This was a (un)surprise treat for my birthday from my wife for which I am truly grateful. Since I hate surprises, I had a big hole in the itinerary for this trip and I wanted to have a framework for our trip. She ended up telling me what it was this was it. Both the city walking tour and the Golden Circle Tour. I will focus on the food experience since the stops on the Golden Circle have been reviewed a lot.
The Golden Circle Gourmet Tour traces the classic route that Iceland is famous for but in a private vehicle and tour guide setting. We had Ymir for both tours and we can’t be more happy with his upbeat attitude and knowledge of this country. A great ambassador. He will feed you right from the start and to the end. All foods are local and of course organic and fresh. If we can sum up Icelandic food, we can say that it’s pure and honest. The French can take an ingredient and turn it into something special. Here in Iceland, we can say that the ingredients do the talking and they have standards and laws that North America doesn’t have so it’s hard not to be wary of what is sold/consumed here. And Amir takes advantage of that. He served a breakfast that consisted of raw vegetables, smoked fish, bread, sweet pastries and an amazing avocado “butter” that went very well with everything, except for the pastry of course. Then it was a picnic of various appetizers along with a sparkling wine and seasonal rhubarb reduction to mix into it mimosa style. Then onto the tomato farm where we must have had everything on the menu. Too bad we couldn’t finish it all because we had a lot more eating to do. The olive bread it amazing and the story of how they can grow produce with an unforgiving climate is well worth the visit. Then comes the visit to the dairy farm where we had beef carpaccio, skyr and the huge burger, fries and bacon. You can tell it is not like anything in North America. The beef is a bit dry, but it’s free of fillers and the meat is lean. All you get is the beef taste. The bacon is not fatty, and the potatoes for the fries are sweet and have a texture and taste of a potato. Once again, honest ingredients at play here as usual. The weather wasn’t too great, but we were able to get everything in before the rain hit. All in all a great spin to the classic Golden Circle Tour. And yes, you do not have to make any dinner plans when this tour concludes.
A few days later we had the City Walking Gourmet Tour with Ymir. This is a 3hr light walking tour with eating along the way. We stopped at a number of places tasting various products from areas that are touristy and some that aren’t. Places from a cheese shop/restaurant that serves one of the best lamb we have tasted, to the world famous hot dog stand that Bill Clinton visited, nothing is left out here and you are full after this is done too.
Ymir is probably the most enthusiastic person I have ever met and he is passionate about food and his country. He knows a lot of people and is very connected not only to the culinary scene, but political and economic scene in Iceland. You will get not only an insight into Icelandic food, but pretty much anything that goes on in Iceland, he knows. And for that Ymir, Vicky and I will raise a glass and say “skal!” to you. Thank you for a wonderful 2 tours. This is highly recommended by us. Takk!