26 July 2006

hope for the future

A few months ago I complained about the lack of good ethnic sausages.
Over the weekend I found a cache of Polish sausages at my
(temporarily) local neighborhood store. Locally produced, they were emblazoned with intertwined Icelandic and Polish flags. I picked one of about four or five flavors, and brought them home, hoping that maybe, maybe Iceland was catching on finally. Yesterday I grilled them up and I am pleased to announce that the search is over. They were plump, spicy in the right way, and in no way containing the sheeps-dung smoke that permeates so many locally produced sausage products (and I'm not just talking about bjúga- think about it next time you eat the salami or pepperoni here, folks). These are some good sausages. Now all we need is a properly spicy Italian variety and I'll be happy as a clam.

In other culinary news, friend K introduced me to the ultimate in simple delicacies on those days when you need something to remind you of why it's nice to be alive in Iceland. Here's what you do- buy yourself a nice lil package of Icelandic lobster meat (available in the frozen section of your local Icelandic grocery store, pre-shelled or not). Thaw it out, pat it dry, then saute some chopped garlic in butter until fragrant. Add the lobster, some salt, and the seasoning of your choice (I went with a blended Italian mix, but next time I'm thinking lemon pepper). Simmer everybody together until the lobster is firm, then enjoy with abandon. It's even better if you have a nice fresh roll or loaf of bread to dip in the sauce afterwards. I had a carrot roll from the corner bakery near where I'm staying that was absolutely divine. If you want to make it a meal, serve with crisp chilled white wine and a blended-leaf salad. Divine, and takes all of a half hour to put together. I see more of this in my future!

now all I need is an apartment... any Icelandic readers have an aunt/cousin/sister's ex-boyfriend/grandma who has a small place that is not in Kjalarnes and is looking for a nice sensible tenant? Seriously, it's coming to the point that I am willing to beg on a blog.

Ship sighting: Cruise ship season continues with the arrival of the Deutschland. This German boat is on a tour of the northern lands, and is heading out to Greenland tomorrow. The ship is apparently working the vintage style for an older crowd, and you might have guessed from this poster view of it that I am quite fond of.


Anonymous said...

Are grains common in Iceland, like breads, rice, grits, and oatmeal? I'm highly allergic to shellfish, and tend to avoid all fish because of that. I read somewhere that an American pizza and beers was like $50 USD. Most of the "Icelandic foods" I've seen appear to be fish-based (and I believe a large portion of the GDP comes from fishing related businesses). I guess I'm wondering how much more expensive it is to eat there, if you do not eat fish.


sirry said...

If they only had a site like Craigslist in Iceland you'd find a home very soon. Sorry my contacts are not the best, but I sure will send you all my positive vibes in the hope you find a nurturing and loving homne soon.
I never liked bjuga :( euch, I prefer the simple hot dogs.
My favorite used to be kjotbollur med brunni sosu og jardarberjasultu. Meatballs in brown gravy, with strawberry jelly.
If you find a nice store that still sells fish fresh from the sea you might be lucky if you find, fisk fars, or fish pure, to make fish balls.
Damn it's flippin humid in Boston these days, so humid I could scream, yet I love the heat. I nice Icelandic breeze would be nice :D

dtw said...

It might be a long shot, but are you familiar with the website hospitalityclub.org? It's mostly ment for sharing info and accommodation between travelers, but I think contacting some of those people who are signed up in Reykjavik might be useful.

One friend of mine is a member, and all her experiences with people via that site are 100% positive. Here's hoping for a new home as well!

ECS said...

Hi anon: For answers to your questions, I suggest reading this post, particularly the second-to-last point, as well as the extensive grain commentary here. It's true that food from Iceland that you see in other countries are fish and lamb based, but that's because those are exceptional products that stand out on the international market. No point in exporting tomatoes from here when they are grown almost everywhere, and the same goes for grains. We're specializing in what we're good at, but as I've mentioned in other posts, there's also great lamb, beef, and dairy available here, and most grains you could want (just because the GDP comes from fish doesn't mean it's all we can eat here). As for pizza, yes it's available, and one pie will not cost you $50. It will be more than in the US, but if you want yourself a loaf of bread, that's comparably priced and probably a lot better. Last time I went to the bakery I got a huge cheese-filled poppyseed covered bread, carrot buns, and a ham-filled croissant, and spent about 400isk. Not bad for fresh baked goods, even by American prices.

Sirrý- I feel the lack of CL sorely here. It's all MBL and Leigulistinn, and begging everyone I know to ask everyone they know, since that seems to be the best route. The underground rental market is much more active and interesting than anything that is listed. As for your meatball favorite dish, I find meatballs here to be too smooth and uniform a texture for my tastes, but I agree on the gravy and jam.

Humidity...I am forgetting what that feels like, and happily. I don't mind the weather here so much, as long as I can get a few days or moments in warmth now and then.

DTW- Just checked out that site, and there are 7 listings in Iceland, and it looks like it's only for temporary accommodation. I'm trying to find a place to live, and so far it's not desperate to the point I have to rent out a hostel. Thankfully, I have some housing fairies that have appeared with temporary places so I at least have a roof over my head. I'm not forced to sleep in a cardboard box in an alley just yet. Thanks for the idea though!

dtw said...

Ye, didn't think it was what you needed, but wasn't sure if there were places for a lengthy stay.

Nice to get info on the foodstuffs too. One question though: does the land grow lot of berries? Maybe I'll look into funding my life there by importing cloudberries or such.

Also, never heard the saying "happy as a clam" before, and today I found it on Les Claypool's new album I bought. Go figure.

gk said...

If you work in a big company, you should try sending a e-mail to the "all-employees address" ...i know it seems shameless but it beats a cardboard-box on the street. Usually when the universities start up there are always a bunch of ads from people looking to rent out small apartments or rooms. Also if you know anyone who works at some big company, you should ask them if they're willing to do something similar. If you want I can send an e-mail at the place I work. I will just need some sort of contact-information and a rough idea of what sort of housing you are looking for.

tsduff said...

My Icelander doesn't like sausage, which is a tragedy because I adore them. Other than the pylsur, which we eat by the dozens, I didn't find anything comparable while in Iceland. Nicely done article - both of them :-)

ECS said...

dtw: yes, we have berries here. Red currants, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, wild fruits of all kinds in the hills.. not sure about cloudberries though. I'm also not sure why clams are supposedly so happy. Seems like a boring life to be living in the sand, spitting grains out of your rubbery breathing tube.

GK: I'm working the company angle as well as all the social groups I know, the hairdressers of my friends, the guy who was talking to the couple that lives downstairs from a friend... you name it. I'd be absolutely agreeable if you want to ask around your office too. Just email me through my profile here and I'll give more details, lest we clutter this place up.

Terry: I actually discovered that summertime brings on a new diversity in the sausage offering. Over the weekend I had the toscana pylsur, which are vaguely Italian sausage flavor. The half Italian/half Icelandic guy I was with was disappointed. Trying to please those two nationalities when it comes to hotdogs and sausages is an exceptional challenge, apparently.

gk said...

Someone sent a mail to the "Allir Starfsmen" address about a apartment that they are renting out. I forwarded it to you. The mail is Icelandic but I think you handle it.

ECS said...

thanks GK! I'm a pro at deciphering apartment rental Icelandic, so any others you get like that, please forward on. I've got someone sending me the HÍ staff list postings as well.