This summer I took a trip that was about 15 years overdue. I went to Finland to visit my best friend. When she married her Finnish sweetheart more than 15 years ago, I promised to visit. And after years of child bearing and procrastinating, I finally splurged and traveled to the Scandinavia for a week. By myself. Ahhhhhhhh.
I probably would have not visited Finland were it not my friend’s home, but I learned several things on the trip and tasted some beautiful food.
First, my friend Cyndi and I spent a few nights in Helsinki, staying at a fabulous and reasonable hotel. Helsinki is a small city, by New York standards, and is extremely pedestrian friendly. Within the first day, I noticed that all the women were tall and blonde, and to smile or speak to strangers on the street is considered weird. Some of the city highlights were the open air market, the shopping (pricey but beautiful clothing and home goods) and the museum. Here are some pics:
We also ate at several bistro-like places for lunch where you go through a cafeteria-style line and order already prepared salads and sandwiches. Prices for these meals are much more reasonable than the sit-down restaurants, which we discovered when we dined at Grotesk (I know, weird name) one night.
The starters at Grotesk were stunning – I think one was a fish terrine salad and mine was a soup with a towering crouton covered with chorizo foam. Sadly, the entrees failed to impress us. But our wine, the beautiful outdoor patio and our incredibly witty conversation buoyed the evening.
After a 4.5-hour train ride north, we stumbled off the train (very clean and comfortable) to find Cyndi’s husband waiting for us with a much-needed drink. Love him.
My first meal in the countryside was smoked fish. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m not crazy about fish, particularly the smoked or raw kind. However, this fish was caught and smoked the day we ate it. Cyndi’s husband Sixten told us as he prepped for dinner that the fish was still warm when he purchased it from the local smokehouse. And it was delicious. I even had seconds. The delicate fish had a salty and obviously smokey flavor with a tender texture.
These experiences were just the beginning of my Finnish adventures. Our culinary wanderings extended to pastries the next day, which opened up a whole new world of tasty possibilities. Too many for this post.