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Countdown to Taste of Helsinki, the most eagerly anticipated culinary event is on!
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Then there'll be a feast as the #1 foodie event of the year; Taste of Helsinki takes over Kansalaistori in Helsinki (along with my digestive system and with that, rest of my life) for 4 days.
Come rain or shine, the great atmosphere, fantastic restaurant line-up and an intriguing selection of quality wines will (again) make sure, you're in for a gooooood time.
In a world that seems to go more and more off the rails each day, this is one thing I can vouch for.
My Taste of Helsinki season got off to an early start as I took part in the press launch of the event.
Though the future of the event seems to be in jeopardy each year, this year marks its 6th anniversary.
Electrolux is Taste of Helsinki's main partner for the 5th year now and satisfaction over the cooperation is clearly mutual.
"Sure, it's always a bit of a challenge setting up the kitchens on a grass field", Electrolux admits, "but this event makes it all worthwhile".
Chef's Secret- workshops, which are open to the public and offer a chance to cook with one of the members Finnish culinary team will be continued this year as well.
If anything, they will be even bigger and better, I'm told.
The festival's line-up consists of 10 restaurants, each offering 4 courses: starter, main course, dessert and a signature dish.
Apart from the signature dishes each dish costs 5-6 marks and I can tell you - that's some serious bang for buck!
Out of of last year's line-up four restaurants will return for this year's service: Bistro O Mat, the pride of Kirkkonummi; Grön, recently named the Restaurant of the Year; Pastor, home to laid back fusion kitchen and great cocktails and Toca, an Italian-inspired restaurant that never fails to wow.
Newcomers from Helsinki include Passio, Shelter and Savoy, which has been wanting to take part in the festival for years, but only managed to join this year for the first time.
"It's always been a disappointment, but either the situation at the restaurant of issues relating to the staff have prevented us from participating the previous years", Savoy's chef Kape Aihinen explains.
"Last year turned out to be a very successful one and the whole restaurant family is doing so well we could finally do this".
His year is shaping up to be rather eventful one: in a matter of weeks he'll launch another restaurant (Roster Turku) and there's a book about him coming out later this year.
The line-up will also feature two out-of-towners: Ludu from Turku and one of the biggest names of the whole show: Noa; named by White Guide Nordic as the best restaurant in Tallinn.
In addition to Noa another restaurant I'm really,really looking forward to is Tuohi pop up, headed by Sasu Laukkonen.
We won't get more details of this mysterious ensemble until closer to the festival - so far all we know is that in addition to Sasu, the chef behind Michelin-starred Chef & Sommelier, it will feature 2 other Finnish chefs and one special guest star from overseas.
Oh, and that wild herbs might play a prominent role in the project.
First we sampled Savoy's dish (herring Escabeche seasoned with black currant, served with potato pearls and dill créme) and dear me, what a dish it was!
Fresh, clear, wonderfully summery flavours in perfect balance, complimented beautifully by cunning use of fresh herbs (such as lemon balm).
Shelter served us organic lamb (stuffed with oregano and olives, accompanied by roasted carrot hummus and kale). Gloriously, deep earthy flavours.
The kale might have lent the dish some greenery it might have well needed, but other than that its function was a bit lost on me.
(Come on - aren't we all ready to admit we're sick and tired of kale without being hunted down by torch-wielding villagers? Aren't we?)
The dessert was Pastors' vanilla cake featuring 3 kinds of milk (condensed, sweetened condensed and dulce de leche). The citrusy meringue provided a freshness that cut nicely through the richness of the cake.
And if restaurant choices look promising, so does the wine pavillion's selection, too.
André Clouet is in charge of the Champagne this year, too and their 10 or so Champagnes also feature some rarities. Thumbs up for the fact that every single one is available by the glass.
A new feature at this year's festival is Taste Spirit Pavilion, which showcases all the best distilleries in Finland.
Oh yeah - I'm talking Kyrö Distillery Company (the company behind Napue Gin), Helsinki Distilling Company and Ägräs.
(Well, at least you know where to find me after I've eaten all the food...!)
69 more days to go!
You know what - I'm starting to get a little excited over here!
Cat Blogger - you've been warned. But you know what? We can do this. This year, too.
The training starts N-O-W!
The ticket sales for the event start tomorrow morning at 9am (www.tiketti.fi) - make sure to get yours ASAP.
Unlike previous years,there aren't early bird offers, but there's something even better: everyone who purchases tickets by April 21st is automatically included in a Golden Ticket raffle, in which one verrry lucky winner wins a hefty upgrade for two people.
The Golden Ticket package inludes free admission on all 4 days, 800 marks (!!!) worth of spending money and then being driven back home, courtesy of Lexus.
Because of my travelling I unfortunately missed out on last year's Taste of Helsinki, but for 2015's report please see here and for 2014 over here.
And don't forget - I've also sampled the offerings of Taste of London, too... if only to realize it doesn't have a patch on ours!
Any of you been to Taste of Helsinki? Any of you going to join me this year?
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Taste of Helsinki 2017
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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?
SHARING IS CARING!