Oh, how I wish we had spent longer in Iceland. I think nearly everyone I have spoken to about it has asked whether we ate puffin during our stay. I am sorry to report that we didn’t. There is only so much you can cram into four days and it just didn’t happen to cross our path. No bother, we still had some delicious experiences, a couple of which were suggestions of our fantastic tour guide, Gunnar. Sixty nine years old but you would never believe it. Perhaps it’s all that bathing in mineral rich waters, breathing clean mountain air, enjoying the fantastic scenery at every turn. Gunnar remained firm that the reason for his youthful looks and constant cheerfulness was down to all the fish he eats and who could disagree with that? We all know that fish is really, really good for you – physically and psychologically. This man was the best advert for a fish filled diet that you could possibly imagine. Full of energy, warmth and more than the odd song..
The first meal in this little round up was one of Gunnar’s suggestions although this time, sans fish. On our way to see the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall, he mentioned a famous lamb soup on offer in the cafe there. He described how the soup comforts the weary on cold winter days – meltingly tender lamb chunks and vegetables swimming in a clear flavoursome broth. It wasn’t particularly cold, but the soup was still incredibly comforting, like it was easing and fortifying tired limbs with each mouthful. Make sure the bread has a good thick coating of Icelandic butter..
I decided even before the plane had landed in Iceland that sushi was most definitely on the menu at some point. I warn you now though, I have done a bad thing. To be fair, I didn’t actually know what I had eaten until after it had passed my lips. Some ultra-bright red sashimi whizzed past on the conveyor belt – uber-fast by the way – someone having a joke methinks. It was unfamiliar therefore I had to try it. Unable to identify it from the menu and no staff in sight I could wait no longer, it got ate. Not particularly exciting, I couldn’t really identify a flavour as such, it was very mild, a little like beef but different in texture and colour. It wasn’t until we struck up a conversation with two French-Canadian guys opposite us that we found out, it was whale. I know, I know. My bad. We’re not supposed to eat whales are we?
The rest of the sushi was good, nothing amazing but good. The real star was the sashimi, really, really generous bowls of melting tuna which I just couldn’t get enough of. We washed it all down with generous amounts of Asahi beer. While I’m on the topic of beer, the Icelandic brew Viking definitely deserves a mention. It’s a strong beer (hic), at 5.4% but it’s also light tasting and had the ability to make me burst into fits of giggles, particularly on a boat in the middle of a rather choppy Atlantic. A lot got lost on the deck.
I know, I know, how could I? All that Icelandic food to work my way through and I caved to a burger. It was the Viking. That’s all I’m saying.
After the waterfall, we moved on to Iceland’s national park, Vatnajökull, spectacular and fascinating as it is situated directly along a fault line. The European and and North American plates are splitting apart, resulting in dramatic landscapes and a big old lake. Apart from being the only place above sea level where this phenomena can be seen, it is also one of the top diving destinations in the world – you are actually diving between the tectonic plates.
This isn’t the lake! It’s very close though and rather pretty. The water is crystal clear. This was the spot where Gunnar asked if we might like to try his dried haddock, a snack which can be found pretty much anywhere in Iceland – of course, we said yes please. You tear off a piece of fish, spread some butter on top and it’s down the hatch. It’s delicious actually and is washed down incredibly well with a glass of beer, which is what Gunnar is dishing out in the photo. A perfect little food moment in such a stunning history-steeped setting. We were completely beat by this point but it remains one of my fondest memories of a magical country.