Before having coffee at good old Finnish cafe yesterday, we had delicious sushi lunch at the best sushi restaurant in Helsinki (most likely the best in Finland 🙂 ), Wagocoro. About the restaurant, check it out my old post, “Genuine Sushi at Wagocoro @ Helsinki“. They serve genuine Japanese sushi prepared by a genuine Japanese sushi master. You never get disappointed 🙂
Wagocoro is closed on weekends but this Sunday, it will be exceptionally open for “setsubun”. It serves special sushi “ehomaki” for setsubun in addition to ordinary menu. (as to “setsubun”, read it at the bottom)
Setsubun(節分) is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. The name literally means “seasonal division”, but usually the term refers to the Spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun (立春) celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the Spring Festival (春祭 haru matsuri). In its association with the Lunar New Year, Spring Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year’s Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒) (literally “bean throwing”). Setsubun has its origins intsuina (追儺), a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the eighth century. –wikipedia
When I came to see LUX 2013 light installation, I noticed the small cafe at Hakasalmi Villa. Hakasalmi Villa was built in 1843 by the procurator and privy counselor Carl Johan Walleen as a combined city and country residence and is now Helsinki city museum. And there is a small cafe Huvilan Kahvila on the left side of the museum building.
The first thing which caught my eyes was the sign of the cafe. (You might be smiling looking at the photo on the top 🙂 “mk” is Finnish markka (Mark), which had been the official currency in Finland before EURO was introduced in 2002. A friend and I tried to remember the exchange rate between mk and € and noticed that the cafe was kind enough to put the price of a cup of coffee EURO in the sign as well as in mk 😉 6mk = 1.01€ 🙂 And a cup of coffee was really 1€ at the cafe.
(Finnish businesses and banks have employed a method known as “Swedish rounding” when tallying sums. Due in large part to the inefficiency of producing and accepting the 1 cent and 2 cent coins, Finland has opted to remove these coins from general circulation in order to offset the cost involved in accepting them… by wikipedia)
According to the article in some Japanese magazine which was on the wall of the cafe,Huvilan Kahvila sticks to be “good old” Finnish style though it is a relatively new cafe opened in February 2012. No music, no Wifi, no laptops and no meetings in the cafe.
And there is no cappuccino (of course, good old Finnish cafe didn’t have cappuccino but Finnish coffee!) So, we had good old Finnish coffee (6mk!) and good old Finnish korvapuusti (cinnamon bun)! Korvapuusti was great being different from other shops’ or cafes’. I didn’t quite find out what was different in the ingredients but a friend of mine said it has more eggs than other korvapuusti. It’s most likely so but we don’t know the truth 😉
The Japanese magazine article talked about donuts (I think it meant “munkki” if you know what munkki is 😉 which they start baking at 1am to get them ready at 7am when the cafe opens (it seems good old Finnish cafe used to open early in the morning for the people who enjoys coffee before going to work). I didn’t see any donuts and asked the lady at the counter about it and she told me it was only on Saturdays. Of course, I am thinking of going there on Saturday, not this week though 😉 We chatted a bit about the Japanese article as she didn’t know what was written there 🙂
Even though the price of 4€ for a cup of cappuccino surprised me, I liked the half an hour I spent at the cafe at Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Center) before going to yoga class today. When there is no concert, it is quiet and the cafe space with high ceiling and big windows feels relaxing and refreshing.
I wanted to be in such space to be lost in thought on my own. More than half of the people sitting in the cafe were on their own looking at their laptops, reading books and so on. Cappuccino was good with a piece of dark chocolate.
My love for coffee (=addiction to coffee) is genetic, I reckon. You may argue if there is such genes though 😉 My parents have made coffee every morning using a siphon coffee-maker after Japanese breakfast. I haven’t seen any morning without coffee in a siphon coffee-maker. Though I wasn’t allowed to taste such stimulant till certain age, there was always coffee at our breakfast table. It’s still the same when I visit them. In the same way, my morning never starts without coffee.
There aren’t many places, home or cafe, you see siphon coffee-makers nowadays. I am not sure if a siphon coffee-makers is out of date or it has never been that popular though. So, when I went to Fratello Torrefazione for the afternoon cappuccino today, the cafe reminded me of mornings in my childhood. They serve coffee brewed in siphon coffee-makers.
Today, I had cappuccino out of habit. But while I was looking at siphon coffee-maker from our table, I so decided to taste coffee brewed in it next time when I come to Fratello Torrefazione. This cafe has good quality of coffee beans and serves good quality coffee. It’s always busy with coffee lovers. Though I think sweets are pricey, it’s one of the best cafes for real coffee 🙂
“Could Helsinki be one of the best places for brunch in the world?”, I wondered this morning while I was having brunch at Mille Mozzarelle in my neighborhood. Mille Mozzarelle used to be a small Italian grocery shop on the other street in Punavuori, Helsinki. They moved to the street in the same neighborhood and opened a restaurant+shop next to my favorite German bakery.
The brunch started with a glass of juice (either mango orange juice or mango pineapple juice) followed by beautiful bruschette (picture at the top)! At least two different kinds of hams and different kinds of paste on the crispy bread. It made us all smiley!!! Two of us (five in total) usually choose vegetarian, but today, both chose non-veggie (i.e. original) brunch. When we saw such gorgeous-looking Italian hams at the show window (fridge), it looked absolutely right thing to do not to choose vegetarian! When we had bruschette generously topped with tasty hams, we all agreed the choice was right 🙂
The main dish brought us further joy! Hams, mozzarella cheese (a big piece behind salad!), and another three pieces of cheese, a slice of melon, grapes, sausage with salad and focaccia. Yogurt was served together with the main dish.
The finale of the brunch was lovely dessert! Dolce (dessert) is very very important when it comes to Italian. I have a firm belief, “I have to eat dolce if I eat Italian! Italian meal. Without dolce, I can’t say I ate Italian”. 😉 (Hope Italian friends agree with me 🙂 ) After main dish, my tummy was totally full. But!, when I saw such lovely dolce, suddenly my tummy made good enough space for it 🙂 Balance of sweetness of the cream and sourness of the blueberries of dolce gave us great satisfaction!
I felt like eating pasta for lunch. I thought about great pasta dishes I had in Italy a month ago. I thought about where I could have the best pasta in the town (i.e. Helsinki). Then I remembered two Italian restaurants an Italian classmate at Finnish language course recommended some time ago. Both of them are in my neighborhood, Punavuori 🙂 And I hadn’t been either of them. So, I went to one of them, Ravintola Nerone today.
I had passed in front of the restaurant many times before but, honestly, never had thought it was such a great restaurant but thought it was a Finnish pub with Italian name. (and there is a pub next to the restaurant…) But when I opened the door, it was packed with people enjoying pizza, pasta and other lunch plates! It looked absolutely promising 🙂
Looking at the menu carefully, I chose penne with gamberi (shrimps) and gorgonzola cheese sauce. Plenty of penne served with bread… It tasted great! I don’t know how to describe the taste but it was balanced well. It tasted “comfortable” (I know “comfortable” is usually not a word to describe the taste but I would like to express the taste with it) . I also appreciated bread with penne. I always crave bread when I eat pasta.
A friend enjoyed yummy pizza Napoletana . “We are proud to serve one of the best pizza in Helsinki”, Nerone says in the web page. I will try their pizza next time. (I will most likely have Margerita had a belief Pizza Margerita could tell quality of pizza at each restaurant 😉 )
一緒に行った友達はピザナポレターナをおいしく食す。 “We are proud to serve one of the best pizza in Helsinki” (ヘルシンキで一番おいしいピザを出しています) と、お店のweb pageに書いてあるこの店。今日は行く前からパスタ気分であったのだが、次回は私もピザを食べたい(そしてピザなら絶対マルゲリータ。店のピザの味を確かめるならマルゲリータとなぜか思っている私。;-))
By the way, I liked Nerone for the inexpensive prices as well as the tasty food. As to lunch, It’s only slightly more expensive than canteen of the company I used to work 😉 Even dinner menu is inexpensive.
It was one of the coldest mornings when a friend and I left the West Harbor of Helsinki for Tallinn, Estonia. I saw many Facebook posts which told me temperature went down lower than -20 degrees. (Luckily, the lowest temperature I saw was -17 degrees 😉
We wanted to go shopping in Tallinn and the cold weather didn’t bother us as much as it would have if we had gone for sightseeing. We managed to go to one of the big shopping malls in Tallinn by the free shuttle bus from the port and happily finished shopping by the time we planned to do so.
The agenda after shopping was lunch at the restaurant where I had planned to go last summer but couldn’t. When I read about the restaurant at some tourist information web page, I had good feeling about the Leib Resto ja Aed. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed it was introduced in Japanese magazine.
買い物のあとは遅めのランチ。去年の夏に行こうとして予約までしたのにいけなかったレストラン、Leib Resto ja Aed。去年タリンに行くときにサーチしてなんだかピンと来たのがこの店だった。さらに、今年になって日本の雑誌でも紹介されていたのだが。
Dining experience at Leib Resto ja Aed was dreamy and heart-warming. Great selection in the menu, lovely presentation and great taste, and good service. The restaurant staffs were friendly, yet polite. And it wasn’t expensive (of course, it depends on where you compare it with but we wouldn’t get this quality at this price in Helsinki)
After having appetizer, beef tartare, I had wintery pumpkin dish as a main course. It was one of the best veggie main dishes I’ve ever had. The harmony of the tastes of roasted pumpkin with pumpkin cream and cottage cheese was perfect.
Dessert was as amazing as we stopped talking. We were just smiley and enjoying the moment of bliss. I don’t think I need to explain more about it but am hoping the photos tells you much more than my words 😉
After lunch, we walked a bit in the old town stopping by some small shops and headed to the harbour to catch the ferry to go home in Helsinki. All the way home, we were talking about how lovely day we had in Tallinn. Shopping and lovely meal! Girls day in Tallinn was successful!
On the second floor of Akateeminen bookshop, there is the famous Cafe Aalto. The interior of the cafe was designed by the famous Finnish architect and designer, Alvar Aalto, who is often called “the father of modernism”. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware. Among Japanese tourists, the cafe is one of the most popular places to visit in Helsinki partly because of Aalto, but mostly for the famous movie shot in Helsinki. The cafe was one of my most favorite long time ago when I still lived in Tokyo and visited Helsinki occasionally for work. There weren’t that many lovely cafes in Helsinki at that time and I liked cafe Aalto for the location on the second floor of a bookshop (I like bookshops!!!) But after moving to Helsinki, I didn’t come here that often anymore. I actually avoided it as I thought it was too touristy to have a good coffee break.
Such cafe Aalto surprised us with the generous breakfast this morning. I had Poet’s breakfast which included caffe latte, orange juice, croissant, marmelade, brie cheese and fruits. Look at the above photo! When it was served, I said “Wow!” with unstoppable joy! When I tasted it, I was so glad that we chose to come to cafe Aalto. Each food on the plate was delicious! Orange juice was “freshly squeezed”<3 It was only 10.20€ 🙂 Considering the quality, it was very generous!!!
As a lot of Japanese tourist come to the cafe there was Japanese menu. And we heard other Japanese people talking at the other table today. But now it doesn’t matter if it’s too touristy or not to be at Cafe Aalto. Their breakfast is irresistible! And I liked the calm atmosphere of the cafe this morning 🙂
Even though temperature was higher than yesterday and the day before, it feels super cold in Helsinki today. It is windy. I was taking pictures facing to the sea but couldn’t stay there for more than three minutes.
Never mind! The actual reason why I went out was not to take pictures but to go to Signora Delizia to try their cioccolata (hot chocolate). I had been looking for real cioccolata since I came back from Dolomiti, Italy. I loved the cioccolata at the mountain hut in Dolomiti. I’ve had the similar quality of cioccolata several times, somewhat, only in the mountains. I tried to explain how different it is from other hot chocolate but couldn’t quite figure it out. They are just different. My favorite one is not as sweet as I taste sugar but light and tasty. I think I could drink a couple of cups at once.
I thought Signora Delizia, the real Italian cafe & shop I visited first time last week, might have my favorite cioccolata! And.. again, my instinct was right!!! They had lovely cioccolata which I almost ordered the second cup (but didn’t…;-)
I enjoyed not only the cioccolata but also ｆocaccia sandwich. Among focaccia fillings, I liked taste of artichoke together with ozzarella :) The cafe has good collection of magazines. The Economist talking about 2013 wasn’t that inspiring. But the National Geographic was quite inspiring introducing amazing places of the world!