Monday, June 16, 2014

Food Adventures in Iceland. June 15 2014

I am writing this in Reykjavik, Iceland at the end of two weeks travelling around in a rental car with my three sisters. We have been mostly self catering but have tried to find a few local things to sample on our way. I must confess we haven't tried the rotten shark which is a speciality, neither fillet of foal which was on the menu of a hotel where we stayed in an attached cottage. Neither have we tried the dried pieces of fish that are for sale in supermarkets...a favourite thing of Icelanders to snack on. 
Fresh fruit and vegetables are not in abundance which is a surprise as the climate here is not as severe as some northern hemisphere countries. Here in the south west of the country, there is plenty of free geothermal energy to heat glasshouses yet we have not seen many and many of those were derelict. Yesterday though we bought some hot house grown raspberries just outside Reykjavik which were delicious.
Lamb and fish are the most commonly eaten meats....there are plenty of sheep all over the island and plenty of fishing villages too. There used to be a thriving salted herring industry but one year back in the 1960s the herring didn't turn up at all....they had been overfished almost to oblivion. One evening I made a smoked salmon pasta dish with some very strongly smoked salmon.

My favourite discovery is that of Skyr pronounced skeer. It is like a thick yoghurt but actually a cheese made with starter culture and rennet and then the curds are strained. Unfortunately you can only make skyr with some old skyr as the starter although I think I might have a go with just some thermophilic cultures when I get home just to see if I get anywhere near the taste. Skyr comes unflavoured or sweetened with different fruits.
In the geothermal springs another speciality is bread cooked in the steam. We were expecting bread however this tasted more like date loaf without the dates, more cake like in texture, and sweetened with brown sugar. It was great to have for morning tea on the road!

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