International gourmet food items at Reykjavik, Iceland’s Ostabúðin [classic article]

Reykjavik, Iceland‘s Ostabúðin — “Cheese Shop” in English — is much more than a gourmet boutique. Though I was there early in the morning, apparently they serve meals on site during lunchtime. But for me, it was a shopping and learning experience.

Ostabúðin brings in the best of Europe to its northernmost capital: French cheeses, Italian pastas and more share shelf space in an attractively laid out boutique. Some of the things — such as rarer French cheeses — are difficult to find even in the US.

Advice at Reykjaviik’s Ostabúðin

Where Ostabúðin stands out from other gourmet shops is its staff’s friendliness and willingness to explain things. I was recently at a gourmet store in Belgium where they were so rude, they got the whole store to start laughing at me, because I am a food writer! I shoved my wallet back so far into my purse, I’m surprised it didn’t go into another dimension.

Instead, the folks at Ostabúðin told me what they really think about such things as fermented shark. The lady at the counter asked if I had ever eaten horse chorizo sausage. Before I could say no — and not to fret about it, either — she had cut off a big hunk with a knife. What could I do? I had to taste a bite. And you know what? It was excellent. I kept gushing about how good it was and that I was so relieved.

Icelandic food at Reykjavik’s Ostabúðin

Iceland has lots of rare foods artisan or wild crafted outside the capital. Wild thyme, sea salts, licorice salt, fish, meat and other gourmet treats await you at Ostabúðin. No thanks to a local connecting flight — damn you, Kayak! — I couldn’t bring back larger containers of liquids. Of course, you can’t bring meats back to the States, either. However, gorgeous sea salts were definitely must-buy. I have a special salt that needs to be refrigerated (which perplexes me) and one with Icelandic wild thyme, a seasoning commonly seen at Reykjavik restaurants.

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