A Slow Food Guide to Iceland
(restaurants in red)
Slow Food is a worldwide grassroot movement fighting for consumers awareness of good, clean and fair food, meaning that small scale producers, farmers selling their own products, restaurants serving local food, organic growers and producers, and traditional products using non industrial recipes should be in focus. Slow Food does not deliver a label to places or products, but indicates those following the principles and ideas of the movement, which means that the food or the products are good, clean and fair and locally produced, thinking sustainability.
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity protects the environment, defends food biodiversity, promotes sustainable agriculture, supports small-scale food producers and values their traditional knowledge, runs projects around the world in support of Terra Madre communities: the Ark of Taste, the Presidia, the Earth Markets and the Thousand Gardens in Africa.
On board of the Ark of Taste are now 11 Icelandic products:
- traditional Icelandic skyr, which is a specific curd cheese, one of the few produced from the first days of colonization of Iceland, made out of cow, sheep or goat milk. The original recipe is in the hands of few, the skyr from KEA producer, and from two farmers: Erpsstaðir on the road to Búðardalur, and Egilsstaðir, the farm at the entrance of the town in East Iceland (Fjósahornið). Efstidalur, close to Laugarvatn is producint its own skyr as well (2014).
- the Icelandic goat, the oldest goat race in Europe, with only 890 animals left, the largest flocks being in Haafell (close to Reykholt in the west, welcome to visit) and in Möðrudalur in the east
- fermented shark which has for a long time been a co product of fisheries though it was in the 19th century and early 20th hunted by specialized ship, a dangerous fishing since many of the boats capsized and the whole crew disappeared
- salt produced In a special way, heating the sea water by the geothermal energy (look for Saltverk salt) – a process used in the 19th century but abandoned when both imports of salt was increased and technical equipment had to be renewed
- sundried cod the so-called bacalao, which was traditionally dried on stone to get the best result and a white fish – on the verge of disappearing with the industrial process of salting and whiting the fish
- stockfish or “harðfiskur”, the dried fish which used to be dried on poles in the cold months (to avoid the flies), and is now too often dried in heated cabinet to accelerate the process. This speciality from the western fjords is still available from artisan makers, especially EG Fiskverkun in Flateyri.
- “hangikjöt” or smoked lamb which is traditionally salted and cold smoked with sheep dung, is not in danger of disappearing, as popular as it is on the Christmas table of Icelanders, but is in competition with industrialized production.
- “lúra” which is a flatfish of the plaice family, caught only in the lagoon by Höfn in Hafnafjörður by small boats and walking people, then dried and used later boild or as a snack.
- “magáll” made out of the flank of lamb, boiled and smoked before being pressed and salted
- “rúllupylsa” made as well from the lamb flank but rolled as a sausage and spiced or smoked
More here: Ark of taste Iceland
Places or products you should not miss, looking for Slow Food inspired places or products:
Western Iceland and West Fjords
Háls í Kjós: at the bottom of the Hvalfjörður, meat, meat products, chutneys and more in Matarbúrið shop
Neðri Háls: next door to Háls is the most famous organic dairy farm (milk, skyr, yoghurt) Do not receive visitors
Ljómalind (Borgarnes) collective shop qith local handmade products, food and handicraft
Háafell: Goat farm with products for sale (milk, meat, wool, and more) Slow Food Ark of Taste
Bjarnarhöfn: the center for traditional shark processing, with a small museum dedicated to shark fishing in Iceland. Slow Food Ark of Taste
Erpsstaðir: close to Búðardalur, traditional farm-made skyr and cheese, chocolate praline filled with skyr Slow Food Presidia
Ólafsdalur: the first Icelandic Agricultural School, exhibition and organic vegetables (in Gilsfjörður)
Tjöruhúsið (Ísafjörður): ambitious local food
Húsavík (farm by Hólmavík): blueberry spiced lamb and hangikjöt, smoked lamb, winners of yearly “rúllupylsa” competition
Hotel Varmahlíð delightful dinner with totally local food, from the owners farm (beef and wheat for example)
Lónkot Ideally situated in Skagafjörður by the sea shore, trout from the river, cod from local fishermen, everything very local and prepared by a Slow Food member
Vogafjós smoked trout from the lake of Mývatn, traditional rye bread baked in hot springs, lamb from the farmer must stop!
Burstafell local museum close to Vopnafjörður, local handicraft and food
Fjósahornið for the home-made skyr Slow Food Ark of Taste
Gistihúsið Egilsstaðir for the menu of local products, by talented chefs
Möðrudalur the highest farm in Iceland, Fjallakaffi with home-made products must stop! Turning organic.
Sænautasel an old farm in the highland, as was in the 19th century, with home made skyr and waffles
Vallanes: the largest organic farm, small apartment for rent, organic products for sale (barley, vegetables)
Djúpivogur: the first and only Cittá Slow (Slow City) in Iceland – check the local restaurants!
Karlsstaðir in Berufjörður: hotel, resraurant, organic farm and vegan food. Run by pop artist and his family.
In or around Höfn í Hornafirði:
Restaurant Humarhöfn: lobsters in different ways, you can see the fishing boat from your seat, everything totally local
Home shop: products from the farms around Höfn, cheese, vegetables, pork, fish, ice cream depending on arrivals
Hali í Suðursveit: restaurant serving trout from home fish farming, totally local food, beautiful exhibition about the local famous writer Þorbergur Þórarsson
In the agricultural plain north of Selfoss
Engi (Laugarás): organic growers of vegetables (greenhouses) and herbs, market in the summer
Akur (Laugarás): organic vegetables from the greenhouse, market in summer
Sólheimar: the first eco-village in tne Nordic Countries organic local products and thrilling community
Ölvisholt: 10 km east of Selfoss, a microbrewery and herb connoisseur
Hveragerði: pay a visit to the bakery and ask for Hverabrauð, ryebread baked in the steam of hot springs
Frost & Funi: guesthouse with restaurant, they grow their own vegetables, serve local food, bake their own bread in hot springs
HNLFÍ (Natural Health Association – Spa and Medical Care) has a vegetarian restaurant and are members of Slow Food
In the Vestmann Islands, restaurant Slippurinn has a Slow Food young chef, who goes the way of local food, fish of the day, vegetables from the south of Iceland just on the other side, on the mainland!
Farmers market: Frú Lauga, Laugalk 6 , assortment of fresh and frozen local products
Melabúðin: Hagamel 39, close to the swimming pool Vesturbæjar, is a small independant supermarket with heaps of local products, well chosen, salmon even caught by the owners
Kolaportið: the large flea market by the harbor has a food corner where you can find fish, salmon, potatoes ans vegetables sold directly by the grower or producer. Not particularly Slow Food but buying straight from the producer is!
Fjarðarkaup is a supermarket in Hafnarfjörður, family run and with a large place to organic and local products
… and look out for posters about the Matarmarkaður (Food Market), hold 3-4 times a year in the hall of the Opera House (Harpa): you will find nearly all of Icelandic production by small scale produce is the place where the chefs.
Dill is owned and run by Slow Food members, and follows completely the ideals. Not to miss.
Matur og Drykkur Traditional recipes in a revisited but fully Icelandic tradition.
Höfnin and Icelandic Fish and Chips Organic Bistro (owner is Slow Food member) are run on good local products from small producers. Gló is raw kitchecn, popular vegetarian place earned and run by the newly elected Best Raw Chef in the World, Slow Food member.
Aalto Bistro in the Nordic House, original kitchen by one of the most involved chefs in local food. Beautiful surroundings and all kind of activities at the Nordic House.
Bergsson Mathús in Templarasund by the Althingi (Parliament) is all about home-made, sourdough bread and all sorts of dishes, from breakfast to light dinner (opens 7 to 19) and take away.
Sandholt Bakery, Laugavegur 36 makes the best bread in town, sourdough with organic wheat, as well as croissants and other pastry french style and pralines of high class.
Cookoo’s Nest at Grandi by the old harbour, is owned by a Slow Food member and makes also the best sourdough bread in town and has a menu (breakfast included!) made of local products.
Mat bar at Hverfisgata 26 is a place where you get a mix of italian recipes and local products, artistically put together on your plate. The head chef is member of the Chef’s Alliance
Gló is raw kitchen, popular vegetarian place earned and run by the newly elected “Best Raw Chef in the World”, Slow Food member.
Large part of the Icelandic nature is unspoiled and that makes it attractive for those looking for a special experience in clean and untouched surroundings. The sheep graze in the highlands, the cows still bite grass too and the fishing grounds are as unpolluted as they can be. This ideal picture is of course not complete and one find in Iceland as well CAFOs for pigs, hens and eggs. There are now 38 farmers certified organic by the Certification Agency Tún (www.tun.is) and 25 producers, you will find very original organic cosmetics of quality from the Icelandic generous and powerful nature, meat from few producers (lamb, not easy to find though), vegetables, dairy products (Bio, skyr, yogurt, milk, butter), maerl algae which are picked from the Breiðafjörður area, and two bakers, one in Reykjavik (Brauðhúsið) the other one in Sólheimar. The products from Mr J..r are all organic from Vallanes, the farm in the East of the country and you will find them in many places.
The best places to shop organic are: Frú Lauga (Laugarlæk 6), Lifandi Markaður (Borgartún 24), Heilsuhúsið (in the mall Kringlan, Laugaveg 20b and other places), Fjarðarkaup in Hafnafjörður (Fri department) as well as some departments in the supermarkets. Take a look at the site www.natturan.is, get the Green Map of Reykjavík and you will be well off.
WANT A NICE BITE ON NATIONAL ROAD NR 1?
A ROAD TRIP FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO ENJOY REAL TASTY LOCAL FOOD
(article published by the magazine Gestgjafainn, summer 2014 – author: Dominique Plédel Jónsson)
Here is a list of few small restaurants around the country for travellers who want to avoid buying their food along with petrol for the car, at petrol-stations whose role is to deliver petrol for the car but not fast-food in VERY unequal quality for the humans. The names on this list have been collected after a broad and freely approach survey (call for names and comments on Facebook, more than 3000 users saw the demand), though completely unscientific, it is not exhaustive and the criteria given from the start are:
- Use most of local food (very local)
2. Fair price (a family can stop there without emptying their bank account)
3. May be some distance from Road Nr 1 (usually the surroundings are then much nicer)
4. No connection with petrol station or what is called in Icelandic „sjoppa“, selling mainling weets and fast food
You won‘t therefore find here the fine dining and more expansive restaurants, though they are maybe the best known names. Through the survey, many more places have been named, such as in the upper privinces of Árnesýsla (from Selfoss to Gullfoss – Geysir and Flúðir) but we leave to you then the pleasure to find these places, so many are they. Our point here is to get the traveller off the petrol stations and fast food „sjoppur“ to get good Icelandic food.
Borgarnes Landnámssetrið, really nice local food 300 m from the petrol station in the village, … and then a bit further north from Borgarnes, close to Bífröst University campus, you will find Hraunsnef, country restaurant. Go for it!
Stykkishólmur Narfeyjarstofan cheats nobody, Plássið is the fast food edition but very honest (same owners, on the other side of the road)
Fellströnd Hótel Vogur opened last year and the food is amazing, first choice raw materials from the farmers around.
Skagafjörður Hótel Varmahlíð (few steps above the petrol station) where the wife of the farmer is in the kitchen. On the other side of the fjord, just north of Hofsós, don‘t miss the splendid place called Lónkot, both restaurant and hotel, where the food comes from the neighbourhood and from the owner‘s heart.
Akureyri Many possibilities, check out the 1862 Nordic Bistro, Silva (out of town, raw food, close to Hrafnagili) – and Café Uglan at Skógar in Fnjóskadal close to Vaglaskóg.
Mývatn Amazing place at Vogafjósið, where the stables of the farm have been changed into a beautiful and bright restaurant with a view, serving products from the farm or direct neighbourhood. Simply delicious food, a bit pricy too but don‘t miss it, it is a real treat.
Möðrudalur Forget about the main road and take the old Road Nr 1, dirt road signed „Möðrudalur“ and you will get the reward from the start, incredible raw landscape, and get meat-soup (from the cattle on the farm) at Fjallakaffi, by the highest farm in Iceland. Well, if you need a drop of petrol, there is an old time pump still!
Egilsstaðir: So many other beautiful possibilities nthan the petrol stations… Fjósahornið by the Guesthouse Egilsstaðir (opposite the entrance in Egilsstaðir), the restaurant by the guesthouse, with Slow fast food, Café Nielsen, Bókakaffi Hlöðrum, Salt (the small restaurant by the Liquor Store) – lots of ambitious great places with local food.
Seyðisfjörður Skaftfell with its good and light dishes, Aldan with slightly higher prices – both places are great.
Neskaupstaður Far east, but give it a try, the road is beautiful (and the tunnel… half frightening!) – worth the drive: Kaupfélagsbarinn, in the Hildibrand Hotel, and on the way try the Randúlffs Sjóhús on the gravel bank at Eskifjörður (and ask to see the upper floor of the house, there is the story…).
Djúpivogur The only Cittá Slow in Iceland, where the restaurants do serve all local food and everything is moving slower than elsewhere. Enjoy it, you need to drive 1 kmfrom the Road Nr 1, but it will be a real treat. Try any restaurant depending on your appetite and purse.
Höfn í Hornafirði You should eat at least once at Humarhöfnin, not cheap but if you want a really special experience during your stay in Iceland, keep your money to try this. Lobster all the way, fresh as you will never get it elsewhere (you see the landing from the boat from your seat…). If your purse suffers, then try either Nýhöfn og Pakkhúsið – cheaper and very good quality.
Þorbergssetrið At Hali in Suðursveit (west of Höfn) all the food comes from the farmers in the hamlet. And you get story telling on top of it. Great food, great people, splendid museum.
Suðurland (south Iceland): Smyrlabjörg because of the lamb, Geirland east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur for the meat soup, Halldórskaffi in Vík í Mýrdal so much better than the crowded petrol station, Gamla Fjósið at Steina close to Eyjafjallajökull, Hótel Anna at Moldnúpi, Eldstó at Hvolsvöllur, Hendur í höfn at the fishing village of Þorlákshöfn (don‘t miss this one!), Seylon in Selfossi is the favorite of many, not local, but run by people who know what they do and do it with their art and heart.
Vestfirðir (Western Fjords) Simbahöllin at Þingeyri, Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður, Heydalur in Mjóafjörður which is a favorite of many and propose food from the plentiness of the surroundings.
HAVE A GREAT (FOOD) TRIP !