To be able to lay your head on the pillow, after an immersive day of travel in Iceland, listening to the waves of the North Atlantic break on the nearby shore is only one of many commodities for those who choose Brimslóð Atelier as their lodge. This rare and intriguing seaside guesthouse might well be considered Blönduós' finest option for accommodation, with a culinary reputation equalling or indeed exceeding many of the finer restaurants in the country. Mind you, our hosts are not boastful, only stating that they serve Icelandic heritage food with a modern twist – home-cooked meals, prepared with local ingredients. Situated on the seafront in the oldest part of the village of Blönduós, Brimslóð Atelier Guesthouse is approximately 3 hours drive north of Reykjavík in the Northwest of Iceland.
With many traits of destinations which emphasize the benefits of slow travel, our hosts, Inga Elsa Bergþórsdóttir and her husband Gísli Egill Hrafnsson welcome us to their home and family kitchen where you will find the calming heartbeat of Brimslóð. From first encounters, you feel genuinely welcome. Our room overlooking the ocean compares favorably to any high-end hotel accommodation, with a balcony opening to embrace the invigorating sea air complemented by other befitting comforts. Having at a glance on arrival observed the raw ingredients sourced locally for dinner sitting on the kitchen table, we are already looking forward to joining other guests for the reputable three-course dinner Inga and Gísli have in store for us.
Inga and Egill have collaborated on numerous food-related projects, and it is fascinating to hear their story. They have researched, written, photographed, designed and published five books of their own in Icelandic, English and French. We immediately sense that they are passionate about food and are cookery enthusiasts, and in their books, they share some of the knowledge and experience they have gained over the years. As trained tour guides they have traveled widely in Iceland in connection with their work. They also run a travel agency specializing in photography tours.
Brimslóð Atelier has until now been their home studio, where they have worked on many of their food-related projects. This work has encompassed everything from researching traditional food preparation and preserving techniques to the production of books and radio programs, to workshops and lectures about Icelandic and Nordic food. They tell us that Brimslóð has inspired them in many ways and nurtured a growing connection with the region.
“In our Nordic cuisine”, they add “we like to present simple key ingredients from local sources”. They hunt wild game, catch fish and gather wild herbs, fungi and berries to cook. Over the summertime, they grow their own vegetables and herbs, despite the extremely harsh conditions. They passionately believe that obtaining raw ingredients from nature is an essential part of how we experience the food we eat, very much in time with the aforementioned slow travel movement.
Inga and Egill are generous when it comes to spending time with their guests. They are keen to explain the Nordic culture and good raw ingredients for cooking to their guests and offer them an insight into their daily Nordic lifestyle. They even receive groups for their Icelandic food program combining experience and learning most fruitfully. Guests go away with knowledge and expertise on the culinary history of Iceland and the key ingredients of nourishment that kept this isolated nation alive during times of hardship.
And before we know, it is dinner time. We are joined by people from places near and far at the large communal dining hall table overlooking the ocean as the sun goes down. We will soon learn that dinner here is an unforgettable part of any stay at Brimslóð Atelier and the perfect way to round off the day. Icelanders will never go far before seeing a familiar face and here are indeed friends met by chance. We share delicious home-cooked food, prepared with local ingredients, enjoying good conversation and great company. It is worth mentioning that the dining room is open at dinnertime for overnight guests and for other guests who book at least one day in advance. Now that we know, our advance notice will be given earlier next time we overnight.