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February 28, 2009

Lunch in Iceland

LissasLunch.jpgI didn't go into the office yesterday, so I didn't get Lissa's delicious description of lunch in Iceland until late. Here it is. EL

I had lunch today at the library in Akureyri, Iceland, 60 miles from the Arctic Circle.  Today's special was Svínapörusteik með kartöflum, rauðkáli, sultu og piparsósu, or pork roast, potatoes, red cabbage, jam and pepper gravy. Of course, it came with bread and butter. An extra 100 ISK (just under a buck) got me coffee.

The chef was very concerned that I understood what I was getting (there was no English menu) and that I understood I could get seconds on everything. He also came by my table to make sure I liked it. ...

I loved it. The pork roast had crispy edges, some fat and was moist. The boiled potatoes were up to spec (how much can one say about boiled potatoes?), as was the red cabbage. I think the jam was plum, which
just make the pork seem juicy and rich. He made the gravy as I watched, from the pan drippings. The bread was probably made that morning. I mopped up every drop of the gravy with my bread.

The library's cafe has floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides, overlooking the city center and on to the mountains across the fjord. There were computers where you could buy cheap Internet access, a rack
of Icelandic newspapers and a magazine rack with at least 50 different magazines in various languages.

So, after a delicious and filling meal, I happily read BBC History on the Zulu war while having the second cup of coffee the chef insisted I drink.

I would expect to pay 4,000 ISK for a big meal like this, without a view. Instead, it was 1,300 ISK (under $12), which is less than you'd pay for a slice of pizza here and less than I've paid for the canonical cheap Icelandic lunch of lamb soup with bread in touristy areas.
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:50 AM | | Comments (16)


Lissa, loved your report. I also loved this from the library website: While you're having a drink or something to eat, you can also read the latest newspapers and magazines. Amts-Café is therefore a nurturer for the body and mind. Isn't that what every library should aspire to be?

I went to Iceland a few years ago, and I was very impressed with the food. I found an emphasis on fresh ingredients that sometimes isn't found on island nations. There were no SPAM sightings, although close is the Icelandic hot dog topped with Durkee fried onions and a remoulade sauce.

Lissa, I've heard lately on the news that the Icelandic economy too is in the toilet. Are you finding it less expensive than your last trip? Also, (in general if anyone in any other country is reading also) how is the dollar against the local currency. I heard from a friend who has family in Italy the other day that the dollar is finally gaining - at least there.

The decline in the value of the dollar was not an accident. It was a stated goal of the Bush administration. The purpose was to pay back his pals in big business to make exports more profitable and imports more expensive. It's a form of poorly applied protectionism without tariffs. It's anti-competitive and therefore inefficient, in the classic Adam Smith way.

The problem was that while he did that he simultaneously engaged in foreign policy that caused the world to hate us and consequently American products. Anti-American sentiment caused a decline in demand for American goods, including travel to the U.S. for tourism. In the end the American people got screwed and big business didn't profit either.

Economics is half psychology. That's why orange roughy wouldn't be on the menu if it was called by its original name "slimefish".

See how I brought it back to the topic?

You know, it's just so hard to find good Svínapörusteik með kartöflum these days.

Dahlink, I agree. It is a very pleasant and busy looking library. I've been in a lot of library cafes in the US, and this one blows them all away.

RoCK, I had one of those hot dogs last night. I took a pic of it, too. I might go down for another tonight. They are so good!

Joyce, Iceland is in the middle of a depression (kreppa, in Icelandic, which is just a wonderful word). The reason I've been twice this year is it costs half what it did 1.5 years ago, roughly, to visit. So, this is the time to come here, and eat that wonderful, fresh, tasty food.

I wonder how many hot dogs I can eat between now and my flight tomorrow...

Trust Icelandic to have the perfect word for it: kreppa!

Dahlink, "kreppa" means "tightening" as in making a fist or tightening a belt. Which is great, but I just love the way it sounds to an English speaker.

That sounds delicious! Beat's most of the food I talk about in my blog. Did you bring any back for your readers? lol

If you are in Reykjavik, I HIGHLY recommend Apotek. I had the best meal of my life there. :-)

Thanks for the recommendation, Baltfoodie. I'm just passing through Reykjavik this trip, but I'll keep Apotek in mind.

Apotek. Sounds like it should be an upscale lunch counter at a pharmacy.

Apotek sounds more like one of the IT companies Steve Bisciotti owns.

Apotek was, indeed, located in a former pharmacy, the Reykjavíkurapótek. (I say "was" because it appears that Apotek has closed.)

Do the women in Iceland still all have the same short haircut and wear the same cool eyeglasses?


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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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