Good Life

Once again, long(ish) time, no post – sorry about that. After the Chinese New Year (which kept the banks and such closed up until Valentine’s Day!) I have been as busy as always with work and wandering around. This week I had divine home-made raw chocolate at the office, strong happy hour margaritas in our neighborhood, and Chinese style “laskiaispulla” (shrove bun).

Another day at the office
Valentine’s day (and chocolate week) at the office

I visited Andy Warhol exhibition in the Museum of Art. Ridiculously cheap (less than 2€!), and 2 hour tour. What I learned: Warhol had 25 cats, all of them named Sam. Talk about equality!

When taken out of it's context, anything can be art
When taken out of it’s context, anything can be art

Today I got a flashback of the New York atmosphere I have been missing: East Island Market.

(Pretty much) everything hand-made, organic and more or less fresh!
(Pretty much) everything hand-made, organic and more or less fresh!

Nice, quiet area with live music, young entrepreneurs and happy people, what a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Something natural in the concrete jungle
Something natural in the concrete jungle

I know what I will do on lazy Sundays after this. The good thing is, that I can walk home via a mountain road. A bit of exercise to balance out the treats!

Made to order, fresh and familiar. No chopsticks needed!
Made to order, fresh and familiar. No chopsticks needed!

Gong hey fat choy – Chinese New Year

This year I am lucky to have experienced New Year’s celebrations twice – both of them completely different than anything I’ve experienced before! In Japan I missed the annual fireworks, but today my “loss” was made up in the Hong Kong’s Chinese New Years fireworks spectacle. Yesterday I, along with probably few million others, got to witness the New Year’s parade, and the day before that I was smushed in the crowds in Victoria Park’s market.

Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park
Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park

The Victoria Park (flower) market resembled the Finnish Vappu (mayday) market quite a lot, except that here you couldn’t really see any of the stalls since there was so many people. The flowers and fruit trees were beautiful, but pretty much everything else on sale was carnival crap. I am glad to have stumbled upon the market on my morning “jog” (which turned to walking and eating in the market area).

The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit
The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit

The Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui was rather popular, to say the least. We were there few hours early, and the streets were already packed. I have to say, that the parade was a slight disappointment, specially after such a long wait. It was interesting, and definitely worth it, but not that “Chinese” since half of the groups were from somewhere else.

Hong Kong Disneyland partying
Hong Kong Disneyland partying

The parade had some interesting costumes and talented performances, so it was nice to see. However, the subway ride afterwards was a “bit” hectic and cramped. It is funny how much I have been in crowds these past few days, although most of the shops and restaurants have been closed and the streets have seemed almost deserted. Almost!

Blasting in the air for 30 mins
Blasting in the air for 30 mins

Today’s fireworks were spectacular, and definitely made up for the ones I missed on our new year. I am not that familiar with the Chinese traditional customs, but I doubt Gagnam style as background music for fireworks has not been that common for celebrations. I wish I knew half as much about the Chinese New Year’s traditions as I know about the Japanese oshougatsu, but this weekend was interesting as it was, everyone was happy and festive and we got an extra day off! Looking forward to the next festival, which seems to be in few weeks!

Spicy Korean life

Korea is known for its’ spicy food, specially kimchi. I think in most of the restaurants you get a free side of kimchi with your meal, which usually is not that expensive to begin with.

Side dishes to hotpot

The meal is a social event, where it is not uncommon to share, grill food together or to eat from the same small plates. Usually food is eaten with metallic chopsticks and a spoon. Scissors are used to cut meat and other food into pieces before serving.

Korean bar food: various fried stuff such as fish paste cakes, washed down with soju and magkeolli


Koreans eat a lot of meat. And by a lot, I mean a lot. However, it is possible to find non-meaty foods as well. There are numerous Korean barbecue restaurants, since meat is cheap and apparently rather good quality, too. And when Koreans go drinking, unlike in Finland, they order food as well. Healthy? Could be, if the food wasn’t all (deep)fried.

The bar food is similar, if not the same to the food that can be bought on the streets.

Tokbokki, fish paste and meat skewers and savoury pancake

There are food vendors and stalls in almost every street, and oddly enough most of them seem to sell the same stuff: rice cake stew tokbokki, skewers with fish paste&rice cakes and/or meat, savory pancakes, fried dumplings and the “sushi” rolls.  Generous amount of oil is used for everything, and most are probably rather spicy, too.

“street cooked” dinner, washed down with magkeolli (white fermented rice alcohol)

The “restaurant” stalls are also located in the various markets of Seoul, and in some streets and parks.

Market food
Market food

When a sweet craving hits, not to worry! On the streets, you can easily find the solution.

Fried “fish”cakes with sweet chocolate or bean filling

No pictures of the most famous sweet treat: hotteok pancake.

I wanted to end this post with the Korean equivalent of the Japanese “ittadakimasu” which can be translated to “bon appétit”. Unfortunately I have no clue how Koreans begin their meals.


From land to table

Tampere dialect, since Penttilä farm is near

Local food has become more and more popular in Finland, which of course is a good thing. Even though the two big store chains, S and K still rule the markets, the selections for local produce and bakery products have expanded with the increased demand.

This weekend one of my favorite places in Tampere, the market hall, hosted a local food event.

The haystack in front of the entrance apparently symbolises the origins of the food

There was bread and local cheese samples and the Ahlman farm gave out leaflets about local food.

Chantarelles, berries, and other local treats

There was also a local food event in Laukontori, where the fish market is held. In addition to the two veggie stalls that daily inhabit the market square, there was various different stallholders, selling delicacies ranging from organic vegetables to smoked fish, pastries and chili condiments. Not quite the greenmarkets in New York, but our little Finnish version of it.

Rye bread, made with a rye starter in stead of yeast

It seems bizarre that usually the closer the food is produced, the more expensive it is. Polish apples are one third of the price of the local apples, the fish from the lakes around Tampere are four-, even five times more expensive than the fish imported from Vietnam, the mushrooms from Estonia are cheaper than the mushroom from here – even though you could get them for free in the forests, if you knew where to go (and which ones to pick).

Martat, the traditional power ladies, gave information about different mushrooms

The event, called “from land to table”, is still going on tomorrow in the market hall. It’s good that more people get familiar with the products that come from our own turf…or surf.

What’s a farm event without animals in small cages and kids pestering them?

Jesus did…what today?

I cannot remember what happened few thousand years ago that made this day so special. This year ascension day is special in Tampere for other than religious reasons.

People queuing for French baguette (à 2€) in the European Food Market

Yesterday there was the opening day of European food market in Tampere, which sells French and Italian delicacies such as baguettes (which caused people to get violent in queues last summer in the French food market in Keskustori).

Baguette fresh from the oven
Foie gras with ducks
Mustard in three languages
Dried fruit get expensive when sold outdoors
Different sorts of fudge

In addition to all these and few other treats, the market sells soap, handicrafts and such. There are also few local restaurants, terraces and entrepreneurs.

Potato chips made en place
Ice hockey screen, ready for the finals

Today there was also an event called Market of Possibilities in Väinö Linna square. These markets are events where NGOs present the public with their activities, distribute information, and offer visitors new experiences. Together with the Market of Possibilities was the Social Forum of Tampere.

Not your typical Finnish sweets