Taste of Helsinki 2014 – review of tasted portions

15 06 2014

First of all big thanks to Taste of Helsinki founder Barry MacNamara for organizing ticket change from Friday to Saturday and inviting us to opening ceremony for invited guests. Due to work obligations outside Finland we had to suspend the participation by one day and therefore could not either join the opening ceremony on Thursday.

Taste of Helsinki is a culinary festival, which takes you on a journey through the gourmet flavours of some of the best restaurants in Helsinki and Finland. It is also unique chance to get familiar with fine dining restaurants at the same time without paying high prices for gourmet food. We participated third time, the same number of times the event has been organized. This year the weather has been typical Finnish summer, rainy and cold. Challenging for outdoor events.

Below you can find pictures with comments of some of the best small dishes restaurants served.

Bertha: Cod, bean, scallops 5-/5

Excellent combination, cod and scallops was served as a crispy croquette by Tampere restaurant

Bistro o Mat Anise spiced salmon at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Juuri: Terrine of cured perch 5/5

Perch is one of the best Finnish fishes and served like this on of the best portions

Juuri Terrine of cured perch at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Bistro o Mat: Anise spiced salmon with prawns and avocado 4+/5

Fresh spiced salmon and shrimps are always tasty but anise flavor was hidden somewhere. Kirkkonummi is home town of this restaurant

Bistro o Mat Salmon at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Smakbyn Åland: Fish tartar from the Baltic, crayfish and white fish roe  4,5/5

Excellent ensemble from restaurant in Åland owned by celebrity chef

Smakbyn Åland Fish tartar at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Emo: Crab cake with fennel  5/5

Bull’s eye, maybe the best of the best, croquette tasted of crab and fennel accomppanied perfectly

Emo Crabcake at Taste of Helsinki - reijfosfood.com

Postres: New potatoes and anchovy butter 4/5

New potatoes belong to Finnish summer and butter was tasty but too simple compared to any other portion

Postres potaoes at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Emo: Spring chicken with spring cabbage 4,5/5

Chicken skewer was grilled in front of you, with some more spices would have been unbeatable

Emo Chicken at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Postres: Smoked salmon in Can and Postres archipelago bread 5/5

Makes you drooling, Finnish summer hit and should be available from supermarkets for Mid Summer fiesta

Postres Smoked salmon at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Farang: Coconat caramel pork 4,5/5

Farang knows how to use spices, long queues all the time proved time, pork maybe too much kassler (pork loin) type

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Bertha: Chocolate, banana, Brazil nuts 5/5

Happy endings! Lucky we did not miss this one. Unfortunately so many starters did not allow more dessert portions

Bertha Dessert at Taste of Helsinki - reijosfood.com

Plan was also to taste Oscar Hot Dog with veal, asparagus, and giant prawn from Kaartin Hodari & Hummeri, but the queue was so long all time. In the cold wind it was more convenient to stay sheltered from it.

To summarize, all tasted portions were impressive which can be seen from the points. I really hope that there will be 4th Taste of Helsinki because plan is to visit there twice. Quite difficult to try all portions at the same day. Also have to taste olive oils which were available at the fair. And wines, Kung Fu Girl Riesling and Miss Harry, paired well with dishes tasted. Vindirekt, the importer of these wines, made also best offers for glass of wine.

Event itself gets 5-/5 points and only cold weather was the reason for not giving 5. With sun shine it would have been 5+/5.

There will be separate post about champagne Taittinger tasting later.

http://www.tasteofhelsinki.fi/





Restaurant review: PureBistro – with Bib Gourmand status

1 06 2014

PureBistro and Market Square - reijosfood.com

PureBistro is a modern bistro and bar with two terraces next to the Market Square in Torikorttelit buildings.  Restaurant is owned by Michelin star restaurant Luomo (on the 2nd floor) chef”s Jouni Toivanen and Mika Mattila. That explains partly why PureBistro is one of the five Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in Helsinki and earns to keep that status.

PureBistro entrance - reijosfood.com

Dining room at PureBistro is quite small and therefore in the summer time you might decide to dine outside, if temperature allows that, which it did not on the last day of May. If you dine inside, ask for window table and you can enjoy sea view and observe bustle at the Market Square. That is exactly whatwe did.

PureBistro - reijosfood.comPureBistro terrace - reijosfood.com

Menu is short – 3 starters, 3 main courses and 2 desserts. If you choose 3 course dinner, the price is 45€. One option is to have drink at the bar and taste some small bites, in Finnish Snadit. As English and Finnish versions of the names of the portions are not exactly the same, I included both language versions.

After placing order customers will get fresh bread paper bag on the table.

PureBistro menu - reijosfood.comPureBistro menu and bread - reijosfood.com

Starters we ordered had fancy names; Hamashi Sashimi with Avocado & Seaweed Piikkimakrillisashimia, avokadokreemiä, soijaa ja levää and Carpaccio, Bloody Mary Sorbet & Tallowvinegar Kotimaista rotukarjaa, bloody mary sorbet ja emmentalia.

Sashimi was fresh and side dishes accompanied fish in oriental portion well. Lack of salt was only minus. Beef carpaccio was so soft that it could have eaten with spoon. I am not sure if kitchen tried to create picture of hedgehog on the plate, but portion looked like it.

Sashimi at PureBistro - reijosfood.comCarpaccio at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had two times Fried Trout, Cauliflower & Cassis Ahvenanmaan taimenta, kukkakaalia ja herukkaa but requested some changes to one of them. Restaurant created excellent version of this portion by replacing cauliflower with ratatouille.

Trout itself was perfectly fried, you could also eat fish skin as it was enough crispy. And what is most important, fish was not over-fried which happens too often also in so called good restaurants.

Fried trout at PureBistro- reijosfood.comTrout at PureBistro

For desserts ordered Tosca, VanillaIceCream & MilkXoco Toscakakkua, vaniljajäätelöä ja maitosuklaata and “Macedonia De Frutas” Liqourice “Hedelmäsalaattia” ja lakritsisorbettia.

Tosca cake was scrumptious. Amount of toffee sauce was maybe too much, but had to eat all of it anyway. Take a look at how fruits and sorbet was placed on the plate! PureBistro really has an artist in the kitchen, remember the hedgehog.

Dessert at PureBistro - reijosfood.comFruit dessert at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

Had to order bottle of Tesch 1 Liter Riesling for two reasons; riesling weeks with special menus had just ended but Tesch riesling was still available and the unsual size of the bottle (1 liter) is rare apparition.

Wine paired well with all dishes we had; well, maybe not with desserts. Dry, about 6 g/l sugar if I remember right what waitress told, and balanced acidity and minerality.

 Tesch 1 litre riesling at PureBistro - reijosfood.com

As we got window table, overall grade is 4,5. Propably next time we shall dine at the terrace; waiting for warmer summer days….Service is in balance with kitchen’s creativeness and skills.

PureBistro is genuine Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant and actually one of the first fine dining bistro type of restaurants in Helsinki. Nowadays there are several sophisticated bistro restaurants close to each other, like Gastrobar Emo, Gastropub Rikhard’s, Spis and Copa’s y Tapas. Reviews of there restaurants can be found by using search. Also previous PureBistro reviews can be found the same way.

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://www.purebistro.fi/

 





Restaurant review: Toscanini

25 05 2014

Campari Soda at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Toscanini has received its relaxed atmosphere from Tuscany, Italy. Menu is based on essential elements of Italian kitchen, such as olive oil, herbs, tomatoes and Tuscan cheeses and cold cuts. In addition, bread is baked daily by restaurants own baker, or is it?

Location is perfect, almost opposite of Svenska Teatern and Stockmann. Famous BW- restaurants, Gaijin and Boulevard Social are neighbors. Being part of Klaus K hotel means that many of the dining customers also enjoy luxorious hotel premises. Design hotel with white decoration in the lobby. Klaus K and it’s restaurants were recently acquired by Kämp Group which might have been the reason for lame service.

Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Because of excellent weather we had late lunch at the terrace. No one wants to eat in as you can see from the picture above.

Started lunch with Campari Sodas which is always appropriate way to lead to the right mood. Bread basket came right away after ordering; foccaccia was not as fresh as it should have been, but tapenade was delicious.

Bread basket at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Lunch started with Antipasto variety for two including two type of salami’s, parmesan cheese, small olives, artichokes, grilled sweet peppers and mushrooms.

If restaurant is Italian, it can not flop in serving traditional Italian starters. Nor did Toscanini. Everything on the plate was perfect, fresh and you could imagine to be in Tuscany.

Antipasto at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had Sautéed fillet of cod with seafood flavoured Nerone rice and Braised lamb neck with fried lemon polenta and Marsala sauce.

Unfortunately these portions brought us back to Helsinki and Bulevardi. Cod was way too much over-salted but shrimps and octopus pieces in rice compensated a little bit. Lamb was tender but dry and it seemed that salt had been completely forgotten. Wonder if polenta had been prepared at the restaurant kitchen, because it tasted and felt like industrialized product?

Cold at Toscanini - reijosfood.comLamb neck at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Service was this time the weakest link. We have been at Toscanini several times before, but now there were too many failures.

We had to order mineral water twice, had to remind waiter to bring wine glasses (soave and chianti of course) we had ordered and never got menu back again in order to be able choose desserts. Therefore just ordered coffees and chardonnay grappa. As I wrote earlier company has new owner, which may have impacted to the service, if employees are worried about restaurant’s future.

Toscanini used to participate in Taste of Helsinki, but not this year. Will miss tiramisu they have served there.

Grappa at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

It is always great to eat outdoors, at nice terrace, therefore overall grade is higher.

REVIEW: FOOD 3+/5 – SERVICE 3-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5





Wine review: Wolfberger Riesling-Pinot Gris 2012 – dry or semi-dry?

24 05 2014

Wolfberger - reijosfood.com

Semi-dry or semi-sweet wine? If the amount of sugar is 8 g/l what kind of scale there is on the label? Maybe someone knows better?

Wolfberger is cooperative in Alsace established 1902. It is located in Colmar, Eguisheim south-west of the city. Wolfberger annually produces about 13 million bottles of wine. The size of wineyard is about 1 200 hectares.

Wolfberger Riesling-Pinot Gris 2012 has been blended with Riesling (60%) and Pinot Gris (40%) grapes. Wine got certificate of honor in Series 08: the white wines, the price of over 11 in “Wines of the Year 2014” competition. This is maybe the most known Finnish competition for wines. http://www.vuodenviinit.fi/en/

THE LOOK

Light yellow with strong shade of green

THE NOSE

More Pinot Gris than Riesling although it should be opposite; slightly flowery bouquet, similar to citrus and ripe green apples

THE TASTE

Quite dry, lightly tart, ripe citrus, peach, pale floral and light minerals

Wolfberger - reijosfood.com

Facts and figures:

Alcohol: 12,50 %
Extract: 27 g/l
Acidity: 7,5 g/l
Sugar: 8 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal / 100 ml (340 kJ / 100 ml)
Closure: metal screw cap

Wine paired with Italian food nicely. We had bruschetta with fresh tomato slices and chicken pasta with cream-honey-spices sauce and blue cheese. Also suits well with fish and shellfish.

Bruschetta - reijosfood.comPasta - reijosfood.com

Misleading information on the label may make you purchase more dry wine you planned. Therefore points drop a little bit lower than wine would otherwise earn.

OVERALL GRADE 3+/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++

http://www.wolfberger.com/

 





Taste of Helsinki 2014 – Picnic with a difference

22 05 2014

Taste of Helsinki will be arranged 3rd time on 12-15.06.2014 in Helsinki. This will also be the 3rd time we shall visit the event.

Taste of Helsinki is a culinary festival, which takes you on a journey through the gourmet flavours of the city. It is also unique chance to get familiar with fine dining restaurants at the same time without paying high prices for gourmet food. But after you have tasted portions available, you might want to visit one or two of them.

Last year our favorite portions were:

SALMON from Rørvik with spring potatoes from Merimasku (restaurant Olo)

Taste of Helsinki (Olo) - reijosfood.com

NECK OF WILD BOAR with false morel pie and sauce of raspberry leaves (restaurant Juuri)

Taste of Helsinki (Juuri) - reijosfood.com

This year following restaurants will participate Taste of Helsinki:

Ask (1 Michelin star and restaurant of the year 2014)

Bertha (fine dining at Tampere)

Demo (1 Michelin star)

Emo (Michelin Bib Gourmand)

Farang (Michelin Bib Gourmand)

Juuri (Finnish restaurant, restaurant of the year 2010)

Kaartin Hodari & Hummeri (gourmet hot dogs)

Bistro o Mat (fine dining at Kirkkonummi)

Postres (1 Michelin star)

Sami Tallberg (herb specialist chef)

Smakbyn Åland (fine dining at Åland)

Yes, you see exactly right. 3 out of 5 (no, the amount is 6) Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki will participate!

If you do not yet have tickets, you better purchase them soon. You do not want to miss this picnic! Anyway, post will follow after event.

http://www.tasteofhelsinki.fi/en

 

 





Restaurant review: El Meson de Cervantes – Malaga, Spain

8 05 2014

200 Monges at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Tapeo Cervantes is already well-known for its traditional and new, creative tapas. Gabriel Spatz, founder of the original, a professional restaurateur from the Argentine, came to Malaga in 2008, decided to stay and opened El Tapeo de Cervantes at Calle Carcer 11 in the old quarter.  El Meson de Cervantes was opened later at Calle Alamos 11 in order to meet the demand by customers. Location is at the backyards of old town, far away from tourist flows. Both restaurants are now on Tripadvisor top 3 list.

El Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comEl Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Main allurement are tapas which you can order in three different sizes; tapas, 1/2 raciones or full raciones. You could also choose from restaurant menu different type of starters, main courses and desserts but menu is quite short. If you want to eat tapas at the dining room, you need to ask them in a polite way, although waiter might say that they are meant to eat at the bar.

We ordered two 1/2 raciones from tapas menu and all the rest from restaurant menu. Actually most of the dishes are the same. Dinner started with Pimientos del Padron, Warm salad of tuna, roasted peppers and green leaves and Patatas bravas.

Small salted green peppers are good choice to compare the quality of restaurant. These were excellent and what is most important, not too salty.

Tuna was perfectly fried as you can see in the picture below, not too well-done; therefore not dry. This portion is not so typical for tapas restaurant, it is an example of the high quality level of el Meson de Cervantes.

When potatoes arrived I first thought that “what the heck”, ketchup! But the sauce was made in restaurant, looked like ketchup and maybe included some, but it was deliciosly spicy. Perfect sauce for patatas bravas.

Pimientos del Padron at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comTuna fish salad at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comPatatas Bravas at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had 1/2 raciones of Argentinian entrecote with fried potatoes, salad and chimichurri, Wild boar stew with sweet Malaga wine sauce and crispy rosti and full portion of Racion del dia which was Dorada fish with fennel.

Entrecote was medium as requested, proof can be found in the picture below. Stew was excellent, some exotic spice made it one of the best dishes of the dinner. However, rosti was no so crisp but that did not bother.

Fish, in turn, was a slight dissappointment. It was prepared too early and fish skin was not anymore crisp.

Entrecote at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comWild board stew at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.comDorada at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

After main course we tasted some Manchego cheese which was quite young. Maybe serving cheeses of different ages would have made the gusto inclusive.

Manchego cheese at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

Dinner ended with Apple tart and vanilla ice-cream which was bull’seye. Difficult to beat warm, sweet and soft apple pie with cold ice-cream….

Apple tart at el Meson de Cervantes - reijosfood.com

And the red wine…excellent choice. Wineyard states: “Deep, intense red with notes of ripe red fruit, tobacco, cedar, and truffles on the nose: very clean, intense aromas. Good body on the palate, with fine tannins from careful barrel-ageing, and very well-balanced. Ample mouth-feel with light notes of liquorice and a long, silky and elegant finish”. Exactly what 200 Monges Reserva 2006 was. Tempranillo 85% made the softness, Graciano 10% and Garnacha 5% gave the character. If this was reserva, would definately like to taste gran reserva.

El Meson de Cervantes serves premium tapas and Spanish food in a relaxed athmosphere. If you decide to dine at restaurant you can watch chef’s preparing portions in the open kitchen. You can also eat in more restful environment and enjoy to be served by professional waiters. Tapas bar provides opportunity for close social interaction. It was so crowded with customers that it was hard to get through when leaving. Restaurant is the place to visit out of hundreds of tapas bars and restaurants in Malaga, if you travel there.

REVIEW: FOOD 4/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE – 4+/5

http://www.elmesondecervantes.com/eng/index.html

http://www.vinicolareal.com/vinos.php?familia_vinos=31&id_vino=1

 





Food Art in kitchen accessories

20 04 2014

Food images are sometimes used in clothing when it makes sense and brings joy to special occasion, like crayfish figures during crayfish season. First time saw Karjalan piirakka look alike used in accessories.

Kitchen wear accessories - reijosfood.com

Karjalan piirakka – traditional Finnish rice-filled Karelian pasty, is popular in Eastern parts of Finland, but you can find them in many supermarkets. Usually it is eaten with egg- butter spread.

To use Karjalan piirakka as a model for a purse or small bag is interesting idea. Photos were taken in Joensuu, in Taitokortteli buildings.

Karelian pastry purse - reijosfood.com

http://www.taitokortteli.fi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karelian_pasty

There were also other traditional clothing to be seen.

Taitokorttelit - reijosfood.com

 








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