Saturday, March 3, 2012

You Have To Try It

Ísbúð Vesturbæjar’s legacy of tasty, old-fashioned ice cream
Words by Julia Staples
Photos by Emily Burton
For the last 40 years, Ísbúð Vesturbæjar has served some most delicious ice cream in Reykjavík. A well-known favourite amongst locals, this neat shop that looks like the inside of a spaceship is tucked away in the lovely west end of Reykjavík. It has consistently offered some staple varieties of soft serve along with some fabulous toppings to crazy up your cone.

We asked owner Baldur Bjarnason how he got started in the ice cream business. “I worked as a pilot for Icelandair... I have no idea what I am doing in this ice cream business,” he admits. “It’s fun, though.” He says Ísbúð Vesturbæjar has a lot of young customers and very old customers that have been loyal to the store for many years. “It’s a nice business. It’s always busy, and it’s a lot of work.”

Baldur says that one of the most popular ice cream choices is vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate sprinkled with snickers. There are no plans to change anything, because Baldur thinks the customers wouldn’t like change. “We serve old-fashioned ice cream which is different from other places’,” he tells us, refusing to divulge any secrets on the recipe. “We are an independent store. We make our own ice cream which you cannot buy anywhere else. It’s a special place.”  Ísbúð Vesturbæjar’s ice cream is one for the ages that will hopefully keep on service up delicious cold treats for years and years to come.

Today Is Beer Day!

A bad day for a hangover
Words by Melanie Franz
Yes, today is Iceland’s beer day! It was only on March 1, 1989 that beer became legal in Iceland. While the prohibition of most strong alcohol ended in 1935, the vote did not include the legalization of beer because it is cheaper than strong spirits and was thus more likely to lead to a life of depravity. It took more than 70 years and a yearlong debate, before the parliament voted in favor of lifting the ban. So only 23 years later Iceland is still going strong and has a lot of catching up to do for the lost time. Therefore, today is dedicated to the celebration of the wonderful world of beer.

Many bars have great offers on beers, today the perfect beginning for a long weekend. If you are pickier about which kind of beer you drink, our Beer-Off, in which we reviewed a bunch of Icelandic microbrews, might point you in the right direction.

So head out to the next bar and enjoy a cold one. And then start a long weekend or drag yourself to work the next day. Whatever you prefer. We are still waiting for March 2 to become national hangover day...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall & Conference Centre selected as "Best Performance Space"

The centerpiece of this complex on Reykjavík’s eastern harbor is an 1,800-seat concert hall, but the standout feature is the southern façade, designed collaboratively by the architects, engineers, and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Composed of 12-sided glass-and-steel “quasi-bricks”—developed in Eliasson’s studio—the structure, illuminated at night, acts like a massive kaleidoscope mixing light from many sources and reflections of the city to spectacular effect. 2 Austurbakki; 354/528-5050;

From the Jury
“Harpa evokes water in all of its grandeur—the prismatic quality of the glass reflecting ice and clouds.” —Michele Oka Doner, artist
Pictures of HARPA on Flicr

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Minister Agrees With ÁTVR

Words by Paul Fontaine
Minister of Finance Oddný Harðardóttir told reporters that she believes that decisions recently taken by the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) to reject the sale of two different brands of alcohol due to their labeling is fully within the spirit of the law.

As reported earlier this month, Motörhead brand shiraz was rejected for import because the name of the band "is a reference to users of the illegal drug amphetamine, and the lyrics of the band's songs are regularly about war, the abuse of power, irresponsible sexual activity and drug abuse." Later, Black Death beer was also rejected for import on the grounds that the message "drink in peace" written on the label is outside the bounds of what is allowed to be printed on a label of an alcoholic beverage.

These decisions have been met with a great deal of public resistance, but Minister of Finance Oddný Harðardóttir told Vísir that they are fully within the spirit of the law. The Ministry of Finance is the ministry that oversees ÁTVR.

Oddný added that she has seen labeling on alcohol that she would consider questionable. "I've seen Easter beer with cute little ducklings on it," she said. "And alcohol decorated in such a way that it looks like juice."

Carbon Recycling In Effect Near Blue Lagoon

Carbon Recycling In Effect Near Blue Lagoon

Words by Paul Fontaine
A recycling plant which turns carbon dioxide into Renewable Methanol (RM) is in operation near the Blue Lagoon.

Geothermal power, while cleaner than petroleum-based power, does produce emissions. Among them is carbon dioxide. RÚV reports that the plant, run by Carbon Recycling International (CRI), takes on about 85% of the carbon dioxide produced by the geothermal power plant at Svartsengi for conversion.

CRI uses electricity to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water atoms, and then binds the hydrogen to carbon dioxide to create Renewable Methanol (RM), a clean fuel. CRI's particular conversion process requires little electrical power, so more energy is produced than is used in production.

While usually vehicles need to be specially converted to use RM, it can be blended with petrol for use in traditional vehicles. However, CRI hopes that hybrid cars using 85% RM to 15% petrol will increase in Iceland.

CRI has been operating in Iceland since 2007. According to CRI's website, "The Icelandic New Technology Development Fund awarded CRI and its partners, SORPA bs (a public partnership for waste management for the capital area) and the Innovation Center of Iceland a three year grant to fund a research and development project titled Waste gasification and fuel production."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hunting in Greenland

Hunting in Greenland Reindeer - Musk Ox - Ptarmigan - Eider Ducks - Seals - Arctic Hears.
Greenland is a hunting paradise, here we have exclusive hunting area of 500 square Kilometers. Our Caribou quota is every season 200 trophy bulls. Our one of kind programs have become popular and they are fast becoming a firm favourite amongst our clients. Our Caribou hunters have been returning full of praise for what they have experienced there.
New for 2012 , we are the first outfitter in Greenland to build a proper hunting camp. We are building 12 comfortable twin sleeping cabins. There we will create a very special atmosphere, there will be a large get-to-gether place in the middle of the camp where the sitting area and dining area will be located all around fire place. This will be the cooking area as well, both charcoal- and gas BBQ. There will be running water and warm showers. You can be sure that you will experience the true feeling of beeing an adventurous outdoor person in this camp. In the evenings if you feel like there is only few hundred meters to the next fishing place, if you want to have a little moment with your self with a rod in your hand. The Arctic Char tastes great on the Grill! Meals in the camp will be mostly from the local nature, that is Caribou meet , fresh Arcic Char and fresh fish from the sea, basic but very tasteful and healthy.
Going hunting Caribou in Greenland you have the choice of hunting Musk Ox as well, Arctic Hare, Seals, Ptarmigan and Marine Birds. This will keep you very busy for the whole week, and if you still have a little bit of time you grab some of our fishing rods and you go fishing for the Searun Arctic Char. Bow hunters will find Greenland extremely interesting as the landscape is made for bow hunters, canyons, big rocks, hides that allow bow hunters to get carefully very close to the animals.
We have a vast hunting concession in the south of Greenland, whitch also offers endless fishing opportunities on hundreds of rivers and lakes. Some times even in the river mouths when the char run up the rivers. Those lakes connected to the ocean by clear rivers provide the best fishing, but the fjords are also extremely productive in the early part of the season. Char start to gather in the fjords near the river mouths in early July and begin to move into the rivers by mid-month.
5 days trip Friday to Tuesday July - September.
8 days trip Friday to Friday July - September.

Searun Arctic Char fishing in Greenland.

Greenland is the wildest place on earth for char fishing. This is the biggest island in the world, and in fact one of biggest countries as well. Greenland is inhabited with only 55.000 people, sharing thousands of rivers and lakes, full of Arctic Char. This means that many of those fishing areas are hardly fished at all, some rivers have not seen an angler - ever. You will catch Searun Arctic Char from 1 – 7 lbs. The fishing is on a vouluntary catch and release basis, but you will appreciate this high quality fish on the BBQ as often as you like.
Fish are plentiful but the season is very short. You have to be there at the right time of year. The best time is from middle of July until mid September. We fly you in through Iceland and you have the option of either a 5 day tour or an 8 day tour. Friday – Tuesday or Friday – Friday.
Our camp in Greenland is a basic adventure, outdoor camp. It is one of a kind, sitting in the unspoiled nature, where you are completely alone in the wilderness. The camp consists of 12 twin bed cabins. In the center of the cabin area is an outdoor BBQ and dining facilities under a roof. There youwill enjoy sitting around a fireplace, sharing tactics and swapping stories. The camp is designed and built to create the exact atmosphere of being in the middle of the wilderness of Greenland. It is not a luxury camp but it serves your basic needs. A comfortable bed, outdoor showers and toilets.
Greenland char run between 1 lbs. and 7lbs, but we've caught a few weighing close to 10 lbs. We have a vast hunting concession in the south of Greenland, which offers endless fishing opportunities on hundreds of rivers and lakes.
They are free takers of both streamers and nymphs. Bright flies with orange or magenta in the dressing are most effective. You have to be well prepared for good long walks in Greenland Wilderness.
Arctic Char is very tasteful fish , ideal on the evening BBQ, just with butter and potatoes. By mid July the rivers and lakes are full of fish. August is a more comfortable time to fish as the mosquitoes are beginning to die off.
Endless fishing areas from along the coast to the endless rivers and lakes.
The lakes, that connect to the ocean by clear rivers, provide the best fishing, but the fjords are also extremely productive in the early part of the season.
5 days trip Friday to Tuesday June - September.
8 days trip Friday to Friday June - September.