Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Hinnarik Kammanilu – Greenlandic music

“Hinnarik Kammanilu” are the most popular children’s performers in Greenland. Celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, it shows that buck teeth, a melodica (one of those small keyboards you play with your mouth), an acoustic guitar, and fun songs specifically written for children will forever make you a hit with the kids.

In Australia, we have “The Wiggles”. In Greenland, we have “Hinnarik Kammanilu”.

Poster for the free concert at Nuuk Centre

Translated as “Hinnarik and Friend”, this singing comedic duo have been entertaining the kids of Greenland for 15 years. As part of their anniversary celebration, they were playing free 20-minute concerts in the Nuuk Centre (Nuuk’s shopping mall – the only one in Greenland), so of course I had to go along. Partially this was to experience the Hinnarik phenomenon for myself. And partially because the “friend” is Frederik Elsner – one of the songwriters and lead singers of my favourite band in all the world – Nanook.

I arrived to an absolutely packed house.  Standing room only, and even then, only at the back.

Standing room only!

So, I loitered at the end of their 20-minute performance while they signed CDs, hoping they would play again and I could get myself into a much better position.

Success!

Prime position for the second of the free Hinnarik Kammanilu shows

There were songs I actually recognized!

Hinnarik Kammanilu – Kamaleruit

And others that I didn’t but were truly addictive.

Hinnarik Kammanilu – Diisaq
Hinnarik Kammanilu – Kaakkukkakkit

It was a fun show 😊 and the 20 minutes flew by very quickly!

Afterwards, they met this latest audience of kids and signed more autographs.  And judging by the way the CDs were flying off the table, there will be a lot of “Hinnarik Kammanilu” playing all over Nuuk during the next little while!

Hinnarik signing autographs at the end of the free concert at the Nuuk Centre, West Greenland
Meeting the fans

I only wish I could understand what they were singing!

Hinnarik Kammanilu have a Facebook page if you want to follow along, and you can order their latest CD from the Atlantic Music Store in Nuuk.

Discover more about Greenland

Greenlandic music is a vibrant part of modern culture on the world’s largest island. You can learn more in Guide to Greenland’s Culture Lovers’ Guide to Nuuk, which also highlights how you can explore visual arts, performance arts, architecture, and amazing gastronomy experiences while visiting Greenland’s capital city.

There is also the highly practical Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk with everything you need to know to plan your trip to Nuuk, and the Nature Lovers Guide to Nuuk, if the outdoors is more your thing.

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Greenlandic Music – Ole Kristiansen at Katuaq Cultural Centre

Greenlandic music is some of the best music you’ve never heard of. There is a surprising number of amazing musicians in Greenland, and Ole Kristiansen – a favourite amongst locals – has been around for years. What better way to experience his music for the first time than at the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk.

I was determined to see a concert during my extended stay in Nuuk this year. While I had desperately hoped that my absolute favourite band, Nanook, would be playing – it was not to be … again 🙁

I did, however, get to see one of Greenland’s perennial favourites play – Ole Kristiansen.

I knew of his work because of the duet he sings on Frederik Elsner’s solo album – “F”. But I’d never listened to it specifically. I pre-purchased my ticket for 250DKK (about AUD$50), and decided I would just turn up and see what it was all about.

Ticket and wristband for Ole Kristiansen concert at Katuaq Cultural Center
Ticket and wristband for the concert

Support act – Jaaku Sørensen

The support act was scheduled to appear at 9pm, so I headed out into the snow storm (boy it was hard to get off the couch!) and caught the bus to arrive at 8:55pm. Uuuuummmmmmm… where was everyone? There were maybe 20 of us in the foyer of Katuaq – and an even larger number of staff, who were preparing the plastic cups of beer that would ultimately lubricate what they anticipated would be a good crowd.

Small number of people turned up to see Jaaku Sørensen - the support act for Ole Kristiansen
Where is everybody?

I felt incredibly sorry for Jaaku Sørensen who had his family, friends and a handful of us who didn’t know him making up a very small crowd in a very large space.

Jaaku Sørensen singing at Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, West Greenland
Jaaku Sørensen – solo performer

And, to be honest, he was really quite good! His primarily folk-style songs sung mostly in English deserved a much bigger audience. It seems that opening for one of Greenland’s biggest performers, doesn’t actually guarantee you the audience you might expect or deserve in Greenland. Tough crowd!

He played for about 45 minutes in total and people started to arrive during the 30-minute break before the main performance. By the time Ole took the stage – the scene was more like what I was expecting from the outset.

Ole Kristiansen on stage at Katuaq Cultural Centre in front of a large audience
This audience was more what I was expecting

Main act – Ole Kristiansen

I had an awesome position up on a ledge towards the front of the foyer with a clear view of the stage

Ole Kristiansen performing at Katuaq Cultural Centre
I had a great vantage point for the concert. A ledge provided the perfect spot for a short person like me

and the most common sight at concerts around the world these days.

Mobile phone recording Ole Kristiansen at his concert at Katuaq Cultural Centre, Nuuk
This is pretty typical at concerts these days.

From the first note, the crowd went wild. And I was very surprised by how “heavy” his music was. It was definitely within the genre of rock music, not heavy metal music, but I was expecting something lighter.

The music was really good!  Not as good as Nanook 😉, but I could see why it had everyone else in the crowd singing their heart and lungs out. I’d definitely go see him play again.

Despite really enjoying the concert, I ended up leaving at the mid-way break. I’m a big fan of Nuuk’s bus system with the exception of one point – the last bus is waaaaaay too early on a Friday and Saturday night.  Given the storm outside, it was either catch this last bus or hope to be able to get a taxi home ($$$) once the concert had finished. I was happy with the experience I’d had so ended up taking the bus. 

Ole Kristiansen and band playing the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, West Greenland

I look forward to my next concert in Greenland! Hopefully it will be Nanook!

Discover more about Greenland

Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, is the hub for modern culture in Greenland. There is everything from music, to visual arts, to performance arts, to architecture, to amazing gastronomy experiences. Read more in Guide to Greenland’s Culture Lover’s Guide to Nuuk.

The best resource on the web if you are planning a trip to Nuuk is the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk, and there is also a Nature Lovers Guide to Nuuk, if the outdoors is more your thing.

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Sarfalik Restaurant Tasting Menu – Nuuk

The Tasting Menu at Sarfalik Restaurant in Nuuk offers a fine-dining experience that allows you to enjoy a wide variety of Greenlandic produce in the one sitting. Professional chefs take the abundances of the season and prepare innovative dishes using a variety of modern techniques for a truly unique taste of Greenland.

In the 2.5 months I’ve been based in Nuuk, I’ve not once been out to a restaurant or café to eat. Cooking for myself is so ingrained (it has to be after more than 3 years of traveling and watching every cent) that I usually forget that going out for a meal is even an option!

However, having written the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk where I relied on restaurant reviews and the recommendations of my friends and colleagues in order to write the “Where to Eat” section, I decided that I had to go out and try one of these places before leaving. I chose to head to the top of the Hotel Hans Egede and indulge in the “Greenlandic Tasting Menu” at Sarfalik Restaurant.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now know how much I love eating and trying new foods. For example, the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet at the Hotel Sisimiut and the Foodie Tour with Your Friend in Reykjavik were two of my travel highlights for 2018. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to the experience as Nicolai (from Denmark) seated me at a table by the window with a view to one of the well-known mountains near Nuuk – Store Malene.

Sunset over Store Malene from Sarfalik Restaurant - Nuuk- West Greenland
Sunset on Store Malene (the tallest of the peaks) as seen from Sarfalik Restaurant

Before the Tasting Menu begins

As I unwrapped the napkin from its strip of binding sealskin, Nicolai placed a “snack” down in front of me. Humpback whale with soy marinade and mustard mayo, and seaweed with a little onion mayo.

Humpback whale snack at Sarfalik Restaurant - Nuuk - West Greenland
Humpback whale with soy marinade and mustard mayo, and seaweed with a little onion mayo

Although many people would balk at eating whale, it is very much a part of life in Greenland. Mattak (the raw skin of certain types of whale) used to provide the Inuit with several important nutrients, and is still a delicacy that is served at Kaffemiks (celebrations) in modern times.

I’ve tried whale meat on a few occasions in both Greenland and Iceland and have always really enjoyed it.  This was no exception. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender with a subtle soy flavor. It was a great start to what I expected to be an amazing experience.

Next to appear on the table was a basket of warm bread. The white rolls had a wonderfully crusty exterior, and the malt rolls had a more cake-like texture with a rich taste that was enhanced by the salt crystals sprinkled on top. When loaded up with chive butter, keeping my hand out the bread basket was very difficult, even though I knew I had to.

Two types of bread at Sarfalik Restaurant - Nuuk - West Greenland
How to resist?!

Now for the Tasting Menu

The first real course of the Tasting Menu (no, we hadn’t even started yet!) was delivered by Åsmund from Norway. It was an Italian-inspired musk ox empanada with rosemary mayo. There had been an “Italian Takeover” of Sarfalik Restaurant during the previous two weeks by visiting chefs, and this dish was created based on what they showcased during their stay.

Musk-ox empanada as part of the Sarfalik Tasting Menu - Nuuk - West Greenland
Musk ox empanada with rosemary mayo

One of the interesting things about the Tasting Menu is that it changes several times per year according to the produce that is in season. However, because it is made up of several small portions, there is also the flexibility to mix it up when an interesting opportunity arises.  

Åsmund (who has a touch of an Australian accent despite never having worked in Australia?!) also presented me with the next dish – reindeer tenderloin with celeriac. The tenderloin was cured with sage and the half-ring of celeriac underneath it was pickled in red wine vinegar and hibiscus. Celeriac cream, crunchy sage “chips” and sprinkled dried Angelica topped off the dish. Åsmund explained that normally the celeriac cream would also have had fresh sage in it, but they were having supply issues. One example of the challenges faced by even a high-end restaurant in Greenland.

reindeer tenderloin with celeriac  on the tasting menu at Sarfalik Restaurant - Nuuk - West Greenland
Reindeer tenderloin with celeriac

The reindeer was very smooth and tender with a mild taste of jerky. Delicious! I was less a fan of the celeriac, but that’s just because I don’t enjoy the taste of wine. The cream gave me a hint of what celeriac tastes like (I’d not eaten it before) and I look forward to another opportunity to try it in its more natural state.

Next up was cold smoked humpback whale with turnip presented in 3 ways.

Cold smoked humpback whale - Sarfalik Tasting Menu - Nuuk -West Greenland
Cold smoked humpback whale with turnip

The whale was smoked in-house and had a texture more like that of raw fish than what I would normally associate with meat. Its colour was also very dark and Åsmund went on to explain that while this is a general characteristic of humpback whale meat, the cold smoking process (and lack of exposure to heat) actually makes it darker.

The turnips offered 3 completely different experiences of this root vegetable. The fermented turnips (triangles) were quite acidic and sharp, the pickled turnip (julienne) was also quite sharp but somehow had a sweetness to it too. The roasted turnip puree was very creamy and, for me, had the strongest and most recognizable turnip flavor.

My next course was bought out by Matthias from Argentina. Nicolai had told me that Matthias usually doesn’t get to do front-of-house because he is not very confident with his English. But given I speak Spanish…

The plate that Matthias put in front of me was burnt cod with Greenlandic herbs and roasted tomato sauce. Matthias introduced it to me in Spanish, wished me pleasant eating, and disappeared quickly back into the kitchen.

Burnt Cod - Sarfalik Tasting Menu - Nuuk Greenland
Burnt cod with Greenlandic herbs

The cod was perfectly cooked and the roasted tomato sauce very creamy. Like everything that had come before, it was delicious, though I was starting to worry about the fact that portion sizes seemed to be growing! I crossed my fingers I would be able to fit everything in.  And yes. I was still managing to resist the lure of the bread.

Meeting the head chef – Simon

The next person to appear at my table with an orange granatine palette cleanser turned out to be the head chef, Simon. He is originally from Sweden (the kitchen is very multicultural) and had been working at Sarfalik for 2.5 years, 1.5 of those as head chef. He was much younger than I expected and I was looking forward to chatting with him about the inspiration for and challenges of putting together a Tasting Menu such as this in Greenland.

Orange Granitine - Sarfalik Tasting Menu - Nuuk - West Greenland
Orange granatine

He returned with my main dish – musk ox with grilled sweet potato, musk ox souffle and musk ox glace – and said he’d be happy to chat after I’d enjoyed my meal.

This dish was fantastic! The musk ox was like a fine steak cooked to perfection. The glace, beautifully rich. And the elements on the plate aligned with the Greenlandic tradition of not wasting anything.  The glace was made using the bones of the musk ox. The puree and chips were made from the castoffs of the grilled sweet potato. I love this approach.

Main dish – Spring Tasting Menu

Musk Ox with Grilled Sweet Potato - Sarfalik Tasting Menu - Nuuk Greenland
Musk ox with grilled sweet potato

Once I’d finished eating, Simon joined me at my table while we waited for the dessert to be ready. He explained the idea behind the Tasting Menu – to create high quality food that works with the abundances and limitations of the current season in Greenland and neighboring countries.

For example, February is musk ox hunting season in Greenland, so the main today was a musk ox plate. Later in the year during reindeer hunting season, the Tasting Menu would instead feature a reindeer-based main dish. Right now, root vegetables (the staples of Nordic countries) support whatever meat is available (though this, too, will change as the seasons change), and locally sourced herbs that grow wild in the backcountry around Nuuk (like Angelica) are used whenever possible.

“The goal is to tell a story with the Tasting Menu”, Simon tells me.

A story that is dictated by the season.  A story that features local produce sourced directly from the fishermen and hunters while acknowledging Nordic influences on Greenland. A story that showcases the multicultural nature of Nuuk through the use of different cooking techniques drawn from the countries of origin and experiences of the kitchen staff of Sarfalik Restaurant.

I was very much looking forward to how the last chapter of today’s story would unfold!

Spring Tasting Menu dessert

When Simon returned, he came bearing a magnificent Chervil-based dessert. The menu describes it as the following: “Chervil and cream cheese ice cream with yoghurt crisps, liquorice sprinkles, and chervil grass”, but I prefer the story that Simon told me about it.

Nuuk Spring - Sarfalik Tasting Menu - West Greenland
Nuuk Spring

It symbolizes Spring in Nuuk. The green represents plants starting to grow and the brown (burnt white chocolate), the dirt that is slowly revealed by the melting snow. However, just like the Spring we have been experiencing during my stay, a period of warmer weather is abruptly interrupted by a cold snap, and fresh snow (the white fluff) once again covers the landscape.

Brilliant!

And delicious!

The chervil cream cheese ice cream was silky smooth and creamy with a mild flavor that was offset by the much stronger chervil syrup. The yoghurt chips were crisp and almost toffee-like, and the thyme snow (it was meant to be chervil snow, but again, supply problems) was lighter and fluffier than sherbet and disintegrated immediately upon contact with my tongue. I didn’t think anything could dissolve more readily than sherbet, but I have been proven wrong!

It was a spectacular end to an amazing meal that was further enhanced as the setting sun momentarily peaked out from underneath the cloud layer to bathe the restaurant in incredible golden light. Moments like this are truly magical.

Golden sunset through Sarfalik Restaurant on top of the Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk - West Greenland
Golden sunset through Sarfalik Restaurant on top of the Hotel Hans Egede

Recommendation

The Tasting Menu at Sarfalik Restaurant in Nuuk is a wonderful way to try local Greenlandic ingredients prepared in innovative ways. The small portion sizes and large number of courses mean you get to taste a wide range of produce, all prepared with the imagination and ingenuity of top professional chefs. There is also the option to pair the menu with a carefully chosen wine selection.

A million thanks to Simon, Åsmund, Nicolai and Matthias for looking after me and a wonderful experience. I look forward to returning again in September to try to the Autumn version of the Tasting Menu!

Discover more about Greenland

For recommendations on where to eat in Nuuk, check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk – the best resource on the web for those planning a trip to Greenland’s capital. It also has loads of practical information on how to get to Nuuk, how to get around, where to stay, and all the things to do once you arrive.

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences here on my blog.

Or, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
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Australian victory in Greenland’s Arctic Circle Race

Video: Mads Fridolin Vejlby

The Australian National Anthem playing in Greenland.

Wait, what?!

Yes. Much to everyone’s surprise, Phillip Bellingham (a fellow Aussie from Victoria) beat local legend Martin Møller to the finish line of the 2019 Arctic Circle Race by a mere 3 minutes and 18 seconds.

This 160km, 3-day event near Sisimiut is widely renowned as the toughest ski race in the world. Greenlander Martin Møller has won it for the past several years and it was a very close race to be beaten by such a short margin over this distance!

Phillip explains his strategy for the race at breakfast on Day 2.

Video: Mads Fridolin Vejlby

And it proved to be a good plan, as the deciding factor ended up being a sprint to the finish line between Phillip and Martin.

Video: Mads Fridolin Vejlby

One of the reasons the Arctic Circle Race is so tough is because Sisimiut is surrounded by very mountainous terrain. Another is because participants have to camp out with minimal equipment for 2 nights, preparing their own food and taking care of themselves. You need a strong mental attitude to be able to cope with this on top of a grueling day on skis in cold temperatures!

Unfortunately I wasn’t in Sisimiut to see the race for myself. However, I do know the terrain around Greenland’s second largest city as I spent over a week there last year hiking and exploring the area during the Summer. It is a spectacularly beautiful part of the world as the following drone footage courtesy of Mads Fridolin Vejlby shows.

Video: Mads Fridolin Vejlby
Music: Nanook

Congratulations Phillip!

Are you coming back next year to defend your title?

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences here on my blog.

Or, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!



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