the mid-atlantic ridge trail

cuisine: the true soul of icelandic cooking


The freshest, healthiest food on earth

Most people visit Iceland for its spectacular nature, but you’ll have the opportunity to discover the true soul of Icelandic cooking and with it, how fresh food should really taste. From free-range seafood to hormone-free dairy products to organic fruits and vegetables grown in geothermally heated greenhouses, there are endless opportunities to experience Iceland’s unique – and nourishing – food culture.

Icelanders will tell you their mountain lamb is better than any other lamb in the world, and we must admit, it is pretty exceptional. A mainstay of Icelandic cuisine, smoked lamb is a ‘must-try’ while visiting the country – and with sheep outnumbering people 4:1, there’s a lot of lamb to get through. There are plenty of other quality, and dare we say it adventurous, meats available in Iceland such as horse and reindeer steak. Another iconic Icelandic food is the lamb hot dog, or pylsur. Try them in downtown Reykjavik at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which translates as “the best hot dogs in town”.

Arctic seafood will reign supreme on the menu during your trip. Iceland’s cold Atlantic waters yield a bounty of fresh seafood, from wild-caught Atlantic salmon to lobsters to oysters and crabs. These are likely to be amongst the finest you have ever tasted. Fish is usually served within hours of being caught and, as a result, is incredibly moist and tender. In a few places you’ll also come across whale or seal meat, as both are still hunted in limited numbers. Whale is a hugely controversial ingredient, but diehards swear by minke whale sashimi served with wasabi and soy sauce.

Iceland’s dairy products are just as exceptional as its fish and lamb, and are completely free of contaminants, growth hormones or antibiotics. Skyr is the most popular dairy product: a thick, creamy, Greek-style yogurt, it is eaten for breakfast, or as a snack. Though it is very high in calcium and protein, Skyr is surprisingly low in calories so it will serve as your sports nutrition bar.

Iceland is famous for several Viking-style delicacies. Given that the country is so remote, and its growing season so short, people would take whatever they could from the land and the sea, and perserve it. Hence the existence of puffin jerky and (ammonia-scented) fermented shark. The latter is probably the only food you will ever rejected instantly. But don’t worry if you can’t stomach the stuff – most locals can’t either. Speaking of delicacies, if you are into assertive, licorice-flavoured liquor then you should to try the national drink, Brennivín, nicknamed “the black death”.

You’ll end your stay in Iceland with dinner at a high-end Reykjavik restaurant where you will sample new Nordic cooking, an experimental interpretation of local ingredients like herring ice cream or puffin served with potatoes and truffles.

Be inspired by Iceland!

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