Hello friends! I am revived. This is an extremely belated post (whoops), but happy reading!
In June, my family and I took a jaunt up to Iceland. Frigid, windy Iceland. A country that’s also breathtakingly beautiful. I witnessed sights that brought me to my knees and convicted me that God is real.
I’d been longing to go there for a while, ever since I’ve seen photos of its natural landscapes. Think untouched, raw, and wistful. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up – we saw jagged mountains of stone, cut like square layers of shaved ice. We plowed through mud to get to a waterfall pierced a glowing arctic blue. And it was all worth it.
But unlike most destinations I’ve been to, Iceland’s dining landscape remains steadfast to humble comfort food. Icelandic folk lead simple lives, which I appreciate. I loved waking up in the mornings to pour a cup of coffee and munch on rye toast smeared with Icelandic butter (the good stuff). Our daily bread mostly consisted of fish.
Our quest for Iceland’s beauty began in the capital of Reykjavik. Then we drove along the southern coast and made our way back eventually. There’s not that much civilization beyond the capital – just little quaint towns and miles of Icelandic horses grazing, their hides still fluffy from winter.
In Reykjavik, our first meal was a rare find, a local favorite. We found a quiet café called Bergsson Mathús, which serves farm-to-table fare at a decent Icelandic price (which is like $20 US. Unfortunately, eating in Iceland can really empty your wallet. We relied on a box of shortbread cookies unearthed in the newly-opened Costco to survive). At Bergsson Mathús, however, we feasted on a luxurious meal of vegan squash soup, savory braised lamb shank scattered over beet salad and sautéed shrooms, and plenty of country bread.
And how could I forget the experience of eating Norwegian lobster (langoustine) on buttery, garlic oil-brushed focaccia bread? I also could not forget the fact that the entire resturant we chose, Nyhöfn, was overflowing with Asian tourists. Asians eating cake. Asians drinking coffee. Asians eating langoustine. When in Höfn, I suppose.
Anyway – langoustine tastes velvety. It’s soft and tender, with a surprisingly sweet taste accented by its svelte coral color. And clearly it’s a big deal, since so many people crowded the restaurant. If you’re ever in Höfn and feeling lonely, treat yourself to a posh meal here.
Another one of our favorite meals was again in Reykjavik – our final meal of the trip, in fact. Messinn Restaurant gave us quite a spread, with five massive cast iron pans bubbling with fried fish and vegetables. I scarfed down seared salmon and fistfuls of spinach drowned in a zesty lemon olive oil. It really was a lovely meal; warm food right before a dip into the luminous Blue Lagoon felt all too dreamy.
Sveitagrill Miu -Mia’s Country Grill serves some of the best fish and chips out of a cheerful red food cart planted right by the Skógafoss waterfall (close to a town called Hella). The batter, glistening with a fresh sheen from the fryer, slides off tender cod fish meat and pairs well with a smattering of nori sea salt. I could even taste notes of Icelandic beer with each bite of the batter’s rumpled edges. This is a local spot that prides itself on executing a single dish very, very well.
In terms of drinks, we relied a lot on complimentary coffee and crisp water straight from waterfalls (Icelandic water truly trumps all). But we did try a couple well-known places in Reykjavik, such as Mikkeller & Friends’ beers and Reykjavik Roasters’ above-average joe. Beer: If you enjoy it, you would appreciate this suave, laidback establishment. If not – at least there are samples. Coffee at Reykjavik Roasters: Looks very Scandinavian inside. Think white, chambray, and red color scheme and old school coffee pots. The chai is spicy.
Looking at these photos make me feel a little wistful…but I hope that this gives you a glimpse into Iceland and that it spurs you onwards to experience the country yourself!