Exquisite September, Beguiling Birgitta

If you are in Helsinki, you should be outside right now. The weather is painfully beautiful. The temperature perfect, the light mellow and golden. The days are at a humane length. It is a Goldilocks moment before the bears of winter return.

This month is also the last call for Cafe Birgitta, which will purportedly close for the winter at the end of September. The terrace looks out over one of my favorite swimming spots, but the inside is equally beautiful. Really, they could be serving anything, the setting is so perfect, and the fact they are actually offering interesting, well-presented food (towering burgers, chia seed parfaits, tempeh salads) explains the growing crowds that encompass everyone from what look to be exquisitely dressed business people to joggers in disreputable footwear who appear to have been seduced into taking a respite from their seaside rambles.

But it is the placement and construction of this summer cafe that is most wonderful; it creates a little sanctuary in a spot on the border of an old industrial area with one of the best and most open views of the water available in Helsinki. The building itself was constructed with oiled timber, reminiscent of old piers and lights inside are made from old fashioned glass buoys. A beach shack with a wood stove in modern Scandinavian design: just enough protection and warmth to shield from approaching autumn. The spot inspired this lament for the end of summer:

A low fire lips its iron cage
August hails the end of summer
Sun bounces back from shining waves
The Earth is flush from lengthened days
The city turns towards winter.

Rushing autumn now bundles limbs
once warmed by fleeting summer.
Shaking sand, bodies rise again
and fold themselves in shells
of wood and metal.

Footnote: Just noticed that in the picture above of pastries and korvapuusti (those delicious chewy not gooey cinnamon rolls spiked with cardamom) the words Honolulu and Valhalla are juxtaposed in a single frame. This seems a rare event… Yet, there is a strange consonant resonance between the two place names, pointing to something fantastical!

Get thee to Forum Box!

This is the last weekend for a fun show at gallery Forum Box in Hietalahti!!! It features two artists, but the show is cohesive, playful and beautiful. Read more about it here.

 mobile sculpture of birds made of recycled materials-- Purhonen and Korhonen

Jesus sculpture made of cardboard-- Purhonen and Korhonen

Sculpture made of metal lids-- Purhonen and Korhonen

The artists are Kalle Turakka Purhonen ja Mauri Korhonen. I have been twice!. And while you are in Hietalahti, not only is there the water and the lovely market hall, tomorrow there is a special brunch at the boat cafe Nikolai II, featuring fresh produce from the gardens of Siippoo. I am excited by what they are doing with that boat– local organic when they can + live music. Let’s enjoy the ephemera of summer while we can.

On the road: Klaus Cafe

We recently had a great meeting at the Klaus Cafe in Tallinn. Outside of the Old Town, a trip there will take you to another view of the city.

The cafe itself is almost too adorable, nestled as it is in the same building as the Estonian Design House and shop, which exerted a siren like call on me.

2014.5TallinnBirdWindow

Everything in the cafe was presented with care, from water:

2014.5KlausBerryWater

To a cheese plate:

2014.5KlausCheese

To tea and coffee (here served in Iittala Taika dishes). I like the choice of pure black with it.

2014.5KlausCoffee

The front of their menu, the prices seem fantastic from the perspective of Helsinki.

KlausTallinnMenu2014spring

On offer: duck, a very good salmon soup that can be ordered clear or creamy, good tea served well, and two of the most amazing smoothies I have had in recent memory. I am looking forward to going back. Klaus is also a walkable distance from both Old Town Tallinn and the ships coming in from Helsinki, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. It also gets one out into an interesting part of town.

2014.5TallinOtherSide

2014.5TallinPaint

A side of the city I thought was interesting and visually rewarding. I would love to hear about other hidden treasures of Tallinn!

On the road: Art Cafe

I have been doing some traveling. It is one of those weeks that has involved planes, ships and three different countries. But first there was Turku and a visit to one of my favorite caf├ęs, Cafe Art or Art Cafe along the Aura River.

Coffee and archipelago bread

Free wifi, good coffee, lots of space. A wonderful place to work. I had an entire room to myself with a view of the river and cyclists zooming by…

Window if Cafe  Art

Their only fault is parsimonious hours.

Cafe Art, Turku