Imagine buying a scoop of ice cream from a sales clerk who can not only tell you where the milk came from, but from which cow.
At the farm Efstidalur II, in Bláskógabyggð, near Laugarvatn, guests can do just that, and taste both gelato and soft-serve ice cream made with milk from the farm’s own cows.
In addition to running the farm day-to-day, the family at Efstidalur operates an adjacent bed-and-breakfast, a horse rental service, a restaurant and of course, the ice cream barn.
“My old man and Árni Már are in charge of the cows, and we get milk samples from them so we can decide from which cow we’ll get the milk for the ice cream. So that way we can tell people, for instance, that the ice cream they’re eating today is from the white cow. Snjólaug is our milk queen, she’s the drill sergeant,” farmer Sölvi Arnarsson told Morgunblaðið on Sunday.
“The ice cream is homemade. We separate the cream ourselves from our own milk, and prepare the ice cream according to a personal recipe.”
While enjoying their ice cream—from a cup or a homemade waffle cone—guests can observe the cows who provided the milk through a glass wall separating the dining area from the cowshed.
Apart from the milk, several other ingredients are also sourced locally—for the restaurant, the ice cream barn and the country store alike, where the family sells rhubarb jam, skyr, cheese, meat, and trout from Útey.
“The concept is farm-to-table. I go once a week and get fresh vegetables at nearby farms—the area has become one large food cornucopia. I go to Reykholt, Flúðir, and Laugarás and get everything I need, including strawberries at the farm Silfurtún, which are just the best you can find, incredibly sweet and tasty.”
The ice cream barn is staffed by sisters Ingibjörg and Elínborg Anna, from next-door Laugardagshólar.
“It’s not just the food that comes directly from the farm, but the staff too!” Sölvi joked.
Several unusual flavors are on offer, including banana-chocolate-mint, mango and wild blueberry. The selection rotates based on season, availability and what the family feels like making. In the past they have offered special holiday flavors like chocolate easter-egg, and gingerbread.
Most popular by far is the kókosbollu ice cream, made with kókosbollur—an Icelandic treat composed of marshmallow fluff coated in a shell of chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut.
“What’s been most surprising is the number of Icelandic guests we get. Something’s been missing around here—back in the day people would go to Eden, grab an ice cream cone, and say hello to the monkey—but now we have lots of regulars.”
Eden was a greenhouse complex in Hveragerði, and a popular pitstop for travelers passing through South Iceland from 1958 until 2011, when the building burned down in a fire.
Bóbó, Eden’s iconic animatronic monkey, was beloved by generations of Icelanders, and a Facebook page dedicated to his memory currently has about 6,700 likes.