I have fed sheep and cattle with clover (Trifolium repens) but never thought about trying it myself until I discovered it sitting with the salad in a fresh Beef Tartare. This is the gourmet experience waiting to be discovered at the Taste of Helsinki festival running from June 14 to 17, and those attending the first day were spoilt with blue sky weather.
Nine restaurants from Helsinki, apart from Sky bringing the best from Lapland, providing a total menu of 36 different dishes from which to choose. Prices range from 5 or 6 euros to more for each restaurant’s signature dish, which you pay for using the festivals own taste payment card system, and more credit can easily be added to the card should your taste buds need full satisfaction.
For starter, at restaurant Nolla, I sampled the Herring Carpaccio and the fish went well with the green salad and herbs. Very nice and fresh too.
Next, I moved along to restaurant Latva for their best-selling tartare, made from organic Charolais beef sourced a short distance away eastwards along the Finnish coast near Porvoo.
Again, very tasty and fresh, although a little salty for my taste. Then thoughts of desert prompted me to find out about the Rowan leaf and Rhubarb made by Chapter restaurant. Another combination I would never have dreamed of, but it was delicious.
I managed to find an unusual red wine to drink with the beef dish, the Meinklang natural wine. I try to avoid sulfites that are added to many drinks during the production process and this had apparently lower than normal levels. It was a fresh natural taste but not as smooth as the Australian Shiraz on offer.
Many of these top-level restaurants source their ingredients locally and as ethically as possible. Restaurant Wino from the Kallio area of Helsinki provided me with another tartare to compare with the previous. This is where I discovered the clover and the salad ingredients that made the dish so tasty and balanced. Not too salty either. I complimented head chef Oona Bondestam who commented that the herbs and salads were sourced locally either from the forest or from a small farmer friend.
We also tried their signature dish of fresh vegetables and smoked potato foam. So good that it didn’t survive on the plate long.
Restaurant Ragu provided a super delicious wild strawberry ice cream and Fabrik restaurant a sumptuous Profiterole with coconut and raspberry.
A total of eight dishes tasted before we ran out of credit and time.
Before leaving we observed the Electrolux Chef’s Secrets pavilion, where chef Niko Suomalainen was leading 12 festival guests through his method of cooking Poached Egg with green gazpacho and whitefish ceviche. Each guest had a hob and a cook helper to try making the recipe with tips from the chef. Some looked successful and very pleased with their efforts. There are three different gourmet recipes to try at different times of the day and even if you can’t take part it was entertaining to watch.
Finally, the hot sunny day caused a thirst and we tried the 1664 Blanc at the Sinebrychoff bar. Kronenbourg 1664 is the most sold French beer worldwide and the Blanc is made from wheat instead of barley, a rather nice refreshing taste.
The Finnish Koff brewery, probably the oldest in the Nordic countries, is now part of the Carlsberg group. Apart from brewing local favorites such as Karhu beer in Helsinki, being part of a multi-national company brings benefits of being able to import other drinks from around the world. Kronenbourg in France is also part of the Carlsberg group.
The gourmet experience was very tasty and we were quite tempted to add more credit to our taste payment card. The festival may even stimulate the imagination of food lovers to try creating something fresh and different at home. The beautiful weather definitely made our day all the more enjoyable at the Taste of Helsinki Festival and the forecast for the capital looks promising over the weekend.
Taste of Helsinki is open for lunch and dinner on June 14-17 Thursday, Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sunday.
Thu June 14
Fri June 15
Sat June 16
Sun June 17
Note! Restaurants close at 22.00, bars open until 22.30
Taste of Helsinki is located in Töölönlahti park in Helsinki city centre. Access to the park is behind Finlandia Hall, which is a short walk from both the main train station and the bus station.