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Iceland ... what a blast!
February 25, 2013
2:40 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 364
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June 5, 2011
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We've just had a fantastic short break to Iceland. The country, not the popular frozen food retailer …

What a fantastic place! Not at all dull, concrete, grey, dark, cold … actually quite the opposite, and such friendly people, genuinely so.

We got out into the wilderness and we enjoyed all that downtown Reykjavik could give us.

I ate everything I could see! I had a lovely piece of steamed fish from a simple cafe which pretty much sat you down and put a plate of whatever they had in front of you. No choices, nothing to pick from, just a plate of what they could put together for a fixed price.

I also ate whale, puffin, shag … and tried the air dried saltfish … and the challenging hákarl, a fermented shark meat, buried in sand for months, then dug up and hung in the wind for a few more months.

From Wiki: "Chef Anthony Bourdain, who has travelled extensively throughout the world sampling local cuisine for his Travel Channel show No Reservations, has described hákarl as 'the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing' he has ever eaten."

"Chef Gordon Ramsay challenged journalist James May to sample three "delicacies" (Laotian snake whiskey, bull penis, and hákarl) on The F Word; after eating hákarl, Ramsay spat it out, although May kept his down. May's only reaction was, 'You disappoint me, Ramsay.'"

I loved it. I impressed the cook/chef at the little cafe where I found it, who made it very clear that I should drink the Brennivin (a spirit) after each bite. I just ate it, wondered what all the fuss was about … could have had a lot more … and sipped the drink at the end. Very pleasant.

The dried fish was more fun, for me.

Anyway, some snaps …

Whale:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ZsND1xYNSSQ/USo_saGK7HI/AAAAAAAAcBM/j6FvhkM4GdE/s800/DSC01609.jpgImage Enlarger

Cod & Cheeks:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-R3xDGSaselA/USo_vQEHciI/AAAAAAAAcBU/xm8dBSfcrmY/s800/DSC01610.jpgImage Enlarger

Salmon … two ways:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-N2f7E5tMDwk/USo_y1Iu65I/AAAAAAAAcBc/8JV4psQlFxc/s800/DSC01611.jpgImage Enlarger

Dried fish and hákarl:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Zx0QN6e3H1Q/USpBZVHbaKI/AAAAAAAAcE8/5w8whtDca90/s800/DSC01701.jpgImage Enlarger

Sheep Soup:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-HdkP8ojG--Q/USpBctBstpI/AAAAAAAAcFE/1msEBAmcCyk/s800/DSC01702.jpgImage Enlarger

Puffin, shag and whale:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-xBOF3yoAiLg/USpDllkboWI/AAAAAAAAcJ8/jwq7hWRUjbY/s800/DSC01861.jpgImage Enlarger

Perch:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/--dpRI6hVOBw/USpDpAdGChI/AAAAAAAAcKE/ljFaFu5Cs3o/s800/DSC01862.jpgImage Enlarger

Catfish & Lobster:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-16FqtFzLciE/USpDsGTnJ1I/AAAAAAAAcKM/HDbDjh_rsq0/s800/DSC01863.jpgImage Enlarger

Ice creams and a dill sorbet:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ECtucCP6igg/USpDzcsnLdI/AAAAAAAAcKc/WzCrvzzv9Ys/s800/DSC01865.jpgImage Enlarger

Arriving home, I'm revived, invigorated and inspired … I've made a few meals with the inspiration.

My sheep soup:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-puP1CRVRQwE/USk1RsX-oaI/AAAAAAAAcOA/GHxkHmloIsA/s800/IMG_1726.JPGImage Enlarger

http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk/2013/02/kjotsupa-icelandic-sheep-soup.html

Open sandwich, sans the bread:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-cKN_LoCqLJs/USk1OxRDM3I/AAAAAAAAcOg/GhFlL6ijnZw/s800/IMG_1722.JPGImage Enlarger

Lunch – a prawn salad:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SKF2yPNi7jw/USqHC_WhZmI/AAAAAAAAcOI/WHF_DGNk77A/s800/IMG_1745.JPGImage Enlarger

The colours of Iceland:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-BUSgP1FT71Q/USqHFXYq-YI/AAAAAAAAcPA/Z157IJJv0fM/s800/IMG_1750.JPGImage Enlarger

http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk/2013/02/colours-of-iceland.html

Huge fun, certainly a place we'll be going back to … hopefully at the end of summer.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

February 27, 2013
12:34 am
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Paul:

That's some gorgeous food, and great photos.  Thank you for sharing them!

I've never had puffin, shag, or whale, either.  I take it the hakari is the little cubes that look like tofu?

JS

February 27, 2013
1:48 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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That's the stuff ... the darker it is, the less the effect; that's about as white as it gets. It's an "experience" ...

We'll definitely go back. Soon.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

August 30, 2013
2:33 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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... another trip just booked. End of March this time. I literally cannot wait.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

August 31, 2013
5:03 pm
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Paul:

I look forward to the pictures.  Can you take some of the scenery as well as the food?

JS

September 1, 2013
4:01 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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I took several hundred last time ... a small selection:

 

View from Reykjavik shoreline towards Mount Esja:

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Sun Voyager - sculpture on the shore, part Viking ship, part reindeer:

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Þingvellir, established in the early 900s as the Viking Parliament ... utterly beautiful landscape and growing all the time since it's directly over where the North Atlantic plates meet. We were standing on the American plate looking across to the European.

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... and Parliament today in downtown Reykjavik:

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Onwards ...

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Hazy on what is either side, but that's the Vatnajökull glacier in the middle - the Europe's largest glacier. I think it's Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull over on the right. Next time, I hope to get out to the glacier.

Gullfoss, where you can just make out some Prometheus re-enactors on the edge of the rock:

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Inside a volcano crater:

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Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

September 2, 2013
11:23 pm
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Paul:

Beautiful!  It reminds me a bit of a very cold version of the Big Island of Hawai'i. Someday I'll make it there myself -- likely with a big bottle of Vitamin D3.

JS

September 3, 2013
1:08 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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In February, ironincally, Iceland was warmer than Britain. Day temperatures were around 4-6C compared to sub-zero in Britain. Sweden, where we flew back through, was in the grip of serious sub-zeros. Summer in Iceland is cooler. I think they see 15C as a hot day.

I'd love to visit Hawai'i. My step-daughter has been and highly recommended it.

So, yes ... more pictures next time, hopefully up on the glacier and perhaps near a smoking volcano. We visited the geysirs last time, but will no doubt see them again.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

December 30, 2013
5:56 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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… two months now, and we'll be back on "the island". I literally, cannot wait. I can't wait to eat more of their great food, enjoy the landscape, get out into what really is true and unspoiled wilderness, and just relax. I like the people and feel very much at home with them; the ones with whom we don't speak a common language, we have a great laugh trying to communicate through pigeon English and my slight Welsh lilt, we get by. Icelandic sounds more like Welsh to me than Norwegian.

Can't wait …

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 3, 2014
3:24 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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Back from another fantastic break over to Iceland ...

Completely different to last time, the weather was much colder hovering around freezing, lakes were frozen over, but best of all were the clear blue skies and strong sun. Coming from dull Britain, we really needed some sun and spent as long as we could enjoying it.

Once again, I ate all manner of interesting things. We found a great grill house which served up an amuse of horse tartare, I had minke whale and horse tenderloin, Mrs had a really nice blue ling dish. I found somewhere that did the sheep brain thing, which was great! Really enjoyed all the food we ate.

Scenery was stunning in good light and made more so by the contrast of white snow and black ash.

We were also treated to the northern lights a couple of times - once quite by accident in Reykjavik itself, just happened to look up and there they were so we found a bench to sit and watch for a couple of hours, the other time we'd gone out in a minibus with a "light hunter" and were treated to a staggering display with the whole sky lit up and several stream dancing around

Pictures in due course, once I've looked through them ...

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 6, 2014
2:17 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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So ... beautiful skies and hot sun, although hovering around freezing:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-MKnrLC2ijl8/UxT--8AV6EI/AAAAAAAAmso/9SrxMUEATdc/s1024/DSC04677.JPGImage Enlarger

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-YC7WcIHoSLk/UxUAxNHmHzI/AAAAAAAAmu8/ss0GzcdfQaA/s1024/DSC04654.JPGImage Enlarger

... the lake in town fully solid:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-nbkqpXz-_S0/UxUAWrHOLNI/AAAAAAAAmuE/0byRPnqVqBI/s1024/DSC04333.JPGImage Enlarger

Lovely to get out into the mountains, but the star attraction this time was several stunning displays of the northern lights. Even in town, they were quite visible despite light pollution:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pS4KwPf8l0M/UxT-ryKj_ZI/AAAAAAAAmsQ/rHXRxcxF3pM/s1024/DSC04376.JPGImage Enlarger

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ysmqrAGiLA8/UxT-yUOF99I/AAAAAAAAmsY/kNT4BhYJTkk/s1024/DSC04402.JPGImage Enlarger

... and out in the wilderness away from the lights, so much more spectacular:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mGXUXlpJwcc/UxT_Z31XaII/AAAAAAAAmtE/I_6SeCUP1yY/s1024/DSC04751.JPGImage Enlarger

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-tH_2HRneOwc/UxT_IQdvF-I/AAAAAAAAmsw/chZvdSYAGG8/s1024/DSC04683.JPGImage Enlarger

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-vvS3ubLbqtA/UxT_jf_LU7I/AAAAAAAAmtM/mXDIk6nsto8/s1024/DSC04758.JPGImage Enlarger

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Urc2V4jBGe8/UxT_rZSW19I/AAAAAAAAmtU/6GeGzCmlxjc/s1024/DSC04759.JPGImage Enlarger

... even with a hand-held camera.

What a show! Quite spiritual, certainly awe-inspiring. What the camera didn't pick up too well was the lights were visible from the horizon all the way back to the very top of the sky; tilt your head back until you fall over. Stunning! Last year we saw them from the plane, but it was overcast all the time we were there, so didn't see it from the ground. This year ... quite something!

Great place! Seemingly expensive, but no more than any other city break.

If only the apparency of this sign was true ...

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3B5T_VAzX-A/UxNv1gj1hzI/AAAAAAAAmpQ/3vpQm9YhKxQ/s1024/DSC04581.JPGImage Enlarger

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 9, 2014
3:19 pm
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Paul:

The lights are amazing!  Sadly, I've never been far north enough to see them.

And it seems that horse meat is quite tasty, if you're eating horses bred for meat.  I've only had it once, but it was delicious.

What does whale taste like?

JS

March 10, 2014
2:59 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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Yeah, the horse was excellent! Very much like beef, but more flavoursome.

Image Enlarger

Whale is good. It's not fatty or chewy, but quite a soft meat, not particularly fibrous. It's red meat with a tinge of fish about it. Curious, but not overpowering.

Simply seared and served rare over seaweed:

Image Enlarger

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 21, 2014
2:00 pm
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Paul:

Those look absolutely delicious!  

Unfortunately horse meat is effectively banned for human consumption in the US because of a substantial population of annoying do-gooders who think they're cute, allied with crypto-vegetarians who want to ban all meat but can't figure out how to do it. 

(It's only legally banned in California, NY, and a couple other states, but it's effectively banned nationwide since the last slaughterhouse that would package horses for human consumption was closed some years ago.)

JS

March 21, 2014
2:11 pm
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Gnoll
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Not for human consumption here in the UK, either, but that didn't stop the slaughterhouses dropping it into the food chain. Quite a scandal, recently. The problem here was the horses were not bred for consumption so potentially had all manner of steroids.

Still, that's the "packaged food" industry.

Outdoor reared, grass-fed and organic, now that's another matter altogether ... and meat from land roaming ruminants is meat. Whales are just cows that haven't crawled out of the sea yet. I can't be judgemental about either horse or whale, both being outside of my cultural nurturing.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

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