Ice Cream Iceland! Posted by hulda on Oct 16, 2013 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs
“It’s too cold for ice cream” – said no Icelandic person ever. I have no explanation to how a country that has a cold climate, has its capital city located 66°north and is even called Iceland is able to develop such a fierce passion for ice cream as the Icelanders have. They’re more than willing to pay high prices, queue for almost an hour (I have witnessed this first hand) and generally consider the ice cream season to last for 12 months a year. There are ice cream parlours everywhere and even some that are dedicated to only one type or brand of ice cream and each and every one of them seems to be drawing in an unending stream of clients.
One of the newest additions to these shops is a small ice cream parlour by the harbour called Valdís (here’s a link to a map by ja.is). The name is a bit of a pun: while Valdís is a real female name (val = to choose/valur = a dead warrior, dís = goddess – Valkyrie!) it can also be split differently: vald = power, ís = ice/ice cream. Technically speaking ice cream is rjómaís but the typical shortened form of the word is simply ís. It fact it’s rare to find an ice cream parlour that did not have the word “ís” in its name somehow. 😀
It’s relatively easy to find Valdís if you know which direction to look for and it’s only a short walk from downtown. You can probably tell by the queue that does not always entirely fit indoors. Valdís boasts a large selection of locally made ice cream which you can watch being made. The waffle cones are also selfmade and the waffle irons at the back of the kitchen make the whole place smell heavenly!
Valdís started only recently but it has sure got itself an amazing start. I first came to know of the place in July-August last summer and have since visited countless times. The only minus side to the place is that the queue indeed is often long, but it speaks volumes that people are willing to wait in line even when there’s +50 people in it before them, and that waiting for your turn can at worst indeed take almost a full hour, no exaggerating. Then again the only time I’ve ever left the place because of the queue was once when it was over 80 numbers long and I had to be elsewhere in a half an hour, that’s how much I personally love their ice cream.
There’s one more thing that sets Valdís to its own level of greatness – it’s that their selection includes not only various flavours (some of which can be surprising like their chili-chocolate, salted peanuts-caramel, salmiak etc.) but also options for vegans, which is at this point still rare in Iceland. Their menu changes daily but the vegan options are always included and well marked.
Tegundir dagsins = the flavours of the day
Trönuberja = cranberry (lit. transl. “crane berry”)
Tíramísu = tiramisu
Salthnetu og karamellu = salted peanuts and caramel
Hvítt súkkulaði = white chocolate
Rees’s = Reese’s Pieces
Pistasíu = pistachio
Súkkulaði = chocolate
Jarðaberja = strawberry (lit. transl. “earth berry”)
Mynta = mint
Vanilla = Vanilla
Ananas (V) = Pineapple (marked as vegan)
Kókos = coconut
Hindberja og jarðaberja (V) = raspberry and strawberry (marked vegan)(lit. transl. for hindber =
Does a flavour sound interesting but you’re not entirely certain you want to have a whole serving of it? You can ask to try it first. Cannot make up your mind between two flavours, knowing you can at best eat one ball of ice cream? They sell half-and-half balls too. Or course you cannot just go through the whole selection tasting everything, as tempting as it sounds like. They also don’t sell just half balls but I suppose a minimum amount of one ball of ice cream isn’t too much for anyone (especially when it comes in two flavours).
“Fresh ice cream every day, made at this place. Always newly baked waffle cones. Absurdly low fat percentage.”
A short guide to ordering ice cream in Icelandic. Just switch the flavour to the polfall form of your own favourite!
Let me now tell you about my first visit here, because it’s such a perfect sum of everything that Valdís is. It was one of those typical summer nights in Iceland when it’s so light that it’s hard to believe it’s already 11.00 p.m. and we had just been to a bowling arena with a group of friends. Someone suggested trying out a new ice cream place, and although we were all a bit tired everyone in the group was eager to give it a go.
Upon arrival it looked nothing like a typical, popular ice cream parlour to me. It was located by a side-street removed from the city centre and sitting among storage compartments. The wind from the sea was, as it always tends to be, strong in the area so all of the customers were packed inside like mackerels in a tin. The queue was several dozen numbers long and I remember wondering how on earth did all these people decide on a Tuesday night 11.00 o’clock that they wanted to have an ice cream right then, for which they had to first walk some distance and then wait for ages.
When you’re standing in the line (well, more of a random crowd actually) with friends time tends to fly. Sooner than I noticed it was already my turn and I had a short, panicky moment because I hadn’t been able to decide what I wanted to have. In desperation I quickly chose the first thing that sounded interesting, the salted peanuts-caramel ice cream. That turned out to be a lucky choice: what followed were some of the best ice cream moments of my life. Possibly other people have thought the same, because while the menu does vary the salted peanuts-caramel ice cream seems to be always available.
I fell in love with the place at the first taste so I’m just going to warmly recommend it to all of you in case you’re going to visit Reykjavík any time soon. If you see someone in a much too large woolen Space Invaders sweater ordering half-and-half salted peanuts-caramel + chili chocolate that’s probably me, come say hi. 😀
Ah, lucky me it’s such a short queue!
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