Simple pleasures

Tag: restaurants

A Girls’ Weekend in Wintery Helsinki

by tableofcolors

It is common to plan a get-together with friends, but until a date is set in the calendar it often just gets pushed further into the future. We have a dear friend that lives on the outskirts of Helsinki. She is also the Godmother of our oldest daughter. During one phone call we decided to get our calendars out and set a date. We have been friends for many years and so when we meet up, we just pick up from where we left off. It is a comfortable type of friendship. The plan was that I would take our two oldest with me for the weekend. They counted nights and were a little antsy from anticipation. I too, was excited for our girls’ weekend but I have learned to conceal my anticipation a little better. We had wonderful weather both days and so we did a little skating, took long saunas, went out to eat, did a little shopping, enjoyed Sunday brunch and celebrated the birthday of our nine-year old.
beef in a fresh ginger sauce

On Saturday we ate at the Empire Plaza, a Chinese restaurant in the Kamppi shopping center. It is a sit-down restaurant that has friendly service and it is not overpriced. We have been there several times and will come back again sometimes in the future.
Our birthday girl decided before the meal arrived that she would use chopsticks. I was quite impressed that she stuck with it for the entire meal. Even the peas went down without complaint (she is our pickiest eater). Maybe we will need to invest in a pair if it makes eating easier!
In the past few years, brunches have really gained popularity in Helsinki. If I lived closer to Helsinki I wouldn’t mind exploring all of these brunch possibilities as a hobby. After searching the net we decided on going to Cafe Piritta. They are best known for their outdoor terrace that looks over a bay of water and the city of Helsinki. If we would have had our snow pants on, it would have been lovely to sit outdoors. Many strolled across the ice and stopped for a cup of coffee on the terrace.
Cafe Piritta
ice trail
ice trail 2

We arrived just before noon, and indoors the place was hopping. We fortunately found a table and did not have to wait. Reservations should have been made a little earlier and since we called that morning we were not able to reserve a table. The savory brunch menu included a soup, hors d’oeuvre-type little open faced sandwiches, a selection of breads, a feta salad, a potato salad, Carelian pies, mini croissants, meatballs, sausages, omelets and chicken. There was so much to choose from that I did not end up trying the meatballs, sausages, omelets or chicken. They were popular with the kids. The dessert table offered a fresh fruit salad, ice cream, cake and a whipped lingonberry porridge. We left with quite full stomachs and if we would have been dressed properly a Sunday stroll across the ice would have suited perfectly.
cafe piritta

Next time the place I would like to explore for brunch is the whimsical French style flower shop and coffee shop, Fleuriste.
Maybe the opportunity will come sooner than expected, you never know!


Six things to see and do in Porvoo

by tableofcolors

The city of Porvoo is just east of the Helsinki area. It is Finland’s second oldest city, established around 1380. Walking in the old city it is easy to take a make believe journey back to a time when salt, furs and tar were tranported by boat. On one side of the Porvoo river are the old merchants’ houses and warehouses painted with boiled red earth paints (consists of rye flour, iron sulfate, iron oxide and water).
(Number 1) On the other side there are nice walking paths and a park area with marked trails.

Merchant houses

Merchant houses along the Porvoo river

Number 2. Experience the atmosphere of the old town. The old town has narrow and steep cobblestone streets and is built around the church at the top of the hill. Little shops, cafes and restaurants line the streets.

Along one of these little streets are two little gems.
Number 3.

Toy store Riimikko. Such an inspiring toy store for old-fashioned play.

Number 4
Cafe Helmi, a quaint little coffee and tea shop. The building was built in the late 1700s. It has tiny little rooms for customers to choose from.

Cafe Helmi

Out back there is a courtyard.

like a secret garden…

Carrot cake and Apple and nut tart

Number 5.
At the top of the hill is the Church. During summer months on Tuesdays and Thurdays there is a free mini organ concert at noon lasting fifteen minutes. The city of Porvoo has been burned many times during its history. Danish pirates burned it in the early 1500s, the Russians have managed to burn it a total of three times. Most of the buildings that are standing today have been built in the late 1700s.

History of Porvoo

Number 6. Porvoo today. Opposite of the old town is the flourishing new city. We had read a review of the Bistro Sinne restaurant in the Helsingin Sanomat and decided to give it a try since it had received such high marks. We were not disappointed. The customer service was excellent and our waiters were very informed. What makes the Sinne restaurant interesting is that it has focused on making food close to home. Close by they have their own fields for produce and in the restaurant a wall of herbs is used for garnishing dishes. We enjoyed our dinner and are definitely coming back again.

Liked the use of constrasting elements of concrete and plywood.

Wall of herbs

Finnish style prosciutto, an air dried beef and fresh herbs and thinly sliced asparagus. Absolutely delicious.

Herring and new potatoes

Pork cheek, asparagus and spruce shoots

Whitefish fried crisp, mushroom foam, cauliflower, lentils and rice

Dessert. Créme Brulée, basil sorbet and strawberries. House made vanilla ice cream with strawberries and salmiakki meringue