There is Craft Beer in Iceland

Ul Fur IPA Iceland

My husband and I went to Iceland last month for our 20th anniversary trip. I had seeing the Northern Lights on my bucket list and Iceland seemed way more romantic and fun than the other places we could see them. As the trip grew nearer I was getting more and more excited. Iceland seemed like such a cool country, every time I googled there was something new I wanted to see when we got there. There was one exception, the beer, in particular my hoppy IPA’s . I saw they had some european imports and some local breweries but where were my hops? I was worried I would find a lot of dark malty beers and Belgium style yeasty ales or worse American imports like Bud Light, after all beer has only been allowed in Iceland since 1989, they have a lot of catching up to do. At the first restaurant we went to, we asked for an IPA but none of the bartenders or servers seemed to know what that was, so we ordered a couple local beers on tap, Gull and Viking. Oh no it’s true, Bud copy cats. Both watery and not much flavor except fizz. They had Guinness in a bottle and I thought that was my fate for the next 3 days.

The next day we went sight seeing and ended up at Strokkur Geysir around lunch time. They had a cute cafe with a buffet of authentic Icelandic fare. It was cafeteria style and there were coolers of beer  and wine that you could go up and chose from, imagine my excitement when I saw India Pale Ale on one of the bottles. It was the UL Fur brewed right there in Iceland. Guess what it was delicious, nice and hoppy like an American IPA, hints of grapefruit which I love, very balanced and only 5.9% ABV (dare I say a sessionable IPA,why can’t we do that in the US).

Well now that we knew what we were doing, we found that most places carried this beer they just didn’t know what an IPA was, luckily we now knew what the label looked like and could point when we ordered. If they brewed IPA’s in Iceland though, someone somewhere must know about beer.  Its now day 2 of the trip, I have seen the Northern Lights, so my new bucket list item is find a craft beer bar in Iceland. Thank god for smart phones, my husband checked ratebeer.com and found a new highly rated beer bar called Micro Bar while we were walking around Reykjavik. As luck would have it we happened to be on the same street it was located on, and in the same block. Ok we even walked by it a couple of times until we realized it was in the lobby of The City Center Hotel.

Micro Bar, Reykjavik, Iceland

I believe there were about 8 taps and tons of bottled beer. They had an extensive Mikkeller selection as well as European and American Craft Beer Imports. Staff was very knowledgeable and friendly and matched us up perfectly to the right beers.

Micro Bar Beer List

We made it our go to spot for the rest of our trip. We even got these to go. Mikkeller’s 1000 IBU, a rare find. (Disappointing though, way to sweet and malty for my tastes)

Mikkelller 1000 IBU

So know before you go, there is good beer in Iceland you just have to know what to look for and where to find it. Oh and I did see the Northern Lights, they were fantastic as well.

Northern Lights, Iceland

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Thats What Friends are For: Hedy Goldsmith’s Basil Panna Cotta with Berries

Basil Panna Cotta with Berries

It always happens, you can go for weeks with nothing to do, and then you plan something and there are a million things to do on that same date. My husband and I planned our 20th anniversary trip to Iceland so I could see the Northern Lights, a bucket list item for me. It was a gorgeous, awesome, romantic, fun and adventurous trip. Everything I could ever hope for. But at that same time here in my home town was Food and Wine’s Buick Discovery Tour with my Simon LeBon of chefs Hugh Acheson. What, how could I miss Hughnibrow, the funny judge on my favorite show Top Chef?  Never fear, I have the greatest best friend in the world. She went, she’s not really a foodie but I think she’s converting, and guess what she got me.
Hugh Acheson

Look he even spelled my name right! She gave me all her recipe cards (equivalent of baseball cards for foodies) from the event, including this delicious Basil Panna Cotta from Hedy Goldsmith. I love Panna Cotta and the addition of basil added a fresh and yummy flavor, I would also like to try it with mint some time. I did not make the Strawberry Consomme, we had some delicious fresh berries in the fridge so I just threw those on top, still tasted fantastic. Here is the recipe, the only thing I changed was the vanilla bean, I did not have one so I just added 1tsp of vanilla extract instead. One thousand Thank Yous to Hugh and my Bestie, I think I will frame my recipe card and put it next to my framed Madison Square Garden Duran Duran ticket.

Hedy Goldsmith's Basil Panna Cotta

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Basil Panna Cotta with Berries