Helsinki foodie scene is so very happening right now I barely have time to go home to catch some sleep!
Last Friday the old wine bar at Gastrobar Emo saw the opening of Frescabar, open until summer. Its tapas menu (duck confit, my favourite!), gorgeous cocktail menu (based on Brugal rums, the pride of the Dominicans) and stylish atmosphere (not a plastic parasol in sight!) are full of Caribbean vibe that allows one to kick-start summer right now.
Food is delicious (as can be expected from a place like Emo) and the bar is certainly in good hands - it's run by Toni Yksjärvi who was awarded the gong for The Best Waiter in Finland in last year's Chef of the Year competition.
And speaking of which, this years winners will be crowned at the end of this month. Chef of the Year competition will take place at the Spring Fair and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the competition. This year not just the test diners (of which I was honoured to be part of last year) are in for a culinary treat - the audience gets something to feast on, too!
Sinne Helsinki (one of the best restaurant in Helsinki) has prepared a snack menu packed with glorious food that I got to sample already last week. The menu is both affordable (appr. €5 each) and adorable, I can tell you.
I've always rolled my eyes at any given jury uttering "the decisison was hard (blaah blaah) as every contestant was so qualified (yada, yada)" but I'm beginning to see that sometimes they might actually mean it. I certainly couldn't pick the winner out of this lot!
Try the hot dogs (even the veggie is superb!) and amazingly aromatic ribs and drumsticks.
Though... this salmon dish took my breath away with its delicate presentation.
PS. Sinne has just released their own beer, too! An ale with wonderful citrusy freshness, courtesy of lemon verbena among other things.
And if theme bars are your things, you'll love this one. The people behind our favourite hang-out, Bollywood-themed Bar Bhangra, just opened their latest (and strangest yet!) venture, a steampunk-themed bar called Steam Hellsinki.
Steam Hellsinki is located in Kamppi, and so is this brilliant newbie, too. In case football and wide selection of quality beers isn't enough for you (I've been told there are people out there like that...), this little gem has so much more up his sleeve, to.
I mean, what kind of a sports bar has a wine list like this? Xarel.lo? Priorat? Parés Balta Cava - and by the glass?! Helsingin Jalkapallopubi, that's who.
Until the end of the month the hungry sports fans get to feast on Mustacho's, a pop-up specialized in Portuguese street food and the sales have gone through the roof. Start with melt-in-your-mouth-tender gizzards (!) served with amazing flatbread.
The man behind the Mustacho's is Carlos Henriques, who's honed his skills in Michelin-starred restaurant, no less. And the results are every bit as stellar. Pastel de nata was the best I've ever had (none of that soggy, half-baked puff pastry-crust over here!) and for once the custard (so gloriously rich!)- pastry-ratio was just right.
The ingredients and cooking methods are top of the line, too: the chicken is organic and locally produced and its crispy charred skin and deliciously juicy interior are courtesy of grill, sous vide and a double convection oven (!). Do yourselves a favour and give it a go. PS. You can also grab an order to go!
The hottest event this week continues the street food theme, too: it's Streat Helsinki time! Bigger and better than last year, the festival has already been kicked off and will climax this weekend as it takes over the city centre. A whopping 64 vendors are on hand to get the party going. (My insider's tips? Skibibi Bros and The Alexanders.
How's that for too much of the good thing? Let's take to the streets and make the most of them all, shall we?
ANYONE FOR SECONDS?