Monday, November 21, 2016

20 Food You Should Not Miss In Iceland

I once thought Iceland being an isolated country surrounded by the sea, has little resources and raw material, resulting in limited food choice. I've never thought that one day I would be interested in Icelandic cuisine, until my first Icelandic dish was sent to my table-- Reindeer and puffin appetizer. The Icelanders are survivors. They are creative in developing a unique set of national cuisine, making the best out of limited raw material. This guide serves as a rough introduction to Icelandic cuisine
If you've tried something exceptionally good in Iceland, or straight-out weird, which is not yet on the list, let me know by commenting below! Let's start a discussion, everyone is welcome. 

1. Hotdog

Voted as Europe´s best hotdog stand by The Guardian, we'll kick start this list by mentioning the staple of any Reykjavik foodie’s tour-- Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. President Bill Clinton had one hotdog here and since then, everyone goes crazy for the hotdogs. Let's talk about what is so special about these Pylsurs. Firstly, they add lamb into pork, developing distinct flavor. Secondly, get the með öllu,"Hotdog with Everything". It is the bomb: loading it up with raw onions, deep-fried onions, sweet brown mustard, ketchup, and a parsley remoulade.

2. Hákarl

The rotten or putrefied shark sends a hurricane of ammonia into your mouth then down to your throat. Even if you don't drink alcohol, you will be glad to know that it comes with a shot of Icelandic Schnapps "Brennivín", a.k.a. "Black Death". Good luck trying to swallow this tiny cube of horror. 

3. Reindeer 

I’ve never eaten cured reindeer before, so when I tasted the first (extremely) thin slice, I was surprised that it actually melted in my mouth. 

4. Puffin

I felt bad for eating those cute birds but curiosity got the better of me, I promise this is a once in a lifetime kinda thing. It is usually served smoked. The puffin meat I had in Strikid had a strong fishy flavor and it was chewy. 

5. Plokkfiskur 

This is a fish stew from boiled fish, potatoes and onions and usually, comes with a slice of dark sweet rye bread and butter. 

6. Lamb

The sheep in Iceland spend the whole summers roaming the highlands unsupervised, grazing clean grass and various mountain herbs, resulting in flavorful meat. 

7. Hangikjöt  (Smoked Lamb)

I had my Hangikjöt in Matur Og Drykkur, the restaurant specializing in innovative Icelandic cuisine. The thinly sliced lamb was smoked over the fire fueled with dried sheep dung... God knows a dish that has the word "dung" in its name could taste gourmet!

8. Skyr

Skyr is a kind of specialty dairy product, technically a type of soft cheese which is rich in protein and low in fat. It's texture and taste resembles Greek yogurt. Usually served with Icelandic blueberries, sugar, cream or milk. Unlike other deserves, Skyr is a healthy treat: a typical batch contains 12% protein, 3% carbohydrate, and 0,5% fat, rich in minerals and vitamins. 

9. Minke Whale

The meat looks like beef and tastes like one too. Except for Minke whale, all other whale species are declared as protected animals, not to be hunted and consumed in Iceland. 

10. Kjötsúpa  

This traditional meat soup was created accidentally when tougher parts of the lamb are cut into bite size and boiled with rice and vegetables. 

11. Fish

If you have no idea what to order in an Icelandic restaurant, go on and order fish, you won't go wrong with any type of fish. I've tried wolffish, Artic Charr and White Skate in Strikid Restaurant and Bar, they were amazing.  

12. Sheep head

If you want to go native all the way then you simply have to try Svið, a quirky dish served in Fljótt go Gott, the cafeteria of BSI Bus station. On the plate, you'll get a sheep head, served with mashed turnips, potatoes and rhubarb jelly. Firstly, you started by eating the cheek, then you turn it over and chew its tongue off, take a deep breath and go for the eyeballs... I can't do this. The free cola refill literally held our stomach from turning 180 degrees. But, you'll be proud that you got over it, someday.   

13. Cod head

Another head dish, only less terrifying and actually DeLicIOUs! Seriously, from the bottom of my heart! After exporting the other "good parts" of the cod to Spain and Portugal, Icelanders were left with the heads, so eventually, they created a great dish out of the unwanted body part. Matur og Drykkur in Reykjavik served it according to a traditional recipe dating back to 1800. It involves braising a huge Cod's head in chicken stock with dulse, then evenly glazed. 

14. Hrútspungar  

In case you haven't recover from Svið yet, be warned, here comes another organ-- Ram's testicles compressed into blocks.  

15. Harðfiskur 

Eat this with butter spread and you'll understand why the Icelanders like their cold-air-dried fish so much. It had been called "Fish jerky" due to its similarity with beef jerky in the States. Get some from the flea market now!

16. Icelandic horse

Wait what? You guys eat those beauties? While some may think eating horses is cruel, the meat of Icelandic horses had actually kept the Icelanders from starvation during old times. I heard there are delicious but I haven't gotten a chance to try it out yet. 

17. Kleina

If you love donuts, you'll definitely fall in love with Kleina. Those twisty treats put sweet and savory to a perfect balance.  

18. Gelgja

With the help of a local in Akureyri, we found the fast-food stall that created this local's favorite hangover food. Basically french fries drenched in molten cheese served on a bun, simple but it managed to win the hearts of many.

19. Caramelised potatoes

This dish is a hybrid between a main and a dessert-- freshly boiled potatoes tossed in gooey rich caramel. I don't think anyone will look at potatoes the same way as before after trying this. 

20. Licorice

I've tasted them in Amsterdam before but hey, we are in Iceland, so let's introduce it to the world once again. Sweet tooth-s, brace yourselves for Licorice-candies! Candies are supposed to always be sweet? Not anymore with Black licorice and salt licorice in the picture.

Going to Iceland? 

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Thank You for Reading! 
This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. 
 If you more dish to share, feel free to comment below!

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