The sleepy, pastoral town of Flúðir has seen an influx of visitors in recent years. Previously known as a quiet farming community with an abundance of geothermal water at its disposal, in recent times Flúðir’s proximity to the Golden Circle route has seen enterprising locals turn their minds towards entertaining tourists. The Secret Lagoon bathing spot has become a runaway success with thousands upon thousands flooding through its doors each year, and now other tourist-facing businesses are mushrooming around it. In the case of Farmer’s Bistro, quite literally.
The Flúðasveppir mushroom farm is the only mushroom farm in Iceland, producing an astounding 11 tonnes of chestnut, button, and portobello mushrooms each week, and employing 45 people in the process. In line with the town’s welcoming spirit of opening its doors to the public, today Flúðasveppir offers a tour of the farm, followed by a meal in their smart new farm-to-table restaurant, Farmer’s Bistro.
Our guide on the tour is Ragnheiður, the daughter of the owner. We’re led through the process backwards, starting with a series of long, dark rooms with endless shelves of white button mushrooms ballooning up from the soil. Ragnheiður cuts a fresh mushroom for us to try: it’s light, creamy, and absolutely delicious.
Next, we see the process behind the end result. We’re led to a barn through a maze of hay bales—the factory burns through 80 a week—to a large warehouse where the next batch of fertiliser is being prepared. To speed up the fermentation process, chicken manure is added to the hay, resulting in huge, dramatically steaming heaps of future fertiliser. Having grown up on the farm, Ragnheiður is very familiar with this oddly alien hay-scape, and plunges her hand into the pile, pulling forth a steaming clump that emits wisps of smoke like a Hollywood special effect.
Waste not want not
But that’s not the most impressive thing on the tour. As we walk back to the lobby, we’re filled in on the zero-waste policy of the farm. Nothing at Flúðirsveppir, it seems, goes to waste. “Unbeautiful” mushrooms are sliced and sold as pizza toppings; water is recycled; old crop and soil are recomposted and sold in bags for gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts. This best-practice mentality has led to visits from international industry groups, all keen to replicate Flúðirsveppir’s sustainable, environmentally friendly model.
Farm to table
After the tour, we arrive back at the Farmer’s Bistro. The farm also produces bell peppers and all kinds of other vegetables, all of which feature in the menu of the bright, spacious restaurant. Mains vary from lamb—presented here as a tasty, spicy, filling wrap—to chicken salad with tangy ginger dressing, and a veggie steak that makes the vegetarian on our tour scribble down the recipe. Everything is locally sourced, and comes with abundant servings of fresh lettuce, pepper and tomato.
Of course, mushrooms feature too. The “gourmet buffet” option comprises a bowl of delicious mushroom soup with house-baked bread and a selection of salsas and tapenades. A mushroom ice cream dessert (yes, it’s a thing) is the cherry on the cake.
Next time you go for a spin around the Golden Circle, be sure to add a dash of green by dropping by Farmer’s Bistro—and be sure to get some mushrooms and a bag of that mycelium-infused soil to take some of Flúðirsveppir’s fertile magic home with you.
Visit Flúðasveppir and Farmer’s Bistro at Garðastígur 8 in Flúðir, and online at farmersbistro.is.
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