Published June 10, 2005
The old joke about selling ice to the Eskimos gets a dose of reality in Iceland: Icelanders love ís, or ice cream. The sheer quantity of ice cream consumed on a sunny summer day is astounding to visitors, especially those who try the exceptionally thick, creamy local soft serve.
You should know then that there is one stand celebrated above all others, as indicated by a remarkably long line even during a hail storm: Ísbuð in Vesturbær. Serving the old (gamli) style ice cream, which, according to the customers in line, is water-based, this is the favourite of every local who truly knows Reykjavík.
Beyond the fact that the ice cream is lighter than other variations, and that it is indeed invigorating to chomp on a cone on an 11-degree summer day, the ísbuð has other charms. The place can cover your ice cream in assorted toppings. They make a mean shake. As a cultural centre, you can actually get concert and play information from the booth. And as a respected institution, a visit from a foreigner is greeted—this is one thing most people in the country are proud of. Yes, locals are proud of damned near everything, but here it doesn’t seem to be that defensive pride that comes with the “per capita” arguments.
Warning, even the water-based ice cream is heavy. I have never met a non-Icelander who could consume a large cone without severe dyspepsia.
Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, Hagamel 67, 107 Reykjavík,