Sunday, 16 February 2014

BAEJARINS BETZU PLYSUR - the best hotdogs in Iceland

Apparently this rather unusual place is supposed to be a must visit eatery in Reykjavik so of course we had to find it and try their fare.

Bæjarins beztu pylsur in English means ‘ The best hot dog in town’ and in Iceland is now known as  “Bæjarins beztu”.
According to their website it is 27592 days since the first hotdog was served at Bæjarins beztu and presumably they update this daily. According to my calculations  that means they have been serving hotdogs there for 76 years which seems amazing. In fact it opened in 1937 so indeed a good long time before we in the UK had ever heard of hotdogs I would hazard a bet.
In August 2006, ‘The Guardian’ put Bæjarins beztu as the best hot dog stand in Europe. They claim to be the best in Iceland but I am not sure that there is a lot of competition as they own all the hotdog stands in the city of Reykjavik anyway I think . If you manage to miss them in the city then they do also have one in Keflavik Airport too.

It is said that most Icelandic people have eaten at Bæjarins beztu. The one we went to was in a car park near the harbour and was certainly not really a place w would have eaten at had we not been told it was a place to check out in Reykjavik . It was rather insalubrious and yet in the queue there were men in suits and well dressed folk as well as some sitting in cars enjoying their purchased dogs. It looks like a basic caravan or hut type hot dog stand with red and white logo.

Icelanders are rather proud of their hotdog and stand and foreign tourists are brought here to sample the wonderful hot dogs, which some refer to as “the Icelandic national food.” It isn’t just your average visitor who eats here as the stand proudly shows on their board that President Clinton, when president of the United States was brought here and apparently James Hetfield from Metallica has also eaten a hot dog from here.

Well it looked pretty much like any other hotdog if I am honest but it was pretty tasty. It is a good meaty sausage and I was told that they not only have beef and pork but also lamb meat in their sausages so that is an essential difference.  The sausages are also supposed to be cooked in beer to add to the flavour. The bread roll is a white roll that is soft and quite light and shaped as any other hotdog roll is.
Their sauces and extras that are specialities include a ketchup which if Icelandic is a bit sweeter and used to have apple sauce in it but now is more like  the usual US style one we know.Then they add mustard is  the Icelandic Pylsusinnep or “hot dog mustard” which is  brown and not too hot or strong or it may be the  sweet yellow hot dog mustard. They also must have both crispy  fried onion and raw onion and finally the remolaði, which is a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. If you want their specialty then you can either just point or ask in English as everyone speaks perfect English , for a hotdog with  “the works,” or if you are feeling brave try the Icelandic which is  “eina með öllu”.

 Can I sit and relax with a lovely view over the harbour? Well no. You either sit at the rather grubby looking wooden picnic style table or stand and eat you hotdog trying not to squirt any of the juicy contents over yourself while so doing.  The table is grubby and covered with evidence of visiting birds and there is no way I would have put my hotdog in the wooden stand on the table!  So you sort of stand around in the car park with other ‘diners’ enjoying your hotdog or you could walk a bit further away towards the harbour. As it was negative temperatures when we were there we didn’t walk away as our hotdog would have got cold before we had a chance to eat it.

I found this recipe in Huffington post in an article by Victoria Haschka and thought it would be interesting to try:
6 hot dog buns
6 pylsur sausages -(you can order them
4 tablespoons of Icelandic hot dog mustard  -
4 tablespoons of ketchup
4 tablespoons of remoulade
6 tablespoons of crispy deep fried onion
6 tablespoons of diced mild onions
beer to cook the sausages in -Icelandic Viking or Gull are both Icelandic beers, but I am sure any  lager will do the job.

Cook the sausages in the beer . While they are heating split and toast the bread rolls. Fill the rolls in this order, raw onion and one sausage then add a squirt of mustard,  remoulade and ketchup along each sausage and finally top then with the lovely crispy  fried onions.

The remoulade is a kind of mayonnaise made using:
3/4 cup of neutral tasting oil ,1 egg yolk ,1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of chopped gherkin, 2 teaspoons of chopped capers, 1 tablespoon of chopped chervil. Make as you would a fresh mayonnaise then add the chopped gherkin, capers and chervil.

The sausages are certainly worth sourcing as they were much more tasty and meaty than the ones we have and a lot firmer too. The other parts you can easily re create so have a try.

In Reykjavik we paid about £2 for our hotdogs so not too bad for a unique experience. If you are heading for Reykjavik then if you are not a vegetarian do take a stroll down towards the harbour and join the queue for one of Iceland’s specialties. 

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