Due to some technical difficulties, I’m a little late with these posts. Oops!
Today was all about the food. We had a mellow morning just poking about before meeting up with our Reykjavik Food Walk tour guide and group. The confirmation email mentioned our guide should be easy to find as he’s tall with a big red beard and round glasses. They were not wrong. I’ve dubbed him the uber hipster Viking elf (but only between me and mom. Haha). He’s got the Viking look but lanky, more elf-like and the hipster glasses. Others mentioned the hipster vibe and apparently he gets that a lot. He said Icelanders are all horrible hipsters. Anyways, as with all our guides thus far, he’s extremely well schooled and highly entertaining. Love the sardonic sense of humour. Once our group was all gathered up we walked to our first stop for traditional Icelandic meat soup. As mom is allergic to lamb (not easy in this country) she had a bowl of sweet potato soup that she said was excellent. The traditional lamb soup the rest of us enjoyed was soooooo good. Amazing broth and super tender meat. Apparently at The Icelandic Bar where we had our sample, they change up the recipe every day so you never know which version you’re going to get. I’m sure they’re all equally delicious.
The next stop on the tour was to a local delicatessen for a cheese and meat sampler. We tried the creamiest, tastiest Gouda I’ve ever had (we went back later to buy some), a nice white mold cheese and a surprisingly smooth blue mold cheese. As for the meat, our first taster was a little controversial, it was cured horse meat, but the Icelanders are very pragmatic folks and horse is a normal food source for them. The next was cured sheep which was quite good. The final taste was a specialty of the store, one that brings people in droves around Christmas, a smoked goose breast. Our guide recommended we try it with a raspberry champagne vinaigrette which complemented the meat beautifully. I was amazed at how good everything was.
From there we continued our walk towards the beautiful H church to Cafe Loki, a local standard for traditional Icelandic cuisine. We tried one of the house specialties, something only made there, rye bread ice cream!! Unusual concept and totally delightful. The traditional rye bread in Iceland is denser and sweeter than the style we’re used to and Cafe Loki caramelizes the bread before adding it to the ice cream which gives it a sweet, crunchy texture. So very good. Mom calls it winter ice cream. We also learned a little about the story of Loki as our guide gave an explanation of the mural on the wall. Apparently he’s studied history and literature among other things and can discuss mythology for hours.
Our next stop was in a little greenspace Kjartan stopped us in as we were walking along. From his backpack he produced containers of skyr for everyone! Likened to Greek yogurt, skyr is actually cheese. Very high in protein and low in fat it’s part of a typical Icelandic breakfast, and probably my favourite part. Wish we could easily get skyr back home.
Next up was a stop at the most famous hot dog stand in Iceland. Apparently Bill Clinton ate there several times on his visit. Icelanders really do love their hotdogs. Who knew?! These are made with lamb and most locals order “one with everything” meaning it comes loaded with ketchup (interestingly they put applesauce, not sugar in their ketchup), mustard, remoulade, raw onions, and crispy onions. Poor mom, with her weird lamb allergy she was forced to eat just a bun with toppings. I think the guy at the counter struggled not to laugh when our guide placed her order. Those of us who were able to nosh on the hot dogs all enjoyed them immensely. They were really tasty and the toppings were messy and yummy.
For anyone reading who is wondering how we’re going to manage two more tastings, we were all feeling the same. Haha. But the tour takes about four hours with constant walking between tastings so you don’t get stuffed to the gills full.
On that note, we wandered down to the harbour to visit the Sea Baron and sample the lobster soup the restaurant is known for. Holy cow was it delicious!!! Rich and creamy with the tenderest lobster I’ve ever had. Apparently they keep the soup boiling hot all the time and only after a customer places an order, the lobster is put into their bowl of soup, only cooking as the waiter brings it to the table. Whatever they do they do it well!!
Then it was onto our final stop. Kjartan took us to a very fancy looking establishment for our dessert. Apotek, which means apothecary, is named for the business which used to be in the building for many years. The pastry chef is head of the Icelandic cooking team and is well known for his desserts. Rightfully so. As the creations were brought to the table there were gasps of delight and amazement. The presentation was beautiful. I wish I could remember what the waitress said was in the desserts but all I can think of is strawberry sorbet. Coconut was involved in one layer but that’s all I know. They were quite decadent and again, just so beautiful.
What that the tour was at an end. Well, after Kjartan gave us one last treat, an Icelandic chocolate bar to take with us.
Such a fantastic way to learn about the place you’re visiting and get a chance to try some amazing food!! The group of people on the tour were lovely as well. Some had just gotten off the plane and come straight to the tour. I think they had the right idea. I’m definitely adding a food tour to our Japan trip in a few weeks. Can’t wait!!