One thing no one expects when visiting a country such as Iceland is the level of cuisine they'll experience. While most flock to these Scandinavian lands in search of natural hot springs, jagged cliffs overlooking black sand beaches, and natural landscapes that seem surreal, Iceland's food is one of its many alluring qualities. Some of it is quite unusual, but the origins of this cuisine that are truly astounding - everything is fresh, clean, and unbelievably flavorful.
Sure, travelers could book reservations at familiar restaurants or even resort to popular fast food menu items, but to do so would be to deny oneself of everything Iceland has to offer. The freshest seafood, traditional meat dishes, and even dairy all play a role in creating a masterwork of flavor and balance, enough to keep tourists coming back year after year. In this up and coming food scene, Iceland is comparative to many other European countries that have made a name for themselves with farm-to-table and sea-to-table menus... And might even be on the road to surpassing them.
The Famous Reykjavik Hot Dog, Pylsur
A hot dog might not be something that can be viewed as a specialty, especially for travelers coming from a place like the US. There, a hot dog is a "ballpark frank", something that's to be eaten quickly from a stand in New York City or as a precursor to a baseball game. In Iceland, the Pylsur is made from a delicious blend of lamb, pork, and beef, and can be topped with raw onions, crunchy fried onions, sweet brown mustard, and a specialty remoulade. It's truly a savory and sweet blast of flavors and something that is highly touted in Reykjavik, and arguably one of the best hot dogs in the world.
Many will say there's absolutely nothing like it in the world, and some will even say that the country's cuisine revolves around this prized meat. The incredible flavor of Iceland's lamb dishes begins at the source - the lamb itself.
Sheep are left to roam the countrysides, which means they've fed on nothing but untouched grasses, berries, and natural glacial water. Lamb is either stewed or roasted to perfection, served alongside spices that only enhance its natural flavor.
Skyr, Iceland's Version Of Yogurt Or Cottage Cheese
While on the stronger side of yogurt, Skyr shares the same flavor profile - a cross between Greek yogurt and slightly tart creme fraiche. The creamy delicacy is usually served with jam, but some Icelandic natives prefer it on its own with nothing to taint the natural flavor. It's prepared in very much the same way yogurt is and is treated with natural bacteria that help it to age and ripen to the point of creamy deliciousness.
Rye Bread Ice Cream
It sounds unusual but this is yet another specialty in Reykjavik, and arguably one of its best flavors to boot. Rye bread is a popular treat in Iceland and it makes sense that it would also be an ice cream flavor, but just a short walk around the city will reveal some of the wildest flavors travelers are likely to ever see. The frozen dairy sweet is surprisingly popular for a country that spends much of the year with cooler temperatures and can be found almost anywhere, but for Rye bread ice cream, check out Cafe Loki.
Fermented Shark, A True Icelandic Tradition
While this isn't something that necessarily a "must-try", it's definitely park of Icelandic tradition, according to any native. Shark has a strong flavor, to begin with, so you can imagine what it would be like after it's been fermented. It might not be the most pleasant, but it's something that has been woven into Iceland's history and passed down through the generations. The shark is prepared with vinegar and served alongside something called the black death, which is simply unsweetened schnapps - a chaser to what's already a rather overpowering dish.