More Carnivals and few tips for Helsinki

Apparently my time in Helsinki was all about good people, cakes and other (gourmet) food! NB: This post includes links to recommended places in Helsinki, most of them are in Finnish. However, I bet you get the idea and I do recommend you to visit even though you don’t understand much of the interwebs info. Reality is so much better, anyways. And they do speak English.

If you ever go to Helsinki and you care about what you eat and drink, I highly recommend Johan & Nyström in Katajanokka. I have posted pictures before, this time around I went for some serious cake tasting. The place has a good selection on different raw cakes and pastries, and you can also get different kinds of quality coffees and teas. However, there are better places to get your caffeine fix: Caffi, Kaffa Roastery, Gruppo Coffee Lab just to name a few better than average places…Helsinki has much more brewing on than in Tampere, and I still have more places to check out!

After Eight (the winner), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström
After Eight (the winner of the tasting), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström

Last Thursday was The Night of the Arts in Helsinki, which included loads of cultural events around the city. Since I was busy with the Raw Food course, I couldn’t attend anything, I just had time to visit Teurastamo, an old slaughterhouse nowadays a culture space and a restaurant, which hosted a night market carnival event. Too bad Evira didn’t allow crickets to be served for some ridiculous reasons, such as not all species are edible (not all mushrooms are edible, but some are still eaten! Why are the Asians eating crickets and still alive?), I would have liked to try those. In stead, we had some delicious summer rolls from Rulla, and my dad enjoyed some frog legs as well. This was my first visit to Teurastamo area, which also hosts a solar-powered kitchen. Pretty cool atmosphere and area!

Carnival in a slaughterhouse
Carnival feeling
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse

I am back in Tampere now, but can’t wait to go back to Helsinki to try out few other places. I already had a terrific lunch for a fairly reasonable price (9,7€ for mediterranean appetizer buffet, main course and fruits+coffee) in Krog Madame, which besides the delicious food and good looking staff also has a nice patio. Another place with a nice atmosphere: Cafe Köket (the Swedish name is a bit misleading) near the big church. Nice service and good breakfast in Finnish designer environment.

Take your pick and move to the buffet table
Take your pick and move to the buffet table

Since I seem to have so many new favorites around town I might have to dedicate a separate post to them all. But while I’m at it (or not really), check out Costo, the coolest hats I know and own. I might have bought 2 new ones this past week.

Something was going on in Tampere this weekend and upcoming week: DesignOn Tampere and Design market.

Finnish hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff
Hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff from Finland

I love happenings!

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All About Art

Contemporary art at its' best
Contemporary art at its’ best

It seems like art events, such as gallery openings, exhibitions etc. come in groups of several concurrent happenings, at least here in Hong Kong. This week there is for example the first-ever Art Basel, among other bigger events. On Thursday I visited the luxurious J.W Marriott, which is hosting the Asia Contemporary Art Show. It was quite interesting to wander around 4 floors of a top class hotel, go to all the different rooms and see paintings in the toilets.

Creativity in the bathroom
Creativity in the bathroom

I may not be an expert, but to me this contemporary art exhibition was innovative and filled with inspiring pieces of art. The exhibition consists of over 2000 artworks from 300 artists around the world. It was great to be able to speak to a few of them! The exhibition runs for 4 days, and with my ticket I can still go back to wander – or just go sit in the lounge of the 30th floor and watch outside to the bustling city.

Art with a view
Art with a view

Like I mentioned, there’s always more than one thing happening. Besides the Contemporary Art, this Tuesday I ventured 3 different gallery openings, one of which was completely by an accident. Quite many people seem to enjoy watching paintings and sculptures while sipping on free wine; wonder why…

Taking pictures of artsy Ronald McDonald
Taking pictures of Ronald McDonalds

Since we are in Asia, everyone is usually snapping photos like it’s the end of the world. What comes to the wine, I am not sure if that’s the main attraction for the expats to show up. Besides the actual art, I always enjoy watching what kind of crowd the different openings attract.

Potraits of Chinese children in different colors
Potraits of Chinese children in different colors

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This will not be all of the art for me this week; on Saturday there is Chai Wan Mei, art and design open studios in Chai Wan area. Culture-overdose in sight!

Monthiversary

It’s been a month and a day since I came to Hong Kong. Time flies, though on one hand it seems like much more than just a month that I’ve been here. Besides work, lately my life has been filled with the following.

Nice views from the tram
Nice views from the tram

I took my first tram ride as well as the ferry to Kowloon last week!

Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order) after paying the rent
Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order)

Gluttony in sushi buffet after paying the rent. You never know if you’ll order will come or not – they might bring 6 oysters even if you didn’t order anything after the 12 ice creams they brought…

Red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets
Divine red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets

I can never get enough of the New York vibe in East Island Markets and it’s small, often local producers.

Michelin-worthy dining
Michelin-worthy dining

Hanging out with friends; we went to a Michelin renowned dumpling place, where we got to sit in the back room next to bags of who-knows-what. Not bad for 2€ meal, but definitely not worth the Michelin.

Canapés at Libertine
Canapés at Libertine

Foodie club’s event as well as a gallery opening for Adidas – more of that lovely New York atmosphere for me!

People who have eaten or have diarrhea should not go swimming
People who have eaten or have diarrhoea should not go swimming

Yeah, I have done other things than just eat! I went to test the swimming hall, and it surely was an experience! if Chinese people are on your way when walking, they tend to have the same chaos in the water, too. And even at 8 am, the pool has more people than a Finnish pool has in a whole day!

And the happiness continues tomorrow, when I get to see my mom for the first time in over half a year! And I get to spend over a week on the other side in Kowloon, in a hotel! And I don’t have to cook! And I get to go to the gym! And I can finally do all the tourist stuff there is! So much exclamation points that I’ll start getting embarrassed!

Setsubun

Setsubun is a traditional Japanese festival for the change of seasons, celebrated on the 3rd of February, one day before Springtime. Like any other decent celebration in Japan, setsubun includes customs, traditions, special foods and rituals to bring good fortune, health and a better future. The rituals are then mixed to suit everyone’s taste. I did a whole bunch of traditions on my last whole day in Japan, plus an extra something: walking on burning coal!

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Setsubun includes mamemaki, throwing soybeans in order to ward off evil spirits. Beans are sold in stores as well as festival stalls. Some shrines have mamemaki events, where priests throw beans to people while yelling “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (demons out, luck in!). I participated in mamemaki in Nara, where I visited on setsubun. Sake was served, and the spirit for good fortune was all around.

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Amulets and charms are burnt in bonfires to bring luck. I got to participate in the big bonfire burning in Yoshida shrine, Kyoto. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that; Let’s just say it was about 10 times the size of Finnish midsummer fires. The festival stalls in Yoshida shrine were definitely great to experience before leaving Japan.
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It is customary in Kansai area to eat uncut makizushi called eho-maki (恵方巻) (lit. “lucky direction roll”) in silence on Setsubun while facing the year’s lucky compass direction (this year South-East), determined by the zodiac symbol of that year. My eho maki was sitting in a shrine, overlooking Nara.

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with all these evil-repelling activities (and at least a kilo of beans I ate), my Hong Kong time ought to be lucky!

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Mother of all Mochi

I could make an entirely new blog for mochi, it seems like I have so much to say about it. Maybe this will be my last post about the rice cake, however I cannot promise anything.

As a break from recapping my winter holiday trips, I wanted to share the real, old school mochi making experience I finally got to experience – after so many tryouts and different variations of mochi!

Old-fashion mochi making
Old-fashion mochi making

Traditionally mochitsuki (mochi making) is New Years’ event. The mochigome (glutinous rice) is pounded with kine (wooden mallet) in usu (mortar made of stone). I got to try the pounding today, oh man it was fun! Not to mention the taste of the fruit of my labor…way better than any of the other mochi methods or variations I’ve tried before.

Sides and toppings for mochi: shoyu (soy sauce), kinako (soy bean powder) and daikon with sauce
Sides and toppings for mochi: shoyu (soy sauce), kinako (soy bean powder) and daikon with sauce

As my friend was trying to get rid of her soon-to-expire mochi, I started thinking of different ways to use the cakes. I have earlier mentioned about the usage of mochi. Apparently it is ok to fill mochi with anko (bean paste), kabocha (squash) or satsumaimo (sweet potato). However, it is considered odd to fill it with chocolate. Well, that didn’t stop me – and the Western friend, who usually doesn’t appreciate the bland chewiness of mochi, was rather pleased with the result! Fusion cooking at its’ best. I have not yet found a mochi that I actually like, but the interesting mochi journey continues…

Home-pound kinakomochi in a cup
Home-pound kinakomochi in a cup

Due to its’ sticky consistency, every year there are a number of unfortunate chocking deaths. Funny enough, since mochi represents several generations. This years’ number of casualties was 14. So, if you ever get to eat mochi, remember to chew!

Ichigo dango (strawberry mochi) in Tokiwa
Ichigo dango (strawberry mochi) in Tokiwa dept.store