Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reykjavik, Iceland

Despite its name, Iceland isn’t actually land of ice.  Its name is said to originate from a Viking who so named Iceland after he viewed a sea-ice filled fjord from the top of a mountain.  However, Iceland itself has a variety of landscapes including the icy glaciers, dormant and active volcanoes (think Ejyafjallajökull), thermal mud pools, black sand beaches, and green farmlands.

Food-wise, although there is traditional Icelandic food available, speaking to the locals you will find that many of them prefer to eat international food and the availability of international food as well as "modern" Icelandic cuisine is abundant.  In fact, many will say that the hot dog is the national food of Iceland.

Like other capital cities, Reykjavik is a host to a range of international food.

Bæjarins beztu pylsur

Although the pylsur, or hot dog, is very popular all around Iceland, this hot dog stand near the harbour claims to offer the town’s best hot dog (bæjarins beztu).

Hotdog with the lot – ISK280 each (Why have one when you can have two?)

Unexpectedly, although relatively simple, this is the meal I most remember from Iceland - maybe because I went back more than once, or maybe because they’re so darn good!

Bill Clinton is said to have eaten there, ordering a hot dog with ketchup which is now commonly known there as a “Bill Clinton”.  However, the hot dog with the lot had fried crunchy onion and sauces like mustard and a special hot dog sauce that tasted a little bit like a creamy and sweet mayonnaise.  Combined with a tasty yet not overpowering and crunchy skinned hot dog sausage and a light bread roll this hot dog rates on my list of hot dogs better than the ones I’ve tried in New York.

Café Loki

This café serves up some very traditional Icelandic food.  Whilst not exactly current favourites of most Icelandic people (international food is big in Iceland), the experience warranted some sampling.

Meat soup

This very simple soup, despite its bland name, bland looks, and somewhat bland taste, isn’t so bad.  It has pieces of meat and vegetables stewed up in a light soup.

Fermented shark and salted fish

Definitely not an everyday meal, I have a feeling this specialty has no place in modern Icelandic cuisine other than catering to daring and/or gullible tourists.  The dish was a bit more like a tasting plate than a main course meal, with small portions of each of the shark and fish which was probably a good thing.

As the name suggests, the small cubes of shark were fermented (and is described as stale shark by some) and had a strong “fishy” smell and flavour.  In the other bowl, the salted fish was dried and flaky.  A buttered brown thin bread was also provided much like crackers are served with a nice piece of cheese.

This distinctive dish was also served with a shooter of strong alcohol to help neutralise any unwanted by-products of the “stale” fermenting process.

Sheep head jelly

This was another delicacy served with buttered bread, and its meatiness moulded with jelly tasted alright but probably wont be making its way to menus alongside pate or foie gras.

Tiu Dropar

This quaint small café is open for breakfast and lunch.  It seems to attract a lot of locals with its simple and rustic interior.

Belgian Waffle – ISK 840

This freshly made Belgian waffle was served with nutella, banana and cream.  Pretty standard (in a good way) as far as waffles are concerned, however I did find the combination very sweet by the time I got through it all.  That’s probably just me though.
Machiatto – ISK320

Whilst the coffee in Iceland isn’t bad, there seems to be a lack of consistency in the naming conventions.  This “Macchiatto” was similar to a cappuccino.

Some photos from Reykjavik:

View of Reykjavik from the Perlan
Reykjavik Lighthouse at midnight in Summer

The Sun Voyager monument
Reykjavik Church

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