48 Hours in Reykjavik

journal, Photo Journal, travel

A 48 hour itinerary that includes museums, craft beer, fine dining and Icelandic street food.

Flying direct from PDX on IcelandAir   we enjoyed a quick visit to Reykjavik before heading to Netherlands for my birthday. With only 48 hours to explore we decided to stay in the city both days and purchased flybus tickets at the airport.  The buses run regularly and we were dropped off at the main bus station located walking distance to downtown.

Hotels amenities are nice but airbnbs are no fuss, inexpensive and enhance any travel experience. We landed SUPER early in the morning and couldn’t access the apartment until much, much later – so we stored our luggage at the bus station and went straight to the visitor center.

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The visitor center opens at 8AM and is located in the City Hall.  We purchased the 48 hour ‘City Card’ which had tremendous value to us since our itinerary was mostly museums and in town attractions.  With this card you get access to all of the museums, main attractions, Reykjavík’s thermal pools, hot pots and saunas.  Public transportation is included along with other savings and offers.

DAY ONE

1. Breakfast at Bergsson Mathús

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Danish Breakfast at Bergsson Mathús

Walking into this warm and cheery cafe after such a long travel day was like hitting the jackpot.  They deeply care about the ingredients that they use and are vegan/vegetarian friendly. PLUS, freshly baked  bread!!! The menu changes daily + I read on their website that they offer 2 for 1 items between 4-7 to cut back on food waste.  LOVE!   The restaurant was packed with locals and other tourists but we were able to find space after only a few minutes. Counter service was friendly and efficient.  I didn’t want the caffeine jolt of coffee so I ordered black tea and the simple Danish Breakfast spread.

2. Viking Settlement –

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The Settlement Exhibition

Built around the actual remains of a Viking longhouse, our first stop following breakfast was the fascinating, Settlement Exhibition Reykjavík 871±2.  This site examines the the earliest evidence of human settlement in the city and discusses the Viking Age History of Iceland.  It’s only about a 30+ minute time commitment and has interactive technology around the perimeter of the room.  There is a very cool collection of artifacts from other excavation sites around the city centre.  The exhibition gives a clear picture of the people and their way of life at this time. There was even a small viking play area with dress up equipment for smaller children.

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Oldest Street in Reykjavik.

In early September the weather was cold and rainy. I wasn’t prepared for the chilly day and had to wear BOTH a jean jacket and rain coat for warmth, my shoes were soaked by the time we made it to the airbnb.  Lucky for us, many of the museums/attractions are only a short walking distances from each other.

3. AÐALSTRÆTI 10

Around the corner from the Viking museum is Aðalstræti 10  , this museum only recently became open to the public. Built in 1762, this is the oldest and one of the city’s most important houses. Antiques and artifacts are stored in glass cases that line the wall of the first floor.  Upstairs a photo exhibit of early Reykjavik settlers.

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This year (2018), Iceland celebrated 100 years as a free and sovereign state.

 

4. REYKJAVIK ART MUSEUM –

Our third and final museum for day 1, all of which we used the ‘City Card’ for entry.  A few different exhibits, Icelandic themes.  Impressive modern collection of art with a cafe and a very cool museum gift shop.  We spent most of our afternoon here.

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check out my soaking wet sneakers.

5. Session Craft Bar

Did you know that Iceland was beer-free until 1989?! Also, this country has the highest alcohol taxes in Europe.  We discovered Session Craft Bar while walking down the main street.  The selection was impressive and the prices were reasonable.  We were the only customers and the barman was super friendly and willing to answer all of our questions about Reykjavik  – he even taught me about nose tobacco and their government spirits (I tried both).  I had a Sour Beer flight from local brewers RVK.  James tried a few of the other drafts on tap.

6. Dill

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We were lucky enough to secure reservations at Dill, a New Nordic restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. The very first restaurant in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin Star, if you can get a reservation –  it really is a must!  Delicious + Unique methods for preparing native Icelandic fare and gorgeous plating. I recommend the wine pairings, they are perfectly selected to highlight the best part of each dish. A meal runs about 13.900kr per person for this 7 courses pre fixe (extra for wine).  After an entire day walking in the rain it was nice to spoil ourselves with such a beautiful meal.

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My outfit for our Dill reservation.

7. Mikkeller & Friends

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Located in the same building as Dill, this is the perfect place for pre/post imbibing.  BIG fans of craft beer and everything Mikkeller,  we visited this location THREE times in the two days. The bartenders  I loved the circus theme and private room upstairs  (ask to take a look if it’s closed off the patrons).

“This four floor building was designed and built by a doctor called Guðmundur Hannesson in the summer of 1910. The house used to be his family’s residence but has also housed Reykjavík’s first X-Ray clinic and the Icelandic Women Shelter.”

DAY 2

Our apartment was directly in Reykjavik City Square – above a restaurant and across from a karaoke/sing along bar. One thing to remember is that Reykjavik stays up late on the weekends!  Singing bar patrons kept us awake singing outside of our window until FIVE AM!

There are lots of young people and tourist enjoying vacation.  Be sure and consider this before booking accommodation in tourist heavy areas.  We chose our location out of convenience and distance to the other in town attractions.

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  1.  Museum of Photography

We started the day by visiting the  inside of the City Library downtown.  The exhibit was small and on the top floor of the building, there is some art displayed in the stair wells as well.

2. Souvenir Shopping

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I love visiting souvenir shops even though I rarely buy anything from them.  There are plenty of these downtown if you have time to shop for gifts.

3. The National Museum of Iceland

“The museum offers a variety of fascinating exhibitions and one permanent display illustrating lavishly the story of Iceland’s past, from the medieval days of Viking settlements to current contemporary culture. The main exhibition has over 2,000 artifacts discovered in various parts of the country.”

One of the larger museums we visited.  Beautiful viking and religious artifacts,  interactive displays.  Entrance Fee is included with the City Card, I’m so glad we made time for this one.

4. Icelandic Street Food

For lunch we wanted something casual and inexpensive. A family owned restaurant, Icelandic Street Food had such a welcoming atmosphere.  We began with the Fishermans favorite, a fish stew of Icelandic cod, potatos and onion in hollandaise sauce. Served like a dip/spread with Rye Bread.  We also shared a bread bowl with a traditional Icelandic lamb stew.  Free refills were available on both, they make sure no one leaves hungry.  Around the room were plates with complimentary cookies and pastries.  It was such a fun and delicious experience!

For dinner, Mexican food in Iceland!  Because of my heritage, there is nothing more comforting to me than food wrapped in a tortilla.  I knew it wasn’t going to be authentic so I went with an open mind.  Fun, cocktail bar atmosphere downstairs and more of a cozy southwestern vibe upstairs.  Small plates/tapas style dishes were colorful and delicious.

6. Micro Bar 

Cozy, basement atmosphere with an excellent selection of beers, including brews from house brewery, Gæðingur brugghús. This place was recommended by the bartenders at the other craft beer spots we visited and had good reviews on the internet.  Packed with tourists and locals, the counter service was friendly and the beer was cold.

7. Gaukurinn

We love seeing live music when we’re abroad, so we finished the night at a venue/bar in downtown Reykjavík. Iceland is increasingly becoming recognized for its vibrant and growing metal and hardcore scene. This night we enjoyed BLACK METAL being played to a medium sized crowd.  The tickets weren’t expensive and the g+t’s were strong. Non gendered bathrooms and the friendliest head bangers I’ve ever encountered. Concerts, drag shows, standup comedy + karaoke parties are booked here regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

Bitterballen

food, recipes, travel

For the last two years, good friends of ours were living in the Netherlands and recently moved back to the states.  We were lucky enough to visit them in Rotterdam last year and it was easy to understand why they loved living in the South Holland Port City.  Cool modern architecture, bikes and a vibrant food scene.

One of the food traditions we were introduced to was bitterballen.  Round croquettes typically filled with a meat gravy (beef).  Served with alcohol, this is one of the most popular snacks in Holland.  On my very last night in Rotterdam, with a gin and tonic I was able to enjoy expertly made bitterballen in a bar on a boat.

We are happy to have them home in Portland now AND that their enthusiasm for Dutch culture and bitterballen led them to purchase a deep fryer! Last night we made a mushroom version of the bittergarnituur.

Here are a few links to recipes I found.  Easy to follow and improvise from. Have some fun and try different fillings.   Onion and Madame Jeanette Pepper filling was a HIT with our group.

The Dutch Table Blog

The Spruce

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Snout to tail

Photo Journal, Uncategorized

We took a butchery class.

Recipes for Pork Butt, Belly and tenderloin after a few gruesome photos. Apologies to vegetarian/vegan friends.

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Just this half of the pig weighed over 75 lbs

Portland Culinary workshop in North Portland has hands on culinary classes.  Very knowledgeable and qualified teacher/chef instructs on a variety of subjects.  Our class size was only three people.

IMG_2832I felt really comfortable with the knife and still managed to cut myself while removing pig skin (it gets slippery).

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Pork Explosion

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We were sent home with two large Pork Butts, a ham round, large slab of pork belly and a huge pork tenderloin.

I made carnitas with the pork butts, slow roasted the pork belly with sage for another meal. We cut two large pork chops off of the loin and froze the ham.  Find recipes below.

Recipe Links 

Carnitas – Pork Butt

Maple Brined Pork

Carnitas

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Easy carnitas recipe, lots of room to improvise.  We used pork butt we brought home from a butchery class and made double this amount.  Be sure to cut off excess fat or remove large sections after roasting.

Ingredients

  • 4 pound boneless pork butt cut into cubes

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 Tb fresh lime juice

  • 2 C water, to cover

  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Instructions

  1.  Heat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven.

  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.

  4. Cover pot and transfer to the oven, about 2 hours.

  5. Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.

  6. Remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined pan.

  7. Remove and discard bay leaves & onion from dutch oven, keep the cooking liquid.

  8. Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until it thickens and syrupy, about 20 minutes. You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining at the end.

  9.  Use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces. Once the liquid has reduced, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

  10. Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat. Place in oven to broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp. Keep a close eye on the meat during this stage. Flip the carnitas to crisp further.  Serve with tortillas or over rice

Salted Honey Pie

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This is an awesome early spring dessert and uses 3/4 cup honey, you can use store bought but I highly recommend going to your local honey purveyors and finding out what sort of variety is available in your area. For example, a buckwheat honey is dark brown in color, thick in consistency and tastes similar to molasses.  No matter what honey you use, know that this pie is very, very, sweet and basically a sugar pie or heavy custard.  You can use your own butter crust recipe for the shell.  I like to garnish with great big hand harvested salt flakes.

Preheat 350°

Ingredients:

  • Butter, 1/2 cup, melted
  • White Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • White Cornmeal, 2 tbs.
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Honey, 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, 3 large
  • Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup
  • White Vinegar, 2 tsp
  • Vanilla Paste, 1 tsp
  • Maldon or Hand Harvested Salt Flakes for garnish

  1. Using a mixer, combine Sugar, Salt, Cornmeal and butter to make paste.
  2. Add honey, Vanilla Paste and Vinegar – mix
  3. Fold in eggs and blend in cream
  4. Pour into shell
  5. Bake 45-60 minutes
  6. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour

Squash with Balsamic, Honey & Feta

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This dish was an instant favorite at a Canadian Friends-giving a few years back.  James and I get TWO Thanksgivings every year, we are SO lucky! This is an easy vegetarian side to make that can be served hot or cold, brings color to the table and travels well so it is perfect for potlucks and family style sharing.  It has well balanced sweet and savory components that you find in Sweet Potato casseroles and Bread puddings.

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Ingredients:

  • Butternut or Acorn Squash, peeled and cubed
  • Olive Oil, 1 tbs
  • Sesame seeds, 2 tbs
  • Honey, 3 tbs
  • Balsamic, 1 tbs
  • Chili Flake, 1/2 tsp
  • Feta, 2 ounces, crumbled
  • S & P, to taste

  1. Toss cubed Squash in Olive Oil and distribute evenly on sheet tray
  2. Bake 20 minutes at 410°, remove and toss with sesame seeds.
  3. Bake additional 10 minutes
  4. In a serving dish drizzle Honey, Balsamic, Feta and Chili flakes over roasted Squash
  5. S & P, serve hot or cold.

Chimichurri

food, recipes

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Mint-Basil Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a Central/South American sauce for grilled meats traditionally made from parsley and oregano.  We used large amounts of Mint and basil, add more red chili flakes if you like. I was able to freeze the excess for future meals. Chimichurri loosely translates as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”, this sauce goes great with Lamb, Beef and Pork.


Ingredients:

Mint, 2 cups packed

Basil, 1 cup packed

Olive Oil, 9 tbs

1/2 Lemon, juiced

red chili flakes, 1/2 tsp

salt, tsp

red wine vinegar, 2 +1/2 tsp


 Easy preparation. Combine ingredients and puree.  Should resemble a pesto.