Uncovering local brews

At first, I didn’t realize there was any interesting beer in Helsinki. Then some appeared, expensively , when visiting Juuri or Valimo on Suomenlinna.

Pils (Souomenlinna Painimo), Mufloni Aamupala Stout (Beer Hunter's), Nokkospils (Ruokapuoti lumo)

Pils (Souomenlinna Painimo), Mufloni Aamupala Stout (Beer Hunter’s), Nokkospils (Ruokapuoti lumo)

Maybe it is just my obsession with nokka (nettles), but I thought that one was particularly wonderful. An interesting alternative to a green smoothie. These all came from the K-Market that is near the entrance to the underground in Kamppi, at reasonable prices.

Helsinki Art Lending

Here is something that should spread like a virus: the art lending cooperative of Helsinki, Taidelainaamo. It is sooo good.


A monthly fee with no deposit grants access to a large catalog of local artists. The monthly fee goes towards the purchase price of the art, so if someone loves something, they can simply keep it for a year or two and it is theirs. But it also opens the door to fickle, promiscuous relationships with pieces, trying things on, changing with the seasons! I love it.

It is possible to browse through works in person in their space below the library on Rikhardinkatu. There are more works available for order online from their truly amazing website. Sometimes when I need relief from life, I like to go search through art works sorted by medium, size, colour, maker. There are other art lending institutions and businesses in Finland, but this one is my favourite. Enjoy.

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.

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
    • 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?!)




Endive in left over turkey broth.

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:


+ 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