donuts in Finland
Helsinki, Finland

Of all the places I have visited, the food of Finland was the biggest surprise. I really had no idea what to expect and was a bit worried I would not like it. There are some amazing traditional dishes in Finland and others I could take or leave. But here are the most memorable.

 

smoked arctic char

Smoked arctic char 

My first dinner in Helsinki at Savotta, it is a restaurant for tourists but there is a reason it is so popular. The food is really good and the servers are so much fun. The dishes on the menu are traditional and it is a good place to get your footing with food in Finland.

 

ayngelina

Alcohol

Surprisingly the first time someone offered me a shot of vodka was in Porvoo. Finland has an interesting take on shots, in Tampere I had a shot of vodka that was infused with Fishermans Friend. This may be my new shot when I am sick.

 

Finnish smoked salmon

Smoked salmon

Most of the salmon is from neighboring Norway but you can find smoked salmon everywhere, including the market where it is prepared many different ways. My favourite was with Martin Tillman, Peter`s supplier outside Porvoo.

 

lapland bread cheese

Lapland bread cheese

How many times have I said I don’t like dessert? I didn’t go to Lapland but I did the next best thing, I went to Saaga Restaurant in Helsinki that serves traditional food from Lapland. This fried cheese dessert was incredible.

 

reindeer meat

Reindeer

I ate reindeer nearly every day in Finland, it tastes like really great venison and the interesting thing about reindeer is that none are truly wild, they are all owned by someone and yet they let them all wander wild in the North. It is fascinating and I am hoping to come back to Finland to learn a bit more about it.

This dish was at Saaga as well where I had dried, cured and smoked reindeer.

 

black sausage

Mustamakkara 

Also known as black sausage or blood sausage, it is most famous in Tampere. I knew I would like this, I have eaten it a few times in other countries, including Argentina,  but I like that in Finland they add something sweet to it, you need the lingonberries to balance it out.

 

blini

Blini

One of the things I was most impressed with in Finland is that there is still a sense of seasonal food. Many dishes you can only get on specific days or seasons. Here at Restaurant Lasipalatsi I had a blini, which is typically from neighboring Russia. I was told this circular  dish is served in the winter when the days are dark and they need a bit of sun to brighten their day.

 

vorschmack

Vorschmack

Now that I have eaten this once I probably would not order it again as it is so heavy. After my Finnish sauna, I asked Anna to take me somewhere local in Kallio so we went to Cella. It is a salty minced meat dish and definitely needs a beer.

 

Finnish Beer

Beer

I actually drank far more beer than vodka in Finland. I also went to a number if microbreweries: Suomenlinna at the Sea Fortress on Helsinki, Plevna in Tampere and Malmgard outside Porvoo. Visiting breweries has become one of my favourite things to do in cities even though I know zero about beer.

 

pulla

Pulla

Although I am not crazy about sweets this was okay and I am happy I had it on the food tour as it is traditional and very popular.

 

finnish licorice

Salmakki

Salty licorice, it is ammonium chloride flavored candy and you can find this flavour everywhere. On the way to go from sauna to frozen lake Ville picked some up. We put the licorice in the vodka bottle and shook it up. You can also buy it pre-mixed.

 

rye bread

Rye Bread

Oh how I love the bread in Finland. I heard it was different in Sweden which is a bit more sweet, here there is no sugar just delicious rye. I am definitely looking for more of this when I return to Toronto.

 

seabuck thorn

Sea buckthorn

A berry very high in vitamin C, I saw this used in everything from cocktails, to vinegars and Peter uses it in his food at Bistro Sinne. A bit tart but definitely worth trying.

 

herring

Herring

I love fish so it was great to have at breakfast but it is not for everyone. I heard the best way to have it is in the summer with new potatoes.

 

garlic soup

Valkosipuli Soup

Also known as garlic, it is fantastic. Finns LOVE soup, they have entire restaurants dedicated to it. I had the garlic soup both at Nassineula and at the Helsinki Market. I must learn to make it at home.

 

salmon soup

Lohikeitto 

Salmon soup with cream, I had this at Kaisa’s house in Porvoo. It was really nice to eat in someone’s home for a change.

 

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Finnish Tourist Board as part of a Navigate Media Group project. They did not request that I write a favourable review or eat enough reindeer for a year.

 

20 Comments

  1. Ryan on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    The food looks great! This is just another reason for me to go to Finland soon.
    Ryan recently posted..Mount Kenya – Day 3, Burguret Route

  2. Janice on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    Have been reading your blog for a while and have enjoyed reading about your travels. Love these photos! If I was asked to name any Finnish food before reading this post, I couldn’t. But just about everything here looks yummy – except for the reindeer and blood sausage :)

  3. Pauline on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    Love the food photography! It’s so much fun (and educational )learning about the traditional dishes of a country. I don’t consider myself an adventurous eater, but I would LOVE to try reindeer meat.

    P.s. you know where you can get the best Rye bread in Toronto? Silverstein’s on McCaul St., just north of Baldwin. I.LOVE.IT.
    Pauline recently posted..Beautiful Churches: Paris Edition

  4. Mike on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    I’ve never even thought of Finnish cuisine. You’ve opened up a surprisingly new culinary world for me. The bread and garlic soup look especially amazing and I’d love to wash a bite of that smoked arctic char down with a sip of brännvin.
    Mike recently posted..Captured For the Camera: 20 Photos From Hindustan

  5. Jenna on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    Fun to learn about the traditional food there. I ate blood sausage once and hated every bite, but I can see that lingonberry would help.
    Jenna recently posted..Photo Friday: California’s Capitol

  6. Franco on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    Everything looks so delicious.
    Franco recently posted..My bitter dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow

  7. Kieu ~ GQ trippin on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    You had me at food. OMG I want it all from the smoked salmon to that fried cheese dessert. So jealous!
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..How We Stay: Hostels, Hotels and Apartments

  8. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures on the April 19, 2013 remarked #

    I’d be happy with those donuts in the 1st pic for every single one of my meals haha!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Bermuda: Day 1 (Part 1)

  9. Kristin Addis on the April 20, 2013 remarked #

    I need to go find something that looks like those donuts in the first photo. When will I learn not to look at your site when I’m already hungry? This should be interesting as I’m in southern Thailand…
    Kristin Addis recently posted..On Cracking Glaciers and Snow-Covered Mountaintops

  10. Anna on the April 23, 2013 remarked #

    This post made me miss my native cuisine!
    You even found the epic “munkki” (donut) spot in my home town -Pyynikin näkötorni. Mustamakkara is the other Tampere speciality, but not my personal favorite :)

    Next time I’d go to Finland I’ll certainly buy some marinated herring and prepare a salad with boiled eggs, marinated herring, sour cream, red onions and leek and serve it to my Peruvian friends with some local papas nativas.
    Anna recently posted..How to go native in Lima?

  11. Andrea on the April 26, 2013 remarked #

    I missed Finland while in Scandinavia last year unfortunately, but it looks like you definitly ate well while there! I love venison so the reindeer looks right up my alley. Oh, and the beer. Yes, I love me my beer!
    Andrea recently posted..Paris Slideshow 2011

  12. Miranda on the April 28, 2013 remarked #

    I’ve always liked the taste of fishermans friends, and I like vodka, I must try that shot.
    Miranda recently posted..The Real (Maybe) Free Walking Tour In Edinburgh

  13. Shannon on the May 2, 2013 remarked #

    Looks amazing! Would love to visit Finland some day.
    Shannon recently posted..Morocco Part 4: Camel Trekking in the Sahara

  14. Cheap flights Trip on the May 3, 2013 remarked #

    Many and Amazing food list.Everything food looks great and delicious.
    Cheap flights Trip recently posted..Flights to Bulawayo: Fun after Sunset

  15. Alice on the May 9, 2013 remarked #

    Hey ! I spent 1 year in Finland in Erasmus, so I had time to taste a lot of things. But I actually think that you tried more typical finnish food than me …
    But I noticed that you forgot to taste the Pirkka ! It is maybe one of the most tipical thing in Finland: it is rice on a kind of bread with egg butter on it. Quite good !

    OI really liked your pictures … Thanks !

    • Tiia on the October 28, 2013 remarked #

      Actually it’s called karjalanpiirakka. So yummy!

  16. Finland Travel Blog on the August 16, 2013 remarked #

    Traditional Finnish cuisine was based on few crops due to the harsh winters
    Little fruit and vegetables could grow but the fish and meat saved many from the cold winters,along with potatoes and cabbage
    Today however many attend catering courses to become chefs so a new style of cooking has been infused in to Finnish cuisine
    I love the simplicity and explosive tastes
    Finland Travel Blog recently posted..Do You Recognise These Innovative Products from Finland

  17. Dhruv Thaker on the October 1, 2013 remarked #

    nice post. Enjoyed reading blog.

    Finland has many attractions.

  18. Satu on the December 17, 2013 remarked #

    Cool blog which I found by accident.

    You have truly found some of the best dishes here in Finland. I love cold smoked salmon and reindeer myself, and leipäjuusto (bread cheese) is also one of my favourites that I eat over the Christmas time.

    Reindeer I prefer as cut in small pieces and made to a hot dish with beer, sided with lingonberries and buttery mashed potatoes.

    The donuts in the beginning (munkki) also come with jam filling – which I love to bits!

    Thanks again for a great blog – I must read it again.

  19. Gemma on the February 16, 2014 remarked #

    The food looks great! I’ve just come back from a weeks holiday in Finland and Norway, and I completely agree with the deliciousness of Arctic Char and Reindeer Meat. We also went to Savotta in Helsinki (we were only there for 1 night) and the food was delicious, we were stuffed afterwards! I didn’t get to try everything on you list, but I want to go back there so hopefully I’ll get another chance! We did have amazing King Crab Soup in Norway though!
    Gemma recently posted..One Night in Kirkenes Snow Hotel

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