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Iceland: Behind the Scenes Tour of a Skyr Factory

Erin Zimmer 5 comments

Skyr is right up there with volcanoes and Björk as being one of the most Icelandic things I knew about before visiting Iceland. Wonderfully thick and creamy, skyr tastes somewhere between tart Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, and soft-serve. And Icelanders have been eating it forever; there are even medieval literary records of skyr being eaten in the Sagas as early as the 11th century. So, despite its recent boom in the yogurt market, skyr ain't just a new fad. Let's see how that Viking mjolk (Icelandic for "milk") becomes skyr! Take a tour of a skyr factory with us. More

An Intro to Icelandic Food

Erin Zimmer 35 comments

"What exactly is Icelandic food?" was the most popular question I was asked after returning from a week in Iceland. (Second place goes to: "Did everyone look like Björk?") To answer the first, the basic diet hasn't changed too much from the Viking Age, though of course chefs have become more imaginative with preparations over the years. The mainstays include: lamb, skyr, potatoes, fish, and other seafood. A lot of seafood. Here's a primer for anyone visiting Iceland or wondering, what do they eat up there? More

Snapshots from Iceland: Pipp's Chocolate-Covered Black Licorice Bar

Sweets Erin Zimmer 8 comments

The last time I checked, you could count the number of people who genuinely like black licorice on one hand. And after going to Iceland, I've learned that at least a few of them live in Iceland. Stroll the sweets department in any Icelandic grocery store and you'll find it stocked with black licorice in various forms. More

Snapshots from Iceland: Eldhús, the Smallest Icelandic Restaurant on Wheels

Erin Zimmer 5 comments

There's that fantastic scene in Pixar's Up when the old man Carl Fredricksen's house is lifted up into the clouds by a bundle of helium balloons, and off it floats to Paradise Falls. That image was the inspiration behind Eldhús, an actual house built to scoot around (on wheels, not via balloons) all over Iceland for twelve days, showcasing local Icelandic flavors from a different chef each night. Maximum occupancy at the dinner table inside: six diners. More

Destination-Worthy Milkshake: Licorice Shake at Hamborgarafabrikkan in Reykjavík, Iceland

Drinks Liz Clayton 8 comments

If there's a Scandinavian sweet to write home about, it's licorice—and while you'll easily find it enrobed in chocolate, caramel, marzipan and more, even my wildest dairy fantasies had not yet imagined it in milkshake format. Until now. More

Where to Drink Coffee in Reykjavík

Drinks Liz Clayton 3 comments

A city that's dark as much as Reykjavík may find it needs a little extra shove in the morning some of the year—luckily for Icelanders and the visitors they host, a good cup of coffee is never far away in the capital city. Whether it's in a museum, a bookstore or on an unmarked neighborhood corner, the progressive coffee ideals of Scandinavia encircle Iceland as well as a place to rely on a more enlightened cup—even at the chain stores. More

Icelandic Beer: Vikings, Prohibition, and Rebirth

Drinks Lisa Grimm 1 comment

Although Iceland's early Viking (and Irish) inhabitants were known to enjoy a flagon or two of beer and mead, their descendants were not as fortunate—at least for a time. Despite a lot of practice (Iceland has had a parliamentary system since the year 930), the electorate still sometimes got things wrong. In 1908, a referendum to ban all alcohol passed, and the country went dry, beginning in 1915. Beer was not made legal again until 1989. More

Daily Slice: Eldsmiðjan in Reykjavik, Iceland

Slice Christopher Stephens 6 comments

Last weekend I ventured to Iceland, hoping to see the Northern Lights. On the first night I was there, the sky was overcast, so I stayed in town and decided to see what sort of pizza options were available. Usually when I travel, I try to sample as many traditional local foods as possible, and clearly pizza does not fall under this category in Iceland. Still, I had sampled delicious lobster soup and a malt extract beverage at Saegreifin for lunch, and I was curious about what sort of pizza one eats in Reykjavik. More

Culinary Ambassadors: Street Food in Iceland - Hot Dogs from Bæjarins Beztu

The Culinary Ambassador Corps 11 comments

In recent years Reykjavik has witnessed a steady increase of vending carts catering to every viking whim, offering anything from Belgian waffles to hefty subs stuffed with roasted Icelandic lamb and béarnaise sauce. But one particular street vendor has been more resilient and traditional than all the others, ascending to a near sacred status in the national character with its unrefined charm and a menu so short that if you blink, you might miss it: the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand. More

A Typical Breakfast in Iceland: Hafragrautur and Lýsi

The Culinary Ambassador Corps 9 comments

Icelandic cuisine has never been known for being one of particularly lavish breakfasts, as dark, icy mornings call for something easy and piping hot to be scarfed down before braving whatever storm, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or avalanche that might be waiting on the doorstep. More

Iceland to Lose Two-Thirds of Its Pizza Huts

Slice Adam Kuban 1 comment

Yes, Pizza Hut is pulling 66 percent of its pizza hut locations from Iceland after the island nation's catastrophic economic collapse in late 2008. In this case, that would mean Pizza Hut is closing two locations in Iceland, leaving open a single restaurant in a shopping mall near Reykjavik. People just weren't eating enough pizza to carry the extra locations, Hut officials said. According to the Reuters story on the pull-out, "a basic Pizza Hut pie with cheese sells for the equivalent of about $17 in Iceland."... More

Food in Iceland During the Global Economic Crisis

Robyn Lee 3 comments

Fish market at Kolaportið in Reyjavik. In the latest episode of The Food Programme from BBC Radio, Richard Johnson investigates the impact of the global economic crisis on food in Iceland. There's more interest in eating local food and growing food locally in order to save money on importing from other countries and increase self-sufficiency. In an interview with Johnson, a fisherman says, "We are eating more traditional foods like meat pudding, sheep heads...now people are all of a sudden making haggis again. This was almost forgotten about. This is cheap, good, and nutritious food." Other topics include the fishing industry, whaling, and greenhouses powered by natural heat. Related Snapshots from Iceland: Grilled Whale from Saegreifinn Snapshots from Iceland:... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Grilled Whale from Saegreifinn

Robyn Lee 15 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This will be my final shapshot; the rest are here. Saegreifinn, or Sea Baron, is known for their lobster stew, but this fish shack also offers a wide variety of grilled seafood-on-sticks. With the help of four friends, I got to try seven different skewers, our most unique choice being the minke whale. Considering its appearance and flavor, I'd call it the Beef of the Sea. The flavor is similar to steak with a slightly funky fish flavor, while the texture is softer than beef and has finer muscle fibers. If... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Lamb 'Boat' Sandwiches from Hlölla Bátar

Robyn Lee Post a comment

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This week I'll share some food-related bits with you. The lamb boat (970 ISK) sub-style sandwich from Hlölla Bátar* in Ingólfstorg square, was my favorite sandwich from my trip to Iceland, besides being one of the tastiest subs I've ever eaten anywhere. The slightly chewy and soft, but substantial bun was filled with thin slices of crispy fried lamb accompanied by crunchy fried onions, pickles, lettuce, red cabbage, and plenty of special mayonnaise-based "Hlölli" sauce. After my hot dog-eating experience, it was more evidence that fried onion bits are a magical... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Burgers and Shakes from Hamborgarabúllan in Reykjavik

A Hamburger Today Robyn Lee 6 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. I've been sharing it via these Snapshots from Iceland. Burgers aren't... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Cutest Skyr Container Ever

Robyn Lee 7 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This week I'll share some food-related bits with you. Most containers of skyr, a popular Icelandic yogurt-like product (actually a very soft, low-fat cheese), are already rather cute due to their squat containers and miniature folded spoons, but this container of plain skyr decorated with rainbows topped the rest of them. So bulbous! So happy! Basically the same way you'd feel after eating a container of thick, creamy skyr. Carey Jones already expounded upon the deliciousness of skyr last year. Like her, a former Greek yogurt devotee, I have now converted... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Hot Dog from Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

Robyn Lee 11 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This week I'll share some food-related bits with you. Unless you're vegetarian, you can't visit Reykjavik without eating at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, a hot dog stand near flea market Kolaportið that has been open since 1937. It's known for serving the best hot dog in Reykjavik (its name appropriately means, "The best hot dog in town") and for once having served former US president Bill Clinton. It's certainly one of the most accessible eateries for only 250 ISK per dog (and like almost everything else in Iceland, you can pay for... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Wall of Coca-Cola

Robyn Lee 8 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This week I'll share some food-related bits with you. Aluminum, plastic, and glass; it's all here. The 24-hour supermarket 10-11 in downtown Reykjavik is a small shop—perhaps the size of a 7-11—but seemed to devote a disproportionately large area of refrigerator space to Coca-Cola. A bit of googling tells me that Iceland and Mexico have the highest consumption rates of Coca-Cola per capita. (Iceland doesn't appear on it, but Coca-Cola has this handy website with per capita consumption data.) One of my travel partners insisted that Icelandic Coke tasted better than... More

Snapshots from Iceland: Overloaded Open-Face Sandwich

Robyn Lee 13 comments

I visited Iceland from April 18 to 24. Although this sparsely populated country may not be known for its cuisine, there was plenty of interesting food to report on. This week I'll share some food-related bits with you. On our first day in Reykjavik, my friends and I went to Kaffivagninn, a simple cafe by the harbor that, unlike many other restaurants in the city center, didn't seem to cater to tourists. Arriving in the late afternoon meant the offerings were slim, but we managed to pick up a few of these mountainous open faced sandwiches topped with a layer of sliced hard boiled egg, lettuce, a bit of tomato, a few chunks of pickled fish (herring, I would guess)... More

Hamburger Sauce in Iceland

A Hamburger Today Robyn Lee 2 comments

During my vacation Iceland from April 18 to 24, one of the first things I did was visit a grocery store. Naturally. Stuck in the wall of mayonnaise and mayo-based sauces in Bónus, I spotted hamburger sauce, hamborgarasósa. This... More

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