My wife and I normally travel to Munich or Berlin to enjoy Christmas Markets – the sort of market where you can spend a whole afternoon and evening in the company of people who want to do the same. Up until now Helsinki has not had that luxury… but things have changed!
We started this Saturday at 11.00 to have a light snack at MAT on Iso Roobertinkatu 20. Whitefish ceviche with avocado, spiced cucumber, cream sauce on their crunchy rye bread and a strong café latte. My wife had a berry-rich creamy curd dish, sprinkled with roasted oats. This small catering café has fresh imaginative food that no other has even started to achieve. http://www.mat.st/kauppaFi.html
We then moved on to LOKAL http://lokalhelsinki.com/ where Leena Kouhila has a small table of her ceramics Raaka Rä http://raakaraw.tumblr.com/ - lovely dishes plates and cups. LOKAL has taken the gold medal in our opinion as the best Finnish Design shop. There is much to see in this warm cozy venue, amongst our favorites are ceramics from Hei Nippon and wood craft from Nikari…
And then Armos www.armosehelsinki.fi in Kauppakeskus Kluuvi on Alexanterinkatu. It is in the cellar down the escalator. They have lunch during the week and brunches on Saturday with only fresh products from small farms and local food producers. The owner is a serial entrepreneur called Heikki Ahopelto.
The real Christmas spirit is now to be found in the main Senate Square. Here the city fathers have at last realized that Berlusconi’s nightmare can become a reality. It is that Finnish food and restaurants can out-perform Italians at this game and shine. Just go and taste KOLMON3N’s www.kolmon3n.com roasted goose legs and root vegetables. Enjoy their homemade Gluhwein. Even their hamburgers are so well prepared with cranberry ketchup! Ryan Lump, the owner, previously having worked at Hotel Kämp and Restaurant Savotta, now shows his top culinary skills, like the others mentioned here, even at a Christmas market, on a stormy wet day in Helsinki. Other stalls that are worth top marks are the fish stalls with hot and cold smoked fish products from Finnish lakes and the Baltic sea, and there are others with excellent vacuumed-packed pork and reindeer meat products.
This year Helsinki has done us proud with great planning, good execution and a fantastic choice of professional entrepreneurs that have put all the big chains to shame. Not only have that succeeded with that but they have pushed out into the open Finland’s best kept secret that we have wonderful food growing in the land, forest and waters as well as having fine professionals who bring it all to the table.
Christmas markets are fun when people flock there in big numbers – this is the first time that I have seen a successful Christmas market here in Helsinki, something almost on par with Munich. So it is up to us, Helsinki-ites to do some flocking!