Harvest from the land and sea
Iceland’s wild, natural beauty is also home to some of the finest produce around. Though it’s still proving hard to entirely shake off the old reputation for fermented shark, which is as hardy as the sharks themselves – Greenland sharks can live for up to 400 years – the country’s chefs and food producers are working with more inspiring and appealing ingredients, such as fresh Atlantic cod, foraged berries and geothermally grown produce, to create wonders on the plate.
The best food here shows off these fine ingredients with an elegance that surprises many visitors, and which complements the superlative landscapes that surround.
PHOTO ESSAY BY IAN CUMMING
Beef carpaccio at Hotel Budir, Budir
Raspberry and liquorice swirl from Braud & Co bakery in Reykjavik
Englendingavík Restaurant in Borgarnes; ‘Englendingavík’ means Englishman’s Bay
Fishing boat leaving Reykjavik harbour on a calm morning
Englendingavík Restaurant in Borgarnes
Fishing boat leaving Stykkisholmur harbour
Slices of geothermal bread with smoked trout, Laugarvatn Fontana Cafe and Spa, Lake Laugarvatn
Salted cod fillets, packed and ready for export. Most of Iceland’s salted cod ends up in Portugal.
Halibut tartare in Sjavarpakkhusid Restaurant, Stykkisholmur
A rhubarb dessert at Sjavarpakkhusid Restaurant in Stykkisholmur. The rhubarb is harvested from a farm belonging to the restaurant owner’s father
Chefs busy in the kitchen at Bjargarsteinn in Grundarfjörður
Need to know
Getting there: Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is well served by international flights.
Best time to go: Summer for the long days; winter for the Northern Lights.
Currency: Icelandic króna
Time zone: GMT
Food: Skip the fermented shark: fresh seafood, particularly cod, is a real highlight, often served up simply and elegantly.
Where to stay: Hotel Búðir on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a wonderful, wild base only a few hours from Reykjavik.
How to do it: Crammed full of sights, it’s easy to underestimate just how much there is to see in Iceland. For a great taster, spend a few days exploring Reykjavik before hiring a car to get out to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which has such a diverse range of landscapes that it’s offered referred to as Iceland in miniature.
Must-pack item: Without doubt, a raincoat! Anything can happen with the weather in Iceland, and those brilliant blue skies can give way to a downpour.
Why go: For fabulous food in the wildness of Europe’s least densely populated country. Any troubles you might bring with you can be soaked away in any one of the many geothermal pools.