Geysers - Check
Hot Springs - Check
Glaciers - Check
Waterfalls - Check
However while we do have all these things in New Zealand, none of them are to such an extreme scale as those in Iceland. And as to town-wide under street heating - youre lucky if you get double glazing in New Zealand!
Walking down to the old harbour in Reykjavik on our first day there, Mum and I happened across a whale watching boat. Even though sailings were reduced to once a day due to it being not quite summer yet, we were assured they had seen many Minke and Sperm whales in the last few days so sightings were good. We decided to hop on and don the provided cold weather jump suits (think artic fishermen), and we enjoyed a great afternoon watching these beautiful creatures to the backdrop of reykjavik and its surrounding mountains. Interestingly enough, we were also told that only 5% of the Icelandic population still eat whale, so whales killed in Iceland waters now are to satisfy curious tourists - which is a devastating waste of life - taken for curiosity.
Coffee was a highlight in Reykjavik, with not a bad one being drunk the entire trip. Also, in Iceland, there is literaly free wifi everywhere. Every cafe, restaurant, bus, airport... very progressive!
PS: When a wholefoods checkout man asks you what the name of a vegetable is, the Culturally Correct answer is not, "Im not sure, in English we call it a Swede" ! I obviously meant in England, as that was where I was just living, none the less he was less than impressed at my faux pas.
Pa parle americano indeed.
This lamb soup is such a warm colour of yellows, browns and oranges, which lies in stark contrast to the constant white, blue and grey hews of iceland and its landscapes - warming the eyes as well as stomachs!
Recipe: Kjötsúpa - Icelandic Lamb Soup
Approx 700grams (1.5 lbs) Lamb leg steaks (or similar cut, helpful to have bone in for better quality stock)
2 medium carrots
1 swede (Rutabega in American)
3 large potatoes
Half a cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 tsp rosemary
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup white wine
2 litres water + top ups
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper and finishing salt (fleur de sel) to serve
Pinch of rosemary (or oregano if you happen to have that at hand)
Cut your Lamb leg steaks into about 4cm peices. Or if using a whole bone cut, like shanks etc, leave whole.
Brown the meat in a soup pot or dutch oven with 2 tbsp olive oil (I always use my Le Creuset), then add the shallots, garlic and rosemary.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then add the water and salt.
Bring to a simmer with lid on. Simmer for around 1 1/2- to 2 hours, until meat is tender.
Take the lamb out, and pull/cut up into smaller pieces, discarding any bone. Skim any fat off that is sitting on the surface of the water. Add into the simmering broth add all the root vegetables and half of the parsely, add extra water at this stage if the level has reduced significantly.
Cook for another 15 or so minutes until the vegetables are tender. Place the meat back into the soup to warm through.
Serve, and garnish with the fresh chopped parsely and some good bread, you are gonna want to do some solid bread dunking, trust me!