Four years ago I took a much needed vacation to Iceland. it was just a quick get away, labor day weekend plus two days. But it was one of the most relaxing and satisfying trips I’ve taken.
Iceland is perfect for short trips. For one thing, it is close to the United States, 5 hour flight time from New York and merely 7 hours from the West Coast. Secondly, it is a land blessed with many natural beauties: glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs and countless waterfalls, not to mention aurora borealis sightings most time of the year.
Unlike other bigger European countries such as Italy, France or Germany, Iceland provides just enough sights and activities to keep you busy without feeling overwhelmed. During my short trip, I soaked up the healing powers of the Blue Lagoon on the first day; Visited Gollfoss, the golden circle, and rode snow mobile on a glacier the second day; Treked one of Europe’s largest glaciers on the third day before hopping on a boat at this photogenic glacier lagoon; And on the fourth day I took a hike in Thórsmörk and checked out the volcano ashes of the Eyjafjallajökulll eruption in 2010.
I have also had some amazing meals in Iceland with fresh local ingredients, including local seabirds/waterfowls, wild berries, foraged mushrooms and the Icelandic lamb.
Sheep in Iceland are the happiest kind. They are free to roam the mountains and valleys most of the year, feeding on grass, herbs and berries. Every autumn farmers mount their pony-sized Icelandic horse to begin their annual sheep round-up(Réttir). It is quite a spirited event that takes place all over the country from September 5th to 27th, and comes with a lot of drinking, singing and dancing.
Back in the US, Whole Foods Market carries Icelandic Lamb for a short period of time starting late September.
Different stores may carry different cuts. So make sure to call ahead, especially if you have a specific cut in mind. I got a hold of some lamb chops and pan-fried them.
Icelandic lambs are mild and delicate in flavor. To avoid over-seasoning, I simply sprinkled mine with Arctic Herb Salt my friend brought back from Iceland, and gave the peppermill a good turn on both sides, then it’s off to the stove.
If you prefer it medium rare, you don’t need to turn on the oven. They are perfect at medium rare.
If you think they are too red for you, stick in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
I like mine golden and crispy on the outside, pink and tender on the inside. So simple and so satisfying.
October is for Iceland. Skál!