Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taste of Helsinki

Taste of ... is a food event which already took place in London, Sydney or Amsterdam and which now was in Helsinki for four days.

The idea is simple: 10 of the best (or famous) chef of Finland offer on the same site small bites of their best dishes. The 10 places which were there to feed us were Muru, Farang, Demo, Juuri, Smör (from Turku), Bistro O Mat (Kirkkonummi), Carelia, C (Tampere), Toscanini and Aito.

Some of these places we went already (not necessarily with a happy outcome), some we were planning to go to visit since a long time. So this event was perfect on the paper to allow us to try for cheap price what would cost us at least one to two days of salary for a dinner for two. Was it a success? We'll tell you soon.

First few words about the organization. We were extremely lucky to decide to go there on Saturday at the lunch session, the weather was amazing, it help a lot to spend a great time. The event was taking place in the park next to Musikkitalo, close to the very centre of Helsinki. Despite the small size of the area we did not feel too packed. The organizer were asking for a 25€ fee to get in (18€ if you booked your ticket in advance, and free for children under 12), which is a bit pricy but well what is not expansive in Helsinki?! To avoid any money flow within the festival area you had to change your euros against tokens (Mk, 1 Mk being 1 €). Not a bad system, but it was impossible to get your tokens changed back into euros, so a little bit of mathematic to be sure you don't have a couple of Mk left at the end was necessary (the cheapest meal was 4mk).

The very negative point about the organization was regarding the drinks. If you wished to taste some wine, cider or beer, you were required to rent a glass on site for the price of 7€. When you returned the glass, you got 5€. It was said that you could also take your glass home if you wanted. It was advertised as a very good deal as a glass costs nearly 15€/piece. But honestly, as selling with a loss in prohibited in the EU, it meant that the brand makes at least 10€ of margin every time they sell a glass...let's not tell the name of this brand, but the whole drink system was robbery, a sad point.

But enough about the money, let's talk about the food! We started with these green shell mussels served in a spicy coriander sauce from Farang. Farang is known from its Asian fusion kitchen, and as for when we visited them, it was very nicely done, tasting spicy and fresh enough (probably prepared well in advance and stored in the fridge waiting for hungry clients). A good choice for a happy start.

Even our little guest enjoyed Farang's mussels. 

Bistro O Mat offered us some fresh and tasty grilled prawn salad with a goat cheese. Fresh, tasty and simple. All of us loved it. This costed us 5mk.

This was a portion our little friend wasn't willing to share with her mother, she really liked it. This salmon pastrami from Aito was very clear and tasty. It tasted like the Spring or the beginning of Summer. The price was 5mk. 

Then we went to spend 5Mk in Carelia for some scallops cooked in hazelnuts butter. I personally found the scallops a little bit too cooked, but to be honest the hazelnuts butter simply blew my mouth. Very tasty, very well done, it surely give us more reason to go to visit Carelia for dinner. Our little guest loved this dish and chose it the best dish of the whole Taste of Helsinki

The passive vegetarian of us was still hungry before getting some dessert. So I let myself tempted by the piece of organic beef prepared by Bistro O Mat. The meat was prepared as a 'Boeuf mode' but slightly braised afterward with little bit sweet sauce. Simply delicious, make me rethink a lot of my bad thoughts about Finnish meat business (this is the part where I complain that it is almost impossible to get meat not already marinated in some weird liquid...but this is another topic). Again a place we might visit this summer.

One of our guest got also Toscanini's asparagus raviolis. Unfortunately, the photographer wasn't fast enough to take a picture of that meal. It was pretty basic, but tasty - though not a mind blower. 

And then came the time for some sweet threads. Unfortunately for the few readers of this blog, the best dessert disappeared from its plate before a camera could immortalized it. It was a Thai style marinated fruits served with a vanilla/coco cream dressing and some chef surprise sorbet. This dessert was prepared and served for you by Farang's chef himself Tomi Björck.

But you can also get hungry while looking at this very tasty milk-chocolate mousse spiced with black currant tea and served with a little bit of rhubarb.

Finally, to get rid of our four last tokens, we opted for the simple but delicious strawberry and meringue plate from Bistro O Mat

Unfortunately we did not visit all the place. All menus were not interesting us at the same level, some places did not leave us a good first impression in the past, and all together this one afternoon tasting event costed us almost the same as if we had go for a dinner at one of them!

But again the afternoon was surely a success; good food, amazing friends and the great weather are always a winning team.

Of course I could complain here again about the overpriced drink system or the fact that organizer should have encouraged people to reuse their knives and forks (even if they were 100% degradable it still creates a massive amount of waste).

To end our story let's mentioned that there was more than these 10 restaurants on the site- There were some stores/companies from where to buy drinks and delicates, not only as you could buy kitchenware or seasonal ice cream from a small vendor. I also want to mention that GoodPie Bakery was selling their bread there. This is another place, which we will talk more about in a next post as Helsinki bakery desertification seems to arrive to an end.

If Taste of Helsinki comes back next year, and if the weather is as splendid as last Saturday, go for it, it is worth it.