Skólabrú, Reykjavík, Iceland

On the last night in Iceland we were in Reykjavík. We strolled down the ‘main’ street and looked at various menus to see what might be a fun place to eat. I had been wanting to try puffin so was also looking for a restaurant that offered that. We finally decided on Skólabrú.

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We opted to split a first course, which offered the bird I was looking for. Villibráðar tvenna: Léttretyktur lundi með geitaosti; kryddjurtum og ferskum berjum og gæsa carpaccio með rauðlauk á salati, trufflum of sítrónu sósu, or in English, Wild-duo: Lightly smoked puffin with goat cheese, herbs and fresh berries and wild goose carpaccio with red onions, herb salad and truffle-lemon dressing. ISK 2,500.

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The smoked puffin (the one on the left) was nice – in addition to the magnificent presentation! Very tender, mild unique taste. This is what’s great about traveling, enjoying different food. The goose was also amazing. Very different – a bit chewier. Very glad I got to try this.

For the 2nd course we went with Steinbítur með mango, chili og engifersóso, grænmeti og hrísgrjónum or Seawolf with mango, chili and ginger sauce, roasted vegetables and rice. ISK 4,200.

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Had never had Seawolf which is what tempted me about this. It was a bit sweet of a fish, had some ‘body’ to it and just great taste. Another one that would be nice to find at the store at home.

The wait staff was excellent and attentive so check this place out if you are in Reykjavík.

Prior to all this, had a great time seeing some points of interest while driving down to Reykjavík that day.

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La Colina, Borgarnes, Iceland

On night 2 in Borgarnes we opted for La Colina Pizzeria. It was highly recommended (as another one of the few restaurants in the city). It’s a pizzeria and they pretty much stick to that.

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They had a large selection of pizzas and we opted for the De Campo – Sósa, ostur, parmaskinsa, klettasalat, parmesan ostur, oregano or Pizza sauce, cheese, prosciutto, rucola (arugula), parmagiano reggiano, oregano – 2,700 kr. – translation $30 for a thin crust, not huge pizza.

Two of us were splitting this, a lot of it because of the price. I requested half of it without the cheese, which took the waitress a couple seconds to understand but it was delivered. The pizza had a super thin, crisp crust, which was great. They were definitely very light on the pizza sauce (because of lack of veggies in Iceland). Good prosciutto and could have had more arugula, but by now had figured out the lack of veggies, as previously mentioned. But, was very pleased with everything. Pizza in Iceland, bring it on!

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That was before the rest of the fun for the evening – an 8:30pm-ish tee time in Iceland in broad daylight. Also, had I mentioned it was windy in Iceland? Notice the flag in the 3rd picture down — horizontal.

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Ok Bistro, Borgarnes, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, made it to Borgarnes.

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The first night there, checked out one of the few restaurants, Ok Bistro. The name comes from ‘Ok jökull in Borgarfjörður which through the centuries has been the smallest glacier in Iceland. In the last couple of decades it has retreated steadily and in 2014 Icelandic geologists removed the glacier status of Ok. The mountain Ok still stands tall at 1200 meters and it´s located to the west of way bigger Langjökull.’

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The restaurant was recommended by the hotel and has a high rating. Started dinner with an Einstök Icelandic White Ale. Very nice with a taste of coriander and orange. I was expecting a bit of a hefe-likeness/cloudimess to it but not at all.

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We ordered a bread basket (some places give bread free, some don’t). It was freshly baked bread with mixed pepper hummus 890 kr. Tasty.

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For a main course, started with the Minke Whale. Had heard about the whale and wanted to try it. Read about it, too, and the pros/cons. The minke is ok to eat. This was a small plate, which is what we wanted so as to just get a sample.

Grilled Steak of Minke Whale with blueberry and brennivín jam, bacon bits and birch syrup, smoked mushrooms in cream sauce (they kindly put the mushrooms in sauce on the side). 2890 kr

This was amazing. They were small pieces and everything else on the plate made it outstanding. Nice and tender and unique taste. Very glad I got to try it!

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We then wanted something else simple and the chef was able to made us a basic salad (yes, veggies). It was perfect. Just simple ingredients. And at this point, I didn’t care how much veggies cost.

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Great restaurant to check out and you looked right at mountains and water. Glad we went.

And some of the views in the area of Borgarnes include:

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Strondin Bistro & Bar, Vik, Iceland

Was in Vik for two nights and had the choice of pretty much two restaurants. Might as well cover the territory. So the 2nd night checked out Strondin Bistro & Bar.

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A good amount to pick from on the menu but soup was something I really wanted because by Day 3 of the trip I felt like we’d have about a week of rain. Lamb is not a meat I truly have a taste for but that was the only thing I could pick from because the other soup/stew was diary based. So I went for the:

Heimalöguð íslensk kjötsúpa – Homemade Iceland traditional meat soup with lamb and root vegetables. 2,300kr.

It was quite good. The taste in the lamb was very subtle. And the rest of the ingredients were potatoes, onions, carrots that were very nice. The warmth brought it all together.

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Also needed some veggies. Iceland does not have an abundance of these things. But this Strondin place had a Miðjarðarhafssalt: salat m/sólÞurrkuðum tómötum, ólifum, fetaosti, tomötum, agurku og paprika – Mediterranean: salad with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. 1,750 kr.

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That had to be one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Ignoring the lack of veggies the prior few days, the unique combo of sun-dried and ‘regular’ tomatoes in the salad and the dressing it had; SO good!

They also had some delicious bread with some kind of herbs in it to make all this even better, that was just brought to the table.

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Finally, was enjoying all this with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Maronde Pionero from Chile, 1,250 kr. Wine was pricey as usual, but at least since I live in the DC-area, it wasn’t total sticker-shock.

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What also makes a dinner amazing is the staff. A bit shout out to Antonio, Jan and Lammi. They provided great service, making this dinner even better. Thanks!! So, when you’re in Vik, check this place out.

Also, this yellow object started coming out in the sky when we walked out of the restaurant, it was tough to identify. But it provided us this scenery.

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Berg Restaurant, Vik, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, I drove further east and arrived in Vik.

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It’s a small town and there are about two restaurants. So on night one, dinner was at the restaurant in the hotel, Berg. Per the website, “in Icelandic, Berg means “mountain,” a word that not only symbolizes the powerful forces from which this rugged island-nation was formed but, the also the sentiment their beauty inspires. Creativity and inspiration are what drive our chefs, who invite you to sample our delicious Icelandic cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients.”

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While browsing through the menu, the taste of the house came out with bread, salmon on cukes and butter with some type of herb.

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Ordered a nice Sauvignon Blanc – wine wasn’t too cheap. Well over $50/bottle for not overly fancy stuff.

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After looking over the menu, meal choices ended up being:

Appetizer of:

Tiger Shrimps (yes the plural version) in a mango and chili sauce with coconut rice. kr 2,490. Good taste and amazingly coconut-y rice! A bit heavy on the sauce.

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Marinated Chicken Leg with potato dippers and salad with green pesto and garlic skyr (which was on the side) kr. 3,900  A nice salad on the side. One of us had mozzarella balls, the other skipped them.

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Dinner was very nice, and very plentiful. And just had to go back upstairs after finishing.  No long trek ‘home’.

Also, had I mentioned it rained a lot in Iceland? View from hotel room.

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Buck’s

Want to go fishing? Want to camping? Are you in DC? Just go to Buck’s. You might not actually get the true aforementioned, but you’ll get a great dinner.

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I had heard much about this place, located on Connecticut Ave., at the intersection of Nebraska Ave. in upper NW. Buck’s Fishing and Camping, here I come.

My friend and I checked it out in February and they had the Valentine’s theme going on, so the cocktail menu included sparkling rose. Bring it on! A perfect way to start off the evening.

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We opted for an appetizer to tide us over while we looked over the menu. It was a special that night, a white bean hummus with homemade chips.

Cowiche Canyon

When visiting Yakima Valley, had to find a place to enjoy dinner. Many locals suggested the same restaurant – Cowiche Canyon. Ok, I guess that’s where you go. Their tagline: ‘Craft cocktails & American classics are served with a modern twist at this industrial-chic hot spot.

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Arrived and fortunately were able to get a table easily. Had checked out the website before going and they weren’t on OpenTable… And why would one call to make a reservation these days, come on?

So we sat down and of course when in Yakima Valley wine is a priority. After looking over the options we decided to go for a bottle vs. glasses. Reason, if you don’t finish it they just put it in a paper bag and off you go. The vino we chose was the Syncline Subduction Red. It’s a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Counoise. It was a good medium bodied wine, nice fruit notes, and some spice. Just very tasty.

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For dinner (I’d checked out the menu on their site before), I was leaning towards the halibut. Of course halibut is pricey. I also found out why from a friend – it’s fished ‘by hand’ – as in it’s not net-caught. The fisherman use these things called fishing rods, if you’ve ever heard of them. So, it’s all completely manual labor for catching halibut, so pure man hours for each and every piece of halibut we enjoy.

Looked at some of the other seafood and meats, and all looked tempting, but halibut is something I don’t usually cook at home or get frequently because of cost. So, the two of us ended up splitting the halibut and getting starters – a house salad and roasted asparagus as first round, along with the homemade bread. I assumed we would have bread brought to the table as on the menu it mentioned that their breads are handmade from scratch every morning. But, we had to order it instead.

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Service was slightly under par. Took us about 3 requests and 20 minutes to get water. We also ordered the salad and asparagus as first course. Those and the halibut came out quickly (before the water and the bread). We asked for the halibut to go back and be served as the main course. The server was a bit confused.

However, the food was delicious. The halibut was spicy, with the posole it was served on top of. The asparagus had chimichurri on it, which added a great flavor, but the ends that you should snap off were still on there, on several pieces. The salad was nice and simple and the bread was just deadly. Overall, however, the restaurant lived up to the recommendations it received.

El Chalan, DC

I quite enjoy Peruvian cuisine — they have great cocktails and seafood! Was headed to the Kennedy Center one night and found a place sort of near it to check out for that cuisine — El Chalan. It’s in the basement/lower level of a building and is fairly small, so it’s nice and comfortable.

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They had a good amount of options on the menu, which made it tough to decide. But, the first order of business was a pisco sour. So refreshing!

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For dinner, I ended up going with 2 smaller options —

Palta Con Palmito/ Slices of avocado and hearts of palm

Ceviche Mixto/ Fish,shrimp,and squid marinated in mixture of lemon juice and seasoning

My friend went for some stew —

Cabrito Norteno/ Goat stew cooked in beer, vinegar, onion, and spices, served w/ rice and beans

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The ceviche was delicious, I love when I can find it with squid. And the nice basic salad balanced it well.  My friend said the stew was just as it should be and good & hearty. I tried a bite as I’d never had goat. It was fine, nothing overly exciting me for, but glad I was able to try it. So, great food, would check this place out again.

China Chilcano

Was able to dine at a restaurant I had not yet checked out awhile back — China Chilcano in the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Judiciary Square area of Washington, DC. I had heard rave reviews about it so couldn’t wait to check it off my list.

It is one of Jose Andres’ places and it brings together Peruvian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. And their feature cocktail – Pisco Sours.

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I went on a Wednesday night. Made a reservations so the table was all set. The tables were at a very low level (from the ground) so you really have to bend over/down to eat. The light was very yellow-y, too. Not sure why. Hence why the picture all have an odd light to them.

The service was very slow, as in it took a long time to get our waiter. Once he finally arrived, we had to make the required order at such a restaurant — pisco sours! And they also bring you these little nibbles — pepitas.

Once we received the pisco sours (that also took awhile), cheers! Very nice.

The menu is tapas-style, so most of the dishes are small and meant to be shared. The choices were almost overwhelming. But we finally decided on:

Ensalada de Chonta — Hearts of palm, tamarind, avocado, tomato, kiwicha seed, sweet plantain

Ceviche Clásico La Mar — Red snapper, leche de tigre, sweet potato, red onion, cancha, cilantro

California (Roll) — Potato causa, jumbo lump crab, spicy mayo, cucumber, avocado, tobiko, huancaína sauce

HaKao — Steamed glass dumpling, shrimp, pork, ají rocoto-soy sauce

Yàn Wõ “Birds Nest” Soup — Coconut “Birds Nest” soup, pink grapefruit sorbet, mint, sesame, ginger

Like a typical tapas restaurant, these orders came out randomly. Some within a minute then others about 15 minutes later.

The hearts of palm salad was by far my favorite. Could have ordered several of those. The ceviche wasn’t quite what I was expecting because it was ‘soupy’. I could have used a spoon to eat it (picture below, top row, right). Unique and tasty, nonetheless.

The other dishes were very good, as well. The others at the table enjoyed the dessert and said they’ll have to pass next time. I had a small bite of the sorbet and it was interesting. I’ll stick with just the citrus itself.

Very glad I checked the place out, would totally go again.

 

Opah!

Wanted to find something fun to cook the other day so swung into Whole Foods to see what they might have. Roamed over to the seafood section and found something I hadn’t noticed before — Opah. Went to the counter and asked one of the guys what he knew about it. He mentioned it was sort of a cross between tuna and swordfish. Ok, might as well give it a try.

I asked him about cooking and he said either grill or roast. I’d love to grill it but I don’t have the luxury of doing so because I live in an apartment building. I asked about pan searing and he said that works just fine, too. Seasoning-wise, he said don’t go crazy, no more than S&P.

While waiting for it to defrost (dropped it in a bowl of water, still wrapped), did some research on the Opah. They are pretty cool looking. Also found out they are pretty much a Hawaiian fish. Nice way to think about warmth.

It definitely lived up to the ‘firm’ preview. It had a really nice taste  — some creaminess to it and was quite filling. I served it with some kale chips and pita & hummus.

And, let me tell you, the leftovers tasted awesome! Totally worth checking out if you see it at the store.