best artisan chocolate in Iceland

I’ve learned over the past six years of my chocolate travel research that great chocolate can be found just about anywhere. I admit to being surprised when a friend returned from Iceland and sent me some excellent chocolate from a popular artisan chocolate maker. I’ve since learned that there are others, making Iceland a destination I’d definitely like to include in my research for Chocolatour and my quest for the best artisan chocolate in Iceland. 

iceland

This cairn on Willow Island is a tribute to the landing of the first Icelanders in Manitoba in 1875.

Manitoba connection to Iceland

But I’d first gained insight into the wonders of Iceland and its fascinating history via the New Iceland Heritage Museum located in Gimli, Manitoba, Canada, just 20 minutes from my home. The museum has a comprehensive exhibit depicting the arrival of the first Icelanders to Willow Island–near what is now Gimli–back in 1875.

Did you know that Gimli, Canada, is or has been home to the largest Icelandic lineage outside of Iceland? And that Tergesen’s General Store of Gimli has the most extensive collection of Icelandic books outside of Iceland?

Tergesens-books

Lorna Tergesen (right) is a great friend to local authors including yours truly. The bookstore in Tergesen’s has a great selection of books by local authors as well as Icelandic authors.

Investigating chocolate in Iceland

But let’s get back to the chocolate.

I included HR Chocolate of Reykjavik in the first volume of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate as I was impressed with the creativity of master chocolatier, Haflio Ragnarsson who is also the creative force behind Mosfellsbakari, a top rated Icelandic bakery on TripAdvisor.

omnom-chocolate

Om Nom Chocolate of Reykjavik, Iceland, makes an excellent assortment of bean-to-bar chocolate and is another example of the great chocolate in Iceland.

And more recently, I had the opportunity to taste test the selection of artisan bars made by bean-to-bar chocolate maker Om-Nom Chocolate of Reykjavik. What a delight! And what great packaging. Very colourful and creative.

Om Nom works with cocoa beans from exotic destinations such as Madagascar and Papau New Guinea. I love chocolate made of beans from Madagascar, so it was no surprise that I really enjoyed Om Nom’s. The one flavour I didn’t particularly like was the one made with Icelandic liquorice. I suspect that is an acquired taste!

The company that is best known for Icelandic chocolate is Noi Sirius, Iceland’s leading confectionery manufacturer. They are not a small batch artisan chocolate maker, but rather, a large, well-established company that has earned the love and respect of Icelanders throughout the country. I think I’ll have to check them out.

Have you been to Iceland? What has most impressed or inspired you? Have you used the Guide to Iceland? Did you find it helpful? I look forward to the discussion. Walking the halls of the Lakeview Resort in Gimli–where a menagerie of Icelandic vistas is on display–has certainly piqued my interest in this Nordic country.

gimli-icelandic-festival

Become immersed in the re-enactors at the Gimli Icelandic Festival, a tribute to the heritage and history of the Icelanders who came to Canada.

Until I can arrange a visit, I’ll have to be satisfied with my annual trek to Islendingadagurinn, Gimli’s Icelandic Festival. Hope to see you there–or in Iceland!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

65 Responses

  1. Wow…who knew? I do have a friend whose son is dating a gal from Iceland, so he has made many trips and finds it enchanting there. I will have to give him a heads up on Om-Nom Chocolate of Reykjavik. That is beautiful packaging. As always, a very enlightening post Doreen.
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted…A Break For Where’s The JusticeMy Profile

  2. I’ve asked Iceland Air before when they’re going to fly direct to Winnipeg. They have such a large Icelandic audience in Gimli!
    I had the pleasure of spending my birthday in Gimli in August 2014, with all my sisters. A very special time, for many reasons, including how much I love Iceland and how many decades it had been since I had partied my way through Gimli in my youth enroute to Hecla. On a walk through the town last year, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman working on his yard. It turned out he had received the highest order one can receive from Iceland. I told him of my multiple visits. It was one of those moments of crossing paths with another soul who shares common values. I would go to Iceland at the drop of a hat. And I happily spend more summer days in Gimli, Manitoba, only about 157 kms north of where I grew up.
    Thanks for your great article about my favourites: chocolate and Iceland!

  3. Linda Strange says:

    Wow – more good things about Iceland. I have an acquaintance who travels there frequently from U.K.. He likes the finer things in life & I’ll mention your article and the chocolate to him for his next trip. Thanks for the info. Hope you’re able to visit there soon. It’s a very photogenic place.

  4. Who would have thought — chocolate from Iceland? I think of iceland as — ice. But I know that Greenland is much colder. I didn’t know about the large population of Icelanders in Canada. Another find for the Chocolatour!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Can You Succeed in Business Without Emotional Intelligence?My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Jeannette. Yes, it’s funny how we have pre-conceived notions about a place. The good thing is that as long as we keep our minds open, they are receptive to new information that can change them and introduce us to new ideas.

  5. Amanda Le Rougetel
    Twitter:
    says:

    Interesting to learn about chocolate from Iceland. Does Tergesons carry any? That would good, as I’ll make it to Gimli sooner than I will make it to Iceland — although it’s a place that sounds interesting from what I know of it.

    • Hi Amanda and thanks for your comment. I know that the New Iceland Heritage Museum carries a good selection of fine chocolate, and you can get some good organic fairtrade chocolate at the Fresh Carrot in Gimli. I’ll have to take a closer look for chocolate in Tergesen’s. I do believe they carry a small amount of chocolate, but I don’t think it was Icelandic.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  6. Catarina says:

    Have to admit that even though I’m Scandinavian I have never even been to Iceland and it’s one of the few countries in the world I have never worked with.

    If I hadn’t read this article the idea of Icelandic chocolate would never even have entered my mind. Not sure why because both Denmark and Sweden export chocolate. How about Norway. Maybe you should have a look at Norwegian chocolate?
    Catarina recently posted…Are you a disruptive innovator?My Profile

  7. TammyJo Eckhart
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yes, Liquorice is the big thing in Iceland. I’ve really liked the chocolate and liquorice we’ve tested and written about in the past. It is a different flavor than what we are used to in the USA but I try to take every type of chocolate we are sent with a clean state of mind, no expectation except for the chocolate flavor to be strong.
    TammyJo Eckhart recently posted…Cacao Nibs and Goji Berries BarksMy Profile

  8. Suzanne Boles
    Twitter:
    says:

    Our mutual friend, Mark K., went to Iceland with his wife last year and raved about it. But I wouldn’t have connected it with chocolate. But I know i should. I’ve learned, through you, that chocolate is a common denominator among countries. It seems everyone in the world loves chocolate.

    This enduring sweet has a long history. One that comes to mind for me is during WWII when the soldiers always had a chocolate bar in their pocket to give pieces to little children.

    The sweetness seems to melt away strife and unhappiness, even just for a short while. It has many magic properties. Perhaps we should all have a chocolate bar in our pocket to share with someone. It may indeed make the world a happier place. 🙂

    Thank you for continuing to share your stories about chocolate and travel.
    Suzanne Boles recently posted…Life of a Freelance WriterMy Profile

    • Thanks for the fabulous comment, Suzanne. I’d forgotten Mark had been to Iceland. I will ask him to comment.

      And I learned from our mutual friend Kathe Lieber that one should ALWAYS carry an emergency chocolate bar with them–to eat or to share! I have learned from travelling the world for chocolate, that chocolate is indeed, the universal language of love and friendship.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  9. Doreen, I didn’t think we’d ever get you to a land with the word “ice” in its name. Chocolate is a powerful draw! Jacqueline nailed it with the adjective “enchanting.” Once you venture out of Reykjavik – and you don’t have to go very far – you feel as though you’ve entered another world or dimension, followed by a compulsion to explore. For a fascinating read on Iceland’s dangerous beauty, see this recent piece in the New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/09/life-is-rescues.

    • You are absolutely right, Virginia! I am generally not drawn to cold climates, so if I DO get to Iceland, it will have to be during their brief summer. I will check out the NY article you quote when I get caught up on the e-mails that came in overnight. Cheers! Thx again for being the one to open my eyes to the wonders of Iceland and their chocolate!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  10. Kathy Andrew
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is amazing – chocolate makers in Iceland! And I really loved the design of OmNom chocolate. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for it. it’s great that artisan chocolates are becoming much more available these days. Thanks Doreen.As always a really interesting post;-)
    Kathy Andrew recently posted…New Adult #Coloring Book Giveaway: The Creative ZoneMy Profile

  11. Esther
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Doreen,
    While I knew about Gimli’s history and connection to Iceland from living there most of my childhood, I was unaware of the chocolate connection. I love chocolate and look forward to trying some next time I’m there! I trust it is organic. Great post!
    Esther recently posted…Adrenal FatigueMy Profile

    • Hi Esther and thanks for your comment. Yes, living in Gimli, you must have acquired an insider’s knowledge of some Icelandic traditions. I’ve learned of some via the NIHM, and have found them to be quite intriguing.

      Yes indeed you will now find organic chocolate in Gimli. The Fresh Carrot has lots of healthy things that you would like. Come and visit soon!

  12. Pat says:

    From the photos I have seen of Iceland they have some really beautiful things to see like those waterfalls everyone talks about. When you visit I can see you enjoying a picnic lunch by one of them with a lovely bottle of wine and their awesome chocolate!

  13. Christine
    Twitter:
    says:

    Chocolate is definitely not something I’d have associated with Iceland, but I know that where there is a chocolate connection, you’ll find it. I must re-read Chocolatour to learn about the Icelanic chocolate you have mentioned. I look forward to more from and about this land. I agree with Suzanne and Kathe that it is always a good idea to have some chocolate with you. Maybe I will find some from Iceland or an equally neat place.

  14. Lenie
    Twitter:
    says:

    One of the great things about the Internet is how it connects us. Ten years ago you it would have been difficult to find anything to say about Iceland but over the past couple of years we’ve heard about it on the news and I’ve known people who have gone there.
    What I didn’t know was about Gimli and the Iceland connection. Or about Iceland and chocolate, even though I have the book Chocolateur (which by the way I very much enjoyed – remember the truffles?
    Doreen, I think you are singlehandedly going to convert the world to the real chocolate.
    Lenie recently posted…Spice Tea – Yummy Cold and Flu BlasterMy Profile

    • Lenie, thank you SO much for your words of endorsement, both for my book, and for my goal to educate the world about the world of fine chocolate and all it entails. It is my pleasure to share this information with you and all, and yes, I am very grateful to the wonderful post you did on your site sharing the recipe for Guinness Chocolate Truffles found in the first volume of Chocolatour. Cheers!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  15. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    Chocolate created in Iceland? I have learnt something new today!

    I have never visited Iceland and to be honest, I have never felt pulled to. I would consider going if chocolate was on the agenda – lots of it!
    Phoenicia recently posted…How much patience do you really have?My Profile

  16. Linda
    Twitter:
    says:

    I wish I’d know what and where to look for when I was there a couple of years ago. My only disappointment with Iceland was the lack of decent chocolate. Everywhere I went I saw the same chocolate bar that proclaimed itself to be Icelandic chocolate. I figured that the chocolate industry, like the horse tourism industry, must be federally controlled. The bars I tried were junk. Just milk chocolate, no better than Hershey’s. If I ever get back there again, I will surely be on a mission to find your suggestions!
    Linda recently posted…Bucket Brigade to the rescue; native seed collectionMy Profile

  17. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    I would like to visit Iceland some day, but I would not have associated it with chocolate (although my mother-in-law, who was partly of Icelandic descent, loved her chocolate.) I’m intrigued by the bar with Icelandic liquorice even though you said you didn’t care for it. I love liguorice but I don’t think I’ve tasted Icelandic liquorice. By the way, the New Iceland Heritage Museum is on my list of museums to get to soon.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Ten English Country PubsMy Profile

  18. Iceland is a place I often wanted to go. I would not of associated them with chocolate. That would be something to try.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    William Rusho recently posted…A Sharped Dressed Man in Leather Armor, Part 2My Profile

  19. Sherryl Perry
    Twitter:
    says:

    Iceland? Honestly, I’ve never even considered visiting there. (I am not a fan of being cold.) After just briefly exploring the guide that you linked to, I may reconsider it. It’s definitely worth checking out. Seems like there’s more there than I knew.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Case Study: Consolidating Multiple Websites Into OneMy Profile

  20. nestor csm
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very intriguing and probably beautiful de culture of the people from Iceland. Makes you wanna visit this country.
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  21. Ken Dowell
    Twitter:
    says:

    The only thing that is more surprising that to here of Iceland as a source of artisan chocolate is to hear of the Icelandic presence in Manitoba. Would be interesting to know how that came about.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…A Family of Gorillas in the BronxMy Profile

    • Hi Ken and thanks for your comment. Yes, I’m not quite certain how the Icelanders ended up on Willow Island in the Interlake. Perhaps if you visit the site of the New Iceland Heritage Museum it may give some background. My grandparents came from Ukraine and they had been promised a small parcel of land if they came to Manitoba. Perhaps it was the same case with the Icelanders.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  22. Beverly says:

    That Icelandic chocolate sounds delicious. I can’t wait to sample some. Do any of the stores in Gimli carry it? Also I love the bright and vibrant packaging. Just another excellent example of the fine chocolate recommendations passed along by Doreen Pendgracs, my favourite chocolate explorer.

    • Hi Beverly and welcome to the blog! Yes, the packaging of OmNom Chocolate from Iceland is really incredible. What I really liked (beside the looks) is that the box that each bar comes in is re-sealable, so if you don’t finish the bar in one sitting, it will still stay fresh and protected inside the packaging. A lot of ingenuity went into the design, and of course, the chocolate itself!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  23. Beverly says:

    That Icelandic chocolate sounds delicious. Is it available to purchase at any of the stores in Gimli?

  24. Erica says:

    I also like the packaging for Om-Nom chocolate. I would almost feel bad opening the wrapper. I’m actually a huge fan of licorice which I had to, for the most part, give up one I became gluten-free (since most licorice products contain wheat.) However, I think I may enjoy licorice chocolate. I guess I’ll have to see.

    • Hi Erica and thanks for your comment. The really great thing about the packaging for OmNom Chocolate is that it is re-sealable and you can keep it! The cardboard casing holds its shape even after it has been opened and emptied. I, too, love liquorice, but must caution you that Icelandic liquorice is not at all like North American or Australian liquorice. It kind of reminds me of Norwegian liquorice which I recall having some years ago. I hadn’t realized that liquorice contains gluten. Pity.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best artisan chocolate in IcelandMy Profile

  25. Never been to Iceland but it sounds like a fascinating place and I never would have connected them with chocolate. Fascinating!
    Marquita Herald recently posted…The One Word Resolution Reality CheckMy Profile

    • Thx for your comment, Marty. What I’ve learned about this magnificent world of chocolate is that it pretty much takes in every part of the world! It has taken me so many places over the past 6 years, and I hope to continue discovering the world through chocolate until I am no longer able.
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  26. Susan cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have been to Iceland on the way to Norway. The chocolate is really good. Can’t say I’ve tried that particular brand though. The chocolate in Norway is incredible though. Yum. When are you headded there? 🙂
    Susan cooper recently posted…Apple Apricot Butter With A Spark: #RecipeMy Profile

    • Hi Susan. I have no specific plans to go there. I was asked to write a post about why I might like to go to Iceland and so I realized I had several reasons to do so. I’m counting on my readers to tell me what they liked or didn’t like about this far off land, and perhaps a trip for me will manifest itself. 🙂
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…exploring CancunMy Profile

  27. For some reason, it brings me great comfort to know that you can find good chocolate as far north as Iceland! That’s a place on my bucket list, but you just moved it up a couple of notches.
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  28. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    I would purchase this chocolate just because of the name OmNom. The wrapper is quite eye catching as well.

  29. Patricia Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yum yum YUM. I love dark chocolates. And I love that name OnNom. Isn’t our world wondrous? You learned about Iceland in a Winnipeg museum. How fabulous. I’ve never been this and it’s (maybe sad) not on my list. But I will take a closer look at their chocolate.
    Patricia Weber recently posted…Introverts Holiday: More Responsibility to Value Recharge and RecoverMy Profile

    • Hi Pat and thanks for your comment.

      Yes, as Tammy has pointed out in her comment, the New Iceland Heritage Museum is in the community of Gimli, located an hour north of Winnipeg. It’s a lovely town!

      And yes, it is indeed a wondrous world we live in. I am SO grateful that my work takes me to many parts of it. 🙂
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…exploring CancunMy Profile

  30. A visit to the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, not Winnipeg 🙂 will introduce you to the story of Icelandic settlement in Manitoba and if all goes according to plan we will have Icelandic chocolate in our gift shop this spring! When in Gimli you can also sample other unique Icelandic delicacies and I promise you will feel like you have found a “little bit of Iceland” right here in Manitoba. Thanks again Doreen for introducing us to OmNom at our Chocolate and Wine Pairing event. I liked it all but the darkest chocolate and it is so beautifully packaged. Unlike you I actually really enjoyed the liquorice chocolate, but then Icelandic liquorice is one of my favourite things. When I lived there I got hooked on the liquorice/chocolate combo. When I was last in Iceland (2014) I had the great pleasure of going to Mossfellsbakari – the bakery in Mossfellsbær. It is incredible!! Well worth a stop there if anyone is planning a trip to Iceland. I really look forward to the next Icelandic chocolate event at the museum!

    • Yay, Tammy! Thanks so much for your great comment. I, too, look forward to the next chocolate and wine event at the NIHM. I really had fun doing the last one. Or chocolate and coffee. Or chocolate and tea. The possibilities are endless. We’ll talk soon, and thanks for sharing your memories of Iceland. I would love to go to Mossfellsbakari and meet the chocolate master. I’ve put it out there. Maybe it will happen!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…exploring CancunMy Profile

  31. Mark Kearney says:

    I was hiking in Iceland in the summer of 2104. About 10 days there altogether. We had a great time there. The scenery is amazing – fiords, volcanoes, mountains, hot springs, geysers, a real variety of everything geological. Just about everyone speaks English and Iceland is known for having the highest literacy rate in the world. The food was terrific too — amazing soups, wonderful lamb and fish and, of course, chocolate. I think we had the kind that you mentioned was from the big company. I’ll have to double check. We also enjoyed the beer, but Iceland is expensive. We were on a trip with HF Holidays, which is a British-based hiking company we’ve used many times. The flight from Toronto was relatively short and sweet. It doesn’t get too warm or too cold there. It was summer and on the occasional day I wore shorts, but most of the time it was layers. We only saw the south and west and had a couple of days in Reykjavik, so we’d like to go back. I have a piece about the food there coming out in a couple of weeks in Eat/Drink, a local London, Ont. magazine. I highly recommend going there.

  32. Never thought about going to Iceland, but the chocolate options alone might be enough to make me head that direction!
    Rose M Griffith recently posted…Hating My Use of the Word ShouldMy Profile

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