* My gorgeous model – Finnish food blogger Hanna Pilli-Sihvola (@Soppahanna)
While exploring Helsinki, Finland in January through a food and culture tour with fellow bloggers, I got to sample local delicacies that the city is known for, pop into the home of a famous chocolate brand, and check out one of the small organic stores that help steer the city’s green living and locally-sourced food lifestyles.
Behold the blini at Lasipalatsi
What makes Finnish cuisine unique is that it has been influenced by not just Nordic traditions but also flavors from Russia and the Baltics and one such staple is the blini. A blini is a buttery pancake made from buckwheat flour and often served with sour cream, caviar, pickled herring, beetroots, smoked salmon, and a host of other savory ingredients.
I got my introduction to the famous blini at the equally famous Restaurant Lasipalatsi which used to be the place to be seen and be seen by Finnish movie stars of the 1940s. The building itself, known as the Glass Palace (Lasipalatsi) is also home to one of Helsinki’s oldest cinemas called Bio Rex.
But we were there to sample its famous blinis during Blini Week held every mid-January where you dig into all-you-can-eat blinis with an array of toppings.
The minute I dug my fork into that perfectly round fluffy pancake and liquid butter oozed out, I knew I’d met my match. The blini is an acquired taste because it’s made from buckwheat and not regular flour, and it’s eaten with savory accompaniments like pickled vegetables, sour cream, caviar, and smoked fish as opposed to maple syrup, whipped cream, and jams. It’s heavier than your typical pancake and I doused mine in sweet honey.
It’s certainly not for dieters, that’s for sure. But it’s definitely a memorable local delicacy so if you find yourself in Finland next January, be sure to be on the lookout for blinis.
Visit Restaurant Lasipalatsi
Chocolate comas at Fazer Café
My first introduction to Fazer was at my own wedding. When my husband and I were looking to make handmade gifts to hand out, the first idea that popped into his head was chocolate. Specifically wedding boxes filled to the brim with chocolates made by a certain company called Fazer.
I didn’t get it then. In fact, I chuckled. Mostly because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but also because, seriously, chocolate?
But when I took the first bite he offered me, I was immediately sold and all 120 guests at our wedding went home with little white boxes filled with Fazer chocolates.
The name Fazer is borderline legendary around these parts and it invokes giggles and sighs of appreciation and adoration whenever it’s name-dropped amongst a group of Northern Europeans.
So our stop at Fazer Café in Helsinki was a real treat for me. Not only to learn about the company’s history and iconic imprint on Finnish culture, but to dig into some downright decadent truffles.
Visit Fazer Café
Locally-sourced goodness at Anton & Anton
The one thing I’m grateful for since moving to the Nordics from the US is being more conscious about food. Where it comes from, where it’s sourced, the quality, the nutritional value, and how organic they are. Stockholm is littered with green and eco-friendly stores, and I was equally excited to find the same conscious attitude in Helsinki as well with a visit to Anton & Anton.
Touted as a “food market with heart”, it’s clear the minute you walk in the store that it has a strong connection to nature and sustainability. There’s actually a machine in a corner that squeezes real oranges into large bottles which you buy as fresh juice. I’d never seen one of those before and thought it was pretty cool.
Anton & Anton’s mantra is that it “sells only real food to real people who care about the quality and origin of what they eat”. Its shelves are stocked with produce, ingredients, and products that are locally sourced, organic, nutritional, and just fun to eat.
I mean, who won’t love to dig into some traffic jam above?
Visit Anton & Anton
View more photos from the Nordic Bloggers Experience in my imagebank.