Finland’s food culture and cuisine aren’t often well regarded by foodies. In fact, some pretentious chefs have labelled it as bland and tasteless. The truth is, if you use the right ingredients and prepare recipes correctly, Finnish cuisine is unusual but still delicious. These are some of the top things for foodies to do in Finland:
One of Finland’s favourite cheeses is leipäjuusto or ‘bread cheese’ (called ‘squeaky cheese’ in English for the strange noise it makes when bitten into). It is very similar to haloumi and served in much the same way. While it is usually made from cow’s milk, you can find bread cheese made from reindeer milk in Lapland, where reindeer are herded. Finns love to eat it with cloudberry jam alongside their coffee, sometimes even putting a few pieces into their cup and pouring the coffee over it.
The best way to learn about Finnish cooking is to study with the experts. Ravintola Nokka in Helsinki runs a cooking class to create a meal with the theme of your choice. The professional chefs can take you through preparing classic Finnish dishes such as rainbow trout, mushroom soup, and deserts made with berries. Each dish is made using the most fresh seasonal Finnish ingredients.
To experience all the best food in Helsinki within a day, take a tour with Heather’s Helsinki. As a longtime resident of Helsinki, the tour guide offers a personal insight into the cuisine of the city, including many places you wouldn’t otherwise hear of.
Further up north in the Lappish town of Kemi is the snow restaurant, a highly essential destination for all foodies. It is a restaurant made entirely of ice – everything from the bar to the glasses – and rebuilt every winter with a new look. But it isn’t only the aesthetics that the restaurant is known for because the food is top notch too. Everything is made with local ingredients using traditional Finnish recipes, including the Lapland staple, reindeer. Even if you have to remain wrapped up in your winter clothes to eat at this restaurant, it is still one of the most appetising and memorable dining experiences you can have in Finland.
Finland’s oldest and most popular chocolate manufacturer offers a tour of their exhibition in Vantaa, revealing the history of the company and how it innovated confectionery in Finland. At the end of most tours is a chocolate tasting so you can try out all of Fazer’s best flavours. Each visitor receives a product bag full of freebies. The Fazer cafes throughout Finland also sell quality drinks and cakes.
No matter which Finnish city you visit, you can always find quality food at the market hall. These have been an important part of Finnish life since the late 19th century and are still essential for the livelihoods of independent retailers. Each market hall typically contains stalls selling meat, cheese, fish, confections, and usually one or two cafes or restaurants. It is the best place to pick up ingredients for dinner, chat with local merchants, and experience the local food culture.