The story of Simbahöllin
We’re sitting together in the green coffeehouse, hugging a warm cup of coffee. Outside the window, mountains arise at the other side of the fjord. A fishing boat passes by. We mindlessly gaze at it, before resuming our conversation.“When we started this coffeehouse, we knew one thing. We wanted to have really good coffee.” Janne said. “Right from the start, we also had soups, waffles and cakes. I always liked baking, so it sort of came naturally. For most of the cakes and sweets, I still use the same recipes as my grandmother did back in Denmark when I was little.” She added.“The same applies to the jam recipe as well, it came naturally. I was just messing around with it a bit, cooking it less long then most other Icelandic people. But the people really seemed to like the fresh taste of it and started asking for my recipe. That is when we also started selling our own homemade jam pots here at Simbahöllin.”“When did you get the idea of creating a cookbook? I asked. “Well in the beginning, we just talked about it. Right?” Janne said while looking at her friend Isobel, who worked at the coffeehouse for several summers. “Yeah, in the beginning we were just having fun with photographing the cakes, before the idea of a cookbook came.” Isobel picked in. “I also wanted to document a bit, should we ever close the coffee house.” Janne said. “And then we started talking more and more about what should be in there.” Isobel added. “The talking and collecting the photo’s took actually half of the time of the whole process.” Isobel laughed. “Yeah, once we collected those, it went rather fast.” Janne concluded.“The recipes in there are not only things we make and sell at the coffeehouse. It are also things that are related to the bigger picture of life here in Þingeyri. Things we, as a family like to make, summer BBQ’s and group dinners.” Janne told me. “Yeah, collecting the recipes was more simple, it are really the photo’s that make the book.” Gabby, who is sitting next to them, picked in. “You were the one who made the illustrations in the book right?” I asked her. “Yes, during the whole process, we kept asking Gabby to draw this and this.” Isobel answered for her. “We were like, draw us a rhubarb leave! And draw us a blue berry!” Janne laughed. “And now is the time i will eat a piece of blueberry cake!” Janne said. With that our conversation ended with a sweet note.
“We fell in love with life in Þingeyri, and we want to help make sure that places like this can change with time and continue to thrive. Each project, including the coffeehouse and the art residency, is a piece of the puzzle to revitalize culture and life in Þingeyri.”
The idea came several years after the initial opening of Simbahöllin. How that story goes, you can read on their website.“From idea until creation, it took us more or less 2 years” Janne and Isobel said. “We used the same colours as the coffeehouse off course, combined with a sort of old fashioned style. Because it felt right with the vibe of Simbahöllin.” Isobel said.“The cookbook represents a bit what we want to create here in Þingeyri. Restoring something old, mixing it with something new and sharing it with the larger community.” Most recipes ask for local ingredients. The rhubarb is freshly hand picked each year in Þingeyri, as are the blue berries. It is the closed you can get to the Westfjords of Iceland.