If you’ve been with us in our previous travels you know that we like to investigate the cuisine of places that we visit. Before we set off for Iceland I read a bit, and knew that we were in for lots of fish and lamb. Sounds good. I really didn’t think too much about how the constraints of life on a small remote island would influence the cuisine.
Immediately upon arrival we went to the Blue Lagoon for a swim and finished up with lunch at their restaurant, which is called Lava. It is a very fine restaurant, elegant in style and service. And food to match. The only mismatch was the clientele – many of whom were in spa bathrobes and most of the rest looking dampish and carrying their swimsuit in a plastic bag.
We chose the Icelandic menu, which started with smoked Arctic char, then rack of lamb finishing with ice cream and pastry. It was all very good and the lamb especially so – large pieces of tender lamb served with great lashings of béchamel sauce.
The next day in Reykjavik we went to a restaurant called Matur og Drykkur, which means Food and Drink. They take classic Icelandic cuisine and play with it. Fish with whey butter is a very traditional dish. Here it showed up as fish chips with whey butter and pickled seaweed. Unbelievably good – I was so tempted to lick the plate.
Apparently the traditional Christmas dinner is smoked leg of lamb served with bechamel and nutmeg. Which explains the sauce with the lamb yesterday. Today it was dried double smoked lamb with buttermilk. The lamb was sliced shatteringly thin and the buttermilk was thickened like a dip.
The Arctic char today was smoked over sheep dung (???) and served with charred flatbread and horseradish. You might think that it wasn’t very appealing but you’d be wrong! The smoke of the fish, the slight sharpness of the horseradish and a touch of bitterness from the bread- such an interesting combo.
By the time we got to crispy seaweed with lumpfish roe and then salted cod croquettes I was dizzy with new tastes.
The rest of our time in Reykjavik was filled with culinary adventures – often lamb twice a day. Once we joined our tour things were a little less adventurous. But there was one thing on the breakfast buffet in Hvolsvollur.
Yep, a bottle of cod liver oil.
Complete with instructions on how to take it without gagging.
And in four days I never saw anyone partake!