One of the symptoms of falling in love with Iceland is that you start following lots of Iceland-themed Instagram accounts. So it was that I discovered the Reykjavik Food Walk, a walking tour of downtown Reykjavik on which you get to try all manner of delicious Icelandic cuisine – thankfully not including the scary stuff like fermented shark (or cute puffins).
This wonderful tour combines the all-important food tasting with learning about the city and about Icelandic culture, but as I’ve written about Reykjavik a few times before, I’m going to keep this post focused on all the amazing food we tried…
Lamb soup with Viking beer
Our first stop, having met in the warm foyer of the Harpa concert hall, was a little restaurant/bar on a street just off Laugavegur. This place is popular with locals, and it’s famous for its lamb soup.
I am not at all a beer drinker, but when in Iceland…
Each Icelandic family has their own recipe for lamb soup, and apparently the person who founded the restaurant travelled around Iceland gathering these treasured family recipes. They serve a different one each day, so you get a slightly different dish each time. Isn’t that lovely?
Icelandic cheese and cured meats
From there, it was on to a little delicatessen on the street leading up to Hallgrimskirkja. The cheese counter looked promising…
…and sure enough, we got to try three different kinds of Icelandic cheese: Black Gouda, Gull Ostur and a blue cheese. The one I was most surprised by was the blue cheese, as I don’t normally like it, but this one was lovely. On the left of the board was a selection of meat: cured lamb, goose (served with a raspberry and Champagne coulis) and – wait for it – horse!! Having grown up riding, I did feel guilty about trying horse, but I know the Icelanders love their horses and they do look after them well.
Rye bread ice cream
Our next stop was a cafe near Hallgrimskirkja, where we tried the slightly dubious-sounding Icelandic delicacy of rye bread ice cream. It was so delicious! I’d never have thought to order this had I not known about it, but I’d definitely have it again. It’s apparently made with leftover rye bread and tiny bits of chocolate. Highly recommended.
Skyr, glorious Skyr
The Icelanders seem to be very proud of Skyr, a dairy product similar to yogurt. I had tried it before, though this yummy blueberry flavour was new to me. Because Icelanders tend to eat it when they’re on the go – it’s a filling and healthy snack – we had ours while we were out and about. You can actually buy Skyr in the UK now, so you don’t have to go all the way to Iceland if you want to try it! (I’ve seen it in Waitrose, but I expect other supermarkets have it too.)
Arctic char and plokkfiskur
Fish is, unsurprisingly, a major part of the Icelandic diet, and our next stop was a popular and upmarket fish restaurant where we enjoyed two favourites: arctic char (which is the colour of salmon) and plokkfiskur, a sort of mashed up stew of cod and potato.
This hearty fish dish was served with new potatoes, spinach and cherry tomatoes. All that was missing was a nice glass of white wine to go with it! (Alcohol is very expensive in Iceland, so I can see why it’s not included on the tour, but it would’ve made it even better.)
The best hotdog in Iceland
I was fit to burst by this point, but there were still two more stops on the tour, the penultimate of which was the famous hot dog stand. I had, of course, visited this stand numerous times before, though not in its present position – it’s been moved temporarily while there’s some building work going on around its usual spot.
These hot dogs are, as far as I can tell, the cheapest thing to eat in Reykjavik, and they’re so delicious. They’re served with ketchup, mustard, curry sauce, crispy onions and tiny diced raw onion. It’s difficult to eat one in a ladylike manner, however!
Chocolate mousse with strawberry sorbet
Our final port of call was another quite upmarket restaurant called Apotek, which used to be a chemist; the empty bottles of medicine you can see here form part of the decor in homage to the building’s past.
The dessert was fabulous: a chocolate mousse with a raspberry middle, and strawberry sorbet. To be honest I was so stuffed with food that I couldn’t finish it all, but I appreciated its quality nonetheless!
As a parting gift, our guide presented us each with one of these Icelandic chocolate bars. It has a strip of licorice on the top, which you can apparently remove if you don’t like licorice!
The Reykjavik Food Walk isn’t cheap – it set us back £99 per person at the current exchange rate – but it’s so worth it. You get to discover loads of great places where the locals go, and you’ll try things you wouldn’t necessarily have thought to order yourself. The Food Walk seems to have become one of the top things to do in Reykjavik, and I kept overhearing people at the hotel and on the boat trip saying that they were doing it. It’s a fab way to get to know the city and to try some Icelandic culinary favourites, and not a fermented shark in sight!