Conventional wisdom frequently favours Mediterranean countries whenever healthy diets are under discussion. But following a television documentary broadcast in the UK last year, which examined almost every diet on the planet, certain assumptions were in need of revision. Although Italy and Greece featured high up in the league tables, France and Spain fared less well and were on the brink of leaving the top ten. With a certain unpredictability, the country stealing the show as the outright winner was Iceland. This followed an additional slap on the cheek as the Nordic group of Sweden, Norway and Denmark all sailed way ahead of France. Rather more predictably, North America and the UK trailed way behind.

For those following the mighty gastronomic tussle, The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant award, the modern expression of Nordic terroir that is Rene Redzepi’s Noma restaurant will be known to many more epicurean pilgrims. Noma placed Danish cooking firmly on the world stage when it registered the number one spot in 2014. Iceland meanwhile has kept its culinary secrets a little closer to its chest.

Iceland sits just south of the Artic circle between the Artic and North Atlantic oceans.

Icelanders have been sustained by fishing, hunting and foraging for hundreds of years. The harsh climate and limited growing season provide little in the way of fruit and vegetables, and as a consequence the cuisine is predominately based on fish, lamb, cattle and associated dairy produce. This is also a land where boiled puffin and fermented shark are occasional menu dishes. Grass fed cows and mountain grazing lamb are more common though, with a wealth of dairy produce resulting from the beta-carotene rich pastures.