Elegant and trendy – Helsinki wears both well, as this harbourside capital of Finland caters to a smorgasbord of interests. A Helsinki Food Guide for Fine Dining Lovers. The culturally-curious, design and architecture nerds, snow-bunnies who seek cross-country skiing and ice–swimming, and gourmands, are amply provided for.
REINDEER, SALMON & BERRIES
Liisa Eskelinen, who founded Day With A Local, a company offering Helsinki experiences with insiders, says, “Traditionally, Finnish cuisine has consisted of different kinds of fish and meats, potatoes, wild berries, mushrooms and rye bread.”
The Sami are the indigenous inhabitants of the Nordic regions and, locally, mainly occupy the northern part of Finland. Reindeer husbandry has always been a vital part of their culture, as has ice fishing. Reindeer stews and fillet with lingonberry sauce (there’s an affinity for sweet and savoury across Finland) and glow-fried salmon – grilled over a long period, suspended close to a fire – are must-eats in Lapland, in my experience. But you can easily sample reindeer, salmon and a wide variety of fish in Helsinki, also prepared in ways to honour the Sami and Finnish culinary traditions.
Fresh and cured reindeer meats, smoked or salted salmon, fish layered and baked into hollowed-out bread known as “fish pies”, fried vendace (small white fish) and the berries native to Lapland can be found at covered market halls and the swanky food hall at Stockmann, Finland’s oldest department store.