{SoFlaSage} Travel Diary: Iceland by Food&Drink

Welcome to my travel diary- a guide to food&drink. Join me as I eat & drink my way through ICELAND!

The menu on the flight to Iceland via Iceland Air:

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Monday, December 30th 2013 – I discover not only that Icelandic’s got jokes, but also this is my first time hearing of the Kleina doughnut which I will try later in my trip. Miranda and I each got a mini wine and an Icelandic dark chocolate bar for the flight.

We arrive in Iceland December 31st 2013 because of the time difference. After getting settled into our hostel in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, we grab some breakfast and coffee.

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…this was definitely one of the most unique designs Ive ever had on my espresso. Located in Hlemmur Square.

After exploring a bit, my travel buddies decide its time to start drinking. We came across a little hole in the wall called Bar 7.

Our new friend Bjarki the bartender who served us up some Poler Beer then sat down with us for a chat as we were the only patrons besides someone who was taking a nap in the corner.

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Thats Brit – we met via couchsurfing and road tripped Iceland together. Turns out, you can trust some people from the internet! It was here that we learned how Icelandic folks celebrate New Years Eve: by having a family dinner. Brit tried to invite ourselves to Bjarki’s family dinner, nice try Brit. Bjarki steps outside for a pepsi & a smoke.

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Well, since we couldn’t finagle our way into any Icelandic family dinners, we went grocery shopping at 1O11 grocery store:

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Ps: Try to shop at Bonus grocery store instead – it is less expensive.

The giant Reyka vodka (top right) we bought while we were half asleep at the airport, we were told that its better to purchase alcohol at the airport since its less expensive. Pretty much all the produce in Iceland is imported because of the climate/ lack of suitable growing conditions. So, fruit and veggies are pretty expensive there. Miranda (my friend for many years) whips us up some Indian food for NYE dinner in the kitchen of our hostel while Brit and I get ready.

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^Its January 1st 2014 and we have left the capital and are on our road trip. This fresh juice is from a random stop we made at a geothermal spa called Laugarvatn Fontana (southern Iceland) to use the restroom. I couldn’t resist getting some juice while we were there although it was kind of expensive for its small size (550.00 Krona is a about 5.00 USD).

Below: dinner in a town called Höfn (southern Iceland, approaching the east coast) at a Restaurant called Kaffi Hornid on January 2nd 2014. This was our most expensive meal of the trip but it was delicious, locally sourced and much needed nourishment after a crazy/invigorating day. Many restaurants open at 6:30 in the winter so it was around that time. Also, it is very difficult to find restaurants in the winter because it is not tourist season. 

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Miranda, Brittani and I each started our meal with local Icelandic Lobster Bisque accompanied house made bread. Not sure if this was 1) the best lobster soup I ever had 2) I was just starving or 3) hot food like soups, coffee and tea are 100x better in cold places. My main entrée was Icelandic lamb, brit got surf & turf (lamb & lobster) and Miranda got Icelandic Salmon.

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Here is our check from this meal. Brit had a beer (Vatnajokull) and even the beer at this restaurant was local to this area! Yup, beer made with glacier water.

After dinner we pick up some our second round of groceries, from this haul – I only have a photo of some dessert that I bought:

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It was basically tiramisu in a cup, which I ate while we explored the eerie east coast of Iceland.

Some ice cream from the gas station on the way back to Reykjavik January 3rd 2014:

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I had one of those pre-packaged ice cream cones, it was stale. Maybe because its winter, in Iceland.

Its Saturday, January 4th 2014 and we are back in the capital city of Reykjavik. We are starving & exhausted mid afternoon and decide its time to try the well known Icelandic hotdogs from Baejarins Beztu Pylsur:

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur is a small hotdog stand where locals and tourists alike line up for these skinny dogs with their unique topping composition including sweet mustard, onion remoulade and fried onions. When in Iceland…

Later that night, we are once again in a grocery store, this time with our couch surfing hosts Einar, who is Icelandic, and his flat mate Jenny from the UK. Einar points out some interesting local delicacies such as whale that has been smoked with sheep shit. We decided to go with a slightly less bizarre Icelandic delicacy to try out – dried halibut. Jenny recommend putting butter on it, not bad, but very difficult to chew.

Wondering how a Floridian survives Iceland without getting sick on barely any sleep and adventuring daily?

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Omega 3! Yes, I feel this nutrient was very helpful to me on the trip. The Icelandic call this lax, which Miranda and I found funny because we would call it lox. The green (dill) coated variation is called galaflax and it is more similar to what I would refer to as Nova (the less salty kind). Yea, we would basically be driving around Iceland while eating salmon and our rental car constantly smelled like fish and the interior was coated with mud from 1 am geothermal spring dips in the hailing snow. Okay back to the grocery store –

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We kinda just stood here staring at the Icelandics of all raiding the bulk candy selection. Einar explained to us that Saturdays are half price candy days. Hopefully they balance this out with some lax.

Sunday, January 5th 2014 we are back on the road for a day trip on the west coast. While in Borgarnes, we got our espresso fix and tried the Kleina at Te og Kaffi:

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^Trapezoidal deliciousness. There were so many other goodies I wanted to try:

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After a day of driving through the snow covered lava fields, we stopped at Eddu Veröld, a restaurant and coffee shop (with a recycled play ground outside) where Miranda re-caffeinated  herself and I had a cookie:

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After this, we head back to Reykjavik once again. Miranda, Brittani and I meet up with our hosts Einar and Jenny for a delicious vegan dinner at a restaurant called Glo:

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Raw pizza, whole grain pasta, quinoa salad, green apple salad, hummus.
This place was quite awesome, their menu changes every few days.

Monday, January 6th 2014 – Brit goes back to America. Jenny joins Miranda and I for dinner that night at a locals burger joint, I don’t know the name of the place but here is my burger:

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Jenny explains to us that this cockteilsosa (cocktail sauce?) is very popular and Icelandics smother it all over everything. Its basically a ketchup & mayo mix – sort of like Russian dressing. Reminded me of Utah because this sauce is popular there too. Burger hit the spot because I was starving, but the meat was low quality.

Miranda & I start our day on Tuesday, January 7th with Te Og Kaffi in Reykjavik. There are many unique coffee shops in Iceland, but Id say that Te Og Kaffi is one that is closer to what would be considered a chain, like Starbucks.

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The actual variation of the above latte, as listed on their menu, is a licorice syrup. I don’t like licorice so I think I had them make it with a chocolate syrup.

While souvenir shopping that afternoon, we walked into what we thought was just another souvenir shop called Around Iceland but it was also sort of a tourist informational place with a cafe… coffee, pastries and soup. Additionally, there was a keg of beer. We decided to take a beer break from shopping for a local brew called Viking:

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The beer was served with some of the most tasty nuts I’ve ever had – it was a medley roasted in house with rosemary butter. Here’s the decorative piece that the keg was filtered through:

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On Wednesday, January 8th, Miranda and I “moved out” because we did not want to overstay our welcome at Einar and Jenny’s house. We stayed one more night at Hlemmur Square hostel.

We explored the Old Harbour area of Reykjavik, one of my favorite parts of the city.

Our last stop before sunset approached was the Harpa performing arts venue, I spotted these tasty looking treats (but I didnt have any):

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After the Harpa, we had dinner at a little gem in Old Harbor called Saegreifinn Sea Baron, where the menu is an assortment of local fish on a skewer with minimal sides dishes.

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^ Local minke whale, a local cod and a potato/vegetable skewer. Yea, whaleEarlier in the trip we tried (raw) sushi grade whale, which pretty much tasted like raw tuna. This time, we had a whale steak, which tasted more similar to beef on the exterior (the more cooked part) whereas the center, which was less cooked, tasted like tuna.

After dinner, it was still early enough to catch a happy hour deal. We went to a place nearby called Forrettabarinn, attached to an art school.

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The decor was very interesting, the walls were illuminating and created a rad reflection on my Kaldi Christmas brew. Kaldi is an Icelandic brewery, in Icelandic, Kaldi translates to “cold one”.

Later that night, we find ourselves at Kaffibarinn, we had been here before with the crew (Einar, Brit, Jenny). This time, its just Miranda and I. There is a yummy platter of cheese and charcuterie for guests of the bar, how apropo – this is right up our alley. Last time we were here, I snacked on pretzel sticks supplied my kaffibarinn and there is also a waffle machine with batter available, free of charge (how awesome!).

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What we didn’t know, until after we ate it, is that one of the items on the platter was Reindeer Pâté.

Thursday, January 9th another day, another coffee shop.. and well, its our last day in Reykjavik so we go to 2 different places. First up is Kaffitar – 

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Time for some pastries, I decide. We stop at Bernhoftsbakari.

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^That one is Makkaronuvinabraud, which is a marzipan (almond paste) pastry. I was sold at marzipan, I love almond paste.

Below is carrot cake – both these were delicious.

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The other night, when we ate at the burger place, I saw a coffee spot called Reykjavik Roasters. I wanted to check it out but it was closing, so we came back:

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This place reminded me of Panther Coffee in Wynwood, Miami!

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After, we head back to our hostel to pick up our bags, for it is time to stay with a new couch surfing host. Aevar picks us up and brings us to his home in Keflavik, about 30 minutes from Reykjavik.

I dont have a photo, but that night one of the places we went was called Cafe Petite, I want to mention it because its a fun spot to hang out. It is a re-purposed mechanic’s garage. Pool tables, couches, live music, beer and coffee.

The next day, its time to go back to America. Friday, January 10th:

On the way to the airport, Aevar gives us a tour around this hometown, Keflavik, in the peninsula in which he was born and raised. Our epic journey has come to an end, we went off roading in the Reykjanes peninsula, saw lighthouses, boiling geothermal pools, fields of rocks that reminded me of Crunch Bars. Remember the dried halibut I mentioned earlier? Aevar took us to a place where fish is hung to dry before packaging:

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We arrive at Keflavik International Airport and do some last minute booze & chocolate shopping:

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Then, we enjoy our final Icelandic meal before boarding:

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Some ginger ale I drank on the flight:

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A note about Iceland’s cuisine: you will find animals such as horse meat and puffin on the menu. No, I did not try either. I hear puffin is actually pretty tasty though. But, they are just so darn cute.. I couldn’t, and besides- my friend Lindsay warned me before I left to Iceland that she would murder me if I ate a puffin.

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