You know sometimes how you just meet people and you feel like you would become best friends if you had the chance. This is how I felt immediately when I met Tanja from Food Sightseeing and she told me that her food tours do not include any of the popular places that are on all the tourist maps but actually visiting smaller, independent shops where locals visit.
I believe food=culture and so I am always so curious to see what people eat and I’m fascinated with how people produce food in other countries. Along a quick walk we jumped into how both our countries were dealing with sustainability, farming, organics, multinational food chains. I learned that nearly 20% of people in Finland are lactose intolerance but gluten seems to be less of an issue as in North America. We could have spent hours pondering why this happens but the tour needed to happen.
I don’t think this was typical for one of Tanja’s tours but once I discover someone who also cares about food issues I tend to grill them on what they think. Europe is so different from North America it was amazing to learn how much better they deal with their food supply system, but also struggle in similar ways.
I highly recommend Tanja’s food tours, she not only teaches you about food and history but you get a true insiders view. I told Tanja that I wouldn’t share all of the places we visited because I wanted people to take her tour but she shared that she created a free app simply because she believes in supporting small, independent businesses even if she is giving away her most valuable information.
She’s an amazing person that you should meet, until then here are some of my favourites shops in Helsinki, ones even I may never have found on my own.
Well well known with locals, in 1946 the owner started selling sandwiches. When I asked about the name, apparently she just spun a globe and picked the name her finger landed on. Here we tried a meat pie that was very different than anything I have ever had. The original old school fast food, it seemed to have a doughnut-like base with a pork, rice and egg filling.
This is a working class kind of place. There is no wifi. The website is terrible. Do not come here at 11am because there will be a gigantic line of construction workers.
But try the meat pie.
Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu 6
This may be one of the best places for value in the city. Pure Bistro is located below Luomo, a molecular gastronomy restaurant that gained a Michelin star in 7 months – the fastest of any Finnish restaurant. The same chef runs both but Pure Bistro has a 9 Euro lunch with only 3 items on the menu so you can eat an incredible chef`s lunch for 9 Euro. Who said Finland was expensive?
Olive oil chocolate truffle anyone? I am not a dessert person but I do love chocolate. Here on Saturdays there is an all you can eat for 16 Euros. There are only 32 seats for this deal so you have to make a reservation as the locals love it.