Gourmet Arctic Adventures

BBC Good Food ME|November 2019

Gourmet Arctic Adventures
Light up your winter and escape to snow-shrouded Scandinavia and Iceland to seek out the aurora borealis, and dine under its magical ghostly glow on some of the region’s best local produce

Lofoten Islands

Clustered together in the Norwegian Sea, high above the Arctic Circle, lie the secluded islands of Lofoten. With their landscape dramatically changing through the seasons, in mid-winter you’ll find these five main islands and their countless rocky outcrops thick with snow and, if you’re lucky, magically lit by the aurora borealis. For a festive trip that reconnects you to nature and serves up a blissful dose of tranquility, Lofoten makes for a unique winter getaway.

Dramatic natural beauty is what draws visitors to these remote islands, best taken in on a winter hike or biking tour – waymarked paths criss-cross Lofoten’s main isles, passing through colourful fishing villages. Temperatures can plummet quickly, so come equipped with warm, wind- and waterproof clothing. Most hotels can suggest circular routes from their doors or, to really get out into the wilds, join a guided snowshoeing trip (xxlofoten.no), departing from the harbour in Svolvær, Lofoten’s largest town (three-four hour tours from Dhs430 per person, depending on weather conditions). Or see the sights from the water, and join a RIB boat trip to speed through icy Trollfjord, looking out for flocks of incredible sea eagles and seals (two-hour tours from Dhs380 per adult, Dhs285 for children under 12; lofoten-explorer.no).

It’s easy to work up an appetite here, and for an intimate experience showcasing fresh fish and locally foraged ingredients, arrange a dinner at Lofoten Food Studio (lofotenfoodstudio.no). Located in the village of Ballstad, chef-owner Roy Magne Berglund devises chef’s table tasting menus featuring such local highlights as scallops with hazelnuts and soy, and dishes using seaweed, all served with wine pairings. Tasting menus from Dhs537, plus Dhs404 for pairing.

Also in Ballstad, Hattvika Lodge, a collection of self-catered, sleek Scandinavian fishing cottages, has cosy modern interiors and underfloor heating in the bathrooms. Guests have use of a hot tub and a traditional Scandinavian outdoor sauna. Views from here are spectacular: watch fishing boats sail past your bedroom window, in the shadow of untamed mountains. The owners, long-time locals, offer plenty of advice on the best ways to see the islands.

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November 2019