MARBLE RYE BREAD
This was my first time making bread so I wanted to go all out. I used this recipe and this recipe to make the bread and this video was great at teaching you how to make the iconic swirl. It was fairly easy. I made it all with my kitchen aid mixer, starting with the paddle attachment and once the ingredients are combined, switching to the hook attachment for kneading. Pro tip: Feel the dough as you go along and make sure it's not dry. Add water, about one teaspoon at a time, and continue kneading until the water is incorporated. It should be sticky, like the back of a post-it. The dark rye dough, with the cocoa, will have a drier consistency so you'll have to add a bit more water than the white rye.
Ah, my favorite part! We brined the meat for about 4 days in a large ziploc bag. We utilized a mix of this recipe and this recipe. We did about 4 pounds of beef brisket. Make sure to place the ziploc bag on a baking sheet to avoid any messes in your refrigerator. We liked adding veggies to the brine and then during the boiling part for the meat to retain and develop more flavor. Once the corned beef is ready, take it out of the water and let it rest on a cutting board. It tastes so much better once it has cool down a bit.
The Kitchn is my go-to for all things cooking. Their writing is so approachable! I did a small batch of sauerkraut in a mason jar for a quicker turnaround. It's beginner level, for sure. I didn't have rocks, so I just filled up a small ziploc bag with rice and shoved it in the smaller jar for weight. Also, place a cabbage leaf between the to-be sauerkraut and the jar so it's easier to push it down. Here's the recipe. If you're feeling ambitious, here's a larger batch recipe. Just remember, the secret is massaging the cabbage like your life depends on it!
Sorry guys, the cheese was store-bought. Apparently, swiss cheese is very labor intensive. I'm trying my hand at this recipe soon though.
THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING
I used this easy recipe from the Food Network. I did almost two cloves though (I LOVE garlic!) and relish from my canned goods. My relish already had a few habanero pieces in it so it added a bit of heat to the dressing. I love this recipe.
P.S. I also have a Reuben Pinterest board. Follow me there!
Reykjavik took me by surprise. What a beautiful, warm city. Everyone is incredibly nice. Seriously. Case in point: We woke up around 7 a.m. to meet with our excursion group and we wanted a cup of coffee, but nothing was open. Everything opens around 10 a.m. or later in Iceland. As we walked around, a lady outside of a small market said hi to us and asked if we needed help as we looked lost, but we just said we were okay that we just needed coffee. She said to come into her market and she would make us coffee even though she wasn't open. And she did! That's Iceland in a nutshell.
We stayed in an Airbnb right next to Hallgrímskirkja and walking distance to the city center. Let's just say, we ate and drank a lot since it was just a 10-minute walk. Food is not very expensive, if you know where to go. Drinking is a lot more expensive (like, exorbitantly expensive) so we just drank a few times. If you do want to drink, I suggest buying beer and liquor at the airport duty-free before you exit so you don't get hit with that crazy Scandinavian alcohol tax. Here are a few recommendations on where to eat and drink when you're in the city.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - The famous hot dog stand. It's so delicious even Bill Clinton travels there just to have one. We got two hot dogs each and a drink. Each hot dog is about $3. Get it with everything, it's worth it! Bring cash as it's faster. It's a good stop while you're exploring the city.
Eldsmiojan (Pizza!) - We got dinner here the night after we returned to the city. We got a medium pizza and cokes for about $22. Sometimes, you just need a slice of pizza, you know? The restaurant has three very tiny floors so there's plenty of sitting and the atmosphere is really chill.
The Laundromat Cafe - We visited the Laundromat Cafe after our road trip around the island since, well, everything we owned was covered in mud. The basement has a few washers and dryers, for an affordable price. They have seats downstairs so you can wait for your laundry and still get service. We grabbed some coffee and used the time to catch up on e-mails and social media. The service is great and so it's the food. The upstairs looks like a library. So gorgeous.
Noodle Station - Noodle Station is awesome, especially on rainy days. They only have a couple of options, basically meat or vegetarian noodle soup. It's so good and cheap. It reminded me of Atlanta's Buford Hwy. They are quick too, so if you see a line out the door, don't get discouraged.
Fiskmarkaourinn | Fish Market - The one goal we had before we arrived was to eat seafood in Iceland. Iceland is famous for its seafood so we splurged on a meal at the Fish Market. I recommend making a reservation as it gets packed. Their service is out of this world amazing and the food just get better with every entree.
*FAVORITE* Vitabar - Vitabar is my favorite place in Iceland. Our Airbnb hosts recommended it as it was only a block from their place. It's a couple of blocks behind the church, at the corner of Vitastígur and Bergþórugata and it's beyond worth it. It's a tiny dive bar with the best blue cheese garlic-infused burger EVER. I still dream about it. It was the first time I've ever beat Alex at eating a burger. I mean, I don't even have a picture of it! (Here's one) It's a favorite among the Iceland residents as well. Stop by!
Eldur & Is - Delicious gelato and crepes right in the city centre. Get two scoops of ice cream in hot chocolate or espresso. SO good. Great place to grab coffee as well. Also, they have wi-fi, in case you need to check your Instagram.
**and if you want to grocery shop and cook at your place, head to Bonus. It's the cheap grocery store in Iceland. We cooked a delicious dinner on our road trip with food from there as well as stocked up on snacks and other things.
Cafe Babalu - Single-handedly the cutest cafe in all of Iceland. The bathroom is Star Wars-themed (be still my heart!) and the exterior is covered in murals and vibrant colors. It's a neat place to unwind after a day of sightseeing and catch up on work.
12 TonarRecord Store - Record shopping with a side of espresso? Yes, please. The staff will make you espresso while you peruse the store. My favorite was listening to new CDs on old school CD players in the back.
Kaffi Mokka - Reykjavik's oldest coffee shop is a great stop for local coffee with a great selection of sandwiches and waffles. The crowd is a good mix of tourists and local artists so it's fun place to people watch and grab a cup of coffee during the day.
If you're big into beer, Kaldi Bar is awesome for micro brews and MicroBar has a handful of drafts dedicated to local breweries.
Lebowski Bar - Named after the one and only, it's a great place to grab a brew or peanut butter milkshake. You can get a full meal (burger, fries and drink) for about $16. The atmosphere is lively and a great place to mingle with younger locals.
Have you been to Reykjavik? What's the first thing you would eat there?
These pictures were taken on September 2014.
While most people complain about touristy attractions, I'm a big believer that you should try everything once. You never know, you just might love it. Case in point: The Blue Lagoon. Blog post after blog post during my planning sessions told us to skip it. Reasons? Well, it's too overpriced, too boring, too crowded, the list goes on. But there's something iconic about the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Whether it was the gorgeous pictures on Pinterest or just the word of mouth about how beautiful the water was, we just knew we wanted to go and soak in its expensive, man-made waters at least once.
Well, no regrets here. Yes, it's overpriced. We got the Standard Package (50 euros) and it included an algae face mask, one drink, a towel/robe and skin care pack. But not too crowded, the pool area is big and they have enough changing rooms, lockers, etc. to accommodate a huge crowd. We bought our tickets ahead of time as part of our airport shuttle, Reykjavik Excursions.The grounds also have an area where you can store your luggage for cheap.
We arrived at the airport, stressed out to the max from almost not being able to come back to Iceland from Amsterdam because of the infamous volcano, so we made this our first stop. Best decision ever. It was relaxing and a really unique experience. The staff was so friendly! The milky blue water made my skin feel amazing (my hair, not so much. Bring conditioner!) and the landscape around the pool area made us feel like we were on the moon. It's worth it! Stop by when you're in Iceland, to or from the airport. It's a little splurge that will make you feel like a million bucks. Once we were done, we jumped on the next FlyBus to Reykjavik (about 35 minutes) and our Airbnb hosts picked us up from the bus station. The perfect start to our trip.
So what do you think? Would you visit the Blue Lagoon?
These photos were taken on September 2014.