Whhhaaaattttt? How does a lagoon and tomatoes combine for a blog post you might ask? You would be surprised. Read on to find the connection.
Our last full day in Iceland and we woke to this……..
Overnight rain had turned into ice on our windshield with a smattering of snow. Good thing our rental car included an ice-scraper! I haven’t used one of those in years (Okay, actually decades. A Florida ice-scraper is any available credit card, HA!)
Plans had been made to visit the ‘secret lagoon’, an hour away from Reykjavik. Plugged in our route and Adrienne started driving. We had to drive over a mountain pass and the sprinkling of snow we saw in town was turning into this.
Before I knew it, we were following two snowplows, trying to keep the road cleared.
Soon enough, we were traveling through the countryside and saw Icelandic horses enjoying the snow.
Along with some sheep. Yep, not the best photo but we never did get another chance for a sheep photo during our trip.
The last half mile before reaching the secret lagoon………….we’re driving through this.
The Secret Lagoon – which is kind of a misnomer – is not really a secret. Eric and I did this as part of our Golden Circle tour in May and I really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to this as soon as we started planning this trip.
There are specific instructions before getting into the geothermal-heated water – what you can and cannot wear.
Shoes are removed first in a communal room.
Lockers (separate men & womens in case you’re wondering) are provided to secure your clothes and any other necessary items.
The next step is taken very seriously and important – a shower sans clothing. Nothing fancy, kind of sterile, almost like being back in gym class – except cold! The door to exit to the lagoon was at the end where I’m standing.
Signs were everywhere……………………..
My first visit was humorous. Those that had not done their homework were shocked when the group was given their instructions……..and asked the cashier to repeat the instructions, several times.
I saw a phrase “There is no shame, we are the same.” The shower idea makes sense once you realize that no chemicals are used to clean and monitor the water.
So, you’re wet, head to toe, slip on your swimsuit and head outside – it’s cold! But you are greeted by this sight. Those little white specks you see in my photo……….snow! The fog in the background, actually steam from boiling water.
It was magical – truly! The water is (steaming) hot, you’re quickly warmed up upon stepping into the chest-deep pool. Notice the white stuff on my head – yep, snow. It quickly melted, but they were large, wet, sloppy snowflakes.
The edges are local rock and the bottom is pebbled with volcanic rock. Some enterprising individuals created their own stacked rocks. Full disclosure…….my stack is on the right and another’s on the left – they had waaaaaay more patience than I did finding the right size rocks and getting them stacked.
Past the fence is a series of thermal spots where water bubbles up and flows into the pool.
Signs were posted to ensure everyone is aware of the absurdly hot temps when the water erupts.
There are at least 3 lifeguards keeping an eye on the water and its participants: 1 inside looking through a glass sliding door, another is walking the perimeter and occasionally 1 guard is inside this box – staying warm.
Afterwards I grabbed a coffee to end my time, others selected different options.
I love this place! Not sure I would enjoy any other geothermal heated pool and with the snow, even more magical. Man – wish I could step into this pool at least once each week.
So now you’ve heard about the ‘lagoon’ in the title, what about ‘tomatoes’?
I’d been reading about a family greenhouse business: Fridheimar.
A little internet research and it was within 15 minutes of the secret lagoon – yeah!!!
A few facts:
- It is a family business, focusing on greenhouse production of (4) tomatoes.
- 1995-purchased the farm with 2 greenhouses on site.
- 2002-expanded and upgraded their greenhouses to produce tomatoes year around, while also traveling to nearby countries (primarily Finland) specializing in greenhouse tomato production.
- 2007-added an equestrian center.
- 2012-developed food products and greenhouse tours.
We did need a reservation and finally the stars aligned and they could seat the two of us Saturday afternoon. We had been emailing back and forth for several days. They only serve 12 noon to 4pm and are open every day of the year (except for a few holidays). While waiting to be seated, we stopped at the bar for a red tomato beer and a green tomato beer.
Surprisingly, the beer wasn’t bad. The red beer (left) had a lingering tomato taste, the green one (right) did not.
It was a simple menu – tomato soup and bread. Yes, that’s basically it. If you don’t like tomatoes – don’t stop. You could add skewers of protein and they also had a salad on their menu.
LOVED their olive bread. No olives inside the bread like many recipes, so the olive taste was not overwhelming.
At each table setting, these centerpieces were multi-functional – snip basil leaves to add to your soup. Or, you could add a chunk of butter, sour cream or shredded veggies to your bowl. Even the water had tomatoes slipped inside for a slight tomato flavor.
A bloody mary was added to enjoy the meal.
And yes, even the desserts were created from tomatoes. The left was the tomato ice cream (served with 2 different sauces, green tomato & vanilla and the other red tomato & strawberry) with the right being the cheese cake (topped with tomato jam containing cinnamon and thyme). Don’t wrinkle your nose – they were both delicious and had no overriding tomato flavor. Being served in clay flower pots added to their charm.
There was opportunity to walk among the tomato plants and production was similar to what I did when I worked at The Land at Epcot.
Man, wished we had those rolling ladders when I worked in a greenhouse. We had to carry and move the ladders ourselves.
The more I read, the more I became fascinated.
- 18% of Iceland’s tomatoes come from this one facility.
- They are very ‘eco’ focused and specialize in natural resources, being recognized locally and nationally for their dedication and direction.
- Resources being geothermal water to heat the greenhouses and ‘green’ electricity from hydro and geothermal power plants.
- Climate controlled computer system, which monitors weather and light, reacting to their ever-changing environment.
- Glass panes are only 4mm thick to maximize sunlight.
You are literally dining in one of their production greenhouses, surrounded by vining and ripening tomatoes.
This is not really ‘farm to table’ but ‘plant to plate’ 🙂 One more Icelandic post coming.