Saturday, 14 June 2014

Taste of Helsinki 2014

I'm fully aware how my Helsinki might occasionally seem like a very privileged one and straight out of Visit Helsinki- advert. Sailing the archipelago, dining in fancy new restaurants, attending foodie festivals and oohing and aahing over speciality shops. But fear not - I won't let it go to my head. I know that like with any city, there's another side to Helsinki; one that's a lot more gruesome...

But right now my Helsinki is (again) a celebration of good food and wine - courtesy of Taste of Helsinki- festival. Organized for the first time in 2012 it was the first of its kind in the Nordics. Now Stockholm (usually the pioneer in all trends), too, has founded its own.

The festival goes on all weekend, so if you're in town, do not miss it! Much like Streat Helsinki- street food festival this makes Helsinki a little better place for a moment; making it a friendly, fun place where people feel at home and (strangely for notoriously retiring Finns) actually enjoy each other and strike conversations with total strangers!

Here's how we spent our day.

As we got to the festival area, these weary travellers (it had been almost half a kilometre-journey and it was almost noon, you know..) just had to have some bubbly to get us in festive spirits. Too hasty to find Champagne we settled for this cava which was recently voted as the best sparkling wine right now. And it is the fizz we celebrated our first kiss with...

Refreshed by the bubbles we kicked off our day with Hodari & Hummeri. Their hot dog with veal, white asparagus and king prawns along with Royal lobster risotto were good choices.

Though we came prepared and with a 14-point-plan, we too were spoilt for choice. Good job I had The Boy Next Door and his stomach with me - there's no way anyone could survive this kind of an extravaganza with just one stomach...

Next we moved on to Ravinteli Bertha, where we sampled Cod, bean and scallop and Pork cheek, soy and celeriac. Classic them continues - if there's pork, I'll have it. Cod croquet was a bit dry and the beans a bit bland but the scallop foam was good. Spring cabbage that accompanied the wonderfully meaty pork had delightful mustardiness that complimented the pork superbly.

Owing to the fantastic dinner we enjoyed there a little while back, we had high hopes for Emo...

..but their crab cake was on the dry side too. The date liked it though and couldn't get enough of the coriander mousse.

The next wine we had was an old favourite of mine, Kung Fu Girl Riesling. With that I introduced The Boy Next Door to Farang's caramelized pork with toasted coconut dressing. The dish was tasty even to someone who's had it in one way or another in every single one of the chef's restaurants. One of The Boy next Door's favourites all day.

Lately we've been exploring the world of rosés and this tickled us in all the right places. Light, crisp with good body.

Our most successful wine pairing was this though.

Together with Juuri's dessert (goat's milk yogurt parfait with liquorice, raspberries and fennel) was heaven. 

Juuri was, as I expected, my favourite. Organic Finn cattle nose to tail- dish was soooo gooood Spring spelt risotto with spring greens was soooo dreamily creamy. 

From Michelin-starred Demo we had everything on display. Lobster sausage was great, but the accompanying saffron risotto was too Parmesany for my fromagophobe palate. That Royal lobster risotto totally kicked this one's ass.

Veal, stewed spring cabbage and sauce made with fermented soy beans was a tad too salty.

Having heard everyone rave about the show-stopping production that is the Space cream we just had to have some. Overall impression was a bit dry though.

Michael Björklund from Åland is The Boy Next Door's TV chef favourite, so his place, Smakbyn was our next stop. Slow-cooked lamb (Åland, that island autonomy located between Finland and Sweden is famous for their lamb!) with Smakby's lamb sausage tasted... a bit musty though. Oj då.

At this point we got worrying. Too much good stuff? Were our palates getting too accustomed to all the delicacies? Would nothing impress us anymore? The answer, luckily, was a resounding "no" as the next restaurant proved. One of the restaurants I'd been most eagerly looking forward to, one recently awarded their first Michelin star: Ask.

Pork belly, new potato and onion was a dish where flavours and textures were in perfect balance. Rustic, yet light.

But the pud. The pud!!!! Sorrel & white chocolate. Mamma Mia. The best dish all day. "This is what Midsummer's night tastes like" The Boy Next Door sighed, eyes closed.

But all that wine and food wasn't enough - oh no. Yours truly got asked to participate in Electrolux's Chef's secrets - cooking school, hosted by members of Finnish national culinary team. Oh, and the chef's secret? Electrolux...

At this point camera was taken over by The Boy Next Door. And not with bad results, eh? Just check him out! "Eat, drink, enjoy", says his tattoo by the way. Gotta love him.

The starter was seafood tartare with home-made mayo. Some fared better than others...

Later we got asked to attend to dessert work shop too. This is what we made.

Weather could have been better...but hey ho - that's Finnish summer for you!




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