Can you believe it’s already been 15 months since I moved to Amsterdam? Time flies! With 21 months left before I move back to the US, I’m upping my travel game by focusing on my bucket list with Iceland being #1. “D2: The Mighty Ducks” inspired me to pick Iceland as the country for my third grade project, and fast forward 20 years later, Iceland is still on my mind.
Some people might plan their trip around seeing the Northern lights, snorkeling between tectonic plates, and embarking on a whale watching trip in Iceland, but I plan on doing it differently by focusing on food and music first, then planning those activities second. Check out these other reasons to visit Iceland besides nature!
New Nordic Cuisine
Because of increased tourism, greenhouses, and appetite for more worldly flavors, New Nordic Cuisine has been on the rise. Developed in November 2004, this cuisine is pure, simple, and fresh and emphasizes the use of seasonal and local food, which in turn, naturally helps it meet high ethical standards— the cherry on top of a meal for me!
Chef and owner Gunnar Karl Gíslason is one of the visionaries heading the New Nordic Cuisine movement at Dill Restaurant. True to the cuisine, his tasting menu pares modern methods with local ingredients and old traditions. Despite the seemingly upscale affair, the restaurant is set in the Nordic House whose mission foster connections among Nordic countries. This purposeful setting, the restaurant’s own garden, the wild bird preserve surrounding the restaurant, and the seasonal menu are a few of the many reasons I’d love to try New Nordic Cuisine here.
Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavík
Open Wed., Thurs., Fri. & Sat. from 6:00PM
Traditional Icelandic Food
Of course, a trip to any country wouldn’t be complete without understanding the culture through traditional food. Because of Iceland’s harsh climate, its cuisine has been historically dominated by animal products such as seafood, lamb, and dairy, which include some of these foods I’d try:
Lambs in Iceland sound like the happiest animals raised for consumption. They roam free in wild, untamed lands and then are gathered once a year to return to their respective owners. Icelanders say they have the best lamb in the world. I dare them to dare me to eat it everyday.
2a,, Lækjargata, 101 Reykjavík
Open Weekdays from 11:30AM to 2:00PM and 6:00 to 10:30PM and Weekends from 6:00 to 10:30PM
Apparently eating minke whale in Iceland is ok because it’s not an endangered species so I say, why not? It can be eaten skewered on kebabs, seared like ahi tuna, or served like a steak. I’d opt to try it at Fismarkadurinn where it’s cured and lightly seared.
Aðalstræti 12, 101 Reykjavík
Open Daily from 6:00PM
Pylsur (Hot Dogs)
As hot dogs are so prevalent in America, I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to these, but Condé Nast calls it the one dish to eat in Iceland. Plysur are mainly made of lamb and topped with raw onions, a sweet brown mustard, and a sauce with mayonnaise, herbs, and more. They’re basically nothing like their American counterpart, and yes, I’d like it with everything.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavík
Open from 10:00AM to 2:00AM on Weekdays and Until 4:30AM on Weekends
New and Old
Combining the new and worldly with the old and traditional is the Food and Fun Festival where chefs from around the world fly in to collaborate with local restaurants. They do what they do best by making delicious food but with one catch, they can only use Icelandic ingredients. Sustainable and tasty? Yes please.
The Food and Fun Festival
When: It happens yearly for a week in February or March so in 2017, it’s March 1 to 5.
Despite its small population, Iceland produces a large amount of internationally recognized artists such as Björk, Múm, Of Monsters and Men, and my favorite, Sigur Rós. Equally as good as what comes out of Iceland is what happens in Iceland— their music festivals.
Secret Solstice Festival
In 2016, my friends from New York and Germany flew to Iceland for the Secret Solstice Festival and saw artists like Radiohead and Jamie Jones. Best of all, they got to experience 72 hours of sun while the seasons shifted meaning they were partying at midnight with full blown sunlight. Crazy, huh?
Despite it’s very modern party appeal, the festival doesn’t fall far from its Nordic roots in which Norse mythology noted the summer solstice as a time of bounty and cause for celebration. This mythic theme makes Summer Solstice quite the unique festival.
Secret Solstice Festival
When: It happens over the three days surrounding the summer solstice so for 2017, it’s June 16-18!
Bræðslan Music Festival
There’s a special place in my heart for small music festivals with less than 5,000 people. There’s a greater sense of community and feeling of inclusion. That’s why I would love to check out Bræðslan Music Festival with only 900 festival goers. Even more homey sounding, it’s set in Borgarfjörður Eystri, a small village of only 110 people, on the complete opposite side of the island from Reykjavik with bands playing inside a 50 year old fish factory.
There’s a solid mix of local and international artists such as Of Monsters and Men and Damien Rice, but it seems like the festival to go to for up-and-coming Icelandic artists.
Bræðslan Music Festival
Where: Borgarfjörður Eystri
When: Normally in July so for 2017, it’s on July 29.
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