Visiting Your Friend In Reykjavik
Before the world was turned upside down due to covid, Rick Steves was in Iceland. He’s a very interesting world traveller who joined our Reykjavik Food Tour. You might know him. He’s a popular television host, guidebook author, and organizer of tours bringing people from the US to Europe, Rick Steves of Rick Steves’ Europe. And he joined me, Valur from Your Friend in Reykjavik, for a 3 hours food walk where I gave him an introduction to Icelandic history one delicious bite at a time.
I quickly realized I was walking with a true celebrity. American visitors frequently stopped us who wanted to say hi and have a photo with Rick during our walk. Well, he’s pretty nice, so I understand why people want to catch him on the street. It was surprising how many knew who he was here in the centre of Reykjavik, Iceland.
It’s also a bit funny and strange afterwards that I simply forgot to get a photo of us together. We were so immersed in talking about Iceland, travel & life, and enjoying our food. Rick, if you ever see this! Next time you are in Iceland, we need a photo of us together!
Our walking food tour started at the usual meeting spot of Your Friend In Reykjavik at Ingólfur Square (Ingólfstorg). It’s a great starting point as the two stone pillars artwork on the square signifies how Reykjavik was settled and the whole of Iceland soon after.
The consistently excellent Sweet pig
Our first foodie stop was at the excellent gastropub Sæta Svínið. We started with a small appetizer of a smoked Atlantic puffin, just to get to know each other. He tasted puffin for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted. Some of our guests say it’s like smoked salty duck or goose.
The national dish of Iceland!
The second stop was at one of the oldest restaurants in town, Hressingarskálinn, where they serve one of the traditional dishes of Iceland, a big heartwarming bowl of Icelandic lamb soup. Like almost everyone who ever tries this soup, Rick loved it! Chicken soup for the soul? No, not here. Lamb soup is made with broth and root vegetables; that’s what keeps us warm and happy through the darkness of winter and even the constant daylight in summer.
If something is the national dish of Iceland, it’s Íslensk kjötsúpa or Icelandic lamb soup.
The best fast food in Iceland
All our food tours in Reykjavik include a stop at the famous downtown hot dog stand of Bæjarins Bestu pylsur. We would really be letting you down if we didn’t stop here. This is where anyone with a claim to fame visits the stand for an Icelandic style hot dog, The fast-food institution of Icelander, for over 80 years.
Afterwards, you can proudly claim that you had the same hot dog as Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, and the rockband Metallica had when they visited Iceland ;). Rick Steves had a hot dog with everything on it, and it went down quickly, so we assume he loved it as much as we do.
The wonderful Seabaron
Down we headed towards the old harbour of Reykjavik, passing by the Reykjavik Flea Market, admiring the scenery towards the Esja mountain range.
We find ourselves by the blue old fisherman huts by the seafront just a few minutes away. These houses used to house the gear and nets of the small boat fishermen but have now been turned into restaurants, coffee shops, and more. We sit down in the brilliant and old fashioned Sægreifinn, where the “owner” Kjartan still sits in his corner.
We have the traditional triple combo of lobster soup (in reality, the delicious Icelandic Langoustine), a Minke Whale steak, and finally, for those who dare, fermented shark.
The soup has been called “The world’s greatest lobster soup.” I agree it’s right up there, where the Langoustine melts in your mouth with its rich flavour. Next up was the Minke whale steak, which tastes like a cross between beef and tuna. Finally, we tried out the notorious fermented shark, which tastes like old cheese with a hint of ammonia. Have you tried it?
Rick enjoyed it all, even the rotten shark. I guess being a world traveller like he is, he is open to trying and liking the food of other cultures.
Some Icelandic dishes are purely based on survival, and the fermented shark is a perfect example of that.
Fresh fish, a Skyr dessert and Icelandic beer
We continued our food journey, and next on the menu was a fresh-caught fish at Geysir Bistro, the excellent Cod in a light batter with fresh potatoes.
Lastly, we ended where we started and had a delicious dessert made out of Skyr, the unique Icelandic dairy product.
It was a great foodie walk around the centre of Reykjavik with my new friend Rick Steves. After great fun and good conversation, it ended with an Icelandic drink in hand, a craft beer called Einstök White Ale.
We can recommend the Rick Steves guidebook about Iceland. It’s full of good advice on how to travel around our beautiful country and tips about tours and activities like our Reykjavik Walking Tours or, even better, the Reykjavik Food Tours.