Finland Food Travelogue and a Garden by the Medieval Castle

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook 

Howdy folks,

Fresh wild berries-strawberries, bilberries, blueberries at the Covered Market

 

Great fun was had with exploration from Helsinki & environs. Already we are on our 2nd road trip with more to come and Monday we’ll ferry to Estonia’s capital Tallin…phenomenal with its fascinating walled medieval city. 

Garden at Medieval wall

 

My Chovis (endearment for Kuchovas)as I call them, have filled the days…almost to overloaded. Niki has taken off from his work in Commerce department although upon landing I was introduced to Ambassador Oreck and his very hip wife, Cody, who has put in a beehive @ Ambassador’s residence (which looks like Annapolis Governor’s house, BTW). She keeps the beehive herself and intends to restore the gardens which include herbs and produce. We talked about the GREEN life as there are sponsors over here to save the Baltic Sea.  Finland is a very Green country. 

A Milk Depot in Finland

 

We drive by lots of farms but as of yet…not too many critters save one or two farms with maybe sheep or a few cows. Gorgeous scenery with over 10,000 archipelago where one truly gets to feel the lifestyle.  Crafts and farm goods abound and charm reigns with the honor system allowing you to leave your payment in the container next to the milk depot or a fruit stand. The food is fab and I am eating my way through smoked fish and bilberries. We happened upon a fish camp early on where I downed a large portion of homesmoked whitefish. 

Finnish Food Highlights 

When traveling one of my first stops would be a supermarket to see how the locals cook. It’s also the way to discover clever food packaging. The next stop is an open market, or a farmers market, as we think of it. At these markets you learn about the culture and daily lifestyle. This particular market sits on the south bustling harbor of Helsinki and was swarming- even in the summer heat. The stalls bear local crafts of wood-one of Finland’s most abundant crops, wool products for those long winters and fresh food. We sampled loimulohi (blazed salmon, cooked over an open fire), freshly fried sardines, salmon cakes with lemon and huge glorious Paella showcasing the local seafood along with saffron tinged rice. 

Rye and dark breads speak for the countrywhich often inspires me for a cultural crossover. With such a forested country many of the fine indigenous ingredients thrive in that environment. Chanterelle mushrooms are plentiful and the exquisite soup we devoured highlighted their essence.The forests also yield berries ~ the wild variety are the gems of that nutritional powerhouse. Wild bilberries at the open air market were piled alongside brilliant cherries, red currents and tiny fragrant wild strawberries.

 

It's all about reindee

 

A traditional Finnish meal consists of grilled sausage, mashed potatoes, carrots and buttermilk. Lihapullat are excellent Finnish meatballs, while dessert options include Karjalanpiirakka pastry and cinnamon rolls. Culinary adventurers should try sautéed reindeer (a traditional item in Lapland). Reindeer is often used in the famous meatballs. 

To my excitement, I learned that Helsinki is the coffee drinking capital of the world! We would often “take a coffee”(as they say) although decaf is not to be found. The Finn’s other favorite drinks include Marjamehu (berry juices), Pommac (a mixed fruit soda) and Glögi (spiced mulled wine with almonds and raisins). Finns love licorice and since so much is available it has become our road trip treat. 

Smoked foods, especially fin fish are a specialty. Salmon was the most common but I often saw smoked herring, flounder, whitefish and pike. 

Paella and other goodies in huge cooking vessels

 

Baby greens, Melon Cubes  with Crusted Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction 

per salad 

  • Recipe for that fabulous salad with grilled goat cheese

     

    1 cup baby greens 

  • 1/2 cup cantaloupe & honeydew cubes
  • 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 inch thick 3-inch round goat cheese, chilled

Heat nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Very quickly brown each side of goat cheese round.  Cool slightly. 

To assemble: 

Place greens on salad plate-sprinkle with fruit around the edges, Crown with goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction. 


 


 

Kiitos ( means thankyou) which I am saying OFTEN to the lovely people of this amazing country! 

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