3 minute read

Siglunes: Moroccan dining adventure


From Africa to the Arctic Siglunes Restaurant in North Iceland offers a taste of Morocco.

TEXT: Eyglo Svala Arnarsdottir PHOTOS: Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson

The road leads through the mountain. On the northernmost tip of Trollaskagi peninsula the town of Siglufjordur nestles between steep slopes and the shore. Tourists who come to this remote place have increased in past years. They come for the ski resort, untamed nature and rich history of the former herring boom town. Now, Siglufjordur has a new and surprising attraction: an authentic Moroccan restaurant at Siglunes Guesthouse.

It’s the height of summer but the weather is gloomy and there are few people around. Yet it feels like the Mediterranean sun breaks through the clouds when I shake hands with Jaouad Hbib, the restaurant’s master chef. His kitchen has a scent of exotic spices. “A kitchen without spices is like a man without love,” Jaouad declares. Spicing food is a treasured skill in his family.

I enjoy the house red – the wines are specifically selected and imported from Spain – as I chat with Siglunes’s owner, Halfdan Sveinsson, about how a North African chef ended up just south of the Arctic Circle. “I’m a ‘gourmet’ guy and track down the best restaurants when I’m travelling.” At La Fromagerie in Essasouira he found the best food in Morocco and promptly made Jaouad, who was head chef, an offer to come work for him. The building which facilitates Siglunes Guesthouse and Restaurant was constructed as a hotel in 1934 and has been known by many names; one of the original ones was Siglunes. A lot of the furniture was donated by townspeople; the vintage sofa in the lounge was made across the street.


03 04 01 The author and guesthouse owner, having a chat in the vintage sofa. 02 Salmon balls in tajine. 03 Colourful spices brighten up the kitchen. 04 Jaouad Hbib holding his cheesecake. 05 The starters: pan-fried cheese and

Moroccan salad with fresh cheese.


La Fromagerie specialises in homemade cheeses and they also feature on Siglunes’s menu. Pan-fried cheese with sweet eggplant, artichokes and apples is served as a starter, along with a Moroccan salad with fresh cheese. The mains are slow cooked and served in tajine, a special earthenware pot.

Steam escapes when the lid is lifted, revealing colourful dishes: salmon balls with sweet onion and mixed spices, and lamb shank with figs and roasted almonds. Jaouad makes his magic using prime ingredients from different worlds, always including some dishes with Icelandic lamb. “It spends four months outside. It’s organic, and the meat is tender.” The dessert consists of orange salad with nuts, fresh mint and rose water, homemade cheeses and cheesecake with mango – fresh, savoury, sweet and filling!

Later in the evening, Jaouad picks some mint from the restaurant garden and makes sweet tea. He admits that he sometimes finds it difficult to live here, so close to the Arctic, because “the sun is vital to an African man”. However, he is touched by how warmly locals have welcome him. “When they have visitors, they come to the restaurant to eat,” he says with a smile.

It’s midnight and my magic carpet lands in the cold Icelandic summer night. I snuggle up under a soft duvet and drift off into the land of dreams, where the sun never sets.





Air Iceland Connect flies to Akureyri daily in only 35 minutes. From there it takes one hour to drive to Siglufjordur. There’s also a bus connection. Siglunes Restaurant is open Tuesdays to Sundays every month of the year apart from December and January. → airicelandconnect.com