Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Food and Fun Turku 2015 : Kaskis and Marina Lounge

Turku. Ooooh, Turku. Since I live in Helsinki, I'm genetically hard-wired to think there's no life anywhere else in Finland. But Turku. You just keep proving me wrong... 

For some years now the highlights of any Finnish foodie's culinary calendar have been Taste of Helsinki (I'm telling you - it put even Taste of London to shame!) and Wine, Food and Good Food fair. Now there's a new entry that I will most certainly adopt next year, too. Food and Fun festival in Turku. And my, o my, what a festival it was!

12 participating restaurants 7 cocktail bars. I got to sample the selection already at the press tour earlier this spring. Not wanting to miss out, I made my reservations straight away and I'm glad I did: Kaskis (one of the hottest restaurants in the whole of Finland) for one was sold out months before the event. 

Their special guest star was Fredrik Johnsson from a Michelin-starred Restaurang Volt in Stockholm, whose menu , just so it happens, was awarded as the best of the festival.

Upon learning that the house bubbly was Taittinger (!!!) we wasted no time getting our hands on some of that.

And with Champagne we were served rye crisps with dreamily rich porcini crème.

The first stop of our 4,5 - course menu (€48) was fennel, roe and hazelnut. A seemingly simple dish that kicked every single ass from here to Hong Kong. Roe and hazelnut (who thinks of putting those tow together? A genius, that's who!) made for a great texture.

Next dish: elk, beets and pine (?) was probably my favourite. Juicy carpaccio-like elk with sour cream flavoured with bone marrow and beets cooked on bed of salt. Wowcha.

We opted for the matching wines, too (€34) that, much like the food, were thought through. The wine that was served with this one (lost my notes, sorry..) didn't do much to us on its own, but with the dish... kabooom. 

The main course wowed with its understated elegance. Under the cloud of thin celeriac shavings there was roasted lamb. Finished with pickled elder flowers (yesssss) the dish quite simply melted in the mouth. The sauce had such a wonderful depth to it. And the wine paired beautifully with the food. I could have cried.

But then I almost did. And they weren't tears of happiness.

For a pre-dessert were treated to a plateful of what I until the very last possible minute, kept hoping might turned out to be pixie dust. Or powdered unicorn. Or navel fluff from a Panda. But no - it was what I was afraid it might be: cheese, my Nemesis. And to make matters worse: not just any cheese: goat cheese.

Every now and then Fredrik popped out of the kitchen to see how we were doing (trying to will the stuff to just magically disappear by showing it around our plates with fork). Forgive me, Fredrik. I still feel awful.

Though, my companion couldn't stomach the strangely pungent concoction of fresh herbs and goat cheese either. 

But the actual dessert gets a AAAAA+. Almong milk ice cream, smoked toffee and sweet cicely. Again, seemingly simple yet surprising and insanely delicious. 

And as the post-dessert was Fredrik spiced cake he makes at Volt, too. 

Thank you Kaskis, thank you Fredrik. Amazing night. And though the food was top-notch, I'd have to say that the thing that impressed me the most was the ambiance. One of the most sought-after restaurants in the country, one that only seats 36 people with a Michelin-winning chef in charge of the kitchen and yet...the vibe was so welcoming and relaxed

Take it from me, people. Everything you've heard about Kaskis- all true and then some. Make the trip to Turku for them alone. You won't be disappointed!

After dinner we made our way to Marina Lounge, located in the hotel we stayed the last time we were in Turku: Radisson Blu Palace. They had been taken over by an Icelandic Asgeir Mar Björnsson, who, along with his sidekick kept us in good spirits. In every sense of the word. 

We were promised showmanship and that's what w got. Though I think the sidekick might have had a couple of cocktails himself, too...!

The cocktails were great and had lovely freshness courtesy of dill and cucumber and that sorts of things. Liked them a lot. Drank them a lot. 

You think we're done? Oh, no. Next blog post will take you to Karu Izakaya and Pinella. 

(I did tell you - the weekend was an ah-ma-zing non-stop foodie orgy!)




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