My Helsinki tastes like…
In summertime, the fastest and easiest way to get to know Helsinki’s coffee culture is to visit one of the kiosks in town. One of my personal favorites is located next to Pitkäsilta bridge, on Unioninkatu street. There one might even receive a poem as a thank you for one’s purchase.
Some time ago we asked visitors to tell us on Facebook about Helsinki’s characteristic scent, and the majority answered that it’s coffee. And that is so true! Meira’s coffee roaster factory in Vallila is one of my favorite places to pass on my way to work because it awakens my inner coffee lover.
I myself experienced an epiphany when I visited Good Life Coffee for the first time. It was the first time a barista challenged me not to add sugar in my coffee. And there has been no return…let’s just say that this place’s guys know what they’re talking about and this coffee lover is happy for that.
White, dark, nutty, salty, rosy – chocolate is a definite must-try treat in Helsinki. The city, where Chjoko’s chocolate buffet is a concept and where Karl Fazer Café was established, is an undisputed chocolate destination. Local chocolate cakes, e.g. Bergga’s self-made mouthwatering chocolate cake, are vices of all friends of chocolate. Remember the local Levy and Goodio chocolates.
You’ll find an interesting and delicious hot chocolate at Chofé.
Salmiakki (salty licorice)
The kiosk named Salmiakkikioski, which has already become a local legend, is open during summertime (until the end of Septmber) and is a must-see in the Töölö district. This kiosk hosts hundreds of varieties of salty licorice that prove we Helsinkians are mad about salmiakki!
I recommend the kiosk’s lollipops and licorice powder! The powder is a great topping to ice cream, yoghurt or coffee! Yummy!
Salmiakki Manifesto has taken its love for salty licorice one step further and designed timeless jewelry that has the form of this local treat. This treat has the form of a diamond for a reason – it’s a girl’s best friend!
Try salty licorice here: Salmiakkikioski, Helsinki’s grocery stores
Traditionally a local breakfast consists out of porridge. You can top a porridge with as good as anything and there are many varieties it. At café Suvanto Mustion Mylly’s oat porridge has been the most popular one this summer. Remember to try the berry porridges as well! Right now I’m daydreaming about a food truck that would serve berry porridges in summertime. That would be a great lunch alternative!
Summer isn’t complete without Finnish berries. This summer Helsinki has had a new addition to its street food scene, Mustikkamaitopyörä that is. It’s a circulating bike stall that sells blueberry milk. That if something tells about the Finnish love for berries. The market squares are in my opinion the best places to buy berries from. I love enjoying them as I sit on a cliff admiring the city’s silhouette. Different berry smoothies are also great local treats. Recently I fell in love with Kippo’s fresh smoothies. You’ll also find berries in many of the local baked goods and chocolate varieties.
On Helsinki Day in June I joined a Wild Herb Walk that was organized at Herttoniemi Manor by Stadin Puutarhuri. Before that I had picked wild herbs for instance in local forests and prepared salads out of them.
During this guided walk, led by restaurant Juuri’s chef Antti Ahokas, I was told how to make tea, salad, decorations and side dishes out of Finnish wild herbs. Besides that, wild herbs are great remedies for many medical problems. I found it delightful to see that this treat combines generations, at least in Helsinki: children, youngsters, adults and pensioners joined the walking tour. I’m happy to tell that restaurant Juuri’s owners have opened a new restaurant named Pihka. The owners now have four adresses because they also run Latva and Maritori. Helsinki has tens of delicious wild herbs and you can learn more about them in e.g. Sami Tallberg’s cook book.
Locals tend to say that in wintertime, chocolate is the cure to any problem. In summertime it changes into ice cream, if you ask me. The ice cream kiosks along the sea shores belong to the summer and I think the best spots to enjoy ice cream is close to the sea. My soul rests as it gets two for the price of one: tasty ice cream and beautiful views.
Finland’s most popular bread type is, as is well known, rye bread. According to Leipätiedotus (Finnish Bread Information), rye stands for about 30% out of the Finnish crop consumption. It’s impossible to miss rye bread when visiting Helsinki. My personal favorites are the rye hearts found at e.g. Kanniston leipomo and the Old Market Hall.
Good rye treats can also be found at the Abattoir’s Tuoretori.
Raw food has been a huge food trend in Helsinki for a while already. Raw food is not cooked in more than 45 degrees. Raw food is believed to have many health benefits, as it includes enzymes, vitamins and micronutrients. Raw food is e.g. berries, fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, legumes, seaweed, seeds, nuts and oils.
I personally love raw cakes with blueberry and licorice. They are not as sweet as regular cakes and have always left me with a fresh and light sensation.
Linnanmäki Amusement Park is a must if you like to enjoy a funfair and carnival atmosphere as well as wonderful cotton candy! I can’t come to think about any better way to spend a summery day in Helsinki than to enjoy Kattila’s treats for lunch and some cotton candy in the afternoon. Even though I don’t actually enjoy rides that much, I love the rollercoaster, sightseeing train and panorama tower at Linnanmäki. Cotton candy is summer’s icing on the cake.
Try cotton candy here: Linnanmäki