Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Volcanic vegetarian

June 23, 2012

As well as venturing out to sea, we explored a little of Iceland's landscape outside of Reykjavik via a bus tour. We were lucky to land a mini-bus session with just four fellow travellers and a lovely local guide who knows this volcanic country and its inhabitants well. As well as an earnest, baffling pony show and some stunning scenery (scroll down for photos) we sampled a few memorable local foods too.

Well, Michael didn't sample anything at Friðheimar, where tomatoes are grown in huge greenhouses powered by geothermal electricity. Their methods were pioneered by Knútur Ármann, pictured above.

After checking out piping-hot streams, geysers and kicking back in a steam bath we were led to the lakeside by the baths. Here water boils where it emerges at the surface!

The locals make use of it to bake bread. Dough is packed into a plastic-covered watertight tin and buried no more than 30cm deep in the gravel.

Twenty-four hours later you have a freshly baked loaf of rye bread! This was utterly delectable, soft and sweet and spread with butter. It reminded me of the cake that my grandmother sometimes boiled in a can at the farm.

At the Galleri I also noticed kleinur! These doughnuts were the only Icelandic food mentioned in the in-flight magazine that looked vegetarian (and I've since found out that they're traditionally fried in tallow) so I'd stored away their image in my mind. Unlike the bread, these weren't really fresh and I couldn't taste the cardamom that I'd been looking forward to.

While the surrounds outshone the food, it was an unexpected treat to discover that Iceland's cuisine has a veg-friendly facet or two.


These two ponies were too cool to demonstrate 
the five gaits of the Icelandic horse (though others obliged) 


(check out the pedestrian path for scale)

Streams of near-boiling water in the Haukadalur geothermal area

Strokkur the fountain geyser!

Waiting 4-8 minutes for the next Strokkur display

These valleys are fissures caused by diverging tectonic plates. Pretty cool.

The spectacular Þingvellir National Park, site of the world's oldest parliament


  1. I can't decide what is more fabulous, the Strokkur or the groundbread!

    1. Perhaps if we translated groundbread into Icelandic, it would sound just as cool. ;-)

      Google translate suggests "jörð brauð" - yep, that might be cooler!

  2. I love that scenery, it's so beautiful! And that rye bread looks so cool! :)

    1. Sarah - the scenery is indeed amazing, and the rye bread was totally unexpected!

  3. The scenic shots are all very stunning but what interested me most in this post was the 5 gaits of the Icelandic horse. I found this fascinating as I rode horses a fair bit when I was child and had no idea about the gaits of the Icelandic horses so I did a bit of further reading just now.

    1. Hi Mel - the gaits were actually kind of interesting! The show ring was mostly sawdust but there were wood panels down the centre so we could hear the beats of each gait as they demonstrated them.

  4. The rye bread looks utterly delectable. Care to share the recipe?

    1. Lyf - I would gladly share the recipe, if only I had it!