Hidden gem in Reykjavík

Yesterday we tried a new Mexico restaurant in Reykjavík.

It’s located in the mid-centre.

The moment you walk into the restaurant, the warming, south-American waves hit you. Colourful carpet, Mexico music, pink purple lights, everything is just so bling bling and get your attention.

We tried the menu “Unexpected latino voyage” and that of “vegan voyage”. Both are six course, sharing menu.

For the latino, we had tuna carpaccio, beef tartar taco, chicken taco, cod fish, duck breast and beef. For the vegan version, we had grilled broccoli, home-made pickled vegetables, tofu taco, grilled celery root and almond milk ice-cream.

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The restaurent which deserves one michelin star.

We’ve been dining all over Iceland, yet this one is definitely one of the finest.

It’s located in one of the most popular tourist places – Blue Lagoon.

After dipping yourself into the geothermal bath after a long hour, a bubbling wine and a light meal is what you deserve.

The decoration in LAVA Restaurant is a mixture of modern and mixture, with lava cliff and big windows to the lagoon / swimming area.

They used to serve the best sushi in the country during lunch time, and now they are selling them in the Café area.

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I had a non-alcoholic cocktail drink , which is a blender of smashed strawberries and basils, refreshing and very lady-like.

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Starter: Porched artic char with picked cucumber, picked pearl onion.

The fish is cooked into perfection, melt right into your mouth.

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Main: Grilled cleric root with spiced chickpeas and dill oil.

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For dessert we chose a cheese plate, they’re all Icelandic cheese.

Clockwise from top to bottom are : white moulded cheese (4 weeks), Gull (another white moulded cheese, a bit stronger than the former one), Yellow cheese (12 month), Blue cheese and the most interesting one “ljótur”(which means ugly in English), it’s a cheese between white moulded and blue cheese.

It’s the first time I tried to pair blue cheese with chocolate, and it’s not bad at all.

So if you’re travelling to Iceland, please stop by Lava Restaurant, I’m sure you’ll not be regretted.

 

“Happiness is a switch that you flick in your brain”

I read this sentence today on The Talks , interviewing Tom Ford.

I learned that happiness for all of us is a switch that you flick in your brain. It doesn’t have anything to do with getting a new house, a new car, a new girlfriend, or a new pair of shoes. Our culture is very much about that; we are never happy with what we have today. We always think that we need something else to be happy.

It’s very true. We’re always seeking what we don’t have, picking into other people’s life and forget to appreciate what we’re having ! We’re so greedy that it seems nothing is enough for us. But this is so wrong. It’s the opposite, we’re having too much of everything. Too much of clothing, too much of food, too much of electronic equipment ,etc.

As a great designer, something he said also moved me a lot,

How would you describe your current state of mind?

I feel that I don’t need anything for a good life. I grew up in New Mexico and the older I get I have less need for contemporary culture and big cities and all the stuff we are bombarded with. I am happier at my ranch in the middle of nowhere watching a bug carry leaves across the grass, listening to silence, riding my horse, and being in open space. So I have some sort of security that if I lost everything in my life, I would be very happy with the simple things because they are the ones that are important.

Do you get the most inspiration from nature? It is the ultimate beauty, after all.

Yes, nature is the closest thing to God and I don’t mean God by any sort of religion but by the connection to the universe, which I think we have lost. The American Indians had that and where I live is actually the center of the Anasazi Indian civilization. I even have two huge Anasazi ruins on the property of my ranch. I am not saying that there definitely is some sort of spirituality coming from there, but there might be. When you are close to the earth and you get up when the sun comes up and you go to sleep when it goes down, it puts everything in perspective.

Really?

Yes, all the rest of this crap just fades away. We’ve lost our contact with the earth. Dogs don’t have guilt, dogs don’t have insecurity complexes, dogs don’t think that they need a bigger house than the other dog. Dogs are just completely themselves. They’re very in touch, they’re not thinking about their death. They are just rolling on their back, enjoying what that feels like. I think that is sort of the appeal of animals in our lives; that is what’s important.

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Yes, NATURE NATURE NATURE.

I can promise you, nothing will make you feel more free than feeling the breeze on your face, smell the salt from the sea, feel the temperature of water or running like a kid in a corn filed. We need that contact with the earth. It’s essential, it’s what all life about. Being connected, to people but also to the earth.

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Since I got that new job in AALTO Bistro as a helping hand in the kitchen. I am very HAPPY. I just love my job, whatever it’s watering planting, washing dishes, running up and downs, switching my brain from English to Icelandic, sweeping floors, chopping onions, peeling vegetables, frying potato pancakes in 50+ degrees, I’m just enjoying doing it. Because this is something interests me and I know how to do it, so why not put my soul into it?

I’ve been dreaming of being a chef almost since I’m a kid, I see myself starting my day in the kitchen, preparing food and now I’m here. Who knows maybe in ten years, I would able to open my own restaurant.

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It’s true that life is a box of chocolate, we never know what we gonna get. Yet, enjoy every single piece of chocolate you get, the crunchiness of the chocolate, the bitterness, the sweetness, maybe a bit sour taste as well? And what about the heart? Just close your eyes and enjoy as much as you can. I promise you, happiness is no more complicated than that.

Mr. Glacier and his K bar

More and more restaurants, bars, guest houses, souvenir shops …

The tourist business is booming in Reykjavik.

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Last night, I went to a restaurant bar only few steps from where I live, called “K-bar”, I understood the meaning of “K” as soon as I see the menu. Korean, japanese, asian infused. It’s totally my cup of tea.

The decoration is retro, canteen-styled, warm, cozy.

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When we talked to the owner, he said that it’s his 3rd opening in Reykjavik, he has another one called “OK Hotel”, and the reason for this famous “K” is also because his wife and daughter has letter “K” in their names, how sweet is it!

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Since they just opened two days ago, the cocktail they’re having are limited, I tried one of their house cocktails – Cilantro Sour, which I thought was Silencio (a trendy David Lynch night club in Paris). I totally loved it. It’s made of gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and coriander. It’s smooth, attractive and refreshing.

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One of the funnies thing is that the name of the owner of the bar is Jökull, which in Icelandic means Glacier.

A Sunday afternoon at Zen Café

Yesterday I had an afternoon tea with my former university roomates. We haven’t seen each other for more than three years!

Old chinese saying says “Three ladies performance a play”. What happens when it comes to four? One of them became mother of a 18-month-baby, which is logical. She’s always been the one who follows the “track”, grab a job after graduation, stayed for two years, met the nowadays husband, quit the job, give birth to the baby, after a year, she’s working again, a new job, new life style, new surroundings. And she’s only 27 now. I would say that it’s quite a perfect life. Another one, who has all the independence a lady should have, a house, a car, a decent job and a cat. Wait, something’s now fit. Yes, a cat not a man. During the whole time, she’s talking about how worried her parents are how unwilling she is that her parents are arranging the date. She has a man-like character which is why many gentlemen are not fond of or afraid of, since the men in Shanghai are known as lady-like. But I like her, I admire her. She’s funny, she’s straight forward and she’s artistic. The third one, well, she’s probably one of the most simply girls I’ve ever met. I used the word girl instead of lady because she still acts like a little girl! Allow me, this kind of character is a gift, especially in nowadays. People chasing the fame, the money, we all becoming more or less materialism. But she’s not. She just got married 6 months ago, her husband was her boyfriend since they were in middle school! She’s planning to have a baby, opening an online boutique selling clothes. They live quite far from Shanghai, about 2-hour-trafit. So they barely go to the city, most of the time, they just stay in their town.

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Photo from Shanghaiwow

Well…what about me? Since I left Shanghai five years ago, I never settled down again, being here and there. Don’t I want to be settled? Of course I do. I thought of finding a stable job in Shanghai; rent a small apartment in the middle center, having a cat and a lover; spend the weekend with my family; flirting with my ex-boyfriend just to practice my French. Then what? I’ll probably be back to the track. But I forgot one thing, one important thing, my very first dream-to open a small café and going around the world with the person I love. I know I still can go abroad even in shanghai, but living abroad and traveling is totally different. Yes I’m out of job, yes I’m not independent yet, yes I’m a strange wild girl, so what? I have the dream which I’ll never give up.

After all, few words about this french styled cafe. Not like his name, it’s not actually a zen place. As a small cafe in such a chic area, first, you don’t have enough spaces to other people; second, you know for sure that on weekends, you’ll have to queue. The coffee and the cake are all right, no too much suprises, the decoration is retro/vintage. But the place is not obvious to find, it’s on the 2nd floor upto its own design store. Although its easily-missed entrance has a mysterious touch to this cafe, it’s not on my top 10 for sure.

Pandora’s pizza box

How sweet it is!
The whole antipasti in a take away pizza box! This trick can actually surprise your friends since I thought it was nothing but a pizza, when I opened the box, I was totally amazed. I almost forgot at which point I loved Italian food. Dried tomato, artichoke, cheeses, Italian jambon, chianti, tiramisu…

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Italian food is quite popular in reykjavik, some fancy places like Hotel 101 have the small Italian course presented in a bento as well, which reminds me my trip to Rome about a year ago, when I was searching for the best pizza place downtown.
Well, maybe one day, I’ll pick up my Italian again, only for the sake of food.

Bon appétit!