Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Niceland # 3 - Perlan (The Pearl)

Source: Roger Meggs
Perlan(the pearl) is a striking building located on top of the hill between Reykjavik and Kopavor. It serves as a cafe, restaurant, and museum with outdoor sculptures at the entrance of the property. 

The original building was used to store hot water for the city, designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson. The pearl-like hemispherical structure was added much later in the 1990s, by the city's then major Davíð Oddsson. (As a side note, Oddsson is a business man -owner of the largest private newspaper in Iceland and politician. He has appeared in both Icelandic and International news regarding Icelandic crash of 2008.)

Perlan has some amazing architectural details unlike any other. From the outside, one can look into the basement passage ways through these large plastic orb-like capsules that pop out of the ground. 

For those who want to visit Perlan, entrance to the building is free. There is an amazing view of the ocean at sunset. The cafe at the top is cafeteria style food where I grabbed a mediocre chocolate muffin. The area is also a restaurant where one can order a real meal.
Source: Mckaysavage

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Niceland # 2 - Skyr

As a vegetarian on a limited budget, I have found an authentically Icelandic solution to surviving cheaply. Skyr is an old fashion Icelandic dairy product made of yeast and milk protein. Sold at every supermarket and road stop, it is a wonderful combination of cheap and rich in protein. Skyr can be eaten with cereal, used in ice cream, and baked into breads. It's versatility can be used as an inexpensive way to increase protein intake while in Iceland.

Skyr is an authenticall Icelandic soured dairy product. Thicker than yoghurt, it was once prepared in other Scandinavian countries, but is presently unique to Icelandic cuisine. Traditionally, skyr is made by heating skimmed milk and skyr bacteria and cooled to coagulate. It is then strained through fabric. There are added flavors until recently, the Icelandic manufacturers added sugar, vanilla, berry and other flavorings common to yogurt to increase its appeal.

Adding a thick, high protein substance like Skyr can create lovely baked goods. I use them for cake, pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Almost all of the ingredients can be purchased at Bonus, an Icelandic discount supermarket. They're everywhere in Iceland. I have three near my apartment in Reykjavik.

As a side note, I use organic health products such as spelt and agave to replace flour and sugar. These can be purchased in Bonus under the 'Solla' organic section; They're in an orange packaging.
 
Bonus Skyr Muffins ingredients (dough):
  • 2 cups Spelt
  • 1/2 cup Agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups plain Kia Skyr (Blue container)
  • 4 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter (Green rapping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl: spent, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, crushed walnuts, and curshed pecans.
2. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add skyr, butter, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix together until uniform consistancy.
3. Proceed to mix in the dry ingredients into the skyr mixture to create the batter. Once mixed together spoon the mixture into muffin tray. Each cup should be filled halfway.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Niceland # 1 - Reykjavik

Welcome to Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. Reykjavik is the most populated city in Iceland, totaling around 200,000 people.  The county area includes an urban area and low-density suburbs that separate both houses and neighborhoods by large stretches of land. Reykjavik  is also the most northern capital in the world. The area coastline is characterized by peninsulas, coves, straits, and islands which came about in the Ice Age when the area was covered by a large glacier and sea water. The area's physical characteristics continue to be affected by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Holland to Reykjavik; I have been visiting Iceland for four years, spending up to three months at a time. Iceland is a place I have wanted to live for some time. I have wonderful friends there and I am looking forward to finally being their neighbor. The move means I'll be leaving my life in Holland and moving to Reykjavik for who know how long. I look forward to the random fun and adventures I'll have with my Icelandic friends. I have an apartment, roommates, kitties, and a vast collection of Icelandic wool clothing. 
From my experience in Iceland there are a few questions I've come up with that truly separate Iceland from other European countries:
“Why is the country almost devoid of trees?”
“Why are there only a handful of insects in Iceland?”
“How did the pre 20th century people survive on an island country without fruit or vegetables?”
Kisses on the look out.
Stoic thinker.