Expat weekend

Last weekend was dedicated for the expatriates. We have all been friends for years and one of them is my sister as well. The weekend had been reserved many weeks in advance. All weekend long we spoke in English, which is a rare treat and good practice. I’m always a little nervous that my English might become rusty. We stayed up late, played board games, had some of Christine’s delicious hot apple cider, ate well, walked in beautiful Helsinki full of fall colors, went bowling, visited Fleuriste for brunch on Saturday, made a nostalgic Starbucks run to the airport (it is the only Starbucks in Finland at the moment) and just enjoyed each other’s company. We also had two little babies along.

After bowling at noon on Saturday, we headed into the center of Helsinki, walking part of the way. The sun shone bright and trees almost looked like they were on fire with their foilage of bright colors. It was the last of the bright colors, as the trees are now dropping their leaves at a rapid pace.
I had been wanting to visit the Fleuriste (Uudenmaankatu 13, Helsinki) ever since we had been looking for brunch places last spring when we visited Cafe Piritta. Fleuriste is a French style cafe and flower shop. And it was love at first sight. I definitely want to revisit. It is advisable to make reservations during the weekend as it is very busy, small but very charming.
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We tried our luck and went without reservations. This time luck was on our side. We found a table in the back room which was just as attractive as the front with large old windows letting in soft natural light. Our only challenge was that we were travelling with a stroller. Without friends along, it would have been fairly challenging to maneuver the narrow passage to the back. On weekends Fleuriste serves brunch all day. We all decided on the brunch menu (19,50 euros) which includes three courses, tea or coffee. Service to the table made the experience a little more personal.
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I was so impressed with the smoothie served. We chose the lingonberry smoothie that had ground flax seed. It was not too sweet, letting you taste the slight sourness of the yoghurt. It certainly was to my taste.

Lingonberry smoothies and chai tea
Lingonberry smoothies and chai tea

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The main course included a slice of tomato and roquefort quiche and salad with dates and sprinkled with a soft goat’s cheese. My chai tea was served in a little pot with steamed milk on the side, and it was enough for three cups. We were delighting in every bite after our activities and walk. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace. It seems that at the moment I look for opportunities to just slow the pace of life. We ate for an hour and a half. There was no schedule to meet and no where to be.
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For dessert there was the option of four or five different cakes. And although we had lovely table service, we all went to go see the selection that were on display. I chose a cake that had fresh fig, pear and chocolate. I think I will be trying to recreate it, possibly for Christmas. By the time we finished I was pleasantly full and the meal carried me well into the evening.
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And in the evening, we revisited our growing up years and hit Starbucks. What fun we had!

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Hot Apple Cider, inspired by Christine (non-alcoholic)

This recipe is made in the Crock Pot and really quite easy. It fits perfectly for those dark starry nights and perhaps a board game. Since I used the apple in its entirety, I used locally grown apples that have not been sprayed.

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1.8 kg/3.9 lbs locally grown apples, cut into quarters (the peels and core are not removed)
2.5 dl/ 1 c raw cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2-3 sticks of cinnamon
1.5 l/1.5 qt water

Place all of the ingredients into the Crock pot and set it on low for about eight hours. Allow to cool and strain through a mesh metal sieve pressing some of the fruit pulp through for a more hearty cider. Enjoy hot.

2013-10-15 09.03.46hot apple cider


    1. I really hadn’t either until my friend Christine told us how she had made her’s. The apple cider we had was so delicious that I had to recreate it as soon I got back home…especially since I happened to have some local apples in my kitchen!

  1. Sounds like you all had a wonderful day together. I know I would have enjoyed brunch at that cafe. How lucky that you were seated without having to wait.
    By the way, if your spoken English is at all like your writing, you’ve nothing to worry about. 🙂

    1. Yes, it was our lucky day. Waiting with a baby is not always so conveniet. The blog is a great way to keep up on my English skills. I do speak to my children in English…and they answer me in Finnish. 🙂

  2. It sounds like an absolutely lovely week-end. It seems like just yesterday that you wrote about the birth of your son. It’s fun to see how much he has grown. He’s adorable.

  3. What a lovely weekend. It was fascinating to see how you prepare hot apple cider. You make good use of your slow cooker. Mine sits in the cupboard most of the time.

      1. Yes, that’s for sure. Turning on in time would help. I have a timer for my washing machine. I get it all ready,set the timer and then forget to press the start button, so I wake up in the morning expecting to see the washing done and nothing has happened!

  4. What a fantastic day! The restaurant looks like a really great find and the meal, delicious. I am especially drawn to that pie and do hope you try to recreate it. 🙂 A great way to prepare hot apple cider and I’m bookmarking that for future reference.

    1. I am certainly planning on trying to make it sometime this fall. It had a bit of a piquant-like of flavor. The flavor had some depth…and the chocolate pieces just worked so well with the fig and the pear brought moisture.

    1. We often had some American food as well 🙂 but since all of us are surrounded by the Finnish language day and night…it is nice to just chat in English every once in a while!

    1. Thank you Sophie! I guess this does tell a little bit about me. In everyday life, I dive into the Finnish society and the way of life here. But it is nice to keep some of the American way of life alive. Perhaps we get to occasionally choose the best from the two cultures.

  5. Your weekend sounded lovely. Time spent with loved ones is time well spent! Also, I would have thought English was your first language had you not written otherwise. Your blog is wonderful to read and it is incredibly interesting. I look forward to your next post. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! English is my first language but now that I live in Finland I probably use Finn more on a daily basis…and sometimes I get concerned that my English might get rusty! But this blog is the perfect exercise 🙂

  6. What delightful weekend. A cafe that serves french food and sells flowers sounds like a perfect combination. And what a brunch – I was drooling with every word you wrote to describe the beautiful food that was served. The cake sounds like it was to die for – figs, chocolate and pears – can cake get any better! Looking forward to reading a post in the future about your recreation of this cake. xx

    1. I thought that the combination of French food and flowers was perfect as well! As soon as I found their web page, I was pretty much sold. Finding interesting places that are privately owned and not part of a large chain creates an interesting and unique experience.

  7. I host a weekly link party called “Seasonal Sundays”. It’s about all things seasonal and I’d love to have you link. The link goes up Saturday evenings at 7 pm EST.

    – The Tablescaper

  8. What a great gathering and celebration. I know it is very fun to gather with those that have dispersed around the country and then have come back again. A great reason to celebrate a colourful weekend of food and friendship. Your English is beautiful! You write beautifully! Have a super day. Take Care, BAM

  9. What a fun day and what a fun and beautiful read. The cafe looks amazing, so pretty, and I’ve to say I almost gasped when I saw the smoothies, they look thick and delicious.

    1. Yes, the smoothies were just how they should be, thick and full of flavor! It is definitely a place that I will visit again…and it is located right in downtown Helsinki for easy access.

  10. Can’t wait to try the apple cider recipe! Looks like I’ll have to make a trip to the apple orchard very soon (3 hr drive one way!) I’m also looking forward to the fig, chocolate & pear cake you’ll be recreating 🙂 I truly enjoy everything about your blog! Thanks so much!!!

    1. I hope you have the chance to make the cider Brita! Might there be some locally grown apples at your grocery so you don’t have to make the long drive?…unless of course the drive is scenic and pleasant one 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words!

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