Monday, August 31, 2009

Food in Finland

In honor of it being the last week of summer, before the holiday weekend, I will devote this week's posts to food I ate on my awesome trip to Finland this summer. There were trips to other places (like Sweden & Estonia) and food eaten there that I'll write about too. I have some readers in that neck of the woods, and hope to hear what they think about what I've written.

Today I will be featuring the food I ate during my days in Finland. My first stop was the Kauppatori (open market) in downtown Helsinki, right on the harbor where the big cruise ships depart for Sweden, Estonia & Germany. There are huge bins of berries of all kinds, potatoes, mushrooms, fish, baked goods and did I say berries? It was amazing, seeing bins full of strawberries, blueberries, cloudberries, green & red gooseberries, and red & purple currants. Look how beautiful!

I made sure I got some strawberries (so sweet!), some gooseberries (so tart!) and one Korvapuusti (my friend & host's favorite baked good; it's a sort of cinnamon roll, lightly sweet, not very sticky but really nice as a subtle sweet treat). They're also topped with the large kind of sugar crystal which adds to the sweetness.

Berries are incredibly abundant in Finland and you can pick wild berries everywhere - in parks, on the side of the road, while hiking. And so we did, in Nuuksio National Park, about an hour northwest of Helsinki.

Salmon was another item I had been told to eat before my travels to Finland, and I made sure to get a lot of it while I was there. It was so creamy & buttery, unlike any salmon I've ever had. One of my particular favorites was the Salmon Soup at Cafe Esplanad, (Pohjoisesplanadi 37, 09 665 496‎), on the main drag in downtown Helsinki. Made with tons of butter, potatoes, lots of dill and big chunks of salmon, it was perfect on the one cool, rainy day I had there.

On the morning we arrived back from our trip to Stockholm, we stopped for breakfast at Tahti Baari (The Star Bar), (Puutarhakatu 15, 358 2 231 9046) the only place open in Turku at 8am on a weekday! It was a little bleak, but our breakfast sandwich of ham, egg, salami & cheese on dark rye bread with butter was delicious.

The coffee was weak and the breakfast doughnut was greasy, but when nothing else is open, it hits the spot!

The other bits of Finnish deliciousness I ate in Helsinki were the Karelian Pies. They're made with a Rye crust (the Finns love their dark bread!), stuffed with either a rice or potato filling and sometimes topped with egg butter (mashed boiled egg & butter). Served warm they are such a delight. I ate many of these while I was there!

I also had occasion to have breakfast at Cafe Engel (Aleksanterinkatu 26, 09 652 776‎) just opposite Senate Square and the big, white Lutheran Church on top of the steps. They make great coffee and offer a number of different breakfast meals including the French breakfast (with croissant), the English breakfast (with sausage) and the Cafe Engel breakfast (with a boiled egg). Below you can see the French breakfast which was quite nice, and very filling, with fresh fruit & vegetables as refreshing garnishes.

As you can see I ate well during my travels in Finland, and I barely scratched the surface. Let me know if you've eaten at these restaurants or if you have recommendations for my next trip!


Nomi Lubin said...

Wow. I was just thinking do I have time to run to Met Food and get some (sadly inferior to what you found!) berries before this phone call I'm expecting, just just before I came here. What are the chances of that? Oh, probably like one in two, but still.

Looks like a great trip and a great food trip. Nice!

Unknown said...

Today is cold and rainy. Reading your post made me want to go get some salmon soup!

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Meryl Pearlstein said...

I'm a huge fan of Finnish cuisine, too. I've eaten reindeer a dozen ways, cloudberries every time I can, and lots more. Would love to compare notes. I also love everything Brooklyn. Let's grab a crayfish together!

Watch Me Eat said...

How I wish there was a market by me that sold berries like that! I tried going to a new farmers market today and it consisted of a single tent selling orchids. No fruit or anything edible what so ever, so apparently Helsinki has better markets than what I've visited!

Elizabeth said...

Great photos, I've got recipes for some of the dishes on, I am adapting traditional Finnish recipes to use in the U.S. My husband is Finnish and I am doing this so my kids will have a record of the Finnish food and recipes.

Eat It Brooklyn said...

Elizabeth - thank you so much for your comment. I'll be sure to check out your blog and make some of my favorites from my trip!