Reykjavik Food Walk

I wanted to make the most of a 24-hour layover in Reykjavik, so naturally I looked for a food tour to join! I found Wake Up Reykjavik and signed up for the Reykjavik Food Tour. This 3-4 hour tour will take you to 6 Reykjavik restaurants. As soon as I signed up, I received the friendliest emails ever, giving me more details about the tour and the meeting point. We met our guide, Juliana, at the Harpa Concert Hall at 10am. (Great place to meet – you can’t miss it, but even still I received detailed directions including a photo!)

Julia & Julia

After a brief stroll from the Harpa Concert Hall, our first Reykjavik restaurant stop is the new cafe Julia & Julia, located in the Culture House. Our mission here is to sample Skyr, or Icelandic yoghurt. The Skyr was served with cream and sugar, so we could doctor it up according to our tastes. It was really thick, but the cream worked well to lighten it up a bit. I loved the vintage dishes and decor here, too!

Julia & Julie at Culture HouseSkyr Tasting

Someone in our group was celebrating a birthday, so we got a bonus tasting here! We each received our own little skillet cookie with melted butter on top. Butter on top of a cookie?! OMG! Delicious!

Julia & Julie at Culture HouseChocolate Chip Cookie

Ostabúðin

Our next stop is Ostabudin, a deli with an interesting array of meats and cheeses. Here, a sample of 3 meats and 3 cheeses were waiting for our arrival. We learned that Iceland doesn’t really have it’s own cheese, so they’ve taken cheese from other cultures and adapted them to their own dairy products. We started with the cheese – black gouda, white mould cheese and then blue mould cheese. The gouda was my favorite, but they were all good! Then for the meats: first, a cured sheep filet, followed by cured horse filet and finally smoked goose-breast topped with a tangy fruit jam. Our guide seemed surprised that everyone in our group tried the horse. I can see how some people might object, but when in Iceland…

These were all good, too. The horse was a bit chewy, but I was surprised how much I liked the goosebreast, which I expected to be gamey, but wasn’t at all!

Café Loki

Continuing our food walk, past Hallgrimskirkja (the iconic church dominating the Reykjavik skyline) brings us to Café Loki. In addition to a fascinating mural which Juliana narrated for us (click on their website and scroll to the bottom) we sampled 3 rye bread specialties at Cafe Loki. Rye bread is very common here, but different than the rye bread we have in the States. It is sweeter, which explains why I liked it! We had a bit of fish stew on rye, smoked trout on rye and best of all, rye bread ice cream, which of course was my favorite! The bread is mixed into the ice cream and adds just a sweet little fun crunch and texture. Definitely try rye bread ice cream when in Reykjavik!

Rye Bread samples at Cafe Loki

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Our 4th destination is the famous hot dog stand, where we lined up to sample Iceland’s infamous hot dogs! Despite spending most of my adult life in Chicago, I’m no hot dog connoisseur. I don’t dislike them, but I just don’t get all the hype. To me, they are something we boiled up on the stove at home. However, if you read about Icelandic food, you will inevitably hear about Icelandic hot dogs, so of course I had to see what the hype was all about! Icelandic hot dogs are made mostly of lamb, along with pork and beef. Traditional style is served with mustard, remoulade, raw onions and crunchy fried onions. It was good! With all of the toppings, it’s hard for me to really tell the difference between any other hot dog, but the crunchy onions were a nice addition! As we left, there was a pretty long line as it was lunch time. Not sure I would line up for one, but you kinda gotta try one when you’re in Iceland!

Unfortunately for me, this was my last stop on the food tour as I had to rush to the airport to catch a flight. If you are better at time management than I am, you’ll get two more stops on this food tour, which lasts up to 4 hours. The guides are also happy to give recommendations on Reykjavik restaurants and did so throughout the day, which pained me to hear as I had to fly home that day!

Reykjavik Tidbits

In addition to all the great food we tasted, Juliana gave us some fun facts about Iceland as we walked around downtown Reykjavik. She injected lots of humor into the stories and was super good-natured under the constant ribbing from a Brit in our group who liked to heckle her!

I loved hearing about the various Icelandic beliefs such as trolls and fairies. All over town, there are mischievous signs of these pranksters. I might have never noticed the tiny figures perched up high all over the city. (Can you spot 2 of them in the photo on the left?) The whimsical surprises combined with the colorful buildings make Reykjavik a really fun city to walk around and photograph! I can’t wait to come back and spend more time here!

Prior to my trip, I had not heard great things about the food in Iceland. I heard it was bland and that there is no fresh food, but I’m so glad that I took this tour and learned otherwise! And, shocker, there was no fermented shark served on this tour…yay!

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Would you try a food tour in Iceland? Maybe a beer tour or a bar crawl is more your speed?

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Reykjavik Restaurant Walk

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Chelsea Market Food and Culture Walking Tour

Food tours are one of my favorite tourist activities while traveling.  I’ve had great food tours in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap and Mexico City.  I had one day to spend in NYC so of course I wanted to incorporate a food tour into my schedule.  Google and TripAdvisor led me to Foods of NY Tours, rated as TripAdvisor’s #1 New York Food Tour.  They have 6 different tours on their calendar, with additional options for private groups.  While the Brooklyn Tour was really tempting, ultimately I decided on the Chelsea Market Tour, in part so I could get a glimpse of the Highline I’d heard so much about.  I cannot recommend the Chelsea Market food tour highly enough!

Food Tours of NY

The reservation process was quick and easy, and detailed instructions were emailed and texted to me well in advance of the trip.  The New York weather went from 60 to 30 and snowing overnight, so the Chelsea Market tour was perfect because we were indoors most of the day.  We met up with our guide, Curt, who was quite possibly the best tour guide I’ve ever had!  If ever there was a perfect person for their job, Curt has found his calling!  His hilarious stories and witty observations kept us entertained while we stuffed our faces with way too much food.

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Chelsea Market Restaurants

Our first stop was at Creamline, a “farm to tray” spot with classic American food.  Our tasting here was a deep-fried Oreo with delicious whipped cream.  Nothing like starting your lunch with a big fried ball of dough! Not gonna lie, I’d totally buy these again!

Chelsea Market Food TourDeep Fried Oreos

Next up was Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, a butcher shop in Chelsea Market offering artisanal meats and house-made charcuterie. Our tasting here was steak tartare, made from home-schooled bi-curious cows, according to Curt.  If you told me I would eat steak tartare, I would have said you were crazy.  But, the power of not wanting to look like a child is strong!  It was served with potato chips, and I took a teeny-tiny bit.  It was good, and I was soon diving in for seconds and thirds!

Chelsea Market Food TourSteak Tartare

We then strolled over to Lobster Place, where Curt reminded us several times this wasn’t a tasting stop, although we did get a small sample of their lobster bisque.  This stop was mostly for a photo opp with a big lobster.  I would have loved to try the lobster rolls here, but was too stuffed by the end of the tour.

Chelsea Market Food Tour

After torturing this poor lobster, we headed over to Cappone’s Salumeria where we sampled a hero sandwich.  I was already starting to feel full at this point, so the sandwich was good, but I wanted to save room for everything else that was yet to come.

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Buon Italia was next on our stroll.  This was more of a grocery store than restaurant and had so many varieties of cheese, pasta and meats.  Definitely a fun place to come if you have a dinner party to plan! Here we had a slice of delicious frittata.

Chelsea Market Food Tour

For me, the sleeper surprise of the tour were the meat pies and kale salad at Tuck Shop. Oh my, I would definitely love to come back here for lunch!  So, this is two times in my life that I have enjoyed kale, for anyone who is keeping track…Mom!

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Chelsea Market Baskets is not specifically a food stop, but a gift shop.  We were offered a sampling of different salts, although served on cucumber sticks, so I passed on this portion.  Not a fan of cucumber, unless it’s in a lotion or facial mask!

Just when I thought I might burst, we headed to SaraBeth’s Bakery.  There’s no way I’m skipping a bakery sample, so I sucked it up and tried the biscuits and jam.  SaraBeth has a pretty cool story from making jam in her kitchen to building a food empire, and her bakery is walled with glass windows so you can watch all the action.  We saw bakers applying a crumble to pies and SaraBeth herself rolling up rugelachs!

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Can you believe we’re still eating? Me neither!!!

Our last food stop was at L’Arte Del Gelato where we chose from all their flavors for a tiny cone of gelato.  I was super full, but there’s always room for gelato, right?

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Before we headed outside, we made a quick stop at Morimoto.  No, we weren’t sampling any of their famous food, we were just there to check out the crazy Japanese toilets.  You know when you sit down after someone in a meeting room or restaurant and the seat is warm, which is kind of weird?  That’s how I felt about a heated toilet seat.  Anyhow, Morimoto looked super cool and chic and like someplace I would be totally out of place in.  More fried oreos, please!

The Highline

We then left Chelsea Market and headed outdoors for a short stroll on the snowy Highline and then up to the swanky roof of the Gansevoort Hotel, where our tour concluded.  At the beginning of the tour, we were given a booklet with a map and overview of all the shops, as well as coupons for some of the shops in Chelsea Market.  After the tour, we headed back to the market for a bit of quick shopping before heading back to our hotel.

I’m now writing this from my home in Chicago and my mouth is literally watering as I remember all this amazing food. My waistline is also suffering the aftermath of this food extravaganza, but YOLO, amirite?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back in New York, but I will absolutely make time for another Foods of NY Tour!

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chelsea market restaurants

I paid full-price ($54) for this tour and was not compensated in any way for this review.

 

 

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