Friday, 26 August 2016

Boutique hotel Pariisin Ville in Porvoo - what a gem!

If a hotel can be love at first sight (and we all know it can!), boutique hotel Pariisin Ville in Porvoo is just that.

* * * 

Boutique hotel Pariisin Ville in Porvoo is a hotel I'd been dreaming of ever since they opened (yes, I do love my hotels. That much...) For me Porvoo is something that needs to be experienced at least once a summer, but it's impossible to get enough of it in just one day. 

So, what you really want to do is make your way here for a romantic minibreak and trust me: you can't do better than this hotel.



Pariisin Ville 1



The moment I walked into the hotel that comprises of just 10 rooms, I knew my stay was going to be a good one. A very good one. 

The jazz lingering in the background, decor that is just the right amount of opulence and elegance and friendly service immediately whisked me into another world; a world where it's never too early for Champagne and life is there to be enjoyed. 



Pariisin Ville 2



Both the hotel and its owners' restaurant Sicapelle have been named after another bona fide bon vivant; a sculptor Ville Vallgren (1855-1940).

"Open, loud, impulsive and peculiar friend of good food and wine" is how the hoteö'd website describes the man; words that sound eerily familiar...!

(Sicapelle, by the way, was his pet pig, so in peculiarity stakes he beats yours truly)



Pariisin Ville 3



Hotel's wine bar sources its carefully curated wines from small quality producers in Central Europe. Focus is on organic and biodynamic wines. 



Pariisin Ville 4



Hotel's unique ambiance is down to thoroughly thought-through details; both in the public areas and each of the individually designed rooms (prices €135- €290 per night, including breakfast).



Pariisin Ville 5
Pariisin Ville 6
Pariisin Ville 7



Each room has a separate living room area in addition to the sleeping room. Some have their own sauna, one even its own sauna department with its own balcony.


Pariisin Ville 8



Everything here is done just a little bit better - starting from the toiletries.

The only minus comes for the wifi, which none of us could get to work.



Pariisin Ville 9



That just a little bit better applies to breakfast as well, and I managed to Instagram quite possibly the perfectly ethereal breakfast photo, the Holy Grail of travel bloggers. 

(Ok, I'm a little ashamed right now...)


Pariisin Ville 10
Pariisin Ville 11



Small but top quality selection comes from local small producers.



Pariisin Ville 12


And hey - in case you can't bear to leave your room, you can have the breakfast come to you! With Champagne! (€65 for two)



Pariisin Ville 13



How about that? Isn't that just about the most adorable hotel you've ever seen?


* Hotel stay was part of Taste House Porvoo's SMAKU tour


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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Postcard from Porvoo - wish you were here

Porvoo is such a picturesque little town and charms with its architecture, history, restaurants, cafes and shops.


* * * 

Hi there älskling,

greetings from Porvoo (or Borgå, as you'd say it, being a Swede). This is one of the many places I was hoping to take you to, but time ran out... again. 

I don't think you fully believed all my oohing and aahing over what an adorable little place this is? Well, have a look yourself. It is. 





You might have already noticed how Helsinki is missing the sort of Old Town we fell in love with in, say, Tallinn or Stockholm. That's why for the foreign tourists this is being promoted as "Helsinki's Old Town". 

Porvoo is, in fact, the second oldest town in Finland (though Helsinki is not the oldest, Turku is). 


And definitely one of the prettiest, too. 





Porvoo was founded already in the Medieval times (oh yeah, it's even older than you!) and in 1380 it became one of the first 6 places in Finland to be granted rights of a town. Though today it's such a harmonious haven, trust me - it's seen its fair share of drama. Early in the 16th century Danish pirates destroyed this town and at the end of that very century Russians burned the place down. Twice. 

In the 17th century Porvoo was actively engaged in trade with Tallinn - for instance all the fur trade of the Central Finland went through Porvoo. 

(Oh, do you remember our weekend in Tallinn? My favourite trip to Estonia, ever ♥)





Looking around the gingerbread house-like charm of this place today you wouldn't believe that around the mid-18th century Porvoo was actually one of the largest towns in the whole of Finland. 

At the beginning of the 18th century the Russians burnt the place down again and in 1760 a fire that someone started while boiling fish destroyed 2/3 of the buildings at the time (want to bet it was one of them food bloggers, poring over their Instagram accounts, too busy to pay attention to what's actually going on around them...?) 

The charming houses that now constitute the Old Town were built after that.






With the pastel-coloured houses and narrow cobble-stoned streets Porvoo is full of that Southern Swedish storybook-like charm that I love so much. 

And hey - you'd do splendidly here with your funny language, too: almost 1/3 of the people are Swedish-speakers (back in the 60's they still constituted majority...!)







Though a bus would take us here from Helsinki in less than an hour, I doubt I could bear to say goodbye to all this at the end of the day. There's just so much to see here and coo over. Oh, and eat. 

I'd treat you to a night at Pariisin Ville, the most adorable boutique hotel I think I've ever seen, right in the middle of everything (I just can't wait to tell you about that one!)

One of the things that make Porvoo so great (and one of firm favourites of mine) is all the great restaurants it has. I'd be struggling to choose venues for lunches and dinners even for a 2-day-trip! Zum Beispiel, Sinne, Sicapelle and Meat District are only some of the places you'd simply have to see.

Well, you know what I mean - I mean, you saw the photos from my SMAKU- extravaganza, didn't you? Good stuff, huh? You would have loved it. 

Oh, and I also checked out Brasserie L'Amour, scheduled to open in a couple of weeks. Looking good, that too. 

I know what you're thinking and I'm wondering the same thing, too: how can there possibly be enough business for all these restaurants in a town of merely 50 000 people? But apparently that's just it: the better quality selection of restaurants you have, the more there's demand and the more it benefits everybody in the industry. 

And anyway, we, Helsinki people, constitute their primary target audience. Who knew!




Jag vet, jag vet. I know I've been going completely overboard with the use of "adorable", but that's exactly what this place is like. Adorable. Even the shops. Adorable. And you know me - I can't stand loitering in shops!

The Old Town has so many delightful little shops selling antiques and random bric-a-brac and kitchen supplies, so you can imagine how my inner hoarder is in heaven right about now (well, it is for staging and styling those photographs...)







Hey, before I forget - did you like those hand-made chocolates I brought back as souvenirs? This is where they came from: Petri's Chocolate Room (they're great, aren't they - I especially love their black currant truffles!)

Petri also has a shop in Fiskars; another paradise I'd like to take you to. 




But don't you worry - I'd make sure to leave plenty of time for hanging out at the cosy cafes that Porvoo has so many of. I know how much you like that - seeing how you come from the fika capital of Sweden. 

And you know what else I'd leave even more time for? Walking around, holding hands. Oh, and kissing. A whole lot of that. There's something in the air here that makes one fall in love all over again. 





Remember Mr. Runeberg? Dubbed as the national poet of Finland? You know, the guy who's had a street named after him in Töölö? Well, while he was still alive, he was a very important character in Porvoo. His wife, though, continues to do so even today.

See, she created the eponymous pastry for her husband and Ani's Cafe, located in the house next door to Runebergs' old home, still makes them using the original recipe. Which, for the record, makes the best Runeberg cakes I've ever tasted!

(How about that, by the way - having a cake named after you? I wonder what yours would contain... apart from Kalles Kaviar, that is!)




The apple trees in the garden are heavy with fruit - summer is coming to an end here, too.





But right now the sun is still shining; so brightly and oh, so warmly - making one lull herself into thinking summer could just go on like this forever...






As the evening falls into night, I would take you for a walk along the river bank, where the silvery mist floating out of the river turns the ambiance even more magical. I'd squeeze your hand so tight and whisper into your ear how happy I am; right here, right now, with you. 

Oh, and then I'd take you for a night cap at Pariisin Ville's wine bar. They even have Vilmart you know, that Champagne I like!




And come morning, I'd promise not to pester you into waking up early for breakfast. I'd just lie there next to you, listening to your breathing, inhaling the scent of your skin... still holding your hand. 

Wish you were here. I miss you.

XOXO

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Monday, 22 August 2016

SMAKU brings together the Taste of Porvoo (and it is sweet)

SMAKU - Taste of Porvoo is an event that for the first time brings together Porvoo's restaurants. The result is pure foodie bliss - much like Taste of Helsinki and Turku Food Walk. 

* * * 

For a town that small (and trust me - it is tiny) Porvoo boasts an incredibly vibrant restaurant scene. People in Porvoo, though, are apparently not very good at frequenting their restaurants and rather surprisingy majority of the clientele comes from the Metropolitan Helsinki. And why not - Porvoo makes for a ridiculously picturesque daytrip destination. Bus will take you there in less than an hour and at their cheapest one way ticket will only set you back €1 (for prices and timetables please see here)

One thing that makes the scene even more intriguing is the fact that chain restaurants are virtually absent here. Instead a foodie is spoiled with a variety of small restaurants taking great pride in seasonal and locally grown produce.

Now, for the first time ever, the restauranteurs have joined their forces and come up with SMAKU - Taste of Porvoo. That means 2 weeks of unbribled culinary feast, consisting of 14 participating restaurants and 22 tasting dishes, each costing €5. The expression "bang for buck" doesn't even begin to describe it. 

With the event Porvoo aims to raise and cement its profile as a foodie destination and as a long term lover of all things Porvoo I'm all for their efforts. Another thing that makes this such a dream is the logistics: most of the restaurants are conveniently located within a couple of minute walking distance from each other. 

I was a guest of Visit Porvoo and got to eat my way through this gem of a town. And festival. A very fine day to be me, I can tell you. 

One of the restaurants I was looking forwad to the most was Zum Beispiel, whose dish consisted of Northern pike, beetroot, roe and pickled veggies. Breathtakingly beautiful and every bit as tasty. One of my personal favourites... and everybody else's too. 

As we studied the dish, its size, ingredients and sheer work that's gone into it, €5 seemed like nothing. "And so it is", laughed the owner. "We're really not focusing on the cost now - the publicity this amazing event has generated already is worth every penny."




Another restaurant I couldn't wait to try was Sinne - being very familiar with them I know they never fail. And they didn't this time either. 

The way they so skillfully combine different textures, temperatures and contrasting flavours.... damn, these guys know what they're doing. 

PS. Don't forget they have a restaurant in Helsinki, too!




They participate with two dishes.

The first featured slowly cooked onion broth with more onion and things and was so pretty our Instagram accounts went wild. As did we - the flavours were so deep and wonderfully earthy. Oh, and it's vegan, too!

The dessert dish was...well, just look at it. Edible art? Hardcore foodporn? You choose. Seabuckthorn with liquorice. And then some. An amazing combo. Far better than... say, George Clooney and me. 




Sicapelle was another restaurant I quite justifiably had high expectations for. First dish (goat's milk yogurt and veggie patch) failed to impress, though. The tartness of the yogurt dominated the flavours, relegating the delicate veggies and herbs to the role of a very silent partner. 

But the dish that followed (spelt and pistacchio)... whoah. The depth of flavours! The glorious nuttiness! The textures! The better-than-perfect doneness! 

Sicapelle was also responsible for the boldest wine pairing of the day: on its own the Slovenian natural white was, well, special, as they tend to be. There was iron and buttery toastiness reminiscent of popcorn kernels, but when paired with the nuttiness of the spelt risotto, the combination wasn't so nuts anymore.




Sicapelle is one of those places that take their veggie-oriented local production very seriously. Already now, during the summer, well over 90% is locally grown, but they are aiming for a full 100%.

And while so many restaurants are busy flirting with street food trend and wooing customers with the concept of casual dining, Sicapelle boldly continues to steer their restaurant more and more towards fine dining. 

"It doesn't need to mean a million dots on a plate, though", the owner pointed out. "The fineness comes from top quality produce and highly skilled hands". 




The owners of Meat District are the same couple who also owns Sicapelle, the boutique hotels Pariisin Ville and Onni and the summer restaurant Johan's - quite an impressive empire, then.

Meat District's SMAKU dish was tartare made with local Bosgård beef. And not just any old tartare. The simple appearance was in fact a feast of excellent salty and acidic components and this happily raced to #3 in my tartare ranking (my #1 can be found here and #2 over here)

Meat District is another place very keen on organic produce, artisanal beers... and those natural wines.




One of the biggest surprises was Vanha Laamanni. I can readily admit I was expecting something a bit tired and boring, but everything in the innovative dish of smoked pumpkin soup with pickled mushrooms made it one of the most impressive dishes of the day.

They, too, have two tasting dishes on offer - the other one consisted of 3 small sweets (spearmint praline, apple marshmallow and blueberry financier), but didn't stand a chance next to its colleague. 




The pudding at Cafe Postres on the other hand was everything it could have been (ice cream with browned butter and pine nuts).

Psst - the place is worth a visit for their sandwiches and pastries as well. 





Another welcome surprise came in the form of baconey snail waffle at Fryysarinranta. Well and truly worth the €5, this, too. 




I had been slightly worried of possible discrepancies we witnessed in the quality of the restaurants at Turku Food Walk and I can't say that seeing Alba Rio's rather generic sounding dish (archipelago bread with warm smoked salmon mousse) filled me with excitement. 

While the mousse turned out to be wonderfully light without a hint of fattiness, with balsamico reduction lending the dish a welcome edge, I'd rather spent my money in one of the previously mentioned restaurants.




The restauranteurs have been given complete artistic freedom to design their own dishes and luckily there is great variety. Tiny Eloisa's (only seats 24) SMAKU dishes consist of their home-made chocolate cake and Toast Skagen. Tastewise it was very generic, but portion size definitely makes it worth your fiver.

Eloisa has made a name for itself as an interesting wine bar but its history is every bit as interesting too - originally the building served as a public restroom and a spare jail (!)




So far the event has been well received both among the diners and the restauranteurs and they're hoping to make it a yearly occurrence. The perks of synergy are obvious - the visibility and attention it has accumulated goes far beyond what any of the restaurants could have accomplished on their own. 

Even I didn't manage to try everything (how very depressing...), and one of the places that seem particularly interesting is Kannonnokka ja Vanha Navetta (their SMAKU dishes feature wild boar rillette and carrot puré and pancake terrine with lingonberries).

SMAKU's goal is to attract people both in Porvoo and further afield (Helsinki) and I can only applaud the fantastic people behind the event. Porvoo really kicks ass in restaurant stakes. 

The highlight of the festival takes place next Saturday August 27th at Culture centre Grand and the same weekend sees Porvoo also host Moon River festival and Skålfest so you're in for a real superstar weekend. 

Time to start booking those bus tickets, you think...?



* In collaboration with Visit Porvoo and SMAKU- Taste of Porvoo 2016*

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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?



      


SHARING IS CARING!