Spring vegetables

Finnish spring vegetables are finally starting to be available here, including beautiful radishes from the Lindroth farm near Turku.

2014.4Finnishradsandcucus

2014.4sesame

2014.4sesamesaladfinished

I only buy those radishes when I can get them really fresh. The leaves are great to eat as well; I wash them in several waters and put them into a curry, or sauté them. It was wonderful to see the beautiful colours again!

This salad had a very very easy dressing, with sesame seeds toasted in macadamia nut butter, salt and a nice unsweetened rice vinegar. Yums.

A trip to the Gallen-Kallela museum

Finland had a strong Jugenstil movement at the beginning of the last century, resulting in many fairy-tale buildings throughout Southern Finland, like the Gallen-Kallela Museum.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela Museum

Jugend or Art Nouveau is characterized by organic forms that recall a semi-imaginary fairytale past in Finland. Much art from the era references the Kalevala– the national epic that was compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century. In places like this it is easy to imagine Finland and the Kalevala serving as inspiration for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

The museum was a home that Gallen-Kallela built with his wife after extensive traveling outside of Finland. While he was a fantastic painter, the museum does not have a large collection of his paintings, but it has amazing examples of other things he made.

Including furniture he carved by hand:

Gallen-Kallela carved furniture

He also designed the flag flying at the museum, with the intention that it would be Finland’s national flag. Apparently he was not enthused about the blue and white cross.

The walk out from , at the Munkkiniemi end of the N. 4 tram line was beautiful, even in stormy weather. It takes less than half an hour, and follows the water most of the way. You can reward yourself for the trek by visiting a sweet little cafe there, older that the Art Nouveau castle, and pictured above.

It was haunting; worth a visit and the walk is highly recommended!

Hoku on herkku

Lunch at Hoku

Lunch at Hoku

The other day I got to have lunch at Hoku , a little restaurant in Helsinki I had been wanting to go to for a very long time. It was so good that even though I was having lunch with someone I had just met and felt a little ridiculous I had to take a photo of the furikake encrusted siika over udon noodles. Siika is sometimes translated just as common whitefish. It is a medium sized lake fish with delicate white flesh well-loved in Finland.

Very nice people, too! Lunch was wonderful.

Musiikkitalo

Shadows of the light sculpture inside the Musiikkitalo

Shadows of the light sculpture inside the Musikki Talo

Musiikkitalo (literally: music building or music house) is one of my favorite places in Helsinki. Not only does it have a wonderful, innovative, and ambitious calendar of events, it has wonderful leadership. Recently I had the opportunity to hear the director Katja Leppäkoski speak and she talked about how they were seeking to make the Musiikkitalo inclusive and open to many sorts of people and interests. I love that it is open to everyone, with free wifi and more generous hours than most Helsinki cafes. It is a beautiful space in which to work. Many of the performances also have discounted tickets for students and people without work (about EUR 7.50– cheaper than a trip to the cinema). And the acoustics, even behind the orchestra, are magnificent; they were designed by Yasuhisa Toyota.

They also get amazing artists in, like Julia Lezhneva who is performing this coming Sunday. I would go if I could! Worth a try, even if baroque isn’t your thing. And if you’re not broke– these tickets are pricier.

Kale and Korean Mint

Kale and Korean Mint

Served with pan-friend salmon stakes. Kale, tomatoes, beautiful Korean mint, amaranth (quinoa might have been better), lime, salt, macadamia nut oil. This is Lacinato or Tuscan Kale, a bit harder to find in Helsinki. I found this at Citymarket Ruohonlahti. In the summer, one can find this kale, called mustakaali (literally, Black Cabbage) from Anton and Anton shops. Interestingly, in England this sort of kale is also sometimes known as Black Cabbage. In the United States, I have heard people call it Dino Kale. It is softer that standard kale and lends itself easily to raw salads when massaged with a bit of oil and salt. The salmon I served with it was seasoned primarily with sumac and paprika. It was very fast to make!

The korean mint came from Stockmann’s. It was from Mimis . Mimis salads and greens are expensive, but they are so fresh and spectacular. You can also find them at S-Market Bulevardi, and I think the prices are maybe a tiny bit better there, but the selection is also more limited.

Organic Finnish goat quark (rahka)

Recently I chanced upon some kutun rahka or the Finnish version of quark made with goat milk, on sale. It was from a lovely Finnish creamery, dairy and cheesmaker Saloniemi (Saloniemen Juustola).

Local, organic Finnish goat quark

Local, organic Finnish goat quark

The prices for their products are high, but so is the quality. If my budget allowed, I would likely be a regular consumer. This was DELICIOUS. If you are a fan of chevre, it had a similar light goat-y taste, and it is full of protein. It mixed well with pesto, eaten on those amazing, sweet Finnish carrots.

Finnish carrots dipped in goat quark and organic pesto.

Finnish carrots dipped in goat quark and organic pesto.

It would also have been fantastic with fresh fruit or fruit preserves. For example, fig jam or fresh strawberries. Anything that would work with chevre would also work here. Yum.

Their products are available at most larger super markets (K-supermarkets, S-markets) and many specialist grocers like Ruohonjuuri and Anton & Anton. I also want to consider using rahka instead of quark in English; I think it sounds more inviting. “Quark” reminds me too much of quorn, the fake engineered meat pioneered in the U.K.