It started out as a nice day. The early morning sun warmed our tent. I had a great sleep and felt rested. We were camped on the edge of Fáskruðsfjördur beside a cascading creek, lined on both sides with lupin. The evening before we had climbed part of the way up the mountain behind camp through fields of lupin. The scent was intoxicating.
Nature’s call finally became urgent enough for me to get some clothes on and walk to the bathroom. To the east at the edge of the fiord, dark clouds were accumulating and moving in our direction. As we made breakfast, we felt a few sprinkles so we moved the whole mess into the tent where we finished eating our oatmeal out of the rain.
The rain did not spur us on to get moving. We were going to have a short day anyway so there was no urgency to get going. When the rain let up an hour or so later we packed up our stuff and headed out towards Reyðarfjördur, 20 KM away on the other side of the mountains, where we planned to spend the night. We wanted an easy day as we had cycled six days in a row and planned to perhaps take a day off.
The wind was at our back but the rain started again almost as soon as we got to our turn-off on the highway. The road climbed steadily towards the mountains and in no time we arrived at the entrance to a 5-kilometre-long tunnel (see video) that would take us to the next fiord. The climb was nearly finished and we were out of the rain, for the next while, at least.
The weather on the other side of the mountains was a bit better as we cruised down the mountain into Reyðarfjördur. We were told it was one of the larger towns in the East Fiords with more services so we looked forward to having the rest of the day off and hang out. The camp site was nothing we were excited about, especially after spending the previous night at such a nice spot. We cycled through town looking for a coffee shop or restaurant to have a hot lunch for a change when we came upon Tærgesen, a restaurant and guesthouse in the old part of town near the harbour.
It was obviously one of the older establishments in town – turns out the house was built in 1870 – but it wasn’t clear if it was open. I tried the door. It was open so we walked in. We were the only clients but it was just noon. Soon after, an entire tour bus invaded the place. We were served by the proprietress, Sandra Þorbjörnsdottir.
The menu was extensive but one item jumped off the page for us both: The Lambburger! (Yes, it was spelled as one word) It was served on a kind of focaccia bun with origano and chilly (sic) The burger was dressed with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cheese, feta and Béarnaise sauce. Oh, how they love their sauces in Iceland. They are all lined up in little bottles in the markets. The burger was accompanied by a healthy helping of fries.
The burger was big. The square bun was 4-5 inches on each side and it was close to 3 inches thick. Not an easy beast to devour. Jan decided to cut her’s in half but I’ve never been a burger-cutter. In my mind, there’s just something wrong with doing that, but to each her own. I’ve always taken the direct approach and today was no different. I grabbed this monster with both hands and dove in mouth first, trying to keep it all together, and took a big bite, being careful, yet deliberate, in an attempt to get a bit of everything in that all important first bite.
The blending of the flavours was exquisite. The distinct taste of the lamb, combined with the tarragon of the Béarnaise, the feta, the origano and chilly of the bun and the crunchiness of the vegetables made for a bite from something amazing.
It was a messy affair as Béarnaise ran from every crevice of this perfect gastronomic delight, and try as I might to contain the burger in its state of creation while devouring it, bits and pieces slid out with the Béarnaise sauce. In the end, when the burger had been feasted on by yours truly, I had to use a fork to eat the pieces of cucumber and lettuce that had made their escape from the initial assault. The Béarnaise lake was sopped up with the remainder of the fries.
It was the best lamb burger I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. Thank you Sandra!
We did not stay in Reyðarfjördur as the temptation to go back for another burger later in the day was just too great. We climbed our first mountain pass out of town – 15 kilometres long with an elevation gain of 380 metres – and cycled the 32 KM to Egilsstaður. We hit snow at 200 metres above sea level, reminding us (as if we needed it) spring is very late this year in Iceland.
If you’re in the East Fiords, go see Sandra at Tærgesen and have the lambburger. You will not regret it.