When I first stumbled upon Lónkot Rural Resort in the months before embarking on my Icelandic adventure, I knew I wanted to visit. Somewhere along the logistical challenges and pace of life, it had dropped off my radar by the time I landed in Reykjavik. Then by some stroke of fate, I was reminded.
Lónkot is a tiny settlement on the western edge of Skagafjörður on the shores of Tröllaskagi peninsula and the Arctic Ocean. The resort sits in a true bucolic setting, with sheep, vegetable and herb gardens, flower fields and where the ocean laps up on thousands of rocks, polished over the ages, smooth and shiny when wet.
Given it’s the high season in Iceland, I thought the odds of getting the attention of the second generation owners were high. I couldn’t hold back my excitement when explaining to Pan, our producer and director, what a great opportunity this would be, not only for a segment on “Border to Border” but also a once in a lifetime experience for our film crew.
We offered to camp on the farm, but the manager, Birgir, explained that there was a family room available that could accommodate all four of us. We would shoot our segment in the afternoon and then join them for dinner in the evening.
The ride to Lónkot, though cold and a bit wet, is wonderful. Snowcapped mountains appear ahead of us and as I head north, they flank me to the east. The tallest mountains I’ve seen so far. I start counting sheep again—and horses. The road is in decent condition. I’m fully layered and my electric vest and grips working.
There are no billboards in Iceland, nor big traffic signs. Everything is understated, yet well marked and easy to follow. I’m amazed that for now nearly a week after leaving Reykjavik, I’ve not seen a traffic light.
After passing the village of Hofsos, I ride some ten miles, and almost miss the sign to Lónkot. I pass through a gate and down a long gravel road toward the water. There are a handful of buildings and just a few cars. The wind is blowing, and while I know I need to introduce myself, I’m drawn to grassland stretching to a rocky berm and the ocean. I hike in my motorcycle books through the tall grass, over the stones and then gaze onto the Arctic Ocean. It’s been since I rode through British Columbia, the Yukon and up the Dalton Highway since I last set eyes on the Arctic Ocean. Now in Iceland, many years later, I’m here again.
Birgir is tall, welcoming and introduces me to Júlía (pronounced you-lee-uh) who is the second generation, along with her brother, have taken over management and marketing of Lónkot Rural Resort. Júlía is slender, confident and with bright blue eyes and warm smile. “My brother and my father have renovated this property over the past 5 years.” Júlía explains that the guest house was first, built in 1991 and the restaurant soon after in 1995. The family has worked hard to keep the property and the land as it has been for many decades, rural, peaceful and natural.
The family renovated the property some ten years ago. Now the restaurant is in the old cowshed and the family suite, where I stay with the film crew is above. Júlía jokes that we will dine in the cowshed and the lounge where we visit to discuss the shoot, is where all the cow shit used to be. Sitting in the warm building with large windows overlooking the vast farm and mountains to the east, one would never know. Yet it’s the history of the property that makes Lónkot Rural Resort so endearing. The artwork in the lounge and dining room are from local artists. The dining room features an artist from the late 1800’s and prints using large and small detailed geometric shapes. In the lounge, a local contemporary artist is featured.
Everything about Lónkot reeks local talent and history. Júlía is the chef, and as we walk around the property, picking wild flowers from the fields and herbs and leafy veggies from a maintained vegetable garden. All the ingredients for the restaurant are either grown on the property or sourced by local farmers. The fish served here is caught daily by Júlía’s husband.
Her father, who’s photograph from some 50 years prior is hanging in the lounge is funny, cheerful and camera shy. He avoids the cameras from our film crew, but I manage to convince him to join me in a quick photo.
I join Júlía in the kitchen, and then at the table in the resort’s dining room for dinner. We start with a fresh Lónkot garden salad—local veggies and the wild flowers and leafy greens from the garden.
I’m surprised and pleased at how the flowers, like herbs, give unique flavors, even spice to the fresh salad.
Next is an incredible starter of lumpfish roe, served with a herb dressing on bread. Growing in the kitchen are several strawberry plants. Julie takes a leaf from the strawberry plant and sets it on the bread before placing the roe with a dollop of crème fraîche. To me, the dish looks creative and clever like a strawberry. It’s almost like caviar, tastes of the sea and rich full of flavor.
She prepares a beurre blanc style sauce with butter and vinegar and seasons fresh filets of cod, caught by her husband, with herbs, salt and pepper. She elegantly plates the dish along with fresh barley and greens topped with toasted sunflower seeds—and like all the dishes Júlía prepares in her home kitchen, with fresh wildflowers.
The wait staff serves my first two dishes with pure Icelandic water and and nice white wine from Loire in France.
Next, she prepares the third course, lamb tenderloin, seared and baked and then served with a rich, juicy and flavorful blueberry based sauce and potato grilled and roasted. The fresh organic lamb is sourced from farmers who herd the sheep along the hills across the street from the resort.
Every detail is covered at Lónkot, fresh Icelandic butter is served with flair and a flower on one of the polished stones from the beach just a few feet away.
Of course, Júlía makes all the deserts from scratch and all organic ingredients and its a tough decision to choose from a panna cotta with berry compote, fresh viola wildflower ice cream, or rhubarb pie. So I must try all three.
I feel I’m home with family and friends at Lónkot, with Júlía, her father, and soon her husband and young son show up. In this way, and with the truly local food—and not the weird or offensive stuff you’ll find when searching Icelandic food. Truth is, the culinary scene in Iceland continues to get better, and like the forward-thinking energy and sustainable policies that seem to drive policy in Iceland, so does the attitude of local chefs, the focus is on the environment and foods sourced from the local environment.
Before setting off the next morning, and after a healthy country breakfast, I walk the beach and through fields of wildflowers. But soon I’m being swooped and buzzed by dozens of blackbirds. I’ve stumbled onto a nesting area. The birds are vocal and unafraid of me. One jabs my head, another my shoulder. It’s quite scary.
Next, I see Pan and Jamie running after me with cameras and sound equipment. “Stay right there,” Pan yells. “I’ve got to capture this.” I’m feeling like Melanie in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, and Pan wants to capture the shot. The birds continue to swoop, buzz, and jab me as Pan runs around with his camera and Jamie capturing the sounds. I pull away and then I see Pan encouraging the birds, lying on his back in the field as they buzz him and his camera.
Anything for the shot.
We finally bid farewell to our hosts and wave a sad goodbye to Lónkot Rural Resort, promising to return sometime again.
Before I ride north to Siglufjörður, the very northern tip of the fjord, I realize my side stand is loose—the extender I installed from Jesse Luggage Systems needs tightening, but the set screw is missing, so I secure the bottom part to the main shaft with duct tape.