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.

The Finnish fashion for foodtrucks

My most magical food truck experience happened in Los Angeles c. Spring 2003. Two friends and I were spoiled by all-you-can-eat fresh, Californian college food plans that appeared magically as part of our exorbitant tuition. We barely remembered how to feed ourselves, cook, or use cash to buy food. It was only because of impending war that we were in town out of term time to protest the impending war. It was rainy and cold– at least from our perspective. We were hungry and broke, and in the middle of nowhere LA in the wake of the protest march. A taco truck appeared out of the mist. I remember it zooming to a halt right in front of us, like a knight on a rearing white stead come to save us. We had to be able to speak Spanish to get our fish tacos, which were delicious and cheap.

Fast forward to Helsinki c. 2014. Suddenly, street food and food trucks have become a must-have for aspiring hipster cities. I can’t help but feel this is a bit derivative of and yet a strangely establishment version of, i.e., the PDX food truck trend, missing the shoestring origins of ye olde moveable restaurant enterprise. . . you know what I mean?

Maybe this is just another artisanal toast phenomenon.

Anyway, I went to the event, fought through crowds to meet my friend, was groped by a late middle aged/old well-dressed Finnish man in the midst of the crush, which was worse than New Year’s Eve at Senate Square, waited in line a looooong time for a beef sandwich from the Street Gastro food truck… which WAS GREAT. At 5 EUR, also a wonderful price. But… Come on! Oh well.

That being said, I am a big fan of Ravintola Päivää.

Best of Ravintola Päivää February 2014

A transcendent lamb “Vorshmack Burger” with fish roe from Tehtaankadun Marsalkka during February 2014 Restaurant Day. This was amazing. And unique. This beauty was lowered down by rope to the street level. I had to go back to get my man a second one– they were that good. The talented kids behind it are definitely ones to watch.

Finds at Citymarket Ruohonlahti

A huge basement-level City Market, some prices great, others horrible. They were also out of many staples.

Here is what was interesting:

    • Very cheap cleaned muikku (a wee little lake fish)
    • Frozen Finnish reindeer
    • Coconut/rice/nut milk
    • Good prices on frozen Finnish berries, and a better berry selection than at most places.
    • Frozen organic spinach
    • Cheap frozen Asian catfish
    • Lots of quinoa
    • Good prices on organic oils including organic cold pressed coconut oil and olive oil
    • MACADAMIA NUT OIL!
    • Sumac
    • Endive

Examples of what not to buy there currently because they are overpriced:

    • Milk (Organic milk 50 p more expensive than, e.g., my local Alepa and not a great selection)
    • Tahini
    • Eggs — Stockmann is a better option
    • The fresh fish looks good, but Stockmann often beats their prices there as well.

They did not have:

    • Alpro almond milk– even the sweetened kind
    • Whole or steel-cut oats
    • Whole Finnish buckwheat (why is no one carrying this?!)

 

 

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Endive in left over turkey broth.

Orange porridge

Every morning I make a different porridge, but it gets boring to document them… This one was a bit unusual: mango, sea buckthorn berry coconut shredded and flour, canihua, oats, flax seed, hulled hemp seeds.

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Steel-cut oats in Helsinki

Organic, Finnish oats from S-Market

Organic, Finnish oats from S-Market

These are what I have been using in our morning porridge lately. It is the closest I have found to steal-cut oats in Helsinki.

My father has favored steel-cut oats for many years, but they have become increasingly lauded by celebrities and doctors alike. I am sure you’ve heard about this, but if you need convincing:

+ By Dr. Robert Lustig, a prominent anti-sugar campaigner and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Interviewed here by the fabulous Leonard Lopate of the radio station WNYC in New York:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/cut-sugar-and-processed-food-and-cut-obesity-and-disease/

+ By Bobby Brown, no less, the beauty magnate, from her book On Beauty: “ I love slow-cooked Irish Oatmeal (you can make it the night before and reheat it the following morning). I load up on calcium with plain Greek yogurt flavored with cinnamon and slivers of roasted almonds.”

And many others. The trend does not seem to have infiltrated Helsinki yet. I don’t quite believe that the health benefits can be so dramatic as to make consumption of rolled oats out of the question. Personally, my strong preference is due to the better texture. The flavor seems richer, the oats are more toothsome and chewy. And–really–not that much trouble.

In Helsinki, I have so far found one relatively affordable source. The oats pictured above, local and organic to boot, are available at the Bulevardi S-Market, which as a surprising number of treasures.

Organic Finnish Oats

Organic Finnish Oats

Breakfast 02.19

Oats, mango, raspberry, coconut flakes, a few cashews and macadamia nuts, flax and hemp seeds, sea buckthorn berries, cardamom, a bit of psyllium. These ingredients are added gradually…

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Breakfast 02.17

Whole organic oat groats (AKA pinhead oats, Scottish oatmeal, Irish oats, steel-cut oats), hulled hemp seeds, ground whole hemp seeds, flax seeds, coconut flakes, coconut meal, crushed cardamom seeds, raw cacao nibs, frozen bananas, frozen blackcurrant berries, a bit of psyllium.

Served with unsweetened almond milk.

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