Before heading to Iceland a fair amount of our friends had told us that Icelandic food is nothing really special. Being from a country where people will travel just for the food I will agree that it isn’t French cuisine or Italian deliciousness. In all fairness, Iceland couldn’t grow all the products we can on the continent and we did have a few nice surprises during our stay! Maybe it isn’t about the 3-courses meals in Iceland but more about the ingredients. They do some simple dishes really well and that definitely worth trying! So here are the 6 foods I recommend you taste during a stay in the land of ice and fire.
In the alphabetical order, we have…
A good bisque is a real treat in France, and it can actually be hard to find a tasty one. Well, not in Iceland! We had the most delicious lobster and langoustine bisques there, with actual chunky pieces of lobster in them! We had it almost every evening as it was the perfect warming supper after a day spent hiking in the cold.
Related to the trout and salmon the arctic char is a fish commonly served in Iceland. It is smoked or cooked and we often found it on dinner menus as a starter or a main. It is very good and maybe slightly closer in taste to trout than salmon.
I had an excellent grilled one in Mývatn and Andrew tried the smoked char a couple of times as it could be found at the breakfast buffet in some of our hotels.
Cinnamon rolls and pastries
Iceland is technically a Nordic country which means that like its Scandinavian cousins it has a lot of delicious pastries! Like with bisque, we indulge in cinnamon rolls fairly (too) often during our trip. We also had delicious custard based and whipped cream based cakes and pastries.
If you are craving something sweet and happen to be in Reykjavik, I highly recommend you swing by Braud & Co. They have the most delicious cinnamon roll and many cakes!
Hot dogs are jokingly referred to by Icelanders as their ‘national dish’. You do find them everywhere – petrol stations, supermarkets, food trucks, etc.
We, of course, had to have one. However, to be completely honest we didn’t find them great. It is just a fairly basic hot dog. Some of the sauces are a bit different than your regular mustard and ketchup and you do get onions with them but the sausages and bread are far from ‘gourmet’. Try one if you can and let me know what you think!
Rye bread and open sandwiches
Now one thing Icelanders do extremely well is bread! All the places we stayed at had at least 4 or 5 options of bread in the morning. Rye bread, in particular, is excellent! What can be a rather dry and ‘boring’ bread in other parts of the world is moist, flavoursome and filling in Iceland!
We had it almost every morning and made open-sandwiches to keep us going until lunchtime. Andrew’s combination of choice was butter, ham, cheese and egg. Mine was cottage cheese, Emmental and cucumber.
Our last must-try needs no introduction, Skyr is the very famous Icelandic yoghurt. Technically part of the cheese family it is on the more liquid side and commonly served for breakfast. It is very nutritious and healthy which makes it the perfect Icelandic ‘superfood’.
Skyr is a bit sour but it goes really well with granola and dried fruits, or even just sugar. I had it each morning for breakfast with an open-sandwich and it worked a treat to keep me full until lunchtime.
There are of course many other traditional dishes to have in Iceland such as lamb or fish and chips, but the 6 foods above are the ones we really enjoyed discovering the most during our trip to Iceland.