Join us in June 2019 on a wonderful rustic food and cooking holiday. Summer in Iceland is all about celebrating the longest of days and making the most of the countryside and coast in full colour and bloom. Surrounded by the finest freshest ingredients, and with small food producers and secret corners of Iceland waiting to be discovered, what better than to join us for our Al Fresco food and cooking holiday?
Combining some fine dining and a couple of nights in Reykjavik with a detailed introduction to the history of Icelandic food, farming and dairying, we focus mainly on time in the beautiful and varied countryside of West Iceland where we’ll be cooking, eating and walking. Travelling by bus, with utensils and primus on board we’ll enjoy outdoor meals along the way, visiting farms and food producers and staying in small hotels and rustic farmhouses. Eat on the coast, in a meadow, beside a stream, on a lava field…wonderful local produce prepared and cooked in the company of one of Iceland’s leading food gurus, Eirný Sigurðardóttir, who’ll inform, entertain and cook with the small group travelling with her. Cook with local fresh ingredients including lovage, chervil, thyme, angelica and rhubarb, prepare dulse, barley and crowberries combined with tender fresh lamb, beef and arctic char to create each delicious meal. There will be stops at bakeries too, for local specialities and plenty of opportunities to try and buy along the way, and to learn from Eirny about the products and the ingredients they contain.
Iceland Al Fresco is taking place from 18-24 June 2019, it’s a 7 day holiday starting and ending in Reykjavik with options to add on extra days before or afterwards for more food related enjoyment or anything else. In keeping with all other Iceland Traveller holidays, the programme will be carefully planned and organised and all of the details clearly explained. We’ll be launching the holiday at our local Food Festival in Surbiton, Surrey on May 11-13 2018, when Eirny will be presenting her Icelandic Cheese and Skyr supper followed by two days at the Surbiton Village Fete. Come and visit us if you can! The itinerary is below, with all the details currently available. After Eirný’s visit in May we’ll be adding more detail, so let us know if you’d like updates from us or see facebook information here.
More here about Eirny and the Surbiton Food Festival 2018. While we finalise the plans for this holiday, we are gathering the names of those who are interested to know more. For enquiries or more information about Iceland Al Fresco, please contact us .
Day 1: Tuesday June 18
Arrive at Keflavik international, and join our private transfer to your accommodation in Reykjavik. It’s a short walk to our location for dinner and the introduction to Iceland’s food and farming history which will be led by Eirný Sigurðardóttir, our chef and expert tutor during the holiday. Iceland enjoys nearly 24 hour daylight at this time of year, so the night need not end after dinner. Reykjavik’s harbour and shoreline lead off in one direction, the city and its bars and cafés lie in the other. Welcome to Iceland at midsummer!
Day 2: Wednesday June 19
After breakfast, the coach, already loaded with simple cooking equipment, a table and chairs, will pick us up and depart for Iceland’s west coast. The journey from Reykjavik takes us through one of Iceland’s most ingenious feats of engineering – a road tunnel that runs underneath the whale fjord, and from there on to the market town of Borganes. We’ll be carrying some of the ingredients that we need but we’ll need to gather more along the way, so there will be stops at local supermarkets, farm shops and to food producers too. Icelandic supermarkets are always of great interest, even for those who don’t count food as a particular interest. Fish and meat preserved and served all ways, together with a baffling array of confectionery mostly containing liquorice. Fortunately with Eirny to guide us, there’s a chance to avoid some of the more challenging goodies that lie in wait on the shelves!
Lunch will be the first of al fresco meals, out on the beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula, where we will be spending the next 2 nights. This area is described as ‘Iceland in a nutshell’ because of its incredibly wide range of geological landscapes and features, including coast, volcanoes, lava fields and the stunning Snæfellsjökull glacier. Here there are dairy and sheep farms, minute harbours a few tiny settlements scattered along the coast. In the summer time, the wind blows through the meadow grasses and wild flowers and bird life is abundant. The scenery is dramatic, unspoilt and uncrowded, and by the time we arrive at the hotel there’s definitely a sense of being somewhere fairly remote. Dinner will be the speciality of the house, prepared using the freshest locally caught fish served in the hotel’s delightfully quirky restaurant. With a long and very beautiful stretch of sandy beach just a short walk away, and possibly the view from our dining table, the evening can be completed with a late evening stroll to watch the waves and perhaps a seal playing in the surf.
Day 3: Thursday June 20
With 2 nights in this gorgeous location, we will spend today exploring the area around the Snæfellsjökull glacier, the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes and the coastline of beautiful Breiðafjörður Bay famous for beautiful seaweed, salt flakes and shellfish, often also for whales but these are only for admiring, of course. Fishing is an important industry here and the picturesque town of Stykkisholmur has a thriving harbour. Visiting the tiny coves and learning about the lives of the fishermen that worked here is not only fascinating, but it’s also clear to see just how challenging a livelihood this was until relatively recently. A stop today will be to discover the production method behind one of Iceland’s more notorious ‘specialities’, fermented shark or hákarl. Today’s al fresco experience will be coastal, and after our circular trip around the glacier, dinner at the hotel will be a choice from the restaurant menu, more details of this to follow.
Day 4: Friday June 21
Midsummer! Leaving the west coast, we pick up the route across the north of the Snæfellsnes this morning, and keeping the shallow waters and numerous skerries of Breiðafjörður Bay to our left, drive east and then north towards Búðardalur in the Dalir region of Iceland. Cheese and dairy production is of importance here and has been since early settlement in in 9th and 10th centuries. It was from the harbour at Búðardalur that the replica Viking ship, Islendingur, set sail in July 2000 to retrace the journey made 1000 years ago from Iceland to Vinland (America). With so much emphasis on the dairy industry, we’ll be calling in to meet a specialist producer of skyr and ice cream and very likely some of his herd too, who kindly produce gallons of rich milk from which his products are derived. Our evening stay is the most rustic of our locations, at a farmhouse and cottages on the edge of the Westfjords, where we will be preparing our own dinner as well as lunch today, and can enjoy the end of the longest day in a really special and remote location.
Today’s journey will be a day of very little travelling and will focus on a farm and local area visit – extra special because the farmers are rearing sheep organically and it’s a place where time really does seem to stand still. Sheltered by hills, with rolling green fields and stunning views across Breiðafjörður Bay, this summer landscape is full of angelica, wild flowers, blue water lapping against stony beaches with seaweed lying in the shallows. We’ll be sure to be cooking with farm products from here, and second evening at the farmhouse will give us more opportunities to prepare and cook with Eirny.
Day 6: Sunday June 23
After breakfast, we turn south heading back towards Reykjavik, and an interesting farm hotel visit for our lunch. Although we’ll have done a reasonable amount of walking so far during the week, there’s a place nearby that we can’t drive by without making a stop. It’s a beautiful lava cone, but not only is that an experience in itself, the views from half way up and from the top are quite something and from a food and farming perspective, you can also see the layout of old farm enclosures down on the land below. The climb to the top is optional, but everyone should hike some of the way. After that, we’ll be introduced to geothermal food production and the opportunity too for some warm water relaxation before we return to Reykjavik, and the hustle and bustle of the city. We will conclude our food and cookery experience with a wonderful meal prepared for us at Eirny’s choice of restaurant, and there’s every chance that we won’t know where this will be for a little while yet.
Day 7: Monday June 24
Today is departure day and we’ll arrange your transfer to the airport, and if there’s time you can see more of Reykjavik, perhaps visit the Blue Lagoon or spend another night or two to see more of Iceland. We’ll be delighted to help with any plans that you’d like to consider.