June 29, 2009

Iceland, Day 7: Last Bits of Iceland, Penguins, and Boiled Sheep's Head

HOLY CRAP, LAST POST ABOUT ICELAND. Only two months after I finished my vacation. Yeeeah. This post originally took place on April 24. Check out my other posts about Iceland if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

we so didn't eat everything
Bye...leftovers.

It was time to say goodbye to Iceland...starting with the leftovers in our fridge. Some of it was donated by Melkorka a few nights before, but the neglected bottle of orange juice was completely our doing. Oops.

MAYO!
MAYO!

We left behind or threw out everything except for this container of Gunnars mayonnaise. I felt that it was much too charmingly cute and quaint to be destined for the landfill. So now it's sitting on my shelf. Without the mayonnaise, of course. (It's the loveliest container of mayonnaise I've ever seen; if you ever find a nicer one I want you to show it to me, and then we can have a DUEL.)

the coffee shop across the street
Cafe...that I never bought anything from.

This was the cafe/coffee shop that we went to just about every day for Greg's morning cup of coffee, but I never got anything from there. I did, however, become well acquainted with its Bible-themed wares.

pretty
Cute mural.

GOD, WHAT IS UP WITH THESE AWESOME MURALS? One moment you're just dawdling about and then something like this shoots into your view. The poem reads:

Just look at how the mountains
so very mighty be
shart as razors at the top they span the land + sea
but don't forget that though majestic spires capped with snow
From each and every single grain of sand is where they grow

I'm quite fond of the fuzzy orange mound with stick legs and nobbly horns. Besides the shimmering mountaintop.

earl grey ice cream!
Ice cream.

We quickly stopped into Sandholt (previously visited on day 5) where I picked up a danish for the road and a scoop of their Earl Grey ice cream with little crunchy chocolate bits. The texture was very smooth, creamy, and not airy, although it tasted (deceptively) light. Overall, it was excellent—think of the sort of ice cream you might get at a upscale restaurant, but conveniently made at the same place that also churns out shelves of irresistible pastries.

And then, one of the best parts of our trip happened during out last moments in Reykjavik. Aside from seeing some of the First Day of Summer celebrations, we also came upon Dead Week, the period before high school students take their final exams for graduation. How do they celebrate?

right on, drunk penguin men!
Yeah, it happens.

By dressing up in costumes and taking to the streets while shouting the names of their favorite football players (among other things that we couldn't understand) and wielding cans of beer (keep in mind this was happening before noon). Most of the costumes we saw were Cookie Monsters and penguins, but there were some other ones dabbled in there. Not many others though; there were just a few main groups, which made us wonder where the hell they got all these costumes. Does the school provide them? How many costume suppliers are there in Iceland anyway?

It would've been fun to join in the festivities, but we had all left our full-body penguin suits at home. Oops. If you visit Reykjavik around the First Day of Summer, be sure to pack your own costume.

Which one doesn't belong?
Hai.

I got my photos with some rowdy penguin-men.

OH YEAAAH PENGUIN POWER
HUUUZZZAAH!

As did Diana. :)

mm, gonna get mah tax refund
Oo, refund!

We got our tax refunds at the tourist center in Reykjavik. It's all good as long as you put it in the right box at the airport (or you could just do it all at the airport, but we wanted to get it done ahead of time).

For lunch, we drove to the bus station to eat at their cafeteria, Fljótt og Gott, for the sole purpose of getting...

stylin' sheep
The hat makes him styling.

Sheep's head. But without the hat. Or the eyes. Or the grin. And not 2-D.

nomnom
Yeah, that makes more sense.

Ah...you see where this is going?

there it is
There it is.

Yup, that's more like it. For 1400 kroner (about $11) the bisected singed and boiled sheep's head ("svid" in Icelandic) comes with scoops of mashed potato and mashed turnip.

another view
Um...yeah.

Here's another photo featuring Greg. Because we love him.

bone
Nom nom.

While having a nice chat with one of the employees, he told us how to eat the head: you've got the cheek meat, and the tongue, and...the...um, yeah. There's not much between the skin and the bone. Anything aside from the cheek meat and tongue is just flavorless skin (it's not seasoned). Icelanders don't eat the brain, as far as I know. It only takes about a minute to eat the parts worth eating.

greg + sheep tongue
Haha, Greg, ur funny.

The best part was easily the tongue. Unfortunately, by this point I forget what it tasted like. Tender and meaty? Yeah! Duh. I also like beef tongue; there's nothing odd about it. But I hate duck tongue; it taste like the globby bits of chicken fat that make me gag, made even worse by a core of bone. So it's a hard, inedible chip covered in vomitous meat. Eff. That. Eddie Lin knows what I'm talking about.

The sheep's head wasn't bad. Nothing particularly great or offensive. It's just the way it's served that's atypical. Aforementioned employee told us that back when Iceland was dirt poor kids would repurpose the bones as toys. Those were some creative kids.

buffet area
Non-sheep.

There's plenty of other stuff to choose from if you don't want to stick your fork into a sheep's skull. Diana went for the buffet/salad bar-type thing, which also came with soup.

in the mirror
I see lots of eggs.

And there are cold salad things. (The photo was taken in a mirror. In case that looks confusing.)

Hagkaup
HAGKAUP!!

The last place we wanted to check out before going to the airport was Hagkaup, a hypermarket chain that's something like Target if Target were designed by Icelanders and and thus looked way cooler.

nice store
Nice.

Here's part of the food section, for example. So spacious and clean.

wall of skyr
Skyr!

And a wall of skyr. Beautiful skyr.

stuff
Moar!

And Icelandic chocolate treats.

candy
My teeth hurt.

And candy!

And a few random things I felt were worthy of taking a photo of...

hot dog sauce
I love this bottle.

Pylsusinnep, aka Icelandic hot dog mustard! How awesome is that running hot dog dude? I bought a bottle that I have yet to use. Maybe I'll get to break it out for the Independence Day weekend.

CRONIONS I LOVE YOU!!!
YESSSS

CRONIONS! I love these things for two reasons: They're delicious fried-to-a-crisp bits of onion, and they're called CRONIONS. This is what contributed to the awesomeness of Icelandic hot dogs. I brought a pack back home and sprinkled it on pretty much anything I cooked, which mostly entailed "rice" and "vegetables." It made everything taste 500% better—maybe even 550%. Thankfully, my local Whole Foods sells it (not under the name Cronions though; it's a Danish brand) so now I will NEVER BE WITHOUT MY CRONIONY GOODNESS.

pizza sauce..um
Pizza sauce, only to be used on pizza, or else.

Is it ketchup? I didn't try it.

ding pong
Heh.

DING. PONG. !

Pretty easy to tell what this building is for
Also heh.

On the way to the airport we passed the Gunnar's mayonnaise factory! Holy shizz! My excitement was so great that Greg whipped the car around into the factory's parking lot so I could get a closer look.

MAYO!!
Take II.

And there it is. I'd hang that in my room.

I was relieved when, after making a wrong turn into the residential area of Keflavik and refilling our gas tank, we finally got to Keflavik Airport. Mostly because I really had to pee.

So I did. And all was good with the world.

greg eats his last bit of skyr on icelandic soil
Greg noms.

Greg wasn't allowed to take his container of skyr past the security checkpoint, but he was allowed to eat it before leaving the checkpoint. Here he is enjoying his last taste of skyr on Icelandic soil.

at the airport
Plop.

Diana plopped our tax refund envelopes into the little tax refund box. This could be you!

Group photo going to the airplane
Me, Diana, and Greg.

While we were waiting on the jet bridge to board the plane, we realized, "SHIT WE DON'T HAVE A PHOTO OF THE THREE OF US." So we took this final self-portrait. Although we look happy, we're actually dying on the inside because we don't want to go home. Writhing. Pain. We mask it well.

YAY AIRPLANE FOOD ok.
Some sort of sandwich.

When I was subjected to buying a sandwich (BBQ pork with cheese) on the airplane, I really, really wished I had bough a sandwich from Hlölla Bátar. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you: pack a sandwich on your carry-on!

And that's the end of this hopefully educational / entertaining / Icelandic tourism-generating journey. We made it. It only took two freakin' months.

Posted by roboppy at 3:09 AM

Tags: Diana, Fljott og Gott, Greg, Hagkaup, Iceland, lamb, Reykjavik

Comments

Oh dear...

That sheep's head is going to haunt my dreams. I'm going to imagine it jumping over a fence while I fall asleep.

Baaaaaaaaaa!!!

Posted by: Marvo at June 29, 2009 6:31 AM [#]

Ahhhhh! Nooooooooo, I really loved your Iceland posts and now they're OVER!

Posted by: Su-Lin at June 29, 2009 6:36 AM [#]

God, all of these posed pictures just make me so, so happy.

Posted by: Olivia at June 29, 2009 6:58 AM [#]

Ha! That was me too! I had to finish my Skyr before the checkpoint. I hate to eat under pressure.

Oh...the lovely array of Skyr. Now there are like max 3 options in Whole Foods and soooo expensive!

Boo no more Icelandic post.

Posted by: kim at June 29, 2009 7:42 AM [#]

lol, those penguin men are awesome-cool.

I think I'd be a bit disappointed with so little meat on such a large chunk of skull.

I'd say it was coincidental that you should pass the mayo factory from your beloved packaging, but I guess Iceland is small-ish. Pretty cool nonetheless.

The Ding and the Pong look really pretty. I bet they taste of pretty too. And dammit, I want to try earl grey ice cream!

Posted by: SuperChomp at June 29, 2009 8:35 AM [#]

OMG the head! A little heads up (geddit?)would've been nice, Boppy.

The Ding and Pong made me giggle. Are those the sounds that they make when you eat them, what? Maybe there's a third kind that makes another sound... Like WHACK or ZOOM.

Posted by: Mikey at June 29, 2009 9:41 AM [#]

I still grimace when I see that photo of Greg with the sheep's tongue. :\

Other than that, I'm not that sensitive with bizarre cuisine!


Look at all those Skyr.


Lovely self portrait of us all departing... now that this is the last post I am just as sad inside now.

Posted by: eatyourheartout at June 29, 2009 10:10 AM [#]

Oh my god I think I just threw up in my mouth. Well, not that there aren't raw sheep's heads in Shanghai and Beijing wet markets. But they're not on a plate. And, well, that makes all the difference.

Posted by: Diana at June 29, 2009 12:41 PM [#]

now i want to eat mayonnaise and lots of it. wow, you get a refund? that is amazing.

Posted by: Jen S. at June 29, 2009 4:55 PM [#]

Oh man, wish I was there. I've been dreaming of a trip to Iceland for years now. It looks like a great time. Especially the sheep's head. Hope the brain was consumed... cuz' a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Posted by: Eddie Lin at June 29, 2009 9:44 PM [#]

Marvo: I like ruining other people's sleep because I don't get enough myself. SUFFERRR!!

Su-Lin: I loved em too! ;_; I hope whatever I write next is just as compelling..haha NAH IT WON'T BE AT ALL, crap.

Olivia: I would like to recreate Dead Week here. Just need lots of penguin costumes. And no open container law.

kim: I wonder how many people they stop from bringing skyr outside the country. Awww.

SuperChomp: It was definitely a...not very fun surprise to have a plate of mostly bone. But I guess we should've known!

When you've only god a handful of major roads in your country, you're bound to pass major attractions like MAYO FACTORY.

Mikey: Ahh I figured you guys could handle the head. Maybe. :)

I hope there are more onomatopoeic popsicles out there.

D: Noo, no sad, think of the... thee...um...nevermind, I've got nothing. Continue being sad.

Diana: I don't find the head on the plate much freakier than head not on a plate. But it is....less typical.

Jen: Yup, if you spend over a certain amount you can get tax back. I don't really mind pumping a little bit more money into their economy though!

Eddie: GO GO, do it now, while the dollar is still strong.. ;_;

Alas, I don't know what they did with the brains!

Posted by: roboppy at June 30, 2009 12:42 AM [#]

Oh my that was hilarious! I am loving this blog!

Posted by: kasha at June 30, 2009 1:24 PM [#]

Sheep's head, you ate! hmmmm....I'm not as adventurous but you go girl.

Posted by: reeseboston at June 30, 2009 10:18 PM [#]

Sheep's head at a bus station cafeteria! That's amazing. And it looks like the little sheepy had a tartar problem. He should have brushed more. ;)

Posted by: bionicgrrrl at July 1, 2009 1:00 AM [#]

kasha: Thanks for reading!

reeseboston: It's not too adventurous; you can do it! I BELIIEVE...in you.

bionicgrrrl: I agree, those pearly whites are sort of uhhhhhmmmuuh not.

Posted by: roboppy at July 1, 2009 9:11 AM [#]

Haha...cronions. Awesome. I like Ding and Pong there, too. Love that silly-cute Icelandic aesthetic.

It was super terrific to meet you (and Grace)! Hopefully when I'm in New York for reals we can have further adventures together.

Posted by: anna at July 1, 2009 4:28 PM [#]

I've really enjoyed all your Iceland posts! the sheep head was funny, though it's strange to actually see the head of what you're eating. Not strange enough to not eat, of course. And the mashed turnips and potatoes looks insanely perfect, almost like sorbet.

Posted by: Christina at July 3, 2009 5:21 PM [#]

anna: Yaay I look forward to the adventures!

Christina: I'm glad you liked these posts! I hope to have more interesting adventures soon..eeh...yeah whenever my next vacation is.

Posted by: roboppy at July 4, 2009 9:04 AM [#]

True, I'm gonna miss the Iceland posts too - I had a dream about the waterfalls in that post. The terrain just looked so surreal out there.

Posted by: jgirl at July 6, 2009 5:03 AM [#]

Oh Roboppy, you've been such a food inspiration to me on my recent trip to Iceland. A friend sent your blog my way when I planned a last minute trip to Iceland and it confirmed my food itinerary.

It looks like you had a DELICIOUS time!

Posted by: Janice at July 12, 2009 3:22 PM [#]

Oh man, I really enjoyed your Iceland posts. I was there for a short while last year and I pretty much lived off Skyr. I guess Iceland isn't such a foodie place (I think Bourdain pretty much covered that) but there was definitely some fun to be had!

Posted by: M. A. Salha at July 13, 2009 11:56 AM [#]

jgirl: I miss it too. It's surreal, but for some reason the awesomeness didn't really sink in until I was back in the hotel the night after all that waterfall-hopping. Just like "Whoa, I saw a lot of cool stuff today. ...zzzz." :)

Janice: Holy crap, I'm looking at your posts now: EPIC EATING! You did better than me! Hehe. I'm glad I could provide some inspiration though! I'll have to spend more time reading your blog...relive the magiiic...

M. A. Salha: Yeah, not a food destination, but one of those places that's worth visiting...even without food as a focal point. :D

Posted by: roboppy at July 14, 2009 12:59 AM [#]

I just really wanted to let you know there is a enourmous Gunnars mayonese container used as an advertise in Iceland. It's up west in Borgarfjörður.

Posted by: IcelandGirl at July 16, 2009 6:11 PM [#]

omg! my hagkaup! (it's near where i live and it has the best candy ever <3 ). but no, the pizza sauce tastes nothing like ketchup :) i also wanted to ask you (yes, i'm aware that it's been a long time since you wrote this, i just found this while looking for a picture of skyr), did you try the icelandic liquorice? because it tastes nothing like liquorice from other countries. :)

Posted by: Ásdís at January 31, 2010 9:23 PM [#]

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» 03/19/14: Taipei 2011, Day 5: Mussels, Fried Oysters, and Extreme Soft Serve in Danshui

» 03/09/14: Taipei 2011, Day 4: Keelung River Bikeway, TAS, Beef "Pie," and Din Tai Fung

» 02/14/14: Behold French Fry-Stuffed Fat Sandwiches From RU Hungry in New Brunswick, NJ

» 01/27/14: Taipei 2011, Day 3: Taipei 101 Food Court and Dim Sum Dinner

» 01/15/14: Hong Kong Recap: Favorite Bites, Sweets, People, Etc.

» 12/02/13: Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.

» 11/05/13: My Favorite Places to Bring Tourists on the Lower East Side

» 10/23/13: How I Made My BMO (Adventure Time) Costume

» 10/20/13: Taipei 2011, Day 1: Fried Crullers, Bear Head Doughnuts, Scallion Pancakes, Etc.

» 08/19/13: Indessert, My New Favorite Dessert Shop Serving Tong Sui in Chinatown

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umami
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Brooklyn Chowder Surfer
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Recurring Eating Companions

These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

Chichi
Colin
Diana
Eric
Greg
Kåre
Kathy
Melissa
Morten
Olivia
Tristan
Veronica