaurants that opened in a blaze of publicity (over a decade ago), proved to be actually much better than its novelty menu suggested, and continues to thrive, almost under the radar, while so many others are closing.
The hook to Archipelago is, as Google describes it, “exotic meats and insect sides”, all served in the sort of flamboyant setting – golden Buddhas, dwarf palm trees, giant peacock feathers – that would have hotel designers in Dubai suggesting they maybe tone it down a bit. It is, if you’ll forgive another “waiter, waiter” reference, the only place in London where the punchline “don’t worry sir, the spider in the salad will get it” has a chance of being true.
While there are conventional dishes available, to order them is to rather miss the point of Archipelago. You can get Korean chicken wings, chicken strips and pulled pork pretty much everywhere but, say, a sharing platter of crocodile, alpaca and kangaroo? Yes, that’s going to be just in this little corner of W1. As it happens, the lunch menu at Archipelago is generally “safe” options. Aside from the sharing platter, it’s mostly based around small plates, burgers and wraps, with the kangaroo burger about the only eccentric offering among them. It’s good though – lean, gamey, and a little like venison.
To really dine adventurously, you either have to go à la carte, or ask for the dessert menu. It’s here that the kitchen’s eccentricity and creativity really show, from starters such as the Serengeti Strut (crispy zebra jerky served with carrot and ginger fluid gel and biltong soil), and Summer Nights (pan fried chermoula crickets, with quinoa, spinach and dried fruit), to mains including Rajasthan Snap (crocodile curry) which, rather amusingly, is also available in a vegetarian version with tofu.
Puddings are mostly safe, but Bushman’s Cavi-Err – caramel mealworms, coconut cream, vodka jelly – throws down something of a sweet gauntlet. There are also chocolate covered locusts, although there’s still that hint of deep-fried, slightly nutty air to all edible insects. Still, when in Rome, eh?
Usuki Fugu Yamadaya
Minato City, Tokyo, Japan
The puffer fish, aka fugu, is lethal if it is not prepared correctly. So the three-Michelinstarred Usuki is recommended for those seeking this culinary adventure. Aside from the, er, thrill of potential death, fugu is a slightly bland white fish with a texture between soft rubber and apple. Memorable adrenaline rush, though.