a slow food guide to iceland

This is part three in my Iceland series. You can check out my Iceland style and Iceland hiking guide as well. But today…it’s all about food, the stuff that fuels all my travels.

You can also peruse my Slow Food and Hiking Guide to Provence and my Slow Food and Hiking Guide to Andalucia.

Food in Iceland is seriously good. Delicate, revered, off-beat-nutritious. Surprised? Me too. You might have heard of the Nordic Cuisine scene? I touch on it here. In Iceland it’s followed with much parochialism and the Slow Food movement here is loud and proud.

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Catfish with puréed peas (grown by the chef’s grandad), “may beets”, mushroom foam and dulce at VOX restaurant

Once more I’ll do this guide as a series of pictures, mostly because Maria’s pictures are so wonderful and they tell thousands of words. If you want to learn more because you’re heading that way, two ideas:

If you eat at one place only…

Make it Vox at The Hilton in Reykjavic. Chef Fannar Vernharðsson is a passionate Slow Foodie. Every single ingredient in his joint is Icelandic. So much so, they don’t even use olive oil. He grows most of the ingredients himself (or his Grandad does, see dish above). He hangs and cures his own meat. And he takes time to come chat through his dishes…part of the experience at the restaurant is to have stocks and sauces and foams added at the table…so you know what’s going on. Marija and I ate some of the best food on my whole trip here. Hands and forks down.

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This is Nordic cuisine at its best: the amuse bouche – langoustine, scallops, burnt leek and an almond bisque.
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Chef Fannar lovin’ what he does
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Reindeer with smoked marrow, new potatoes cooked in angelika, wild mushrooms and rhubarb puree

If you eat at two more places:

Definitely check out Fish Company in the middle of town. It is clever and fun and the food is classic with a lot of twists. Marija and I kept talking about the Arctic char (see below) that we ate for days…weeks!

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Arctic charr

The restaurant at Blue Lagoon is also incredibly good – a buffet of lamb, fish and vegetables, again all local ingredients and mostly organic.

Our favourite café:

Maria and I lived here: Aldin (in Austurstræti 22) is where I came across the avocado and coconut skyr recipe. They also did amazing breakfasts with boiled eggs and great lunch salads.

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Make sure you eat Icelandic lamb:

It’s fine stuff. The animals here feed nine months of the year in the mountains on mountain herbs, so it’s incredibly fragrant. Marija and I lived on Icelandic lamb soup…our hearts skipped a beat every time we saw it on a menu. A great place to try it is at Café Loki in Reyjavik.

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If you’re after veggies:

Gló is a raw kitchen out near the Hilton run by the newly elected “Best Raw Chef in the World”. All kinds of locals hang out here and there’s a GREAT yoga studio in the same space.

Eat fish soup:

There are a bunch of great places (ask about), but an easy one is Sea Baron down on the harbour.

Eat lobster soup:

We travelled in the southern part of Iceland. As I say here, choose one area to explore – it’s quite tough to see the whole joint. We made our way over to Höfn where there’s a pretty Big Slow Food Scene, in a Small Town Kinda Way. Anyway, the place to go is Restaurant Humarhöfn. It’s THE place to eat lobster. You can see the fishing boat from your seat, bringing in your lunch, and the owner runs the Slow Food movement in the region. He’s extremely passionate about supporting local produce.

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I like my headwear to match my meal
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Lobster soup!

Eat Iceland trout:

And do so at the small restaurant in Hali, near Selfoss, serving trout from home fish farming, totally local food.

Sugar free cakes:

Pay a visit to Sólheimar,  the first eco-village in the Nordic countries. The community was established in and around a home for people with Down Syndrome and the place is run by people with disabilities.  A gorgeous experience.

Hot spring bread:

On the way to the falls and glaciers, check out the bakery at Hveragerði and ask for “hverabrauð”, ryebread baked in the steam of hot springs.

Slow Food Iceland also suggests these places in Reykjavic:

* Dill is owned and run by Slow Food members, and follows completely the ideals.

* Höfnin and Icelandic Fish and Chips Organic Bistro (owner is Slow Food member) are run on good local products from small producers.

* Friðrík V. at Laugavegur 60 is owned by Slow Food chef and his family Friðrík V. Karlsson who has always been serving local food and ethically chosen.

* Bergsson in Templarasund by the Althingi (Parliament) is all about home-made, sourdough bread and all sorts of dishes, from breakfast to light dinner and take away.

* The best places to shop organic are: Yggdrasill (Rauðarárstig 10), Lífandi Markaður (Borgartún 24), Heilsuhúsið (in the mall Kringlan, Laugaveg 20b and other places), Fjarðarkaup in Hafnafjörður (“Fræið” department) as well as some departments in the supermarkets. Take a look at this site, get the Green Map of Reykjavík and you will be well off.”

OK. Over and out. Iceland readers, feel free to add your suggestions. I guarantee they’ll be much appreciated.

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