Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Amazing Iceland - the Food Tour

Iceland is another place that needs it's own post for the food we ate... and we tried a lot of different and strange food. One thing I need to say first up though is that Iceland is NOT for vegetarians. We ate mostly meat, with a little bit of potato the whole time we were there!

The dark meat is whale, the one with
the pale sauce is lamb
Our first meal on the food tour was after we visited the Blue Lagoon. We went looking for a place and came across 'Paris Bistro'. I think the theme is Icelandic with a French twist, rather then a French restaurant... after all, I don't think you will come across whale (yes, you read that right) in Paris! We shared a portion of Minke whale, and the Icelandic version of surf n' turf - Icelandic lamb and lobster tail. I must say I quite enjoyed the whale. It is a very dark meat, and reminded me of kangaroo (however less... earthy). The lobster tails and lamb were yummy too, however I did think that the lamb was a bit too rare - the bits that would more well done were much more tender and nicer. 

Now before you say how horrible it is that I ate whale, here is a comment that Sjon from Iceland wrote on the topic of whaling on another blog site:

I don’t know how i came to this site but I am glad I did. I am Icelandic and want to say something about Icelandic whaling.
I eat whale and love minke whale stake like almost everyone I know. Many things you read about whaling is so far from the truth and just for example we are 320.000 in whole Iceland and Sea Shepherd has 380.000 fans on facebook so go figure were almost everyone get the information from.
In the Icelandic EEZ (200miles) we have over 500.0000 whales and we hunt 52 a year and its local commercial whaling we do not sell minke whale out of the country. All of it ends up in Iceland.
We have been eating whale since we came to the island in 874 and an old saying is Hvalreki that means a whale that swim to the beach as a free food so Hvalreki means to get lucky. The oldest law we get on whaling is since 1261.
Whale meat is one of the healthiest meat you can put in your body. Low on fat and a lot of protein as seen herehttp://luna.pos.to/whale/jwa_v8_suzu.html
I will not tell a tourist to eat whale meat as I dont know were they stand on whaling. I dont want to be unrespecful and offer them something they dont want to eat. But if they do then fine. There is nothing wrong eating whale and dont get me wrong I love whale and think they are nice to have around and I will not eat the last whale. They are cute and they are big but for me they are food source like chicken, pigs, sheeps and cows and they are factory making them. Good to see so many comments from people with open mind and go with their gut feeling on the matter not what is forced up on them by others. 

As you can see they only hunt 52 whales a year, compare that to Japan, where they hunt THOUSANDS a year, and it's not so bad... And now that I've tried whale, to be honest I don't think I would eat it again, even though I did like it, because yes, I do realise they are whales.

Clean plates

Putrified shark
After the Pearl tour we went to an Icelandic Bar (in fact I think it was called Icelandic Bar) and tried more weird and wonderful food. Here we had something called Hákarl, puffin, Icelandic lamb shank and reindeer burger. For those of you who don't know, Harkarl is often referred to as putrified shark, and it is ABSOULTELY. COMPLETELY. DISGUSTING. I took a swig of (Icelandic) beer before putting the 1cm cube of grossness in my mouth. The texture is chewy, and as I chewed the taste of beer was replaced by a rotten, fowl taste. Eventually the taste got that bad you had only 2 choices... swallow it whole, or spit it out. Both Claire and I were brave and swallowed it, but I will never again have Harkarl.

Cheers?! Looking a little worried..
You're supposed to wash it down with Brennivin, also know as black death, but we didn't have it that night. We had the Brennivin shot after I got back from diving, to help warm me up. I was expecting it to taste horrible, but I actually like it. I even bought a small bottle at the airport on the way home, duty free of course. Why wouldn't you, when the whole bottle was approximately the same price as a single shot in a bar!

The Puffin was nice, again a very dark meat, like kangaroo. The lamb shank was also nice, when you could actually get to the meat. I don't think it was slow cooked, as it did not fall off the bone like it should. The fat hadn't been rendered, or whatever the term is, and was still tough and chewy. I've had reindeer before, and the burger was yummy.


Much better then the shark
The next night, after diving the Silfra, we ran into Amanda, who had gone on the Pearl Tour with us. Amanda also has a travel blog, however she makes money from hers! You can see it here (that's her Iceland food blog post). We invited her to join us for dinner, where we went to a place called the Sea Baron, which sells mainly seafood (Everything is seafood, except for potatoes and drinks!) We share between the three of us: prawns, scallops, salmon redfish, and some potatoes. It was all so fresh and delicious, espeically the scallops and salmon. The lady who was serving forgot our redfish, but she was busy and very apologetic when she found out. She offered Claire some free potatoes or prawns. The spuds were 200ISK, while the prawns were 12 or 1400ISK, so she opted for the free potatoes, which I would have done too, as the lady felt so bad about forgetting our food, which was easily done.

While we were waiting for our dinner this little old man, who I think was the own, and spoke very limited English came around offereing some 'Moby Dick'. Now after the fermented shark you would think I could eat anything - but not this! The texture was all wrong, and it was white, so while I think I was eating whale it wasn't like the whale I was eating before. I think it was maybe blubber?! but the fact that I didn't actually know what it was certainly didn't help. So I ended up only taking the tiniest of nibbles, and couldn't stomach the rest!

Our last night in Iceland we ended up going to a Tapas bar - again Icelandic food, some with a Mexican/Spanish twist. We had a variety of food and I will order them from least favourite to most favourite:
  • Salmon Creviche - I love salmon, but not when it is raw. I had raw salmon sushi for the first time at the Blue Lagoon, and it didn't do much for me either. Cooked or smoked please!
  • Marinated lamb with liquorice sauce
  • Smoked puffin with blueberry - along with the lamb, they were both nice, but not my favourites
  • Sweet potato and chorizo - anything with chorizo is bound to taste nice!
  • Calamari rings
  • Scallops and dates wrapped in proscuitto - tied with the calamari rings. Both tasty :)
  • Lobster tails with garlic crumb - O.M.G. these were DELICIOUS!!! They were sooo good, it's a shame we had to share them...
We also shared a jug of passionfruit sangria which was yummy. Unfortunately no photos of all the yummy food :( But if you have a look at Amanda's blog, she has some pics of the smoked puffin and lobster tails :)

And that concludes the Iceland food tour. I tried many things, including some things I've never seen alive (I don't if that makes it better or worse :S), and enjoyed most of what I ate.