Stockmann is the Macy's of Finland. Their basement supermarket is very similar to Macy's Cellar. Gourmet foods, wide varieties, Finnish specialties such as smoked fish, dried reindeer, canned mushrooms and berry elixirs. For me, it was a joy to walk through. Labels, delicacies, smells, sights it was a gastronomic and graphic sensory overload. Food for my creative engine. Here are some photos of my Stockmann walk through...
The cheese counter was...ahhhh...amazing.
This is the margarine, butter aisle.
The Finns love their buttery spreads for their rye crisps and bread!
The egg cartons were beautiful!
The berry and fruit beverages took up a whole aisle.
And then there was the canned elk, bear and reindeer meat.
Thanks but no thanks on that item for me.
Posted by Gail Brill at 3:28 PM
One of the best things I discovered on my trip to Finland was what the Finns call a "sledge". Also known as a kick sled, it is a means of human powered, eco-friendly transport that many Finns and in fact many Scandinavians use during the snowy winter months.
You see them outside homes in the counryside.
The way they work is the chair can carry goods or Grandma. You stand between the blades on the back with one foot on either blade and you push with the other foot on the snow to get yourself up to speed. If you are going down a hill or have gathered enough speed, you can put bvoth feet on he runners and coast. The blades are extremely flexible and if you want to slow down, push the blades apart from each other as if snow plowing on skiis. This will slow you down enough to regain control of your sledge. It s alos very easy to steer by pulling the handle left or right.
I think these wonderful devices should be used in the North Country of New York State. The one draw back is that the Finns are not as obsessed with snow removal as we are. The snow remains on the ground and is packed down. Where slippery, gravel is placed on the ground. This gives the sledge uses a pretty open field for travel.
Jason ordered one for us from a Vermont based company that sells the Swedish made version (apologies to my Finnish friends for not being able to find a Finnish made kick sled here in the states!) It's beautiful! Sadly, the snow is melting, so I will have to wait until next winter to really give it a good workout.http://vermontkicksled.com/
I did manage to take it on a short shake down cruise...
Posted by Gail Brill at 2:43 PM
Sunday to SuomenlinnaToday we took a ferry to Suomenlinna, an island off the coast of Helsinki. Suomenilla was the site of may battles in Finnish history and is now a Unesco World Heritage site. The island is home to 800 year round residents and has over 700,000 visitors every year.
Much of Finnish history is about them being beaten up from all sides. The Swedes, the Russians, they all wanted a piece of Finland. The Finnish psyche is the product of this history. There is a darkness there below the surface, a national sadness. National holidays are not celebrated with fireworks and festivities, but with candle burning and reflection. This morning Mikko said that they have excepted the fact that they will never be a great power. But I think from that collective place comes an amazing sense of national pride, and a well of creative energy.
Mikko read to us about a group of Finnish woman that are "professional" criers. They go to peoples homes to cry with them during times of despair.
Mikko spoke of the quiet nature of the Finns and the sauna. The sauna is a place of solitude, even if you are with others. It's a time of reflection.
After a brief historical tour of Helsinki, we headed to the ferry. We plowed through ice chunks to get there...pretty amazing.
Mikko's friend Sari Koskinen met us at the ferry.
We then retired to a small dining area and had a Finnish Salmon and Potato Soup called Lohikeitto.
The recipe follows. And when I say I've never tasted a more delicious soup, I'm not lying!
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Onion, finely chopped
5 cups Fish Stock
1 pound of very fresh Salmon Fillet, cubed
1 cup Cream
1 cup Fresh Dill, finely chopped
Salt to taste
And a divine chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream cubes...
Here are some more beautiful images of Soumenlinna...
|Frozen boat in the Baltic.|
Posted by Gail Brill at 5:36 PM
Our chef and host Janne Lansipuro talks about KaarnarantaThe drive to the farm from Vantaa where the airport is located, was beautiful. Very sparsely populated terrain with little farm houses...that simple, beautiful Scandinavian country farm look. Paula told us about the traditional paint colors used on the homes; a rusty red which is made from red earth pigments. A mustard yellow that was called "Russian yellow" and a soft slate colored blue. We are on our way to a B&B called Kaarnaranta. It is located in Isnäs Village (www.isnas.fi). Kaarnaranta works with an organic, bio-dynamic farm called Labby (www.labby.fi). The old city near by is called Porvoo (or Borgå in Swedish). There's been lot of connections with Estonia, the country on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, where they speak a language closely related to Finnish. Thank you Janne for the corrections!
Our chef Janne Lansipuro introduced us to our first course, a soup made with pike, carrot and apples. A hint of citrus...salt and sweet. After 24 hours of traveling, it was absolutely sublime to sit and savor around a long farm table with all our new friends; Sirpamaria, Mikko, Pinja and Paula.
The second course was buckwheat blini with trout roe and Muikku roe, a kind of small herring in the salmon family. Salted mushrooms, sour cream and chopped red onion. I have to say, this dish was a "I have to be by myself for awhile" kind of dish. The slow deliberate mouthfuls were a kind of meditation. God, I love eating like that! Exquisite.
Mikko was telling us about an experiential exhibit they have at Heuruka now about eating. It's a tasting and savoring exercise. I said that if we all learned to eat like that, to be present in the moment with the beautiful food, the earth's bounty, then there is a good chance we could transform our food system. Deliberate, conscious eating could not happen around a Big Mac.
Next course: lamb "parts" in a berry wine reduction and the all too familiar but no less delicious roasted root vegetables. Carrots, parsnips and potatoes in a rosemary olive oil glaze. It was quite good and those oven roasted root vegetables tasted like home!
The last course, baked apple with chocolate, plum and mint sauce. The farm produces herbs and sells them. One of the things they produce is a delicious tea, made with spruce, calendula, corellian mint, peppermint, cinnamon and lemon basil. It was a perfect top off to a wonderful dinner. Thank you Janne!
You will have to bare with me about this food stuff. You see, I think food, and I mean good food...real, whole food, beautifully prepared is an art form. It is beauty and gratitude you can taste and ingest. It is life affirming. It is humbling. So hang in there with me as I take you with me on a gastronomic journey through Finland!
Next stop the sauna!
Posted by Gail Brill at 10:36 AM