Angela: Finals week(s), graduation, ensuing horrible illness from trauma of finals and graduation, job searches, Los Angeles, camping, insane freelancing, Iceland, Sweden--
Hopefully, you'll forgive us for our temporary neglect of this blog. Though we've not been too busy to eat--I hope that never happens!--we have been to busy to write about it. But now I'm at home, contemplating a blissfully empty afternoon, and can finally sit down and digest (ha-ha) what's transpired over the past couple months, at least gastronomically.
Late May through mid-June found me in Iceland, an austere and humorless country (the landscape, not the people, especially after a couple drinks) whose food generally follows suit. On most dinner tables you'll find: lamb, fish, canned peas, lamb, fish, and canned peas.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is a city of only 120,000 people. For a city so small in a country so small (only 340,000 live on the entire island), it has a remarkably developed coffee culture. Good coffee is everywhere, mostly in the form of espresso-based drinks, though one especially great coffee shop, Kaffismiðja Íslands, felt a lot like home--one of my travel companions mentioned it reminds her a lot of Portland.
They had drip in the form of V60, aeropress, and espresso from a La Marzocco machine.
...as well as plenty of Barista Cups on display. Kaffismiðja Íslands was definitely my favorite thing about Reykjavik. The interior was cozy and mismatched and, yes, very Portland; the pastries, especially the croissants and the scones (served with cheese, jam and butter) were addictive; and the coffee was always good, in any preparation. I'll definitely miss this place.
What I found to be the most interesting thing about food culture in Iceland is the almost complete lack of grocery stores.
All Icelanders have, for the most part, are Bonus and 10-11. Bonus is sort of like a grocery store, except all the produce is kept in a refrigerator the size of a walk-in closet; everything else is packaged nonsense, although since most of Europe isn't owned by the corn lobby, there's very, very little corn syrup to be found in anything.
10-11 is a convenience store with frozen bagels, what looked to be month old blueberries, and the ubiquitous Skyr.
Skyr is yogurt made from nonfat milk. It has the consistency of greek yogurt, but since it's nonfat, it's essentially flavorless on its own, hence the need for added flavors such as strawberry (we here at Consider the Dinner have issues with flavored yogurt as well as nonfat anything). Despite its problematic structure, Skyr was my life support while in Reykjavik as its blueberry, melon, and lemon flavors stood in for my daily fruit intake.
Reykjavik was disappointing, from a food standpoint especially, but the rest of Iceland wasn't. Part two of my Nordic saga will discuss eating atop 700,000 year old glaciers, among other things.