Iceland, Naturally! (the foodie version)

I don’t follow Anthony Bourdain much but i get the gist of what he does. Armed with this little knowledge, i can say if he hasn’t been to Iceland, he’s really missing out.

Let me preface, i am no Anthony. What I am, is a picky eater. I am polite in public situations but when left to my own devices, i would eat a very limited number of foods that are probably not healthy. It’s a texture thing. Either you understand what i’m talking about or you don’t.Texture aside, Iceland was going to push me to the limits as far as my eating habits go.

Obviously, the country has an abundance of seafood. The absolute best place to go is Sagreifinn (Sea Baron). It is a tiny, tiny place on the water and the owner speaks very little English. Bring your patience and flexibility as you will need them both when trying to communicate. Rest assured, it’s worth it. We had the most amazing lobster stew. I grew up in New England so that tells you something. The menu also includes a range of sushi, cooked fish and other soups and stews. It’s all delicious and worth the walk (roughly 20 minutes from Hotel Centrum).

If you get hungry along the way, stop at the hot dog push cart. There you can sink your teeth into a hot dog. But not just any hot dog – a hot dog that combines sheep and lamb meat. Was a bit tough for me to enjoy especially loaded with onions on top. I’m hot dog purist (ketchup and a bun, thank you very much).

You won’t find the cart in many guides so here’s a shot of what you are looking for.

Baejarins hot dog cart in Reykjavik. Home of the sheep & lamb hot dog.
Baejarins hot dog cart in Reykjavik. Home of the sheep & lamb hot dog.

Puffin is really popular in Iceland. You can try it in a lot of restaurants around Reykjavik, but i recommend Tapas. The menu consists of over 50 types of tapas, which can be overwhelming if you’ve got jet lag or are hung over. In addition to some exotic eats, you can also find “safer” tapas like chicken, lamb, etc. The restaurant is quite popular so it’s worth having your hotel make a reservation for you. In case you were wondering, Puffin tastes like chicken.

Another popular dish in Iceland is lamb stew. If you venture outside of Reykjavik, i recommend grabbing this for lunch. The stew looks deceptively light but is warming and quite filling. It’s great meal after walking around pingvellir national park or the Geysir area.

Delicious Lamb Stew. It looks light but is actually very filling.
Delicious Lamb Stew. It looks light but is actually very filling.

I am told petrified shark is a big deal to Icelanders. We asked a few and they were non-committal. I was warned not to try this “delicacy” and heeded that advice.

I did this because i was daring and tried the “traditional” Icelandic dinner that consists of: whale, fish salad, potatoes with parsley and feta, monk fish and lamb pate.

Traditional Icelandic Dinner
Traditional Icelandic Dinner (the before picture)

Believe it or not, i tried everything on the plate. Here’s my “after” shot to prove it.

Traditional Icelandic Dinner (the after picture)
Traditional Icelandic Dinner (the after picture)

Never eat whale. That’s all i can say. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. Beyond the texture, i found whale has an accompanying smell. It must be an acquired thing but, man, i had to use my best big girl attitude and a whole lot of water to swallow the food and not spit it out across the table. After feeling that way about whale, there was no way in hell i was going to try petrified shark.

It’s clear Anthony Bourdain would scoff at having to travel and eat with me. While i did not love everything i ate in Iceland, it opened my eyes up to a lot of food adventures i was ignoring. Since then, i’ve been a much slightly more adventurous eater. For that reason alone, Iceland holds a special place in my heart.