Uhm… everyone who watched Dreamworks How To Train Your Dragon movie franchise probably ever heard this:
“This is Berk. It snows nine months of the year, and hails the other three. Any food that grows here is tough and tasteless…” – Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III
No… no… I don’t mention about the dragons. I mentioned about the tribe on which Hiccup, the protagonist of this film affiliated with: The Viking. Go browse about them, so… yes… they occupied the northern area of Europe until Greenland… and if I correct, even until the coast of Newfoundland. It’s basically true, then… they were settling in very cold area. Sure, they had to be tough, or perished. Now my common question: So what did they eat??
Lucky for me in this town of Turku, there’s a restaurant that selling Viking originated cuisines! Viikinkiravintola Harald (FI: Viking Restaurant Harald). The name comes from King of Norway, Harald Fairhair who ruled during Viking period in 872-930 AD.
First time I ate here is on April 21st, 2016.
The front view of this restaurant (Turku branch), is probably won’t telling you much about anything on the inside, but once you stepped in… you’ll see the wonder inside.
First floor – Where you stepped your feet in. I feel already like in a ship or a chieftain’s lodge.
From the stairway to the seating area in the second floor. The feelings intensify…
Dining area. You can feel the atmosphere of a Viking gathering hall or hunting lodge in this room.
So I was there for the first time for my lunch. I walked upstairs, a waitress warmly greet me and took me to my seat. She was on a medieval clothing. For lunch, we offered a price of 12.50 euros for three kind of set; I forgot what are those… but I choose the combination of mushroom soup, salmon steak, and for the drink… I bought extra drink called Miklagård’s Drink (in lunch set, we got free water).
Cep and Chanterelles soup of Northern Forest (lunch version)
First meal of my lunch is a mushroom soup served with archipelago bread. Although it mentioned only as mushroom soup, I do believe it is the small version of Cep and Chanterelles soup of Northern Forest which description written in the menu. Let’s say, norther area of Viking territory can be sea, icy regions, and forests. I believe in the northern cape of Norway or Finland at the time, it covered by forest. Of course, one of forest product is mushroom. Cep (Boletus edulis Bull.) and chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius Fr.) are both mycorrhizal fungi that grow in symbiotic relationship with trees in coniferous and deciduous forest. Cep is a perfect mushroom for soup or risotto. Chanterelle is a yellow trumpet-shaped mushroom, known by chefs for its fragrance that resembles apricot and mild peppery taste. Combined as creamy soup, the flavour is just wonderful. The archipelago bread here is made with rye and some malt. Unlike normal dry rye bread, this one is soft, emitting some sweet taste with a bit of bitterness and signature fragrance of rye. Compared to normal European dinner white bread and baguette, this rye bread’s unique taste give its own nice combination with the soup.
Salmon steak for lunch.
The salmon steak served with creamy sauce, sweet root vegetables and fried potato cylinders. The salmon is really good and the sauce topped the tastes. To balance the palate, the sweetness of carrot… and turnip (I’m not really sure) makes your tongue happy. In the end, I love to wipe the remaining sauce with the potato. Yum!
Okay… what a perfect lunch!
But that’s not enough…
Later that afternoon, I stepped myself for early dinner. Table for one with some space left in my belly!
This time, I ordered one a la carte set course, it called ‘Voyage of Finnmark”. Finnmark is a county located in the northern most tip of Norway which connected directly to the northern area of Finland. Thing that sure, River Tana of this area is renown for the largest place in Europe to catch salmon! So… yeah! I expecting salmon as one of my dish! Anything else, based on the menu, since northern Finland area (Lapland) is one good place for reindeer, no wonder if that dish is included on the menu. And of course, any dishes brought from other Viking region might complement the dishes.
Hors d’oeuvres: Hard rye breads and melted butter
Before the starter, we got the small dish (hors d’oeuvres, or appetizer in French) consists of some cuts of hard rye bread, served with melted butter. The bread, I think is Finnish reikäleipä (FI: reikä – hole, leipä – bread). It’s a hard but thin rye bread. I ate that by cracking it into several pieces and dipping it into the butter. The taste is sour at start and there’s a hint of cardamon on the bread. It’s good… and it’s tough as Hiccup said (see the quote in the beginning). You want to make it sweet? Chew it a bit longer and let your enzyme at work!
Salmon soup from The Archipelago
As it almost emptied…
My appetizer is the salmon soup. The salmon has a hint of crispiness, I think the salmon is added last and it prepared by light seasoning and frying in oil. We know that salmon is one of commodities that you can found in Nordic region. Other thing inside is a mix of artichoke with Icelandic yoghurt called skyr as mousse and the combination add some fresh-sour taste to the vegetable broth. The basic broth itself has carrot, onion, fresh dill, and I think there is cardamon added. Placed between the salmon and the mousse, there is a piece of reikäleipä as crouton, but unlike white bread, it remains hard although it’s soaked. Interesting part is, although it’s hard, it absorbs the flavor from the soup. In the end, the soup itself is just perfect.
Skyr was brought from Norway to Iceland c.a. 1100 years ago, and gradually the tradition perished in Scandinavia but thrive in Iceland until now. Compared to conventional yoghurt, skyr is more solid because rennet is added following the fermentation with Lactobacillus and Streptococcus to separate the whey from the solid protein.
Reindeer of Snowy Fells
As main course, I ate an awesomely tender and juicy reindeer tenderloin (cooked medium). Shortly, reindeer meat tastes gamey and the meat itself is very lean thus it’s good for consumption (I will explain it later in my next article). The steak is served with two sauces: cranberry and cut brandy sauce and creamy cep-chanterelle sauce (if you love mushroom sauce, like me, you’ll LOVE this one!). In addition, we have smooth and creamy potato cake (you can see it above in the top right, under the creamy thing) topped with crusty smoked paprika mousse. The creamy thing is a game mousse that top the reindeer salami (the salami is a bit hard with rich smokey meat flavor but with the mousse, it’s become really good!). For the veggies, there are fried kale, soy bean (edamame), bell pepper, rye grain, and one that caught my attention: a bit of sour and sweet Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa L.) jam. All I can say: Wow!
Pancake from Reval with added Tar Ice Cream
To let you know, the pancake here in Europe is a real cake made thin on a pan… not the fluffy one served in most area of US. In my dessert here, the pancake… a bit crispy on the outside and soft inside, poured with raspberry and balsamico syrup. The taste is sweet and sour. Actually, there should only one ice cream in here, but I asked with addition of another ice cream with unique taste! The first one (bottom) is ice cream, flavored with Iceland moss, roasted sugar, and nuts. The second one (top) is tar flavored ice cream.
Icelandic moss is not actually a moss but it is a lichen, scientifically called Cetraria islandica (L.)Ach. It was used for folk medicine and said that it taste a bit bitter. However in this ice cream, the sugary flavor is more dominant so it didn’t feel so much in my taste buds. Tar is a result of destructive distillation of organic material. It’s commonly used in Finland from cooking ingredients to candy (which I don’t understand why), but it considered as panacea or capable to heal anything! It was made from wood by burning. When you eat it, it has a minty taste with a hint of smokey flavor. For the ice cream, I could taste it and it went well! Anyway, Reval is medieval name of town we recently know as Talinn, Estonia.
I was leaving the restaurant that night with my belly stuffed…
Then I went there again Friday 13th (wow) 2016. This time, I tried another a la carte set course called “Voyage of Dyflin”. Dyflin is what Dublin, Ireland, called during Viking period. So probably I expecting something that comes from western area of Europe.
Njord’s Starter Stone
Njord’s Starter Stone: Archipelago rye and malt bread with roach mousse, reindeer salami, fried duck heart, salad with rye grains
Njord’s Starter Stone: Salad with brown rice, cold-smoked horse meat, blueberry and onion jam, cold-smoked Greenland halibut, tarred Baltic herring, and marinated vendace.
The starter is this various… meat and stuff. The name itself comes from Nordic god Njord (Njörðr), the father of deities Freyr and Freyja. So, what’s in his stone plate? We have the archipelago rye and malt bread topped with roach mousse. No… not that roach the insect from ordo Blattodea but roach the fish in Cyprinidae family, Rutilus rutilus L. I like the bread with the creamy mousse… so yummy! Then we have reindeer salami, cold-smoked and sliced… horse meat (it’s a bit tougher than smoked beef even it’s thinner here, but it’s good), strangely-but-really-good blueberry and onion jam, cold smoked halibut (it tastes like smoked white fish, but the meat has a bite), tarred (okay… more tar) Baltic herring, and (I think it also marinated by tar) marinated vendace. It’s funny if you imagine a minty tar flavor combined with fish, but it’s good… no kidding! Ah, there are also fried duck heart (this is my first time eating it, and somehow the texture and flavor is close to beef), and salad with rye grains in it.
Fish from Baltic sea like herring is tend to be more plain in flavor than fishes from other seas or ocean, because Baltic see is known for its close-to-fresh water salinity level. Well… that’s for your info, basically I already wrote so much facts here, hehe.
The Horseman’s Tenderloin (side view)
…from another view, you can see the potato cake now
For the main course, I wouldn’t say anything… it’s just stunning! The beef tenderloin is so tender and juicy as it cooked medium, very nice to be eaten with the sweet (a bit sour) cranberry and cut brandy sauce. The creamy and cheesy flavor of potato cake (baked with paprika mousse on top, making it crusty) is really delicious. The veggies, aragula, and root vegetables neutralized your palate. Oh… there is also a thin slice of a bit salty and crusty Maasdam cheese, a Swiss-style Dutch cheese make of cow milk, aged for 4 weeks.
Frigga’s Chocolate Cake
To close my dinner that day, we have this double chocolate cake (my favorite!) with salty liquorice (another odd “sweets” combination from Finland) mixed in the top layer of white chocolate (it balances the sweetness of the milk chocolate layer below, and intensify the whole flavors in your taste buds). The cake tastes like heaven for me! There is also raw chocolate ice cream with blackberry jam and star anise-rhubarb sauce (I thought it was cloudberry sauce, until I tastes it further). Personal preference: The berry jam is nice with the ice cream, the sauce goes well with the cake and the sugar.
Anyway, the name Frigga… well, if you notice the Nordic mythology (or watched/read Thor comic), Frigga/Frigg is Odin’s wife, Thor’s mother.
In case you wondering, there are of course drinks available here. This mocktail for example. Miklagård’s Drink is a mix of blueberry syrup, orange juice, and soda water.
Miklagård or Miklagarðr (Old Norse: mikll – big, garðr – city) is an old name of Istanbul, Turkey, during Medieval Viking era.
If you don’t want to drink anything fancy, you can ask for cold water in a pitcher for 1 euro.
In the nutshell, it’s a wonderful experience to dine in there. It feels like you just come back in time and try the Viking-medieval period delicacy here and this experience, although the price for you to pay (for the food) is considered high, the experience itself is memorable and priceless. I’d like to come back here again for the atmosphere, and of course the food… especially the meat and salmon! 😉
PS: That afternoon (both), I came back to my apartment listening to “This is Berk” and “Flying With Mother” by John Powell to intensify the feels (that I got when I watch “How To Train Your Dragon”). And I feel like I was in Viking island at the moment… :p
VIKING RESTAURANT HARALD/VIIKINKIRAVINTOLA HARALD
Branch: Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Lahti, Tampere, Turku, Oulu
Turku Address: Aurakatu 3, 20100 Turku. Phone: +358 44 766 8204.
Food: EUR 6.20 – 67.60
Beverage: EUR 1.00 – 64.00
Lunch set: EUR 12.50
Set – Voyage of Finnmark: EUR 52.30
Set – Voyage of Dyflin: EUR 49.90
Tar Ice Cream: EUR 3.50
Water: EUR 1.00
Opening Hours (Turku):
Monday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Tuesday – Thursday: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 pm – 01:00 am
Sunday: 03:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Website: Viikinkiravintola Harald (available in English version)
TripAdvisor (Turku): Viikinkiravintola Harald
Foursquare (Turku): Viikinkiravintola Harald
Note: Eat the reindeer and beef here, for steak, ask for medium cooked. Seat in the middle room for brighter ambience, or else ask the waitress.
Food in Finland for me is close to nature. Things that people normally can forage from the forest. We can see most areas in Finland are made of forests, although some products are caught fresh from the sea. For example, as now I’m living on Turku, I tend to get fishes as local products easier than meat. In the other hand, if you want to eat reindeer, people said, you should go to northern area like, Lapland.
So what is it looks like, the food from Lapland, area that dominates by forest? To answer this, during my last trip to Helsinki (May 7th, 2016), I visited an exotic local restaurant that sells delicacies from Lapland. It’s Restaurant Lappi or Lappi Ravintola (Lappi means Lapland, and ravintola means restaurant in Finnish).
Outside view of the restaurant.
It looks like a small shop when you see from outside, but when you go inside, it looks wider and more… natural.
Interior of the restaurant.
This is your table.
So then I entered the restaurant once it open in 1 pm, the waitress greeted me and took me to my seat. The atmosphere is really nice. It’s like you’re inside a hunter’s lodge in the middle of the forest. Wooden wall amplify the ambience to be more… rustic. I can imagine when you have a dinner here, it must be great!
Then I received my menu (well, I already check them out on their homepage, so I knew what I want to eat). For my lunch on that day, I decided to eat a simple dish, a sautéed reindeer and finished with a mousse.
Sautéed Reindeer (served with mashed potato and lingonberry)
I was surprised when the sautéed reindeer was served on my table, it’s actually larger than I expected! And bit more… juicier. But well, it’s still looked good anyway. And it tastes really good! In my sense, it tastes simple. It’s like you cook it with butter, salt, and pepper, than added with some water, but the flavour is just wow. The gamey taste of reindeer is balanced with creaminess of mashed potato and acidic flavour of lingonberry. Although it’s a bit runny, the broth actually enhanced the flavour richness of mashed potato like you’re eating poutine. Yummy!
Sea Buckthorn Mousse
I know lingonberry and I know cloudberry, but sea buckthorn is something new in my ear since my arrival in Finland this January. After I made a quick browse, unlike lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) and cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus L.), sea buckthorn (Hippophae sp.) is a shrub instead a short, forest floor dwelling herbs. So then that’s basically the reason that I wanted to try this for my dessert! As it served on mousse, it tastes really fresh to your palate (although I know it’s not because it’s impossible to bring it fresh from that far north). It’s smooth, combined with its acidic taste and sweetness of the scone. Terrific!
Overall, the price is quite high like normal Scandinavian dish restaurant, but it is worth the fortune if your really like reindeer or adventurous enough to try some new meals here!
RESTAURANT LAPPI/LAPPI RAVINTOLA
Address: Annankatu 12, 00100 Helsinki, Finland. Phone: +358 964 5550. Website click here.
Monday – Friday: 04:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Saturday: 01:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Closed on Sunday
Sautéed Reindeer: EUR 24.50
Sea Buckthorn Mousse: EUR 10.50
Food: EUR 11.00 – 68.00 (Dessert: EUR 6.50 – 35.00)
Beverages: EUR 6.00 – 11.00
Note: The place is a bit tricky, but it close to the central road as well as Kamppi Bus Station
Moi! It’s been so damn long since I wrote something here. Being a Ph.D student is one heck of a challenge you know. But, when science stuffs drain your brain energy, food will be there to soothe it up!
In these both months of March and April of 2016, I’ve been on a boat cruise twice. First, it’s for a cruise seminar along my lab colleagues in Silja Line (route: Turku-Åland-Turku in a day) and second, I went to Stockholm with Viking Line. For my second trip, I can only tell you about my return trip, since my departure trip is at night and I was obviously spending most of it on my cabin bed.
In the nutshell, if you want something really Nordic to eat, go to their buffet!
Let’s start from the breakfast meals!
(Silja Line) Buttermilk (FI: Piima) with lingonberry jam
Most of the time, finding yoghurt and other dairy products here in Finland is always been easy. You go to any convenient stores to big supermarkets, you’ll find one. Even honestly, this become my reason of why I can get easy access to cheese, yoghurt, milk, and buttermilk every time! Anything else is, berries are common forest products to find in summer. Back to the ship, so then I tried the buttermilk with lingonberry jam. I thought the jam is sweet. I was wrong. It’s face-warping sour. Now I know my supervisor, Pav, poured a lot of sugar in it.
(Viking Line) Nordic pancake with starwberry jam, Karelian pasties, mini cakes, and cookie.
Nordic pancake is similar to French pancake or crepes. The serving for pancake in Nordic way is by combining it with berry jam. This time (learning from experience before), I used the sweet strawberry jam. It tastes really good and fresh! About Karelian pasty, I’ve explained about it before. However, in both boats, it tastes plain, you have to use munavoi (butter mixed with chopped boiled egg) to give the taste in. The mini cakes flavor mostly buttery, sugary, and sometime have almonds in it.
(Viking Line) Bread, butter, and smoked salmon.
You know what? It’s hard to find a white dinner bread or toast here in Finland. They mentioned it as French bread for it. But the French bread I know available here is baguette, the long hard bread. So, to eat a sliced loaf of soft bread, you will normally found bread that normally and naturally colored brown or yellowish. The color comes from rye or other cerealia seeds (or carrot). And it’s common to eat them with LOT of butter as topping. Anything else, you can also add smoked salmon in it. It’s protein and omega-3 rich meal for you! And its taste is very rich, umami, and fresh!
(Silja Line) Cheese plater
In Europe, cheeses are something you can easily found, staple, and cheap (compared to Asia countries, including Indonesia). You can eat cheese like emmenthal, blue cheese, smoked cheese, or more with crackers. Me? I like to eat the cheese as it is! Not everyone have an endurance for the taste of blue cheese, and I’m enjoying myself eating one of the strongest blue cheese, roquefort from France!
(Silja Line) Caviar, assorted herring, smoked salmon, and open sandwich with fish salad.
Smoked salmon (FI: savulohi), especially the cold smoked one (slowly smoked in 25ºC for hours to days, allowing the natural fragrance of the smoke to permeate the fish) is recommended dish to start your day! You can it it with bread, or as it is. Anything else, in Nordic country, an abundant fish you can find from Baltic Sea is herring. You can found it as fresh commodity, hot-smoked, fried, baked, pickled, and even… as sour herring (SE: surströmming, the Swedish cuisine, a fermented RAW herring with extremely putrid smell… if Capt. Barbossa of Black Pearl in Pirates of Caribbean ever mention the smell of kraken’s mouth… here you go). Here, you can find the pickled herring that tastes salty or sweet. I don’t know exactly yet on how it cooked. Open sandwich, normally with fish is common dish in Nordic countries, especially Norway. And in picture above, you can found herring cooked in tomato and caviar… although we believe it’s not the actual one, but it made with alginate. Yeah… the original one has a price of fortune.
(Silja Line) Roasted beef, spiced chicken with red sauce, and Greek Dolma with Feta cheese.
There are also many European dishes and some Asian dishes like curry in the buffet. Even you can find roast beef and Dolma (Greek dish, grape vine filled with sour rice, been explained here although it’s in Indonesian).
Other than these buffet menus, I was also walking around in the boat. I found this in Frank’s Casual Dining… let’s put it as extra…
Reindeer & beef filled potato lefse (FI: Poro & nautarieska, SE: Ren och nöstek fyllda potatis tunnbröd)
My second reindeer dish during my whole journey in Europe! Lefse is basically Norwegian flatbread made of flour, butter, milk, and potato. Here, the lefse is rolled with cold roasted beef, small-diced roasted reindeer mixed with mayo, lettuce, sliced grilled tomato, and sliced cucumber pickles. I kinda like the combination! It’s fresh!
Mazarin or in Swedish, Mazarintårta, is a tartlet consists of almond paste dough and topped with icing sugar. So far, this is one of my favorite dessert because I love the sweet flavor combined with the almond taste inside! If you asked me to compare this one with the one I ate in IKEA Tangerang (near Jakarta), Indonesia… it’s heaven to earth compared.
So much new food to try! I’m glad I’ve been through various trip in here!
Special thanks to my lovely colleague from Laboratory of Paper Coating and Converting, Åbo Akademi University, who brought me to the special cruise seminar and then… the buffet!
SILJA LINE & VIKING LINE
Breakfast: EUR 10.50
Lunch: EUR 24
Dinner: EUR 31
Frank’s Casual Dining
Reindeer and beef potato lefse: EUR 6.90/SEK 63
Mazarin: (around) EUR 3/SEK 30
Note: Booking the buffet while booking the cruise ticket is recommended to avoid fully booked restaurant.
First of all, thank you @KotiPizza for the nicest pizza I’ve ever eat in Finland, my first experience to eat reindeer meat (although it’s chunk sized) and chanterelle mushroom, and after I read the history, I salute the pizza you made here in Finland! 🙂
Not much people know about Finnish food. Even myself, before I know my professor in Åbo Akademi University and watch some TV cooking show about Nordic food, I have completely no idea about food in Finland. In my thought, it’s… fish, something nature and gamey, bread and cheese. I remembered in my childhood that I read a magazine that said Finns have black bread and cheese. My curiosity lasts long enough until I discovered it’s a rye bread and some kind of smoked cheese.
I read this story from Wikipedia about Finnish Cuisine and KotiPizza. Years ago, two leaders of two countries renowned for their excellences in culinary art, French president Jacques Chirac and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi gave negative critiques to Finnish cuisine.
“I’ve been to Finland and I had to endure the Finnish diet so I am in a position to make a comparison.” “The Finns don’t even know what Parma ham is.” – Silvio Berlusconi
“After Finland, [Britain is] the country with the worst food.” – Jacques Chirac
These statements however, were countered by some international food reporter:
“Chirac and Berlusconi are wrong! Finnish cuisine is much more international than I expected. I have eaten very good food in wonderful restaurants, visited market places and enjoyed in good cafeterias. Cheese is very good in Finland. I also love Finnish cloudberry and smoked fish.” (Ute Junker, Australian Financial Review Magazine, Sydney, Australia)
“Food in Finnish restaurants is extremely good. Especially I love Finnish salmon, mushroom soup and desserts. I have also got very good Finnish wines. The worldwide reputation of Finnish cuisine isn’t very good – but it should be!” (Liliane Delwasse, Le Figaro, Paris, France)
“I have eaten only good food in Finland. Food in Finland is very fresh. Bread, berries, mushrooms and desserts are very delicious. Finnish berries (especially cloudberry), salmon, cheeses and reindeer should be available in London, too.” (April Hutchinson, Abta Magazine, London, England).
Personally saying, I have to agree. Finnish cuisines are fresh and true (combinations of the foods here, even it has low on spices… are all delicious for me!). Although as someone who comes from Indonesia who accustomed to spicy and foods with stronger flavors, I really love to eat salmon, breads, and some other meals in here!
In 2008, Kotipizza from Finland won America’s Plate International pizza contest in New York, while their competitor, an Italian-American pizza stood in second place. Outstandingly, they name their award-winning smoked reindeer pizza Berlusconi as payback to the Italian prime minister.
Okay… that’s the story. What is it look like? Awesome news, I bought it in my second week of my stay in Turku!
Berlusconi pizza… damn, I have to eat it while fresh next time. Waiting for bus for more than 20 minutes in the weekend under 2ºC of outside temperature is a bad idea.
Zoomed for reasons… look at those stuffs!
The pizza is thin crusted pizza (of course unlike the American pan pizza with thick crust), with tomato pizza sauce and mozzarella. For crust, they use rye fibre crust. For the topping, they use chunks of smoked reindeer, marinated chanterelle mushroom, red onion, and some sprinkles of dried oregano. Once you open the cardboard lid, the smell of smoked reindeer and onion say hello to you. The flavor itself is absolutely wonderful! For those who never tried the marinated chanterelles, it tastes like normal button mushroom but in shape close to oyster mushroom (the fresh one is claimed to has apricot aroma). Have to say that I agree with my friend, this is a Holy Grail of pizza!
Can’t wait to taste more of it! Kiitos Kotipizza!
Berlusconi Pizza – EUR 10.90
AW’s Rating: √√√√√ (full score, no complain!)
For address, it’s spread around Finland. You can found one in both Turku or Helsinki. I bought this one in:
Uudenmankatu 19, 20700 Turku. Ph: +358 2 251 5660
Restaurant: 12:00 PM – 22:00 PM
Home delivery: 12:00 PM – 21:30 PM (minimum order: EUR 10.00)