Out of Their Shell

aurora abalone reykjanes

The Reykjanes peninsula is barren, even for Iceland. About two-thirds of it is covered by lava fields, nary a tree to be seen. The skyline stretches flatly in most directions, the mountains more modest than elsewhere in the country. The peninsula juts west into the North Atlantic, first in line to receive the low fronts […]

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Goodbye to the Grind

kaffi valeria kirkjufell grundarfjörður

The oldest known evidence of coffee in Iceland is a letter that Lárus Gottrup, a lawyer in Þingeyri, wrote to Árni Magnússon, a professor and manuscript collector, on November 16, 1703. They had spoken at the Alþingi (national Parliament meeting) that summer, and Árni was upset that his friend had forgotten to send him the […]

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Food Festivals in Iceland – From Traditional Feasts to Street Food

Enjoying Icelandic hot dogs

Travelling to a new country isn’t just about seeing the sights, it’s also about experiencing its vibrant culture and flavours. If you plan to visit Iceland, particularly during the spring and summer months, you’re in for a treat beyond the breathtaking nature. For the travelling foodies amongst us, here’s a list of the top food festivals in Iceland to spice up your stay. 

 

Food and fun festival

Each year, foodies flock to Reykjavík for the Food and fun festival. Over the festival weekend, a selection of the city’s finest restaurants flaunt their culinary talent, offering not only amazing food but also the opportunity to immerse oneself in Reykjavík´s vibrant nightlife – the ultimate fun night out. 

What sets the Food and Fun Festival apart is the collaborative effort between participating restaurants and internationally acclaimed chefs from around the globe. These culinary maestros engage in friendly competition, tasked with crafting a three-course meal using exclusively Icelandic ingredients.

Typically held in March, from Wednesday through Sunday, the festival sees approximately 20 restaurants participate each year, ensuring a diverse and tantalising culinary experience for attendees.

 

Götubitinn – Reykjavík street food festival

Street food has experienced a significant resurgence in Iceland recently. With food halls appearing on almost every corner, the passion for exceptional and diverse street food has soared to new heights. Annually in July, the Reykjavík Street Food Festival brings together the city’s food trucks, offering a weekend of exploration through various culinary delights.

The festival made its debut in 2019 and has since become a staple event, taking place every year in Hljómskálagarður park, nestled in the heart of Reykjavík city.

With nearly 30 trucks participating each year, there’s undoubtedly something to tantalise every palate. Live music, play areas and bouncy castles all form part of the festivities, alongside the opportunity to vote for your favourite bite and crown Reykjavík’s best street food.

 

The Annual Icelandic beer festival

Perhaps not your conventional food festival but The Annual Icelandic beer festival is an event that Icelanders hold in high regard. Spanning four days, this festival commemorates the legalisation of beer in March 1989, marking the end of the prohibition in Iceland, which had been in force since 1915.

Throughout the festival, all guests have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Iceland’s beer culture, trying out various beers and meeting the faces behind the breweries. The final event features live music, exclusive beers as well as a menu centred around beer.


Artisan food fayre

Twice a year in spring and winter, the bustling heart of Reykjavík comes alive with the aroma of freshly harvested goods and the buzz of excited chatter. Nestled within the grandeur of Harpa, Reykjavík’s Music and Concert Hall, local farmers, fishermen, and artisanal producers gather under one roof for a culinary extravaganza unlike any other.

Over the course of two days, this specialty food market unveils an array of locally sourced delicacies and artisanal treasures. From farm-fresh produce to innovative gastronomic delights, there’s something for every taste bud. Rub shoulders with the trailblazers of Iceland’s food scene and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of local culinary traditions. 

 

Þorrablót – The Icelandic midwinter feast

Every year, from late January to late February, Icelanders honour the old Norse month of Þorri with a traditional midwinter feast known as þorrablót [θɔrraplouːt]. This celebration brings people together to raise a toast with Brennivín Icelandic liquor and indulge in traditional, yet unconventional, fare.

Throughout the month of Þorri, many companies and restaurants host these traditional feasts, serving the preserved foods of our ancestors. Smoked, salted, dried, pickled, and fermented meats and fish take centre stage, including delicacies such as fermented shark, ram’s testicles, and singed sheep heads.

If you find yourself travelling to Iceland during the winter months, be sure to keep an eye out for one of these authentic midwinter feasts to experience a taste of Icelandic tradition.


With these food festivals you will be sure to have a great taste of Iceland during your stay. If you are travelling outside of the big festival season,
here you can find a selection of both private and group tours that every foodie will be sure to enjoy.  

The 10 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Iceland

Dill restaurant in Reykjavík

Iceland offers a culinary scene as diverse and captivating as its famous landscapes. While the traditional Icelandic cuisine is rooted in the heritage of fishing, farming and preservation techniques the fine dining scene is ever evolving and embraces creativity and innovation. 

Exploring the fine dining of Reykjavík

In the capital city of Iceland you will find a vibrant dining scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. The city is home to numerous acclaimed restaurants offering an impeccable fine dining experience for the foodies of the world. 

 

1. Brút, Reykjavík

One of those restaurants is Brút. Helming the kitchen is Chef Ragnar Eiríksson, former head chef at Dill, who became the first Icelandic chef to earn a Michelin star. Alongside him is Sommelier Ólafur Örn Ólafsson, co-owner of Brút, whose expertise complements Ragnar´s culinary mastery perfectly. Together they have given us one of Reykjavík´s most extraordinary culinary destinations. 

 

2. The Fish Market, Reykjavík

For those craving some delicious fish-dishes, The Fish Market is a must-visit restaurant. Chef Hrefna Sætran´s New Style Seafood Cuisine uses fresh ingredients to prepare a modern menu from the freshest ingredients. 

 

3. Sümac, Reykjavík

At Sümac, an extraordinary culinary adventure awaits, guided by the talented chefs Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon and Jakob Zarioh Baldvinsson. Together, they skillfully blend pristine seasonal Icelandic ingredients with exotic spices, creating a harmonious fusion of flavours and cultural influences. Let yourself be transported on a sensory journey from Reykjavík to the vibrant coastlines of North Africa and Lebanon, promising an unforgettable dining experience.

Chef´s at work in a kitchen.
Photo: Golli. Chef´s at work.

 

Michelin star restaurants in Reykjavík, Iceland

4. Dill, Reykjavík

The first ever restaurant in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin star was Dill. Aiming to deliver a unique and memorable experience of Iceland, they respectfully but uniquely honour Icelandic ingredients. Dill certainly pushes culinary boundaries delivering dishes as unpredictable as the Icelandic weather. 

 

5. ÓX, Reykjavík

Hidden behind a cocktail bar in the city centre of Reykjavík you will find ÓX, a magical 17-seat restaurant. Chef Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon takes his guests on a unique multi course journey in this very intimate and exclusive setting. 

 

6. Moss, Reykjavík

The Michelin-starred restaurant Moss is located at the famous Blue Lagoon. They have a seasonal set menu, an amazing selection of wines and an exclusive Kitchen´s Table experience. 

Moss Restaurant Agnar Sverrisson
Photo: Moss Restaurant / Facebook. Executive Chef at Moss Restaurant Agnar Sverrisson

 

Beyond Reykjavik: Fine Dining Across Iceland

While Reykjavík may be the culinary centre of Iceland, fine dining can be found in every corner of the island. From the charming town of Stykkishólmur to the remote wilderness of the Westfjords, there is enough for adventurous foodies to discover. 

 

7. Sjávarpakkhúsið, Stykkishólmur

Venturing to the west you will find the charming town of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. With a breathtaking view of the colourful old harbour you will find Sjávarpakkhúsið restaurant. Here, diners can indulge in a menu of small dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, perfect for a fresh and delicious sharing dinner. 

 

8. Eyja, Akureyri

Moving on to the north of Iceland you will find Eyja, an amazing little wine bar and bistro in the heart of Akureyri city. With a great selection of wines and amazing food this cosy restaurant is the perfect place for a memorable night out in the north. 

 

9. North, Akureyri

For the ultimate fine dining experience in the north you should consider booking a table at restaurant North. They aim to share an exceptional dining experience with local ingredients, sustainable ways all the while reflecting the compelling characteristics of their land. 

 

10. Umi, Hvolsvöllur

Nestled in Hvolfsvöllur village in the scenic south of Iceland, restaurant Umi beckons as a culinary gem where traditional Nordic and Icelandic cuisine intertwine with the artistry of Japanese culinary techniques. Set amidst the untamed beauty of the southern landscape, diners are invited to savour exquisite flavours while being captivated by breathtaking views. 

 

From the bustling streets of Reykjavik to the remote corners of the countryside, Icelandic restaurants proudly use locally sourced ingredients, ensuring that every dish tells a story of the land and sea. Whether you’re indulging in innovative cuisine in the capital city or savouring traditional flavours in a cosy village setting, one thing is certain: dining in Iceland is an experience like no other.

Discover more of Iceland´s great restaurants here

 

Exploring Reykjavík in 24, 48 and 72 hours

View of Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja church.

Reykjavík, with its quaint houses, tasty restaurants, and countless museums, exhibitions, and galleries, is a marvellous option for a short city break. With a city this small, you can cover a lot of ground and manage a whole host of things in one to three days! 

But even in a small space like Reykjavík, it’s impossible to do absolutely everything, and picking from the numerous options can be an unwanted hassle. That’s why we created our 24, 48, and 72 hour Reykjavík itinerary. Whether you don’t enjoy planning or simply need some inspiration, we hope this guide will help you make the most of your trip! 

Day one: Geothermal baths, Icelandic food and sightseeing

Morning

If your accommodations don’t offer a complimentary breakfast, head to Sandholt, one of the oldest operating bakeries in Iceland. They offer hand-crafted pastries and sourdough bread, as well as a great breakfast menu comprising yoghurts, sandwiches, shakshuka, and other delicious dishes. 

After breakfast, spend the morning in a typical Icelandic way by going to Sundhöllin geothermal swimming pool, where the locals swim, have a ‘pottaspjall‘(an Icelandic word for chatting in the hot tub), and do some cold plunging. 

Sundhöllin swimming pool in Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Sundhöllin swimming pool in Reykjavík.

Noon

Go to Kaffi Loki for lunch, where you can taste some of the most traditional Icelandic food: Icelandic lamb soup, gratinated mashed fish, homemade flatbread with smoked lamb, and fermented shark, amongst others.

An excellent way to get to know Reykjavík in your limited time is by taking a free or private walking tour. This way, you won’t have to be stressed out and glued to your phone, trying to figure out the fastest way between attractions. You can simply enjoy the walk while absorbing Icelandic history and culture. 

Afternoon

If you’re hungry after the walk, we suggest making your way to Hressingarskálinn café for a traditional ‘rjómaterta’ or ‘Hressóterta’ (whipped cream cake). This is an old-fashioned staple when it comes to celebrations in Iceland.

For those looking to take a piece of Iceland home with them, use the afternoon to do some shopping. Check out Eymundsson bookstore, Vínberið candy store, or Lucky Records music shop, all of which offer a variety of Icelandic products.

Evening

For a fancy dinner, book a table at Sumac (preferably a few days in advance). They offer mouth-watering food inspired by the Middle East. Pick your own combination of small dishes or opt for a fixed menu. For a less fancy but just as delicious dinner, try Dragon Dim Sum, a Chinese- and Taiwan-inspired dim sum bar by the old harbour.

Not ready to call it a day? Check out Hús máls og menningar, a cultural house and bar located in a former bookshop on Laugavegur street. With live music every night, this is a great place to prolong the evening.

Day two: Unusual museums and the food hall culture

Morning

Start the day with breakfast at Reykjavík Roasters in Ásmundarsalur, a non-profit art space with constantly rotating exhibitions. 

Next up is the Sculpture garden at the Einar Jónsson Museum, a lovely free attraction featuring 26 replicas of Einar’s statues. Einar was one of the artists who laid the foundation for modern art in Iceland. 

After the garden stroll, head down to The Icelandic Phallological Museum. This unusual museum, “dedicated to collecting, studying, and presenting actual phalluses and all things phallic”, was founded in 1997 and has become a top-rated attraction in downtown Reykjavík.

Noon

For lunch, it’s time for an Icelandic classic: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur at Tryggvagata street. This hot dog stand has been serving Icelanders Icelandic hot dogs since 1937. Ask for ‘one with everything’ for the most authentic experience.

Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.
Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.

While you’re digesting your hot dog, pop down to the Reykjavík Punk Museum, a tiny museum located in an old public bathroom where you can learn about the Icelandic punk scene. 

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon in Perlan, one of Reykjavík’s famous landmarks. Inside, you’ll find a fascinating nature exploratorium, as well as an observation deck, planetarium, café, restaurant, bar, and ice cream parlour. 

Evening

In the past few years, a myriad of food halls has popped up all over Reykjavík. Hlemmur Mathöll, one of the first, is a particularly fun one to visit, as it used to be a bus station. If you don’t see a restaurant you like, try Pósthús, located in a former post office, or Hafnartorg Gallery down by the Reykjavík harbour.

A busy day at Gallerí Hafnartorg food hall.
Photo: Golli. A busy day at Gallerí Hafnartorg food hall.

How about a movie after dinner? Bíó Paradís is a unique and small movie theatre in downtown Reykjavík where you can get popcorn and wine while watching critically acclaimed and foreign movies. It has a vibe you won’t find in other Icelandic cinemas and is definitely worth a visit. If you’re not in the mood for movies, check out Bullsey or Skor, where you can grab a drink and play a fun game of darts.

Day three: The National Museum, a typical Icelandic ice cream and Flyover Iceland

Morning

Have a refreshing acai bowl from Maikai for breakfast before walking or taking the bus to The National Museum of Iceland

Noon

When you’re done soaking up the Icelandic history, it’s time for lunch at SÓNÓ matseljur. SÓNÓ is a seasonal vegetarian restaurant situated in the fabulous Nordic House, which was designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. It’s well worth taking a walk around the house after lunch. 

Head back downtown through the beautiful surrounding area, past Tjörnin pond and through the charming neighbourhood of Þingholtin.

Afternoon

If there’s one thing the Icelandic people love, it’s ice cream. All year round, no matter the temperature or weather, a typical Icelandic activity is going for an ice cream drive. Swap out your afternoon coffee for a classic soft serve in a dip, a delicious ‘bragðarefur’ blizzard or a creamy Italian scoop.

Two people eating ice cream in the snow.
Photo: Golli. Two people eating ice cream in the snow.

Make your way to Flyover Iceland for a fantastic trip that covers the whole of Iceland. This is an amazing experience, even for those who have already travelled around the island. If you get easily motion sick, the Whales of Iceland exhibition is an excellent alternative.

Evening

For your final evening in Reykjavík, grab some street food at LeKock, a restaurant inspired by childhood memories and travels. Enjoy sensational but simple food in a laid-back atmosphere and play one of the many board games available. If you’d rather have a fine dining experience, Oto is the place to go, but remember to book in advance! With its Japanese Italian fusion cooking and excellent choice of music, you’re bound to have a fantastic final night.

If you don’t fancy going to bed just yet, Tipsy is a fabulous place for a last cheer, and Kaffibrennslan café is a cosy one for a quiet evening coffee and a slice of cake. 

Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.

Deep North Episode 55: Christmas Craftsman

laufabrauð christmas iceland

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, families and friends in Iceland come together to make the traditional fried and decorated wafer known as laufabrauð (leaf bread). Rolled out thin, decorated, and fried, the preparation of these treats is an event that brings together families, often with multiple generations taking part. But you won’t find Laufabrauðsdagur (Leaf Bread Day) on any official calendar, as each family chooses their own date. Still, for Icelanders, it’s as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas itself.

But unknown even to many Icelanders, much of this tradition now rests in the hands of one craftsman, the last craftsman in Iceland to make the distinctive roller that so many use to make laufabrauð. A stone’s throw from Reykjavík, in the shadow of Esja mountain, his small workshop is keeping a beloved tradition alive.

Read the story here.

The Christmas Craftsman

laufabrauð christmas iceland

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, families and friends in Iceland come together to make the traditional fried and decorated wafer known as laufabrauð (leaf bread). Rolled out thin, decorated, and fried, the preparation of these treats is an event that brings together families, often with multiple generations taking part. But you won’t find […]

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From the Archive: Grazing Free at the Ocean’s Expense

aquaculture fish farming iceland

From the archive: This article was published in Iceland Review magazine in 1983. Archival content is presented in unaltered form and may not necessarily reflect the current editorial standards of Iceland Review.

Aquaculture has been at the forefront of public discourse lately. In addition to our feature article on the state of the country’s open-pen aquaculture, Iceland Review also dug into the archives, revisiting the beginnings of this industry in Iceland.

In the early 1980s, the salmon farming industry in Iceland was relatively young. Its primary focus was enhancing wild salmon populations through hatchery programmes, notably at the state-operated Kollafjörður hatchery. It was there that Icelandic salmon were hatched and reared for release into rivers, with the aim of bolstering natural stocks. Scientific experiments at Kollafjörður demonstrated promising return rates of 5-15% for these released salmon, a significant achievement compared to other countries.

At this time, efforts were made to implement Norwegian methods of open-pen salmon farming in Iceland, but this faced distinct challenges. The Icelandic coastline lacked the protective reefs (skerry gardens) found off the Norwegian coast, which in Norway helped shield salmon in open pens from harsh ocean conditions. Icelandic fjords, exposed to rolling seas and significant tidal variations, were less suitable for this method. Additionally, the extreme cold of Icelandic coastal waters during winter posed a survival challenge for salmon in open pens.

To address these challenges, Iceland experimented with alternative methods. One such method involved using geothermally-heated sea water in experimental open-pen farms, particularly along the coast of the southwest peninsula. This innovation allowed for the maintenance of optimal water temperatures, accelerating salmon growth and reducing the loss of salmon smolts. Despite these efforts, the high costs of such methods and the necessity of a high market price for salmon remained significant considerations for the industry.

At the time, these new aquaculture techniques represented something of a breakthrough, both for conservation and industry. Now, as so often is the case, the initial excitement of progress has given way to a more complicated picture.

The future of salmon farming in Iceland awaits the success of a new development which may be realized next summer. Approximately 400,000 young salmon, after having been reared in hatcheries to 25-gram size (salmon smolts), were released last summer at twelve selected locations around Iceland. Only 8% of these fish need to return from the sea after one year’s time, each then weighing about six pounds, to enable a new farming technique called salmon-ranching to become a profitable business. Even if the recovery figure is essentially less, perhaps as low as 3%, the release method could prove worthwhile—if the high price for salmon remains stable and a sufficient overseas market can be obtained.

Until quite recently, salmon were hatched and reared only for release into about 80 salmon rivers in Iceland, and it has primarily been the owners and lessees of such rivers who have enjoyed the benefits of salmon cultivation. Angling for salmon is very popular with both Icelandic and foreign sportsmen who pay a high price for daily permits. During the years 1971 through 1980, they hooked approximately 40,000 salmon per year weighing on the average 7 to 8 pounds. Netted salmon during the same period totaled about 25,000 annually. It is not anglers only the quantity of fish in Iceland’s rivers that anglers have sought, but also the salmon’s admirable qualities as a sportfish combined with the peaceful and unspoiled surroundings in which the fish is found. Some of the best fishing places are far away from populated areas and the noise of traffic, while others are within inhabited areas, such as Elliðaár, the river which flows through Reykjavik. At this location, where the surrounding environs have been protected, anglers quietly exercise their skills by hauling 1200 to 1300 salmon out of the river each year.

fish farming iceland

The steps leading up to the expansion of salmon ranching in Iceland—the release of salmon smolts to the sea—had their beginning at the state-operated hatchery in Kollafjordur shortly after it opened in 1961, when scientific experiments were conducted. These experiments revealed that return rates ranging from 5 to 15 percent could be realized in any given year. Additionally, the average weight of returning salmon would be between 5 and 8 pounds after one year of ocean feeding. This proved to be a superior yield compared to that achieved in other countries engaged in salmon releases, where only a small fraction of the returning salmon manage to elude fishermen and reach spawning grounds, while the remainder are caught in the sea by individuals who do not contribute to the expense of hatching, rearing, and release.

The obvious reason for the better yield in Iceland is the country’s protective law, which bans all salmon fishing along the coasts. The first prohibitive legislation was enacted by the Althing fifty years ago. Originally, there were some exceptions to the ban, arising from historical precedent with certain landowners, but these were few and relatively unimportant. Subsequent changes to the law made the prohibition uniform for everyone, and violations were severely punished. It is safe to assert that nowhere in the world today is there such an effective government ban on salmon fishing as that along the coasts of Iceland and within its 200-mile jurisdiction.

Notwithstanding the scientific results obtained at Kollafjordur, when man’s interest in salmon harvesting for food production had been fully awakened in Iceland, experiments were first conducted with various methods of farming. It has since become apparent that the conditions on Iceland’s coast are in many ways different from those of neighbouring countries. In Norway, for example, salmon are commonly fed and maintained to adult size in sea-pens within calm fjords, where outlying reefs (skerry gardens) off the coast afford protection from heavy seas. This method of ocean farming is not practiced in Iceland because such protective reefs are generally not to be found. Thus, not only do the rolling seas penetrate the shallow fjords, but also there is a correspondingly greater difference between low and high tides which disturbs sea-pens or similar enclosures. In addition, the ocean temperature becomes extremely cold during winter, such that salmon cannot survive.

There is, however, an experimental sea-pen salmon farm presently in operation on Iceland’s southwest peninsula, where geothermally-heated sea water obtained by drilling is pumped into coastal ponds. By maintaining an optimum temperature between 10 and 15 degrees, the growth of salmon is accelerated. The greatest advantage to this method of farming, barring unforeseen circumstances, is the relatively small loss of salmon smolts chosen for rearing, which thus offers some assurance that the investment of time and money is well expended. However, the necessity for continuous pumping of warm water, because of Iceland’s cool climate, and feed costs imply that the salmon produced must bring a high price at the market. A variation of this farming method is now being practiced by ISNO in northwest Iceland. Here the salmon are kept in sea-pens in a large lagoon, where the water is not very salty and the warmth is provided by underground geothermal springs. Some of the salmon smolts are also released for ranching.

Future experiments are planned to combine the two enclosure operations — that is, maintain the young salmon in ponds on land up to 300 grams and then transfer them to sea-pens for the last few months before slaughter. Considerable expense for power would be eliminated by this two-step method.

A further extension of the salmon ranching method practiced at the government hatchery at Kollafjordur is to release salmon smolts into rivers or release areas not previously frequented by salmon, but where salmon release and recapture facilities can be built. Salmon smolts are in this case transported up to 100 kilometers from their native stream and fed for one month in a pen at the site of release. Immediately seeking the sea after release, the salmon roam for approximately one year, during which time sexual maturity is achieved, and then return to the river of release — a homing instinct for which the Atlantic salmon is noted and which rarely fails. Upon their return for the purpose of spawning, they are taken in a trap and slaughtered. This method has been practiced very successfully at Láros on the Snaefellsnes peninsula where recovery rates exceeding 10% have been realized.

salmon fishing in iceland

By allowing salmon to mature in the ocean, a huge expenditure for power is saved, as well as the cost of feeding and maintenance. However, this factor is offset by the small recovery figure. Two conditions are clearly requisite if the release method is to be profitable: (1) that the percentage of return does not drop below a certain level, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, and (2) that the expenses incurred in maintaining the young salmon up to release size be reasonable.

The rearing period is expensive, as special conditions are needed. Since natural water is always too cold for optimum results, warm water must be added. There is much geothermal heat in Iceland, but it is not always present at locations which are most favourable for the growing and release of salmon. Obviously, coexistence of hatchery and release sites would be ideal, since transportation and manpower costs would be minimised. It is also believed that the yield of returning salmon would be higher if they were released close to the river of origin or at least in the same part of the country.

Warm water for smolt rearing has been obtained in a novel way at one location. A large aluminium plant has been in operation for some time at Straumsvík, and at the same site is the largest hatchery in Iceland which is privately-owned. Excess coolant water from the aluminium reduction facility, which is unpolluted but had no prior application, is now used to warm the water where salmon are maintained. Last summer, 130,000 young fish were released into the sea from this new farm. If the prediction of a 5% recovery of six-pound mature salmon is realised next summer, over twenty tons of fish would be produced at just one farming location.

A total of 400,000 salmon smolts were released throughout Iceland last summer, of which 285,000 were set free in the southwest and west. In these areas, the sea is warmer than the northwestern and northern fjords, where the remainder were released. When the sea is colder, the salmon’s growth is slower and maturity may take an additional year. However, recovery stations in the north and northwest may then benefit by the salmon’s considerably larger size.

The future outlook for this new method of salmon farming, which combines one year of rearing with oceanic feeding for a year or two, looks very promising, and many investors have appeared and are already planning new projects. Among these are several foreign investors, such as the well-known Norwegian firm Mowi, which is already affiliated with the Icelandic salmon growing company ISNO in pen-rearing and salmon ranching operations on the northern coast. Some Icelanders have expressed concern about foreign participation in their country’s salmon farming, particularly since it may seem to be a circumvention of Iceland’s fishing jurisdiction which is meant to protect salmon-growing waters. Others, however, point out that the industry has benefitted from foreign knowledge and experience where pen-rearing of salmon is concerned, plus the fact that investment capital for future expansion is not easily obtainable in Iceland, especially with the continual spiralling inflation which acts as a detriment to potential Icelandic investors. In view of this, foreign participation will probably be accepted without too much opposition, as long as it is kept within reasonable limits.

escaped farmed fish iceland

Balancing the Scales

Protest On Saturday, October 7, a tractor trundled through the streets of downtown Reykjavík with hundreds of protestors in tow. The procession was headed to Austurvöllur Square in front of Iceland’s Parliament for a demonstration. Several organisations – including Landvernd (the Icelandic Environment Association) and the Icelandic Wildlife Fund – had organised the event to […]

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Iceland’s First Cacao Fruit Made Into Chocolate

Iceland cacao fruit

The first cacao fruit ever grown in Iceland was harvested and made into a chocolate bar recently, RÚV programme Landinn reports. It took 10 years of cultivation at the Horticultural School at Reykir for the cacao plants to mature and bear their first fruit. The dark chocolate made from the fruit at Omnom’s chocolate factory tasted surprisingly like coffee.

Unclear how cacao flower was fertilised

“Cacao plants start to blossom when they become mature around 7-10 years of age. We got the first blossoms three years ago, and since then the plants have gotten more and more blossoms. But it really surprised us when we saw the first fruit this summer,” Guðríður Helgadóttir, a horticulturist at the school told RÚV. “As far as we know, this is the first cacao fruit that has fully ripened in Iceland.”

The cacao seeds were planted at Reykir, located near Hveragerði, South Iceland, in 2013. In their natural environment, cacao plants are fertilised by tiny flies. “The flowers are tiny, and you can see that regular bees couldn’t do the job,” Guðríður explains. Since no such flies exist in Iceland, it’s not clear how the flower that grew into Iceland’s first cacao fruit was fertilised.

Smoky coffee flavour

“It’s really exciting,” said chocolatier and Omnom co-founder Kjartan Gíslason. “There are somewhat fewer beans than I’m used to seeing in a fully-ripe fruit, but considering that it’s the first cacao fruit that has grown in Iceland, it’s very normal that it’s not totally perfect in the first go, but we can definitely do something with it.”

The beans were fermented for nine days, and then taken to the Omnom chocolate factory, where they were roasted and hand-made into small dark chocolates. Guðríður was invited to taste the chocolate. She agreed with Kjartan’s analysis that the flavour was somewhat smoky and reminiscent of coffee, but said the chocolate was “really good!”