Sunday, 23 March 2014

Streat Helsinki 2014

Just like what felt like a million other foodies, we were there too. At Streat Helsinki 2014- festival, that is. Held for the very first time, this celebration of street food was a much anticipated one. 

And when, against all the odds, Saturday morning broke in the most glorious sunshine, my spirits were high. The map had been printed, the selection studied and a strategy devised.

To feed the hungry masses there were 37 stands. Some Helsinki restaurants you've already too been introduced too, some small producers from outside the capital and some food trucks had travelled all the way from neighbouring countries. Because of the limitations of our respective gastroenterological capacities we decided to skip the old friends such as Street Gastro, Twisted Street Kitchen, Cholo and Fafa's and instead explore the new ventures.

There was street food with Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican twist and every booth offered a vegetarian choice too.

Were kicked the day off at Liesikiesi with pike and crayfish slider followed by their beef slider. Especially the pike and crayfish one was so deliciously fresh!

To my great delight Salt, one of my favourite restaurant in Tallinn was there too. Cabbage stuffed with veal was Salt at their best: drawing from traditions, but executed with sophistication. Salmon stuffed spring roll was light and fresh. Should you ever find yourselves in Tallinn, I highly recommend you check them out!

My favourite was Skibibi Bros & Co  (how can I have never heard from them before?) who flew the flag for Finnish produce. Char grilled chicken heart, served with delicious sauce made with caramelized onions came with veggie muesli (!) made with kale among other things was a beautiful dish where tastes and textures were in perfect harmony. The Boy Next Door was absolutely floored by their Nordic flatbread with vendance tempura.

B-Smokery was one of the first places I had ticked as one to visit. And it didn't fail. Their sandwich with 10-hour-brisket had plenty of taste and size.

The day simply couldn't have been a greater success. Helsinki, basking in the glorious spring sun put on its best face. Both vendors and the laid back music blasting throughout the area made for a fantastic atmosphere that couldn't but rub off on the crowd.

As superb as the food was, that was the best thing on offer; that atmosphere of togetherness. The organizers set out to bring people together and enjoy. And that they did. People were on good mood and on several occasions we got to witness something utterly un-Finnish: total strangers striking a conversation with each other.

All the people we met loved what was going on though there was still certain level of skepticism. "I'm sure some jobsworth authority will come up all sorts of regulations and restrictions to keep this from happening again", muttered one man. That would be sad. And plain stupid. This was one of those days when Helsinki was at its best: a European, fun city where people enjoy themselves - this is exactly what Finland needs more of!

And my, how heart-warming it was to feel people's excitement. Who would have thought one would get to see people queuing for oysters at a Helsinki street food festival? I mean, oysters!

Richard McCormick, one of the masterminds in the foodie scene thanks to whom Helsinki gets to enjoy events like this had actually set up an oyster bar. 

"Unheard of!" a French man at our table laughed. "What is happening to Helsinki? We have a French man eating fish & chips and Finns queuing for oysters!" Something, absolument awesome, I say.

You didn't think we were done just yet, did you? Oh. No. There was Richard's other venture, Burger joint to go through. We went for Duck confit burger (duck confit! In a burger!) which was bursting with Mediterranean flavours. Ooh.

At this point even we had to bow out. And not because there weren't many, many more places to sample. Lamb head burger for instance we only heard of after rolling home and poring over others' reports. But hey Helsinki, let's do this again real soon, right?




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