What We Tried in Iceland
We had skyr for a couple of our breakfasts – once (seemingly) homemade and the other store-bought. The homemade version was topped with milk, very tasty, and a great deal at around 800 ISK (around $6.50). The store-bought version was much like the yogurt you’re familiar with in the US.
Minke Whale is a rich, red meat. We both agreed that it is a chewier, subtly fishy cousin of steak. Trying whale is a great way to experience the local culture and won’t break the bank, coming in around 1200 ISK ($10).
Iceland is known for its Hákarl (fermented shark). Their food traditions are closely tied in with preservation for sustenance during the winter months. We didn’t think that the shark was as bad as many people make it out to be. There is a strong saltiness up front, a slightly ammoniated taste while chewing, then a slightly salty aftertaste. Not surprisingly, Icelanders eat this with “Black Death” (Brennivin), a potato mash liquor that is flavored with caraway seeds – and it pairs quite well with the shark meat.
Smoked Puffin is another Icelandic delicacy. It’s a deep red, tender meat and is uniquely tasty. The taste was similar to a high-quality cut of beef cooked rare. We were able to find Puffin tapas for around 1200 ISK.
Iceland’s famous hot dogs, which have also been tried by Bill Clinton and James Hetfield. Although these aren’t quite what you’d expect, they are great in their own way. They have sweet mustard, crispy onions, remoulade, and a sweet relish.
We couldn’t travel all the way to Iceland without trying a local brew. Gull is an inexpensive and pretty good beer. We were able to find them on draft for 750 ISK. If you plan on purchasing beer in a grocery, be aware that they’re all 2.25% ABV since all alcohol is regulated by the state. If you would like the true beers or liquor of any type, you’ll need to go to the state-run liquor store.