Skyr has been part of Iceland’s history for a long time. It was brought over by Norse settlers about 1,000 years ago and has been a traditional part of the Nordic diet ever since. The fresh, low-fat treat is versatile, and can serve as a savory snack or sweet dessert depending on what it’s paired with. But sometimes overlooked is the product that remains after making skyr: the whey. Whey has been useful in the past for preserving food due to its acidity; it also makes a sweet drink, tenderizes meat and can be used as a base for alcohol. A bottle of whey is a staple in the fridge of any traditional Icelander. However, despite whey having traditional roots, the sweet, creamy product is now making waves in the modern culinary world.
Instead of being confined to its more traditional use, whey is appearing on the menus of some of the most modern restaurants in Iceland. For example, the newly opened Matur og Drykkur in the Grandi district utilizes whey alongside skyr in their menu. They serve dried fish with whey butter and pickled dulse, and skyr with blueberries and whey granita; a refreshing, sweet upgrade to the usual granita. Matur og Drykkur promises to take “good old traditional recipes and the best Icelandic ingredients” to create fusions of popular food. Their use of whey definitely makes their slogan— “Let tradition surprise you!” — ring true! Renowned restaurant Dill in Reykjavik, always at the forefront in modern twists to cuisine, also uses whey in new recipes. They have a delicious burnt cake with currants and whey, a sharp and sweet combination that’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.
There’s even a new eco-drink called Íslandus, made with fresh whey and integrated with wholesome Icelandic products, like wild moss, local berries and Arctic thyme. The blend is being used as a mouthwatering twist on the traditional cocktail.
So don’t miss out on this delectable craze! Next time you’re in Iceland be sure to sample whey in all its revived glory with Islandus, or at Dill, Matur og Drykkur and other up-and-coming restaurants!