Friday, 9 August 2013

Solar cooking at Solar kitchen

Luckily the first trip to Teurastamo at World bites- festival wasn't my last. Though even a devout meat-eater such as myself gets chills from the name of the place. Teurastamo, you see, means slaughterhouse. And for me that brings to mind Danish thrillers and those endless concrete-walled , dimly lit corridors where the poor young woman is running bare foot trying to escape that sociopathic serial killing rapist. It does not make me think of a cool place to hang out with your friends. But I sure have tried. At Antto's Abattoir. 

Miltton, the PR house who was also behind the Happy Joe launch, kindly sent me an invite to a blogger workshop. The programme included learning about solar cooking followed by a cookery lesson by Antto Melasniemi (a pioneering Finnish chef in many ways) and, courtesy of the sponsor Lapin Kulta beer, refreshing beverages. Hailing from Lapland myself I have many fond memories of that particular brand (though obviously only as an adult and even then in moderation and never before driving or texting ex-boyfriends). Since then they, like I, have left their northern roots and headed down south. 

As my +1 I lured Wine merchant, with whom I have shared not only quite a few bottles of Lapin Kulta, but also two thirds of my life. That's what I call true love! 

Solar Kitchen is a concept launches back in 2011 though further details were left in the dark. We were, however, told, that it has been put to use for instance during Milan fashion week (oh yeah - because those people eat...)  and in Japan. 

Lapin Kulta's Pekko Koski explained that food is increasingly important aspect in beer industry too. Lapin Kulta aims to be at the forefront of combining food and beer. According to him the emphasis is on modern, Finnish food - something Solar Kitchen itself is flying the flag for. 

Sometimes in cooking one's forced to improvise. Galangal for instance can be substituted with ginger, but sun is pretty hard to replace. As I woke yesterday to a grey, cloudy day, I didn't know what to expect. Luckily the sky cleared and we all got to cook in the sun. I have the red skin to prove it. These were our stoves. 

The lovely ladies at Miltton were kind enough to send a couple of notes reminding us to bring sunglasses, sunscreens and hats with us and they weren't wrong. If you can't stand the heat... 

For ingredients we were given vegetables and herbs. Some from their own garden, some from somebody else's. 

Then it was time to put theories to test. In the right angle the temperature reaches 300 degrees in 8 minutes. Or something. Apparently they have tried barbecuing on these things, but that's made a little trickier by the fact that in regular barbecues the temperatures can soar up to 1000 degrees. 

As we were waiting for the water to boil, it was time to enjoy the sun and get to know fellow bloggers that until now I'd only been admiring from afar. 

And that cooking, my friends, is not that easy. It takes pretty much time, timing and lucky accidents (in addition to sufficient quantity of beer, that is). 

After selecting the ingredients for our starter soup it was time to... wait again. In hot sun, clutching a cold beer...there are worse ways to spend an afternoon, I'll tell you. 

Whoever coined the phrase "the more the merrier" was not talking about cooking. Too many cooks make for an... interesting soup. 

Luckily the main was prepared by actual professionals. Which meant it actually tasted good. There was pork. You know, with Asian twist. Nice crunch and good flavours. The recommended pairing fr this was Lapin Kulta's organic version. 

Then there was zucchini. Stuffed with potatos, onions and mushrooms. Good, balanced dish. (Wholemeal) croutons gave it nice crunch. Served with lighter, crisper Lapin Kulta green. 

But it was always obvious which dish would get bloggers drooling: horse sirloin. It was cooked to perfectly rosy equine excellency - no need to specifically ask and beg for it. Sooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooooood. The recommended beer for this was Lapin Kulta's dark lager. 

I recommend you check their Facebook page - that's where you'll find latest news and information on the daily specials. Special guest starring chefs to come too. The place is open for another 10 days, so if you're in town, go check it out!

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