April 29, 2009
Iceland, Day 1, Part III: Icelandic Tapas, Plus Midnight Waffles
After a strenuous day day of...napping and going to the supermarket, we roamed the streets of Reykjavik unsure of where to eat dinner. Like so:
"Where do you wanna eat guys?"
"That place?" [points]
[lather, rinse, repeat]
Since the long daylight hours threw off our sense of time, we didn't head out until about 9 p.m., a bit late for eating dinner in Reykjavik.
The giant sign proclaiming "FISH BUFFET" was sort of appealing. Not really.
But then we spotted Tapas across the street and made a beeline towards its glowing sign because 1) it was open, and 2) I read a recommendation for it online.
Who chooses to eat their first dinner in Iceland at a Spanish restaurant? Er. Uh. It's okay; they had a set Icelandic menu! We ordered that along with a few other dishes (non-Icelandic menu dishes are noted).
First off, bread! Actually, first was a shot of Brennavin, Icelandic schnapps with a strong flavor of caraway seeds and a gagably high percentage of alcohol. Of course, that's coming from me, the person who doesn't like alcohol. Most liquors remind me of rubbing alcohol. Appeal = none.
Bread was nice. Soft and kinda squidgy. It came with a hummus-like spread and tapenade.
Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce: This was the first taste of puffin for all three of us. Overall consensus: not bad. With it's dense liver-like consistency (although not flavor), it certainly didn't remind me of poultry. Beef tongue sprung to mind.
Red deer with Calvados sauce: I can't recall what this tasted like. Steaky, perhaps. (Not a part of the set Icelandic menu.)
Pan-fried monkfish with lobster sauce: This was a notably firm, meaty fish, not a delicate, flaky thing. Good stuff.
Saltfish with chourizo in tomato-date sauce: There's lots of dried cod in Iceland, but I think this was the only time we ate it. I liked that there were slivered almonds in the sauce—mm, crunchy. (Not a part of the set Icelandic menu.)
Minke whale with cranberry sauce: Looks like steak and kind of tastes like it too, but with finer muscle fibers. Is it a bad thing that I'm not bothered by eating whale? Am I cold and heartless? ;_;
Lobster tails baked in garlic: Lobster in Iceland isn't like the huge ass things you see swimming in Chinese restaurant tanks here, but smaller langoustines. To me they tasted less sea-y/briny than lobster and with a meatier texture. Maybe like a cross between lobster or shrimp, although considering that I don't eat much lobster or shrimp, you may not want to listen to me. Uhh, just eat it. The end.
Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina: Ah lamb, that cute, fluffy animal that turns into a funky meat, accompanied by a ratatouille. I don't love or dislike lamb, but in Iceland where lamb roam wild and free (in all that land beyond Reykjavik) you have to eat it.
Icelandic sea trout with peppers salsa: Tastes like a nice chunk of moist, buttery salmon. I assume sea trout is in the same family.
Chocolate cake with berry compoté and whipped cream: Mm, dense wedge of ganache-y chocolate goodness with a splodge of thick Icelandic whipped cream. I had whipped cream a few times during my trip and it was always this awesomely rich cloud of barely sweetened dairy fat.
It was a nice way to end a satisfying meal. I wouldn't go to Tapas twice in one vacation, but for an introduction to Icelandic meats, it did a good job, especially when shared between three people.
Even though we were quite full while lumbering up Austurstraeti, all senses of moderation were thrown out the window when we came across Vöffluvagninn, or Waffle Wagon/Truck/Mobile/What Have You, in Lækjartorg, the main square at the start of Laugavegur. At first I merely took a photo, internally fought with myself for about 1.5 seconds about whether or not I should eat a waffle, and walked on...and then a few steps later realized the errors of my ways and redirected myself towards waffle goodness. (A good thing as it only operates on the weekend, Friday and Saturday nights I'd assume.)
So many choices. It was easier to decide when Greg said he wanted a USA, narrowing my choices down..by one. I went with a classic topped with jam and whipped cream.
Greg's waffle, ripe for eatin'.
And then Greg wharfed it down. (Isn't "wharfed" an underused word? Yes. I will try it use it more often.)
I liked the combination of syrup and cream more than jam and cream, but my "classic" was still tasty. (I actually don't like jam that much with anything. Toast? Cake? Pancakes? Neh.) The waffle was thick and warm, a bit crispy on the outside, and soft and slightly chewy on the inside. Granted, I'm bound to like anything topped with a strip of whipped cream, but even without the whipped cream this would've been a nice waffle. Especially one that came out of a van.
Greg said we need to ship the Waffle Wagon over to NYC. We're aware that Wafels and Dinges exists, but it's not the same! It must be the same Vöffluvagninn adorned by a winking waffle creature-man-something.
As we walked up Laugavegur, we were surrounded by the post-midnight revelers. b5 in particular was a hot spot, boasting a long line out the door. We continued past the line, past the last night crowd loitering on the sidewalks waiting to get into another bar, up to our hotel room where...we promptly stayed up for another few hours (or was that just me?) before the veil of lethargy came over us.
Posted by roboppy at 11:22 PM
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