Posts Tagged ‘iceland’

Fish Market Cookbook

Monday, September 26th, 2016 | Books, Food

fish-market-cookbook

In June we travelled to Iceland for our honeymoon, and were very impressed with a Reykjavik restaurant known as The Fish Market. So impressed in fact, that we shelled out for the cookbook while we were there.

The production values are high quality. Once you get past the menacing photo of head chef Hrefna Rósa Sætran wielding a knife on the cover, you find a hardback book, just under A4 size with a full colour photo of every dish. This is everything I want in a cookbook.

The recipes themselves are a bit more challenging however. I struggled to follow a lot of them. Perhaps they make more sense to a trained cook, but I could have done with many of the blanks filling in. The photography of the dishes is quite artistic and therefore, even though you have a photo, it is not always clear what you are aiming for.

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I don’t think it is what the salted cod hotpot should look like

I haven’t written about much from the book, but here is the breaded pork tenderloin I made.

The language can also be a bit confusing. It is written in American English, rather than proper English. I was struggling to find shrimp chips, until I realised they were prawn crackers. A few times I wondered whether the translation had become a bit muddled. Some of it appears to be in need of a proofread too. The hot chocolate cake recipe for example: it says “melt the chocolate and water in a double boiler.” There is no water in the recipe, but there is some butter that is never mentioned. The word was almost certainly supposed to be butter.

This resulted in a lot of the recipes being duds for me. I simply couldn’t re-create them, and even when I could, they did not even resemble the picture most of the time.

Then there was the search for ingredients. Leeds has twice the population of Iceland, and four times the population of Reykjavik. Why can’t I find these ingredients? We did venture in to the Thai supermarket and international supermarket, with some success, but there is still much on my list that I have not been able to locate. Not that that is the book’s fault of course.

cheesecake
The cheesecake made an appearance at my Gran’s birthday party (left), my Grandma’s wake (right), a dinner party and one just for Elina and I.

When the recipes did work though, they were delicious. The pomelo and papaya salad with sweet cashews have quickly become a go-to salad for parties, and the white chocolate cheesecake is so easy and so delicious that we have had a continually rolling batch of them on the go for about a month now.

It might not be the most practical cookbook ever. However, it has produced a few tasty recipes and is a lovely way to remember our trip.

Tropical paradise

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 | Travel

Given that I am from The North and Elina is from Finland, we are not hot weather people. Twenty degrees is fine. Twenty-five is roasting. This is the reason that when are looking for holiday destinations, we usually head north.

But it doesn’t work. Everywhere we got turns into a tropical paradise.

This is a photo I took on the Summer Isles…

summer-isles

They’re a small series of islands in Wester Ross, Scottish Highlands. On the west coast. The place where it rains every day. This was in September. It was exhausting climbing to the top of the hill because it was so warm.

Then here is us in Finland. The country where it regularly goes to minus twenty degrees celsius in the winter…

finland-beach

This is just after we had been swimming in the sea. The baltic sea. The one that spends half the year frozen. The day after we went swimming in a few lakes and that was even warmer. We went lake-swimming on our last trip too.

Finally, here is us in Iceland…

iceland

Iceland. The country of ice. The clue is in the name! On the right, we’re at the pool in our hotel. It was too warm to sit in for long, so we sat on the decking, that even in the shade was warm enough to sit outside. On the left, the blue lagoon, from which I came home from sunburnt.

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Every time we pick a colder and colder country to visit, and every time it ends up being super warm. How does this keep happening?

Iceland

Sunday, July 10th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

I have written a lot of posts about Iceland over the past month. In this final post, I wanted to discuss our trip in general and share some of the photos I have not had chance to yet.

initial-weather

When we first arrived, the weather was very British. The area around the airport is not very interesting. Therefore it seems odd that the airport is 45 minutes away from Reykjavik, and why the car rental station is a mile away from the airport. As soon as we put some distance between outselves and Keflavik, the weather improved, as did the view.

Þingvallavatn

When we arrived we drove to our first hotel, Ion Hotel, located near lake Þingvallavatn, at the bottom of Þingvellir national park. We drove round the lake to get to Gullfoss and Geysir. Click the photo for a larger version.

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After we checked out of Ion we headed north to Þingvellir.

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Þingvellir

We stopped off at the Þingvellir visitor’s centre to take a look at the location of the historical Icelandic parliament.

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After Þingvellir we drove north on what Iceland calls a road, but what anyone else would call a gravel track. They are not big on health and safety: we often found ourselves on step hills and twisty rosds with large drops just a foot off the track, with no safety barrier in sight.

mountain-road

This left the care filthy, which I was quite proud of. At the end of our stay, people were returning clean 4x4s. What’s the point? When we took our car back, they had to wash it before they could inspect it to see if there was any damage.

Snæfellsnes

We drove to the Snæfellsnes peninsula where we stayed at Hótel Búðir. I have covered this in those posts, but I love this photo of the petrol station in Borgarnes. Certainly beats the view ay my local station.

petrol-station

Reykjavik

To finish the trip, we drove to Reykjavik to spend a few days there. We went whale watching, visited the penis museum, Blue Lagoon and had a general wander round. We ate at a lot of fine restaurants too, as well as the Chuck Norris Grill.

Conclusion

Iceland is a cool place. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. It’s very Nordic; you could describe it as the Scottish Highlands on a much bigger scale.

The weather is good. There is a saying in Iceland, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. I’m British, so this is lost on me. Their weather can be unpredictable, but in the week we were there, it was nothing compared to ours. It was fairly consistant while we were there, and very warm away from Reykjavik.

It is expensive. My god it is expensive. We were on our honeymoon, so we were not doing things on the cheap. This perhaps adds some bias to our spending. However, I found it significantly more expensive than Finland, which is not a cheap place either.

Whale watching

Saturday, July 9th, 2016 | Travel

whale-tail

While in Reykjavik we went whale watching. There are a number of companies doing the tours: Elding and Special Tours do big-boats while another company offers inflatable rib boats. The latter allows you to get closer, but you don’t get the luxury of a nice big boat you can go inside, and it is twice the price.

We went dolphin watching while in the Highlands and that was amazing as the dolphins come and swim alongside the boat, jumping out of the water.

whale-watching

Whales are not like that. They come up to take a few breaths and then go for a dive. You see a fin maybe as they sit below the surface and then the tail as they dive down, but that is about it. Generally, this is from quite a distance. You see a whale of course, which is cool, but you don’t physically see much.

The photos are taken with my 200mm lens and were clearer than you could see with the eye.

whale-watching-boat

When you get on the boat, they offer you a seat of warm overalls to put on. I would recommend taking them up on this. Elina and I came prepared: Finnish woolly socks, fleeces and my new extra-warm coat and it was still a bit chilly.

Overall, I think I was disappointed with the whale watching. I think it was around £50 each, so that’s £100 for the two of us, and you just don’t see much. You could get closer by taking the rib boat, but then that is around £200 for a couple.

Icelandic coastguard

Friday, July 8th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

icelandic-coastguard

I do not advice messing with the Icelandic coastguard. They have battle ships.

Icelandic daylight

Friday, July 8th, 2016 | Travel

On my previous trips to Finland I discovered just how much daylight there is when you go north. However, there was always some kind of a night in Finland.

For example, here is a photo I took shortly before midnight while visiting in mid-July:

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It is not exactly a proper night, but it has got darker. There is something you could genuinely refer to as night there. Iceland is not like that. Even by the start of June, anything you would describe as night has disappeared.

It is difficult to represent exactly what it looks like because you are always interpreting the scene through the exposure setting. However, I took a few photos from my hotel window shortly after midnight.

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I purposely have not done any editing on these images. There is a clear difference between the first two and the last one, depending on what I told my camera to set the exposure by, but none of them really class as anything other than daylight.

This was from my bathroom window, a room which you could easily use without switching a light on. Equally, while you have to have your lights on at all time while driving in Iceland, it was enough light to do without them.

Icelandic Phallological Museum

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 | Travel

penis-museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, better known as the penis museum, houses the world’s largest collection of animal penises. The collection has been going since 1974 when it was founded by Sigurður Hjartarson. It now has 282 specimens from 93 different species.

A lot of the species come from around the Iceland area, and whale penises are featured heavily. They are huge.

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Elina standing next to the penis of a sperm whale.

There are many other animals also, and even some folklore penises: such as troll penis and elf penis. The museum now has several human penises too, after several people offered to donate theirs after their death.

The museum is based in one room, with some side compartments, so will not take you long to get round. It is worth the visit just for the novelty of it. They do some nice merchandise too.

Hallgrímskirkja church

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

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Hallgrímskirkja church is a Lutherin church that forms the focal point of Reykjavik. It is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and situated on the top of a hill, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

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Icelandic humour

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

Icelanders seem to have a good sense of humour. Take this t-short for example…

eyjafjallajokull-tshirt

What part of Eyjafjallajökull do you not understand? Or how about this one…

fat-people-tshirt

Bars offer free wifi and Islandic beer…

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How could you possibly be confused by that? Said bars are clear about what they think of intolerance…

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And they like to paint their bathrooms like red-light districts…

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A perfect backdrop for a honeymoon.

Snæfellsnes peninsula

Monday, July 4th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

While staying at Hótel Búðir on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we spend some time exploring the area, including driving down to Hellnar for a closer look at the Snæfellsjökull glacier.

There are quite a few of them, so if you’re not on the post page itself, you will need to click through to that to see them all. Alternatively, if you can see more than one below, you are already on that page. Click any photo to get a larger version.

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