Wine tasting without advance booking

8 08 2013

Wines and iPAD -

What a great wine tasting experience and without booking in advance! And odd dialog in the background while tasting wines.

Boutique hotel Yöpuu & Restaurant Pöllöwaari are located in Jyväskylä and provide quite unique hotel-restaurant combination. All 26 hotel rooms are individual and every room is decorated with its own personal style. Names of the rooms tell about style; like Marimekko, Aalto, Hemingway and Jugend.

Visited Winebar which offers a possibility to have a wine tasting with an iPad and without reservation. The tasting begins from tasting technique and continues to characteristics of wine. The price of the tasting is 20 € per person and it includes 8 cl of 3 different wines. However, machine did not beat the waiter as he professionally described wineyards, grapes and tasted 3 red and 3 white wines. And I think 8 cl per wine was just an rough guidance 🙂

Pöllöwaari Winebar

Tasting started from lighter wines and ended up to full-bodied wines.

Winebar -

White wines tasted:

Roero Arneis from Matteo Correggia – grape Arneis (Italy). Unknown grape for us but definately has more bouquet than Pinot Grigio’s. (4-/5)

Te Muna Road wineyard Savignon Blanc 2011 from Craggy Range – grape Savignon Blanc (New Zealand). Typical aroma of grape but did not taste too much for black currant leaves. (3+/5)

2011 Estate Chardonnay from Ridge wineyards – grape Chardonnay (USA). Typical aroma of grape and some butter in flavor. (3,5/5)

Red wines tasted:

Pinot Noir from Becker Family – grape Pinot Noir (German). Stronger and darker than typical grape. (4+/5)

Baron Louis 2009 from Chateau de Montfaucon – grapes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre (French). Excellent ensable of grapes, full-bodied aroma and soft taste. (4,5/5)

Ridge 2009 Geyserville from Ridge wineyards – grapes Zinfandel 78%, Carignane 16%, Petite Sirah 4% (USA). Pleasant surprise for Zinfandel but maybe other grapes supplemented well. (5-/5)

My favourite was Ridge 2009 Geyserville as it had enough character. However, as Chateau de Montfaucon has Finnish hostess, would also rank Baron Louis high.

Wines and cheese

You can also order small bites from short menu and we decided to taste SLICE’s OF CHEESE chef’s marmalade, thin crispy bread. Goat cheese, white cheese and swiss gryerere suited well with red wines but for white wines of course not perfectly.

Cheese plate

Winebar is quite unique in Finland and especially outside of Helsinki. It is really difficult to find such a place you can drop by without reservation. 20€’s for tasting 3 different wines and getting excellent service is unexpensive. Next time have to dine at restaurant Pöllöwaari because it is also quite famous.

Quite odd happened in the background while we tasted wines. Man dressed in orange clothes (yes, orange jacket and trousers) told to one of the Pöllöwaari waitresses, while interviewing her about the menu’s, that he writes blogs to one afternoon newspaper and intended to write about the restaurant. What did he expect; free meal or drinks in order to write positively? If he really was restaurant critic why tell beforehand about it?


PS. Yöpuu = Perch and Pöllöwaari = Owl grandaddy in English; not so easy to translate

Hotel review: Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone (Savonlinna)

4 08 2013

Room with a view

Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone is located in the centre of Savonlinna next to the Market Square and the Passenger Harbour. The medieval castle of Olavinlinna is few hundred metres away. Hotel has 84 rooms, 8 of them are Superior in which we stayed.

Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna

Hotel has several restaurants and it specializes in night life as there are two night clubs, Night & Bar Tamino for younger adults and Dance Restaurant Mefisto for “grown ups”. We did not visit those places but usually there are quite crowded in the summer time; and the beats goes on….Be sure you do not get a room above restaurants on Friday or Saturday nights.

Dining is not in focus as there are two really modest restaurants, Muikku Terrace (in the picture, see separate review) and Restaurant Piatta where breakfast is also served. Piatta has small terrace and dining room which is really dark. There is also small Cafe Opera (in the picture) with terrace on the right when you come in. Seemed to be quite empty all the time.

All public areas would need some furbishing because they are worn. Problem of course is that July is the most busiest month and in the winter time hotel must be quite empty. But this summer has been more quiet for hotels because customers are seeking more affordable accommodation due to recession. First summer can remember there were free rooms available easily although Opera Festival tickets have been selling well.

Muikku TerraceCafe Opera

Rooms are modest compared to the price level during Opera Festival. Air conditioning seemed to be replaced with fan which we did not need because of cool weather. If there should be warm and sunny, fan would not be enough.

Superior roomSuperior room

Best part was the view from the room at 5th floor. You can watch steam boats taking passengers for short sightseeing cruises and by-passers on their way to Market Square or to Savonlinna Castle. First picture was also taken from the French balcony.

Superior room with a view

There are two hotels in Savonlinna, reviewed Sokos Hotel Seurahuone and Best Western Spahotel Casino which we have usually visited. From these two hotels would choose Spahotel Casino because it is closer to nature, it has great terrace and basically most of the rooms are with balcony + free parking. And it is not too far away from Savonlinna Market Square, just walk over the bridge between island and town.

Restaurant review: Farang

1 08 2013

Farang -

Best Asian style fine dining restaurant in Helsinki and Finland? Also one of the best restaurants in Finland? Are you ready to eat with fingers and without knife?

Restaurant Farang serves modern Asian cuisine utilizing traditional habits like only fork and spoon available for eating. Dining rooms are located within the premises of the Taidehalli. You could also enjoy aperitif in the bar at the back of the main dining room. However, we were suggested to enjoy aperitifs in our table. We had planned to visit the bar but now missed it.

Farang has been nominated on Michelin guide as charming restaurant third year in a row and it was chosen the best of the 50 restaurants in Finland 2011. Therefore it was fully booked at 6PM when we dined on last day of July as it usually is.

Our second review was now based on enjoying TASTING MENU ‘SIAM’ because Farang Menu had not changed so much. 2012 Farang got best points (see review via link below). Siam Tasting Menu included 9 dishes + rice.

coriander, seaweed caviar, crispy onion

Spicy and delicious small bites, really well prepared. Must eat with fingers.

Farang -

roasted peanuts, seaweed caviar

Some more eel would have crowned this otherwise so scrumptious portion. Must eat with fingers.


grilled beef, salad of green papaya flavored with red curry, thai basil, organic coconut oil

Spicy and delicious, more beef thank you! Rice was served now.

Farang -

red nahm jim dressing, roasted rice, ginger, coriander

Best ribs ever, if you get these you will not ask anymore for any other ribs. Must eat with fingers.

Farang -

satay sauce, peanut relish, coconut cream

Scallop was splitted which released the flavours perfectly and satay sauce complimented dining pleasure.

Farang -

chinese water cress, bok choy, soft bean curd, battered crispy tofu

Nice combination; if bok choy had been chopped it would have been easier to eat because knife was not available.

Farang -

roasted peanuts, lime leaf, thai cucumber relish

Chicken was delicious! As a suprise we were not informed, that due to some of our requests one portion was replaced by salmon. As salmon (fish) is quite far from chicken, maybe it would have been fair to tell about it. However, salmon was well prepared and not too dry.

Farang -


passion creme, lychee blood orange sorbet

peanut cake, coconut parfait, coffee ‘gele’, mango sorbet

Both desserts were served at the same time. Mango sorbet was like ice-cream, soft and “creamy”

Farang - reijosfood.comFarang -

Tried also recommendations for wines. However, the quantity of wines (about 50 cl for one person) might be a little bit effusive. Muskateller was not perfect choise for first three dishes as it is quite modest and light. Especially with Black Angus beef it was totally lost. All other wine recommendations paired perfectly with food.

Muskateller 2011, Satterhof, Gamlitz, Sudsteiermark, Austria
Edelsatz 2012, Philipp Kuhn, Platz, Germany
Mencia 2008, Godelia, Bierzo, Spain
Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Errazuriz, Casablanca Valley, Chile

Let’s be careful out there…why use old tv series phrase? One waitress asked us not to take photos of other customers which we never do. This time customer was the red box which is in the first picture. So…..use your camera wisely. On the other hand some training for one waitress. In this modern society when all mobile phones have cameras it would be difficult to ban photographing but recommend Farang would do it in order to avoid misunderstandings. This incident dropped service and overall grades which otherwise would have been as good as last time.

However, if you like Asian fine dining and spicy food and do not convey to eat with fingers and without knife, you are in the right place. Also restaurant is really skilled to change the composition of portions according to your wishes when it comes to food allergies. Recommend to taste Farang Menu because it shows best how outstanding food you can get.


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