comment 0

Weeknight Hash

This hash recipe could not be any easier, though a little time spent chopping up the ingredients is required. For weeks now, I’ve been reveling on my re-discovery of what makes eating veggies easier on the palate – cutting it into bite size pieces. Yes, the kid in me demands it and actually enjoys it. Dicing not only makes these vegetables easier to eat, but it also cuts on the cooking time. On weeknights where I challenge myself to prepare something quick, healthy and delicious – this is my go to. 

A couple of things to remember when cooking the veggies: order matters. Always start with the onions to caramelize and create a base to flavor this dish. Next comes the things that require longer cooking, such as the potatoes. The last thing I add to the pan is always the veggie that cooks the fastest: asparagus.

 

Sweet Potato Asparagus Hash
1 tbsp oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped small
1/2 lb sweet potato, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Serve with:
-any cooked meats such as bacon or leftover chicken or beef
-fried egg
-spring onions

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and fry until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes don’t move them for a couple minutes. Season them well with salt and pepper. Once they’ve gotten a little brown, begin flip and turn them and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  then letting them cook again for a few minutes.

When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the asparagus and any cooked meats you like. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the asparagus is cooked to your liking. Taste the potatoes and asparagus in case you need to season.

comments 2

Into the Blue Lagoon

Yes, it is extremely touristy. Yes, it is packed. And yes, it can get pricey. But you must and I repeat – YOU MUST check out the Blue Lagoon. It is the image synonymous to Iceland as seen in your Facebook feed. Skipping this place is like going to LA for the first time and not checking out Disneyland. So don’t be too cool and let yourself fantasize of floating on warm waters, face mask on with a drink in hand.

32870107554_6b7b4f3c47_b

Booking and Logistics

Their website does a great job of covering information on prices, how to get there, activities and what to expect. Booking in advance is required – I would suggest making sure to complete this as soon as you book your flights to Iceland.

In-Water Massage

We had added a 30 mins massage during our visit. They have a strict policy on being on time. One of my friends completely missed her appointment while the others only got a 15 mins massage because they got late:

  • There was a long queue to check-in.
  • It took time to find an available locker to store your things.
  • Once we’ve changed and showered, we got lost looking for the massage area.

My suggestion is to give yourself at least 30-45 mins to get situated. 31462818476_77d37e4d85_c

Was the massage worth it? I’m 50/50 on it. On one hand, it was nice to get a little extra pampering after a long flight to the island. On the other, I didn’t think the massage was strong enough. Maybe because I’m used to the Chinese foot massages I get in Cali. Or maybe I was too wired from the stress of the lost baggage when we got in. Either way, I wouldn’t be opposed to another repeat 🙂

Lagoon Hair

Everyone’s hair is very different. There are those whose scalp can withstand the water’s mineral content and there are those who have to suffer through a few days before their hair goes back to normal. Let this not discourage you. Kiersten from the Blonde Abroad has a great article on how to prevent and treat your hair after swimming. My hair was a little brittle after, but I had packed a deep conditioner as suggested to treat my hair after.

31500367075_38fb08be7e_c

Waterproof your phone

Half the fun of swimming in the lagoon are those awesome photos. The resort sells the Joto waterproof cases at the bar – they go for about $10 but I would suggest ordering them on Amazon instead for a better price. You will use this on multiple occasions on this trip alone. Waterproofing is of the outmost importance in Iceland as I outlined on a previous article for packing essentials for this trip.

61pt4gaht2l-_sl1324_

Joto courtesy of Amazon

You just can’t miss recording the fun times with your crazy friends.

 

Blue Lagoon Cafe

After swimming around for a couple of hours, you are bound to get hungry. The resort has a cafe that serves light snacks as well as a full restaurant. Be ready to pay a pretty penny. I can’t say the food was worth the $$. So if you can, try to get some to bring with you before heading here.

31354009082_b653246f88_c

Had too much fun with the friends to let a few inconveniences tar the experience. A soak in the lagoon truly is a unique experience that you simply cannot miss.

bluelagoon

31353998502_bc79cf191f_c

comment 0

Losing your baggage in Iceland

You’ve finally landed. As you saunter past immigration, you Instagram that cool stamp on your passport – baby, you’ve arrived in Iceland! All you have to do is pick up your bags and you are on your way to explore this magical place.

Thirty minutes later, you find yourself standing standing there watching the conveyor belt slowly move. That gut wrenching feeling over weeks of research and $$ looms over you. You pray to the travel gods – let this not be you. This is how I imagined my friend was feeling at the time this happened.

31008431516_bab9829e79_b

The look of hopefulness and landing @ 4am

Unfortunately, this is quite the possibility in Iceland. It is one of the worst places to lose your stuff. Though this did not happen to me, I feel duty bound to write about this experience to help others prepare for such calamity. Plus I think it’s a good exercise to think about this now in case this does happen to me in the future.

Please note this will not apply to you if you have:

  • No budgetary limits
  • Excessive amount of time planned to explore the island

The Service Counter

This is a necessary evil in order to begin the proceedings of reporting your lost luggage and you must do it immediately. They are located on the far right corner of the baggage claims area opposite of the Duty Free store. You’ll notice that the counter will be surrounded by a line of forlorn bags. Proceed with caution.

I like to chalk it up to language barrier because their tone can be quite cold – let that not stop you. Calmly state your inquiry. Any hints of panic or hysteria in your voice will not earn you any sympathy – I think it’s a tough love thing. This is why these Icelandic people are so strong and resilient. This is no place for coddling as expected of American customer service.

You will need to fill a form which requires you to outline your whereabouts. This is needed so that when they locate your baggage, you have the option of having it delivered to you. It will likely take them about 2 – 4 days to locate the luggage. They offer delivery to your location depending on where you are on the island.

Make sure you secure a copy of all forms you filled out and get a receipt which indicates the date you reported the lost luggage. This will be important later when you fie a claim. Also, get the telephone number for their lost baggage claim office. You will need to contact them to follow up on the status of your lost luggage. They will tell you that you need to contact your airlines, but I would insist on getting this information from them as well.

The Baggage Service

This is another spot in the airport that might be worth going to. Everyone we spoke to called it “Lost and Found”. There will not be any signs for this place. Instead, look to your right after exiting baggage claims. It is located next to the snack store. The guys in the snack store do not speak English well. You will subject yourself to several minutes of head shaking and gibberish pointing if you inquire about a nonexistent lost and found – please be considerate and skip this step because you’ll be holding up the line for customers waiting to pay.

The Baggage Service Area is basically a wall with a tiny window as indicated by the feature photo of this post. There is a monitor next to the window with a title of “Baggage Service”. The window will always be closed, do not let that trick you into thinking nobody is there to help. You must persevere. If the infamous note is still there, it is definitely worth a read.

30588837440_0b4d147d7a_b

In the midst of our hunger and panic, we completely missed this place. It may have helped locate the luggage or maybe not. We only found out about this when we came back to later pick up the lost luggage. Though I haven’t found much information online, I still think it’s worth the effort to try.

The Rule of 3’s

This is assuming you did not check-in your jacket and walking/athletic/hiking shoes + toiletries such as shampoo and soap is provided in the places you plan to stay. This is what I would have acquired if I had been the one who lost my luggage and had to get by for a 10 day trip. A lot of people would opted for less, but this is my minimum requirement to at least be comfortable:

  • 3 shirts
  • 3 undies
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • hair brush
  • deodorant
  • laundry detergent (pref powder)
  • contact solution (if applicable)

Pants always go a long way, though I would always air it out after every use. For shirts, undies and socks, I use the Rule of 3’s. This is something I learned while shopping for socks from a salesman in Sports Basement:

Day 1 – wear sock #1 then wash

Day 2 – wear sock #2 then wash, sock #1 is still drying

Day 3 – wear sock #3 then wash, sock #2 is still drying, sock #1 will be dry by day 4

Shopping

Things to keep in mind when shopping in Iceland:

  • It will be expensive and you will not have the luxury of having many choices – so stick to the basics.
  • There are 2 major shopping centers in Iceland which are both located in Reykjavik: Smáralind and Kringlan.  Outside of Reykavik, your option dwindles down to the shops in Akureyri – this is on the other side of the island.
  • Please note that stores in Iceland close early.
  • Keep a receipt of everything you purchased.

Day 1 took us to Kringlan, which we didn’t find much. Though this is closest to the city center, I would suggest skipping it and heading straight to Smáralind.

Smáralind had nicer and more recognizable stores to us such as Zaras, Levis, Body Shop, etc. To get your basics such as underwear and socks, the best place is Debenhams in terms of price, selection and size variety. Smáralind also conveniently has a grocery store, Hagkaup to stock up on toiletries.

30930048011_d2ddb121d5_b

Running to the entrance, hyped up on a lot of coffee.

During our trip to Smáralind, we found ourselves in the middle of men’s night. All the stores offered canapes and wine. While outside the stores an assortment of vendors had tables set up for free  liquor, wine, beer, chips, soda, cheese, haircut and shaving. We had a great time table munching and hopping from one vendor to the other.

 

31008498746_97b8560d97_b

Their 5th round through the freebies.

31428358595_1d9c5d6d00_b


Shots with the Johnnie Walker guy

 

Swimsuits

Experiencing Iceland would not be complete unless you take a dip in the geothermal pools. With that in mind, places such as the Blue Lagoon conveniently offers rentals ranging from $10-$20. If you are willing to shell out the money for a swimsuit, make sure to take care of this in  Smáralind. I did not see much swimsuits being sold in shops in Iceland.

Laundry

If your hotel/AirBnB/hostel do not offer this, there’s only one place in Reykjavik that is available: the Laundromat Cafe. Kerri from Travel Junkies wrote a great post about their time hanging out at this place.

I would suggest getting some laundry soap in Reyk to take along with you on the road to freshen up your clothes.

Recovering your expenses

Sadly, most airlines do not offer sufficient compensation for your expenses. This was exactly the case for Wow airlines. I think my friend got little to nothing back from Wow airlines. A lot of airlines impose time restrictions for submitting claims. Make sure to do this as soon as possible.

30588837270_95ae531f30_b

Reunited at last

Countermeasures

Losing your luggage is unavoidable, the best that you can do is anticipate and take steps to mitigate its impact so that you can continue and still enjoy your trip. These are lessons I learned from this trip that I’ve since applied to all my trips:

  • I book all my trips on my travel credit card – Chase. It has a comprehensive coverage on unforeseen travel events such as trip cancellations, interruptions and lost luggage. Take the time to inquire with your cc’s to see if this is a benefit that you can take advantage of.
  • Note down the airline and arrival airport’s contact information for lost luggage. You will need this information to track you luggage.
  • Carry-on my luggage as much as possible – this means packing light. If I must check-in, my carry-on always includes:
    • Clothes, jackets and shoes which will be required for the trip + expensive/hard to replace.
    • An extra set of undies and shirt that will get me through Day 1.
    • A small set of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, deodorant and contacts solution).

We were lucky to have been able to pool our resources together to help supplement our friend. I have to give her a lot of credit for maintaining her enthusiasm throughout the trip while going through this. Remember that these things happen. You will find a way to get through the days without the things you think you need.

 

comment 0

Packing for Iceland

Coming from sunny California, packing for Iceland took a lot of effort. I grew up on the tropical islands > the first time I saw snow was barely 7 years ago. I have no winter gear and no clue on what the differences are. If you’re like me, these items are usually borrowed and never thought of again. There are many sites that will provide you with a comprehensive list. So rather than writing another list, I think it would be most helpful to share things to consider when packing and highlight the items that was most useful to me and unique for this type of travel.

Pack Light

How much more you need to pack will depend on the time of the year you are traveling. We were in Iceland on the last 2 weeks of September, so fairly mild weather according to the locals (50 F at highest and 20-30s F at the lowest). You’ll hear from many that the weather is pretty unpredictable – which is true. Please resist the temptation to over pack and challenge yourself.

30106860833_39ff5c20d6_k

Sending me off – very excited to stay at his grandma’s.

Though we rented an SUV, I wanted to keep in mind that the trunk space will not be enough for four girls. So I kept my packing to a minimum:

  • 22 inch rolling luggage – for all my clothes, toiletries & shoes
  • 18 inch backpack – for my camera gear and day hikes
  • zipped shopping bag – holds my jacket, food for the flight & souvenirs

Don’t just pack for the weight you are allowed in flight > you must also keep in mind the space it takes up. Below you’ll see a picture of the trunk. In the passenger seats were backpacks & purses. During this trip a friend of ours lost her luggage. I would not wish this terrible experience on anyone > but this was a big lesson. I cannot imagine how we could have fit all of our stuff + still be comfortable in the car – I would have killed for sure!

ourcarpacked

Pack light or bring less people lol!

Check the weather

There are some of us who have a very low tolerance of the cold, so having an idea prior to your trip will help you better prepare to make yourself comfortable. Information is readily available to you so do not make this rookie mistake and leave things to chance.

AccuWeather: I love their extended forecast. Typically, I start following the weather 4 weeks from the trip. I know it’s a little  long, but I figured it gives me enough time in case there’s gear that I need to purchase which will require some time to look for. Also, note the sunrise and sunset times for the best lighting for your pics!

Weather Underground: I like to check out the weather history from the year before to confirm the forecast for this year. I’m a nerd about these things LOL!

Waterproof Gear

There’s one universal truth when going to Iceland – you need waterproof stuff. Water is most certainly in the cards anywhere you go – rain, waterfall, pools, lakes, streams, etc.

Jacket – This is a given, it’s just a matter of how warm of a jacket you need to bring. So I will not spend much time on this. Instead, I urge you to invest on getting something waterproof. Umbrellas are no match to the winds and you want to have your hands free when you’re hiking through rocky areas. For this trip, I brought an insulated jacket and supplemented this with a hooded outer layer to protect me from the rain and wind. Both items not only delivered as advertised – I also loved that it was super lightweight and compact.

30106860653_9665e2c101_k

A true testament to the prowess of The North Face.

Hiking shoes – I contemplated not bringing hiking shoes because I’ve always been able to get away with tennis shoes + after buying the jackets, I did not want to make another big purchase. Luckily, I was able to borrow a pair from a colleague. There was not a day I didn’t wear these shoes! They were bulky, yes. But it kept me stable when hiking through rough terrains and my feet were always warm and dry.

30106860623_4de6032383_k

My giant feet LOL!

Gloves – Its no fun trying to take pictures when you can barely feel your fingers. I had light running gloves which allowed me to work the touchscreen of the phone and got some mittens to supplement. While this was ok for the most part, it was not a good solution when it rained. Once your gloves gets soaked, the cold is unbearable. At night, it gets even worst. This is definitely something I’ll be on the lookout for the next trip.

Camera cover – JOTO cellphone bag pouch is the best $7 purchase I’ve made so far. This is a must for your phone if you are going to the Blue Lagoon. You don’t want to miss out on capturing this awesome place. I also bought Altura Rain Cover for my DSLR. For this cover, make sure to practice taking shots as it takes some getting used to.

30625621522_8a8b094091_k

As an alternate, jerry-rig a cover out of a zip lock bag.

Swimming

Don’t be surprised to happen upon a geothermal heated pool. There’s nothing like reveling in the warmth of the water and laughing away all your stresses. Don’t rob yourself of this experience by forgetting your swimsuit. Also, invest in a antibacterial travel towel to bring along with you. They are simply the best – fast absorbing and dries quickly.

Merino Wool Sweaters

Every fall and winter season, I’m always on a lookout for sales on merino wool sweaters. They are pricey little things but they are pretty reasonable from Uniqlo or on sale at Banana Republic. I highly recommend them for traveling in cold places because they are:

  1. Super soft and comfy like cotton
  2. Not itchy like regular wool
  3. Fast drying from washing
  4. Great insulator
  5. Compact
  6. Stylish

I read somewhere that they never accumulate body odor > there hasn’t been any situation to test this theory. They do take a little bit of TLC but are great investment for your travel and your wardrobe.

Other Notable Gears

Thick Socks – Remember that your feet will always be touching the cold hard ground, take care of them.

Scarves – I always bring a large scarf for traveling. I use it as a blanket on flights and an extra cover while we were out at night.

30625620212_4f9443e702_h

Somewhere in there is Tiffany trying to catch the northern lights.

Beanie – Hoodies are tough for me because I have a large head- LOL! While on the island, I was admiring some cool angora beanies fashioned by the locals. It took me a while to find a black on black but I was able to snag one at the airport.

30106860403_eb1207e404_b

My one and only souvenir.

Flask for water – No need to buy bottles of water on the island, you just need to be on a lookout for a stream. If you can, try to bring something can hold hot water.

Travel Adapter – You should never forget this but I’ve observed on many occasions people will miss this. Iceland uses European plugs – get it and have it always packed in your bag.

Head lamp – I bring these anywhere I travel and keep it on my bedside. You need these to navigate the trails if you are going outside the city to take some pictures of the northern lights.

The Laundromat Cafe

Maybe Iceland is a stop over on your way to Europe and you need to freshen up your clothes.  The Landromat Cafe in Reykavik is available. The place offers food, drinks, free wifi, board games and an area for the kiddies. It is pricey, but what isn’t in Iceland? Outside of Reykavik, your options are limited to guesthouses and hotels who might offer laundry service.

Finally….

You will see many articles that lists plenty of musts with good reason. Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family for things you can borrow so you don’t have to purchase it. Give yourself plenty of time to narrow down the things you need and time to acquire them.

comment 0

Iceland Planning

If you enjoy road trips as much as I do > Iceland will be one of the most epic drives you’ll ever do in your life. You’ll be covering over 800 miles around the island, so you’ll need at least 7 days. We had 9 days which included travel time. Looking back I would have tacked on an additional 3-4 days > maybe 5. There’s just so much to see. Trails to hike. Hidden waterfalls to discover. Pools to swim. Places to just sit and stare in awe. While it is overwhelming to plan, a little effort makes it totally doable.

High Level

Week 1
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
9/18/2016 9/19/2016 9/20/2016 9/21/2016 9/22/2016 9/23/2016 9/24/2016
SFO to KEF Reykavik Reykavik Selfoss Vik
Week 2
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
9/25/2016 9/26/2016 9/27/2016 9/28/2016 9/29/2016 9/30/2016 10/1/2016
Hali Mývatn Akureyri Reykavik KEF to SFO

Figuring out the itinerary

Full disclosure: I acquired a guidebook and did not finish reading it. I wish I did, less time would have been spent trying to decide on things to do during this trip. I did not enjoy the writing because I was comparing it to my Myanmar guidebook at the time. But after the trip, I am finishing up reading the guidebook and am thoroughly enjoying it LOL!

You will get a lot of good information on itineraries for Iceland from many sites. I find that you will get the same information because people likely modeled their trips from the same sites you googled. The guidebook takes you as close to getting the full spectrum of the country as possible. You then have a better idea of places that most interest you. I chose Lonely Planet, 9th edition Published 02/2015. There are others such as Frommer’s which is a more up to date version, but decided on Lonely Planet because I was already familiar with the layout.

If you simply do not have the time or the patience to read a guidebook, these are great starts:

  • Alex Cornell: Thoughtful and very thorough. If I was to change up my itinerary, I would have probably modeled after Alex’s trip. Plus, he’s an amazing photographer!
  • A Dangerous Business: Kuddos to Amanda for embarking on a trip to Iceland in the winter w/out a car. Here she accounts her 10-day adventure trolling around Iceland.
  • Breath With Us: Lovebirds Hugo and Kristina outlines planning for the road trip. They are pretty spot on considering this article is a year old.

Traveling with someone? If you are as lucky as me, that friend will have the smarts to help you figure out the itinerary. I have to give all the credit for the planning of this trip to my bud, Kinjal. She happens to have a blog as well. Check out her insights at L’ Hungry Planet.

Download the entire file via Google Docs.

Whatever you end up doing, I can confidently say that there’s not one place you will regret going. Iceland is amazing!

Flying through WOW Air

sfoairport

Waiting to board our flight.

Here lies a group of unsuspecting travelers prior to boarding WOW. Wooed by its low prices and direct routes, we happily booked our flights. THAT is the extent of all the positives I’ve experienced with WOW. Note that if you are flying with WOW, everything will cost you a pretty penny. Let me count the ways:

  • Pre-booked seats- these are not XL seats, these are regular seats.
  • Checked in bags – pay in advance or you will pay a higher rate at the counter. How dare you inconvenience them at check-in.
  •  Water – they charge you for room temperature water.

The 8 hour flight will not include food, wi-fi or entertainment. But that’s pretty standard, right? Top it off with a lost luggage (a future post) and you’ve got the makings of an unforgettable flying experience. $800 is a huge difference with their competitors, so I get it. Just read the reviews and think long and hard before hitting that booking button.

Let me bestow my wisdom on surviving this flight:

  1. Bring food & load up on drinking water at the airport. If you ask nicely, the flight attendant will microwave your food or provide you with hot water for oats or cup-o-noodles at no charge.
  2. I try to sleep at least half the time in the flight. Min 6 hours prior, try not to have any caffeine or sugar (fruit included). If there’s time, I try to exercise. Also, pack some ear plugs and sleep mask.
  3. Buy alcohol if your airport has duty free – you’ll need it for the flight.
  4. If you happen to forget to load up your phone with entertainment, here’s a couple of puzzlers to figure out:
    • How to recline your seat
    • How to adjust the air

*It doesn’t work…. LOL!

Lets end this rant on a high note. On our way to Iceland, we saw the northern lights! These are not the greatest and I didn’t have a clue of what I was looking at, but there she is mid-flight:

wowaurora1

wowaurora2

For the Road

Make sure to rent a 4×4 car – there will be roads especially in the fjords that will require it. I saw a lot of tiny 2WDs on the road. While you can get away with this on most of Route 1, some parts of the road is not paved. The rental company will advise you to get insurance for this reason alone because of the damages incurred. Travel specific credit cards such as Chase Sapphire cover car rental insurance. So if you have this perk, no need to get it. Getting one from the rental company will disqualify the car from being covered through your credit card.

fullsizerender

Lets see what this baby can do!

The GPS is not always part of the price of the car. Also, everyone seemed to have trouble finding places in the GPS. So test it out before you leave the lot. Pull up the list of sites you plan to go to and try a couple of these places. This will give you an idea if the maps are updated. If you happen to forget to test the GPS, download MeMap app. It’s not the most up to date map, but it was a lifesaver when you’re unable to connect while on the road. There is one thing that never occured to me at the time – there are special characters used for a lot of the names in Iceland: Jökulsárlón, Skútustaðir, Mývatn. There should be something on the keyboard of the GPS that allows you to use these characters. Make sure the rep walks you through how to do this.

Places in Iceland are not the easiest to say much less spell out. So if you’ve acquired a tip or direction from a local, have them write it down for you. Else, you will likely forget this a couple of seconds later.

Buying fuel is not one of those things you usually think of but wished I knew prior to this trip. Most of the fuel stations are automated but the difference is, it requires a pin code to be entered to authorize the card. If you plan to use a credit card, make sure to call and arrange for a pin number to be set. If you are planning on paying via cash or cannot set up a pin on your cc, then you must buy pre-loaded cards. These preloaded cards are not the most convenient because you have to use them for certain gas stations. From what I read, N1 seems the be the most popular. We didn’t have too much of trouble filling up gas around the island. I did read that in the Westfjords area, the gas stations are few and very far between. Being able to have the independence to drive around the island is half the fun so don’t be afraid.

Notable Stays

Airbnb’s in Reyk: The city is a short drive from the Kef airport and Blue Lagoon. So try to stay in the city center because there doesn’t seem to be much to do in Kef or the hotel in Blue Lagoon. We stayed in the city center neighborhood which puts you in the center of food, drinks and sites.

Njálsgata apartment:

I loved the first place we stayed: clean, spacious and right in front of Reyk Coffee Roasters. Courtesy of Airbnb

Lambastadir Guesthouse: We were a little nervous getting here because our GPS couldn’t find it. Luckily, we were able to get close enough via the coordinates we looked up online. It’s right off the main road, you’ll need to slow down a bit because the sign is pretty small.

img_0475-2

Hanging out in the geothermal heated tub while waiting for the northern lights.

img_0476

Breakfast here is fantastic – I especially loved their homemade rhubarb jam.

IcelandAir Vik & Akureyri: The best hotels we’ve stayed at in Iceland. The buildings don’t look much from the outside, but the interior is tastefully decorated. This place is on the pricey side but I think it’s worth it. Dinner at the Vik location was superb. We didn’t have time to enjoy breakfast, but we did go twice at their Reyk location – it was that good!

untitled

Icelandair Restaurant Berg – arctic char mousse, smoked & cured lamb.

untitled-2

Enjoying the house wine – a little too much.

Hali Country Hotel: We had some not so nice experiences with the locals while in Reyk, but the folks in Hali Country Hotel restored my dwindling faith in Icelandic people. They are welcoming and so kind to us. Upon learning of our long drive to Mývatn, they packed up a huge bag of lunch filled with sandwiches and the cakes that we loved so much. This is highly recommended and get booked fast because of their close proximity to Jökulsárlón. This is also the spot we met our tour guide for our glacier hike. If you happen to stop by at their restaurant, look for a certain calendar which features a butt-naked local set in the Iceland wilderness. Chances are, that same local happens to be your chef. Just inquire with the waitstaff. LOL!

untitled

The view from our room.

untitled-3

Enjoying a cup of coffee before our glacier walk.

Activities to book in advance

  • Blue Lagoon – Iceland’s most iconic tourist draw, enough said.
  • Glacier Adventure- We booked our glacier walk in Vatnajökull via Viator. We had the most badass guide – Skola. She’s a no-nonsense gal who will keep you in line while you traipse on the ice. Highly recommend this tour.
  • Þórsmörk or Thorsmörk-  Don’t let the map fool you, this place is a day trip at the minimum.  We didn’t make it here because we didn’t anticipate needing advance booking. You’ll need to book a bus or hire a high-clearance 4WD (super-Jeep) to cross rivers to get to the park.

Hope my insights help with your planning for your trip. I would love to hear your thoughts and experience if you’ve visited the island. I’ll be writing more posts on our activities, experience with a lost luggage, road trip with friends and of course – food! So check back in soon!

comments 16

Blueberry Scones

Holy cow –  I cannot believe it’s been a month since my last post! It’s been killer at work and have had many social activities that’s too good to pass up. However, this does not mean the cooking has stopped. I’ve been doing versions of a certain fireball that had some office-mates running the other direction at the mention of my food 😛 I’m finalizing this so stay tuned,  am excited how version 3 turns out. Now the recipe on hand is one of my go-to’s if I’m not feeling particularly adventurous but am in need of something to “wow” the crowd. While I’m sure you’ve seen a million blueberry scone recipes online, I feel strongly about sharing this to add to your repertoire of foolproof basic recipes. This is a recipe I’ve adapted from Cooks Illustrated. There was not much tweaking necessary here.


Takeaway

Typical recipes get you scones that are… hard. I’ve never had the “real thing” but I do know what I don’t like about some scones: hard, tasteless and too sweet. My ideal scone ought to hold its shape but remain soft inside. Butter is a must in here. A technique introduced by Cooks Illustrated is grating butter instead of cutting it into the flour. A good rule of thumb when you want soft and flaky dough is to not overwork it. I feel that it’s hard to do this using food processors and pastry cutters, because it takes time to cut the butter into the flour. By grating the butter, you’re left with pieces small enough that all you would need to do is to pat it until it’s combined with the flour.

Read More

comments 22

Breakfast Sandwich Makes A Comeback

Out on my usual Saturday afternoon scavenging, I head to Sur La Table. In there I walk around, feasting my eyes on pots, spoons and the fish turner I’ve been salivating on for weeks… There’s always a tug and play between these things and myself. While I could easily purchase it, I hold back because I can’t quite justify it. The reason could be finding a space in the kitchen, how soon/often I’ll be using it, I haven’t read any reviews, compared prices and the list goes on. But there’s one item I almost never hesitate to purchase: books. Specifically, cookbooks. On this day, hiding behind the usual Food Network fare is ‘wichcraft.
Music: It’s Business Time by Flight of the Conchords
Wichcraft is a New York based restaurant, serving up sandwiches. The restaurant boasts sandwiches made from ingredients that are local and seasonal. The idea was concocted based on the chef’s experience of making sandwiches out of the leftover meats after the restaurant has closed. His concept was simple: make the ingredients great to eat on it’s own and use quality bread. As I scroll through the pages of the book,  this breakfast sandwich caught my eye. Eggs – good. Bacon – good. Frisée – dressed frisée? And gorgonzola cheese – very interesting.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In keeping with their seasonal theme, I opted to use arugula in this recipe instead of frisée. There was none in any of my usual stores so I assumed it wasn’t in season.  I did a little digging and found out it’s in season spring-summer. Arugula and spinach were my choices so I picked arugula.  Arugula has a nice peppery bite which I thought would complement the bacon and gorgonzola well. Read More