Sunday, 22 April 2007

Lordi, Rudolph is served in a sauce...

As Alex works his way south, drinking the best wines southern Finland has to offer and eating raw lamb, so I work my way north. Finns and ardent followers of the Eurovision Song Contest will know which city I'm in from that title. As the saying goes, "When in Rome...", so it's time to sample some of the local wildlife. On a plate.

Two minutes walk from my hotel (good sauna, cold but deserted swimming pool) there is a restaurant specialising in all kinds of Finnish and Lapland cuisine. The place is a vegetarian's nightmare (thankfully I am not one); if, at some point an animal had a pulse, it's probably on the menu.

The meal started badly, with a complimentary small wooden pot of something innocent looking. Aha, aperitif. I had a sip - and nearly passed out. This was the single most disgusting thing I've ever tasted (and considering I ate many kebabs from a dodgy van run by a now-convicted felon when a student, that's saying a lot). It turned out to be Snow Crow (as in a small bird) soup.

Quickly I ordered something strong - maybe that was the ploy - to get rid of the taste, and quickly chewed away at the flat Lappish bread that was also handed out liberally.

For starter, Piene Taimensalaatti, which is smoked wild trout on a warm beetroot salad. Excellent, and a good portion for a starter. Then, the main dish:


Paroa kaksi tapaa. That's two pieces of reindeer (saddle and silverside) in a thick reindeer stock, with Lappish baked cheese potato and carrots on the side. Excellent dish; the meat was well done but not charcoaled, tender, dark, and with a surprising but pleasant fruity taste (possibly Rudolph had been eating a lot of berries?).

(btw that small pot in the top of the picture is the foul Snow Crow soup).

Onto dessert. Leipäjuusto: baked Lappish cheese, covered in a white chocolate sauce, with some cloudberries on the side. A strange texture to the cheese, being so elastic (but still perfectly edible) that it audibly squeaked in a rubbery way when bitten into and chewed:


To end, a coffee with Jaloviina (Finnish brandy), cloudberry liqueur and cream. Slightly disappointing, being little different from a touristy fancy coffee served by some UK restaurants.

As I waddled out of the restaurant, I considered it a sumptuous meal (apart from that soup) and also not expensive by UK standards. Apart from booze, most things in Finland - especially food and public transport - seem cheaper than in the UK. Though that's of little consolation to Rudolph (no presents for me next Christmas).

Now off to Lordi Square, then a bit of a pub crawl. Damn, this country is good.


  1. Ahh. Reindeer. Absolutely gorgeous.I remember when we were in Helsinki a few years back having some dish (not even going to attempt the Finnish for it) which was a big pile of mashed potatoes, reindeer shavings and cloud-berry sauce. The ultimate pub food.And, on a side note - "Simple Minds Fan" ?!? Wherever did you get that idea?

  2. Are you saying you ate crow? Hmm...very interesting. I can't help but picture all these powerfully-built Finnish women chasing the crows down and then making them into stew. Very pleasant.

  3. It all looks ... beautifully presented. What are cloudberries?

  4. Mmmmm...reindeer in a reindeer stock.This reminds me of when I went to Sweden 10 years ago, which just happened to be right after I became a vegetarian. My friend and I were staying with a host family, and for dinner they served us some strange-looking meat. When my friend asked what it was, the woman said, "I don't know what you call it...rain...rain something." Let's just say I ate a lot of potatoes on that trip and not much else.

  5. John you are braver than I partaking in all the Finnish delicacies. I'm loving your blog! Did you go to Lordi's pub in Rovaniemi?

  6. I loooove wild meat. And Finnbiff is on of the most simple dishes to make when you have guests, so tell me if you want the recipe. It might be a bit difficult to get reinskav in the Hebrides though. :-)As for Cloudberries, or Mûre arctic as they call it in France, it's the most delicious berries that you can get in Norway and the other northern countries. To explain who precious they are, i can tell you that my My father threatened to put my brother out of his will if he didn't eat his Cloud berries once...Read more about it here:

  7. Thank you for bringing Rudolph to the front (in Finland his name is Petteri...).As a vegetarian I've often told foreign people that the lunch I won't eat is Rudolph Stew. Many Finns haven't liked the name but you give me more confidence to continue doing so.Telling the names and ingredients of the exotic Finnish dishes is brave but the soup was hardly made with any kind of crow, white or black. Someone may have tried to say or write White GROUSE, but the correct name seems to be Willow Grouse, which is white in the winter. no 'powerfully-built Finnish women' are needed to chase them - the birds are caught traditionally with traps or just shot. Usually they are men who kill birds.What comes to the leipäjuusto, it's also in the English Wiki:

  8. Postscript. After getting home, I discovered it wasn't "crow" in the soup, but Ptarmigan(!). Which was ironic, as some of the junk mail that had piled up while I was away was from the RSPB, advertising a Ptarmigan awareness campaign.

  9. I feel a menu change coming on for the Steadings! Mmmmmmm

  10. Karolina & Kamil4 November 2007 at 04:54

    We had this meal today - totaly splendid!