Icelandic Street food and Food Halls

Posted on Categories Culture, Food, Iceland, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

Street food and Food Halls have been more and more prominent in Reykjavík in recent years. After all street food is the heart and soul of international cuisine and food halls offer the convenience of having selection of food from all over the world in one place. 

 

Box Street Food

Box Street Food is a great place if you would like to get a taste of different street food in one place. It’s open Thursday to Sunday June 1-June 29th and is located in Skeifan shopping area (a bit outside of downtown). The vibe is very raw with pallets, trucks and raw metal containers offering street food, pop up shops and a large screen that will be showing all the World Cup matches along with a music stage where musicians perform for all the hungry and thirsty people. Dishes are sold for low prices, and guests are encouraged to try different dishes, instead of buying one meal at one restaurant.

There are many other popular street food and food trucks in Reykjavík like Bæjarins beztu, the famous hot dog stand that offers one menu item only and Fish and Chips Vagninn located by the old harbour.  

 

See more in our blog ‘Reykjavík for the budget conscious’.

 

 

Hlemmur Food Hall (Hlemmur Mathöll) 

Hlemmur Food Hall opened in August 2017 and is located inside the legendary ‘Hlemmur’. Hlemmur  used to be the main public bus stations/terminals in Reykjavík and a regular hangout for many punk kids and other interesting characters. The food hall is inspired by the great European food halls, offering 10 different vendors.  So whether it may be Vietnamese street food at Bành Mí, Mexican burritos at La Poblana, freshly baked bread and cinnamon buns at Brauð&Co or cured meats with a glass of french wine or champagne at Kröst, you can be sure to find it there.  You can also be sure to find many locals visiting Hlemmur Mathöll, mostly for the delicious food but also because of the history of the building.

 

Grandi Mathöll

Doesn’t look like much on the outside but it’s awesome on the inside. This new Reykjavík culinary treasure, located in a refurbished fish factory at Grandi Harbor District, celebrates Icelandic culture and industry. Grandi Mathöll offers a great sample of the best street food Iceland has to offer. You will find both traditional Icelandic cuisine like smoked Icelandic lamb from Fjárhúsið (The sheep stable) or fresh Icelandic vegetables from Rabbar Barinn and also dishes from elsewhere in the world like KORE a grub-delicious Korean street food.  

Happy Beer Day!

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, history, Iceland, Tradition

On March 1, we celebrate the National Beer Day in Iceland.

In 1908 Icelanders voted in favor of a ban on all alcoholic beverages and the ban went officially into effect in 1915. As soon as Iceland stopped purchasing Spanish wines, Spain refused to buy Icelandic fish (our main export at the time), so therefore the ban was partially lifted in 1921 with legalization of wine.

Then in 1935 the prohibition of alcohol was lifted  EXCEPT for beer (with alcohol content of more than 2.5 %) and the argument was that beer would lead to debauchery due to it’s low price. So in other words; Icelanders weren’t trusted to handle their booze.

During the time of the prohibition, smuggling and underground brewing was not uncommon and many pubs would serve light beer (Pilsner) with stronger liquor added to it (like vodka). But soon that was also banned by the minister of justice.

74 years and a few rallies later, the beer prohibition finally ended on March 1, 1989 and people were able to buy beer again legally in Iceland. This is the reason why some Icelanders celebrate Beer Day on March 1st. “We had to fight, for our right to party”.

Today beer has become the drink of choice for most Icelanders.
You can find local and imported beer in all pubs and most restaurants in Reykjavík. Beer is also sold in wine stores, however grocery stores only sell the light beer called  pilsner (less than 2.5%). There are several breweries in Iceland and some popular Icelandic beer is Viking, Thule, Einstök, Kaldi, Brío, Boli, Gull.

So if you like beer; March 1st is a great day and an excuse to go out and have an Icelandic brew..or two.

Skál!

Þorrablót – Midwinter Festival

Posted on Categories Culture, Culture, heritage, Iceland, TraditionTags , , , ,

Hip Hip Hooray-it’s midwinter in Iceland which means only one thing..it’s celebration time again!

According to the old Icelandic calendar which was developed in the 10th century, the fourth month of winter (mid January to mid February) is called Þorrinn (Thorrinn).  The word is most likely derived from Thor, the thunder god from the Norse mythology or from the Norwegian king Thorri Snærsson.
The old Icelandic calendar is not in use anymore but some Icelandic holidays and annual feasts are still calculated from it.

 

Þorrablót (Thorrafeast)

In pagan Iceland Þorrablót was a midwinter sacrifice, held to honor the Nordic gods, however with the Christianisation of Iceland the sacrificial festival was banned. Then in the 19th century, when Icelanders gained religious freedom, Þorrablót festival was brought back but without the sacrifices. This midwinter festival is still a popular tradition in Iceland today and is a feast where locals get together and celebrate their heritage by singing, dancing and eating traditional viking food and of course lots of drinking because, how else should we keep warm during these cold winter days?

The food, often served in wooden trays, consists of uncommon delicacies, like boiled sheep’s head, rams balls, blood and liver sausages, fermented shark, traditional herring and more.  All this is often washed down with an strong Icelandic schnapps made out of potato and caraway called Brennivín, also known as Black Death.

Assuming your mouth is starting to water, most grocery stores sell tasting trays during the month of Þorri.  And you can also find some Þorra inspired menu items at some local restaurants. Last but not least, the local breweries also take advantage of these festivities to create a selection of seasonal Þorri beers! You can find them in the Vínbúðin stores, our state-owned liquor shops.

Bóndadagur (Farmers Day)

The first day of Þorrinn is called Bóndadagur (Farmers Day) and this year Bóndadagur is on Friday January 25th. On this day it is customary that the wives and girlfriends are especially attentive to their men.

So ladies, why not make your man feel like a viking for the night by treating him to the Old Iceland menu at Ísafold Restaurant, a three course menu that showcases the best of Icelandic traditional cuisine with a modern twist (don’t worry there is no rotten shark on the menu).  And if your man is a whisky fan, you can end the evening with the whisky flights tasting which consists of three different types of exquisite whiskeys on a specially designed tray.

Harpa, Reykjavík Concert Hall

Posted on Categories Culture, Music, News Feed, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

If you’ve been to Reykjavík, it is rather unlikely that you haven’t noticed the large glass building down by the harbour. The building is called Harpa and is one of Reykjavík’s greatest and most distinguished landmarks. It is also the cultural and social centre of Reykjavík and offers the best facilities for concerts and conferences in Northern Europe.

Harpa’s design was influenced by the Icelandic exceptional and dramatic nature. It even lights up at night with a light show resembling the Northern Lights.  The distinctive glass facade which was designed by visual artist Ólafur Elíasson changes Harpa into a great canvas where all sorts of color can be displayed upon it, giving Reykjavík and the old harbour a certain oomph especially during the dark winter months.

There are various cultural events, concerts and shows almost every day all year round at Harpa ranging from electronic music festival (Sónar), to Reykjavík Jazz Festival, to heavy metal concerts to being the home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. Guided tours of the building in English are also available daily.

 

For those who are interested in seeing a show at Harpa and learning about Icelandic culture in one shot, check out the following shows:

The Pearls of Icelandic Song series:  A popular concert series in Harpa with classical Icelandic music consisting some of the most beloved Icelandic songs, fold-songs and hymns.

How to Become Icelandic in 60 minutes:  The entire show is in english and is not only hilariously funny but it’s a great way to get a little insight on Icelanders and the Icelandic culture. You will laugh and learn and at the end of the show leave the theatre feeling 100% Icelandic.

Icelandic Sagas The Greatest Hits:  A funny and interactive theatrical comedy show featuring the old Icelandic Viking Sagas. The entire show is in english and is not only hilarious but also informative about Icelandic history.  A great way to get a glimpse through Iceland’s literary heritage.

 

You can get tickets to all these shows plus many more right at the front desk at your hotel and prior to the show be sure to try the delicious Pre-Show menu available at SKÝ Restaurant & Bar located right across the street from Harpa at CenterHotel Arnarhvoll.

 

CenterHotels Off-Venue event at Ísafold November 3rd

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, Iceland, Music, News Feed, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

Our second Airwaves off-venue event this year will be held on Friday, November 3rd at Ísafold/CenterHotel Þingholt with three great bands: Ylfa Marín, Keto and Ingunn Huld.

 

Ylfa Marín – 17:00-18:00

The musician Ylfa Marín starts the show with her smooth and sweet voice. Ylfa is passionate about diverse genres of music and has participated in various projects that mostly have gained popularity abroad. Earlier this year she released an electronica record and since then she has been working on a solo project.

 

Keto – 18:00-19:00

Second on stage is Keto. Keto bring their own style of lo-fi folk, likened to Cat Power and Elliot Smith, with audience members describing it ashypnotic. Playing shows alongside Lower Dens, Eaves, and getting the chance to sing with Sun Kil Moon in Hackney, Keto has gained support from 6music, Drowned in Sound, Clash Mag, and John Kennedy, with her single ‘Change’. 

 

Ingunn Huld – 19:00-20:00

Ingunn Huld is a singer-songwriter that studied jazz singing and released her debut album, Fjúk in November 2015. She has performed at various cafes and smaller venues in and around Reykjavík. Despite her studies as a jazz vocalist and her interest in jazz, she mainly performs pop and folk music. In October 2017 she released her song Splendid along with a music video. In the off-venue concerts she will be accompanied by the bassist Árni Magnùsson and together they will play new songs in English along with a few songs from the album Fjúk.

 

Ísafold Lounge will be offering Happy Hour prices during the show and 10% discount will be off the a la carte menu at Ísafold Restaurant.  Be sure to try the Moscow Mule, our official Airwaves Cocktail this year.

Check out our other two off-venue events here.

 

See you Friday!

CenterHotels Off-Venue event at Miðgarður November 2nd

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, Music, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , , , , ,

Our Off-Venue schedule this year kicks off this Thursday November 2nd at CenterHotel Miðgarður with three amazing Icelandic bands: VAR, INDRIÐI and HUGAR.

 

VAR – 17:00-18:00

VAR is a five piece band from Iceland. Their music is full of power and melodies drawing influence from various directions, as members of the band hail from different musical backgrounds. Their live performance is powerful and energetic and is sure to move you in many ways.

 

INDRIDI – 18:00-19:00

Indridi is the music composed by Indriði Arnar Ingólfsson an Icelandic musician born of Reykjavik’s DIY punk scene, founding member of intense punk band MUCK and collaborator of artists such as Jófríður Ákadóttir (JFDR, Samaris, Pascal Pinon), Úlfur Hansson (Klive), and The Heavy Experience. Indriði’s first solo record was released via new record label figureight in fall of 2016. Comprising of ten original tracks written, produced and recorded by Indriði, Makril reflects his ideas of self-exploration and leaving the insular society of Iceland, themes which are expressed through the album’s beautifully sparse soundscapes, melodic guitar motifs, and vocals that are weighed down with both emotion and experience.

 

HUGAR – 19:00-20:00

The duo Hugar consists of Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson. Both have been creating music of all kinds in their native Iceland since toddlers. Few years ago they sat down, put their minds together and decided to pursue some new, fresh avenues where they could flex their creative muscles (Hugar means “Minds” in Icelandic).

Their self-titled debut album was released in 2014, containing some ethereal pieces of instrumental music. Two songs from that album got playlisted on the ‘Peaceful Piano’ Spotify Playlist (followed by 2 million users). Hugar are in good company on said playlist (Aphex Twin, Yann Tiersen, Ólafur Arnalds, Alicia Keys among others) and the tracks have now gathered millions of plays.

 

Jörgensen Kitchen & bar will be offering Happy Hour prices during the show and 10% discount will be off the a la carte menu at Jörgensen Kitchen.  Be sure to try the Moscow Mule, our official Airwaves Cocktail this year.

Check out our other two off-venue events here.

 

See you Thursday!

Reykjavik for the budget conscious

Posted on Categories Culture, Food, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

Dining in Reykjavik can indeed be heavy on the wallet, however there are also some great eateries that shouldn’t break your budget and here are a few worth the mention.

 

Bæjarins Beztu – Not just a hot dog

The famous hot dog stand that offers one menu item only: The best hot dog in the Universe. The hot dog is served with raw and crispy fried onions, sweet mustard, ketchup and remoulade sauce. A must try quick bite.

 

Curry in a hurry – For your quick curry fix

For only 950 ISK you get a choice of 3 curry dishes, meat or veggie, served with Naan bread.  Curry in a hurry is only served for lunch and for take away at Shalimar, a Pakistani restaurant located downtown Reykjavík. 

 

Hlemmur Food Hall – Something for everyone

After a refreshing happy hour drink at Jörgensen Kitchen, we suggest you walk across the street to Hlemmur Food Hall.  This new Reykjavík culinary treasure offers all kinds of food, whether it may be Vietnamese street food, Mexican burritos or cured meats with a glass of french wine, you can be sure to find it there.  

 

Icelandic Street food – Icelandic cheap

A perfect stop for traditional Icelandic taste. There are only a few things on the menu but you can’t go wrong with the lamb or fish soup. Perfect meal for a chilly autumn day. 

 

Fish and Chips Truck– Down by the harbor

If you’re a fish and chips lover then you won’t be disappointed by this small fish and chips stand located on the old harbor. Serving fresh quality Icelandic cod, cooked to perfection and served with fries and mushy peas. YUM!

 

Kaffi Vinyl – Hip and Cool

A vegan friendly cafe on Hverfisgata 76, offering light food and a great selection of vinyl.  Stop by and try their ‘Oumpf Sandwich’, have a cup of coffee and listen to some tunes.

 

Bio Borgari – Organic fast food

A new..ish burger joint located on Vesturgata 12, in very close vicinity to CenterHotel Plaza.  Unlike other fast food joints across the city, Bio Borgari specialises in offering a healthier alternative, using only products that are either organic or have been sustainably farmed. Burgers are served on a organic roll with root vegetable chips.

 

Ramen Momo – Ramen..Amen

A tiny noodle bar offering delicious Ramen, dumplings and other delights. The first noodle station in Iceland to produce organic fresh noodles and most of the ingredients used are made in Iceland to support local market.

 

Skúli Bao bun-The perfect savory snack

Chinese bao bun food truck parked outside Skúli Craft Bar, also short walk from CenterHotel Plaza, offers steamed bread like buns filled with variety of fillings like portobello mushrooms, beef strips or pulled pork with Korean Kimchi and sriracha mayo. Served with sweet potato fries, Bao bun is a great substitution if you can’t stomach another Icelandic hot dog :).

Reykjavik International Film Festival

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RIFF –  Reykjavík International Film Festival will be held for the 14th time from Sept 28th-Oct 8th 2017. So for 11 days Icelandic movie fanatics and tourists alike will flock to the theatre to see the latest and greatest of international film making. The goal is to present new up and coming filmmakers with the main prize-the Golden Puffin, which is awarded only to first or second time directors.

The festival shows a wide range of dramas and non-fiction films from over 40 countries.  Attendees get to interact with directors, attend lectures and workshops, concerts and exhibitions. They also have the opportunity to watch films in the most peculiar environment, for instance while bathing in a thermal swimming pool or in the filmmaker’s home.

Iceland is geographically a great place for this festival due to the location between Europe and North America so many people from all over the world come to the Reykjavík International Film Festival.

 

6 Museums in Reykjavík worth visiting

Posted on Categories Culture, ReykjavikTags , ,

There is no doubt that Iceland’s number one attraction is the beautiful nature and picturesque landscape. However, Reykjavík city has a great deal of local culture and history and so spending at least one or two days strolling around the city and visiting museums is an absolute must. So for you museum goers we’ve gathered a list of six interesting museums in Reykjavík that are worth checking out.

Árbær Open Air Museum

A quaint outdoor museum that showcases architecture and way of life in Reykjavík in the 19th and 20th century. Árbær Museum was founded in 1957 due to a concern that ‘old Reykjavík’ was disappearing. There are over twenty houses that were relocated from central Reykjavík to the museum and they form a small village, a town square and a farm with real life farm animals on bate in the summer. One hour guided tours in English are offered where guests get to hear the history of each house. You get a real feel of the way of life in the past. The museum also benefits from its proximity to the Ellidarár valley, an extensive outdoor recreation area with beautiful groves of trees. It’s a fun experience for the whole family.

The National Museum of Iceland

Established in 1863, The National Museum of Iceland is the oldest museum in Iceland. It’s role is to increase and relay knowledge of Icelandic cultural heritage, from the nation’s earliest Viking settlements through to the current day.

Reykjavík Maritime Museum

Located at Grandinn by the Old harbor in a building that was originally built as a fish freezing plant, the Maritime Museum exhibits and shares history of Icelandic Fishing industry and culture, it exhibits Sea related items that tell this important story. The newest addition to the museum is the former coast guard ship Óðinn and guests of the museum have now access to guided tours of the vessel.

Whales of Iceland

The Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe showcasing full size models of 23 whale species found in Icelandic waters. The displays are interactive and audio guides will give you various information of these incredible creatures.  It’s almost like being underwater with these giant mammals of the sea. Once you’re done exploring you can sit down at the cafe and enjoy a cup of java or hot chocolate while munching on a whale themed cake.

The Iceland Punk Museum

Located in a former public toilets in Bankastræti near Lækjatorg square is Iceland punk museum. It was opened  by the famous punk rocker Johnny Rotten of the legendary band Sex Pistols in 2016 and offers a fascinating look at the Icelandic punk history.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Possibly the only penis museum in the world and it’s located right here in Reykjavik.  This is no joke..you just have to see it to believe it.