April 5, 2012: Puffin Eaters
Last week I jetted off to the Faroe Islands for a couple of days of sheep dog stuff! What a trip! For those of you who don't know, the Faroe Islands lie northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. I knew it was going to be cold so I packed my winter gear and smugly thought, 'I'm ready for anything'. Yeah, well, I didn't plan on the airlines misplacing my luggage, did I? Thankfully I had put my gloves and hat in my jacket pocket, so I survived a day of judging none the worse for wear. Perhaps the hot tea and an abundance of chocolate cake were the lifesavers. Everyone knows how much I love chocolate cake!!! Oh, I should add that the chocolate cake took its revenge. Every time I tempted fate with the cake, my toothache returned with a vengeance. Not nice...but painkillers did the trick, and I almost consumed as many of these as I did pieces of cake.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the dogs running and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the dogs. I would have liked to have come home with a couple of dogs, but they didn't fit in my luggage (which did finally arrive). It was a big eye opener to see the types of terrain over which dogs and humans shepherd in the Faroes. To call it rugged terrain seems somewhat inadequate. It's harsh and unforgiving - steep cliffs to fall off! Knowing my luck, that's exactly what would happen to me. The trial field was littered with drains or ditches creating many a hazard for dogs. I wondered how my speedsters would handle these kinds of obstacles the first time they saw them. I did see a couple of speedsters and could easily have taken them home!
My host, Jónleif, and his parents and sister were marvellous. Jónleif was an excellent tour guide and host, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay because of him. Jónleif's sister not only rescued my luggage but she also made this amazing 'cake' (kaka in Faroese). This wasn't so much as cake, as we would call it, more a dessert ...a meringue base with melted Moro bars on top. It was to die for! One couldn't eat too much of this, so we got to eat it several days in a row. Hopefully I'll get the recipe and share it on my blog. Warning: you must have a serious sweet tooth to enjoy this kaka. Amazingly, my toothache stayed away for this (or maybe I had had enough pain killers by then nothing would have caused any pain).
I also got to sample some local fare. Roasted lamb with onions and potatoes, and fish curry were two of my favourites. I'm not know as a curry fan but I will say I am being converted! The fish curry was lovely. ...the fish, mouth watering. Of course I also got a handful of creme eggs, thanks to the Puffin man, also know as the creme egg man or René Hansen, the Faroese World Sheep Dog Trial competitor. Now René is quite an interesting character. Not only is he a master sheep dog handler and accordion player, but he is also a well known Puffin catcher! Puffins, as I discovered, are a culinary speciality of the Faroe Islands. Who knew??? I thought they were cute looking, endangered sea birds and the most I knew about puffins was the bespectacled cartoon puffin known as Ludvik Lundi. Lundi being the Faroese word for puffin. I was rendered speechless when, in all my ignorance, I discovered they are stuffed with sweet cake dough, raisins and spices, before being boiled or roasted. I still haven't got my mind around this, but I am assured they are very tasty. René gave me a lovely gift - a book called 'Puffin Fowling - a fowling day on Nólsoy' by Jens-Kjeld Jensen (http://jenskjeld.info/). It's a lovely book and, yes, it even has some recipes. I will treasure this book for years to come...and one day I am going back to the Faroes to photograph puffins. This time, I only photographed dogs!
There is a lot more I could write about my trip and the wonderful people of the Faroe Islands but I am dog tired. Suffice to say, THANK YOU to all those in the Faroes who made it a great trip. Since getting back, I have been overwhelmed with work and am way behind in responding to emails! We are still lambing but coming to an end of it. We had a bad start to lambing but they are coming thick and fast and in twos now. The weather has been amazing and it is predicted to be as high as 20 degrees C this coming week. That means only one thing for me...thistle and gorse attack! It's going to be a brutal week ahead. Oh yeah, I did go trialling on Saturday and I was rubbish! Time to brush off the cobwebs...