Restaurant Day Asian Raw Bar

Good people, good food and good vibes
Good people, good food and good vibes

Approx. 24hrs of work, but totally and beyond worth it: this Restaurant Day most likely blew away many of those who are sceptic towards raw foods, but also was something special to those already dedicated to the subject.

Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!
Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!

The mouth-watering super-delicious [insert other phrase words here] menu was the following:

Pad Thai Asian noodle salad with crunchy almonds
Spring rolls with almond dipping sauce
Chinese beetroot dumplings with chili plum sauce

Blueberry crumble pie with fresh coconut vanilla sauce
Blueberry chocolate cheesecake

Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen
Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen

 

I think everyone left the place happy and satisfied. We had time to tour around other places after wrapping up our pop-up restaurant. There was a lot of entrepreneurship going on in different parks in Helsinki, and apparently the offerings were very versatile (437 restaurants!). We were treated to a free shot of tequila and pureed cranberry juice served on a block of wood, and we also popped by a paleo cafe, but unfortunately I was too full to try their cookies or sandwich. I don’t know which is more fun: to organize a restaurant or to visit several places and sample different things. If the menu is as good as ours, I think I prefer to be in the kitchen!
 

Nuff said.
Nuff said.

 
This week I’ll stay in Helsinki for Borisraw food courses, where I’ll be assisting. Despite the pouring rain, this is going to be a good week!

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Upcoming: Restaurant Day vol. 10

Restaurant Day “food carnival, where anyone can start a restaurant”, started in Finland on May 21st, 2011, when there was 45 pop-up restaurants in 13 cities. On the 8th Restaurant Day on May 18th, 2013, there was 1701 restaurants in over 200 cities in 30 countries. Not bad for a guerrilla activity that defies the laws and hygiene regulations. Over 45 countries in total have had these pop-up restaurants, cafes or something alike where people sell home-made dishes, treats and drinks. The event has won several prizes in different countries, no wonder why! So far there has been restaurants serving food in backyards, parks, from apartment windows to a yurt!

Porridge and Chaga in Puu-Vallila, 19.11.2011, photo by Heidi Uutela

Porridge and Chaga in Puu-Vallila, 19.11.2011, photo by Heidi Uutela

I have participated in Restaurant Day twice, but then I left the country and missed few of the most recent ones. I have been a huge fan and intrigued by the concept and idea of sharing something that you’ve made with effort and love.

This time, it will be something more than just baking few cupcakes: Raw Food chef/guru Boris Lauser has come from Berlin to serve delicious Asian gourmet dishes at Raaka baari. We started preparing today, and will continue tomorrow and Sunday morning. If I said I was pretty stoked, that’d be an understatement. So far, we’ve made chocolate blueberry cheesecake, dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings, marinade for dehydrated almonds that will be used for pad thai. I had an idea of making a berry crumble pie, and Boris got exited – so I came up with a recipe for that. If it becomes a success, maybe after the restaurant day I’ll post it here! The menu will also include spring rolls, in addition to the dumplings and pad thai. In addition to sushi, those are my favorite Asian dishes! This weekend I’ll be cooking up a storm, smelling and tasting amazing flavors, and learning a lot while enjoying the raw cuisine…and hopefully I’ll get to enjoy the Restaurant Day, too! There will be over 400 restaurants in Helsinki alone.

Marbling the cacao blueberry cheesecake
Marbling the cacao blueberry cheesecake

Yum-mee. Next week: Boris’ raw food courses. Have you heard of/been to any Restaurant Days? Would you consider organizing something?

Upgrade Your Day: Chocolate cereal

Many people swear by starting their day with oatmeal, if not for its’ divine taste, then because of the various nutritional benefits it provides. I have got my share of porridge/oatmeal already in my childhood, where although not every day, I ate a lot of it. Always made with water and never with milk, eaten with a blop of butter in the middle and sugar sprinkled all over, or then with frozen berries, berry soup or cinnamon and apple. I could consider eating overnight oats or porridge made with other grains than oats, but I’d rather start my engines with something else.

Elovena, the image of Finland
Elovena, the image of Finland

Enter the fast, easy and cheap savior of all moms, common enemy of health freaks, the industry with plastic by-gifts and endless, more or less ridiculous and misleading health-claims: cereals, muesli, granolas and all the other sugar, fat and other additive-ladden grain products! I have to admit, I was once a junkie of the Coco Pops, Frosties and Honey O’s (the last eaten plain, without milk), then “upgraded” to the “whole grain family” of Special K, Fitness and mueslis. After realizing what crap I was eating, how un-nourishing and addictive it was, I started feeding my cravings with better stuff, i.e self-made granola. Success! The only downside with making my own batch of granola, no matter how healthy it may be, is that I have never been really good at portion control. Uh-oh.

With all this interesting history to my habits (listen to the coco pops pop, drink the chocolate milk and complain to my brother for wasting his milk), I present you an alternative to your morning routines and everyday-oats, in case you ever get sick of it. I am sure there are thousands of variations how to eat it, but stepping out of the box and into another bowl is sometimes in place. So, here goes:

Ultimate (raw) Choco Pop Cereal

– Cacao mass
– Raw honey, agave syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
– Coconut oil
– Quinoa/amaranth/buckwheat pops or sprouted and dehydrated “buckwheaties”, if you’re super DIY
– Milk of choice (optional)
– Spices if desired, i.e vanilla
– Cocoa nibs, if you’re feeling indulgent or it’s the weekend!

IMG_9086

Melt the cacao mass in a water bath, and add desired amount of sweetener and a tad of coconut oil. Adjust the sweetness according to taste. If you want honey cereal, just skip the cacao! Stir in the cereal. If you want to make “rice krispie treats”, increase the amount of coconut oil, and add so much pops that the mixture becomes sticky. For regular cereal, you’ll know the right amounts when it looks like something you’ve seen in your childhood, yet less processed. Put to your breakfast bowl, top it off with desired milk (or eat plain), and go down the memory lane. It may not come with a toy and pop like rice krispies, but it’s still way better!

If you are a coffee drinker, I suggest swapping your regular bulk brew to at least an organic variety. You’ll taste -and know- the difference. If I ever get addicted to coffee and start drinking it at home, I will definitely get an aeropress.

Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström
Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström

If you are wondering where to get the amazing substitute cereal for rice pops and nutrition-stripped (GMO) cornflakes, you should be able to find amaranth/quinoa pops in health stores. In Finland, Stockmann Helsinki has a variety of different supergrain pops in the bulk section, and they’re way cheaper than anywhere else! I made a mixture of different pseudograins, and it definitely does the trick. Gluten-free, protein-packed and delicious!

How do you start your day? Do you have any childhood favorites?

Lately

Bakery went to make sand cakes
Bakery went to make sand cakes

Somehow recently I have had other things in mind than posting here.

Coffee and hand-made raw treats in Johan&Nyström
Coffee and hand-made raw treats in Johan&Nyström

I visited Helsinki and spent some quality time with some quality friends

Essence of summer and Finnish design
Essence of summer and Finnish design

Besides Helsinki, I went to Kuopio and to our summer cottage, visited relatives and celebrated my cousin’s confirmation. Other than that, I’ve been pretty happily occupied with sweets.

Raw protein bars with and without chocolate frosting, banana chocolate cake and other raw treats
Raw protein bars with and without chocolate frosting, banana chocolate cake and other raw treats

Succeeding in “baking” and making people smile when they taste my creations is incredibly rewarding! Recently I have also enjoyed exercising (kettlebell, wohoo!) and berry picking. I keep on finding new spots with raspberries, yay! Still no blueberries in the freezer for the winter, though…

In the near future I will be in Helsinki, working in Flow Festival. After that, my future is pretty blank. There is an itch to move, but I am not sure about the destination. Any suggestions?

Smart cider
Smart cider

Simply happy

Sometimes the special things in life make it, well, special. In most occasions, the small things and everyday luxury make me wake up every morning with a big smile on my face. Maybe it’s because I’ve been away for so long, and the city seems to offer old and new people and new flavors to savor day after day, but I am now more happy than I could have imagined! Sometimes I do have to push away the itch in the back of my head that makes me wonder and worry about my next destination, since I do have to admit that the image of Finland in October is not tempting at all, more the opposite.

But, living in the moment and enjoying right now, instead of worrying about the future:

2 am
2 am, I am home

It is never dark. The nature is at its’ best, and it is pretty gorgeous. Except when it’s raining like hell, like yesterday and most of today.

Armas cafe, near produced food in Tampere market hall
Armas cafe, near produced food in Tampere market hall

Seeing old friends and talking for hours in a nice environment. The market hall is definitely one of my favorite places in (any) city.

(Raw) chocolate, probably 2kg of it. OD, anyone?
(Raw) chocolate, probably 2kg of it. OD, anyone?

Damn Good (Nutrient Dense Super) Food. I have been pigging on a daily basis and eating my way towards bigger jeans ever since coming back. I guess there’s worse things to indulge in than antioxidant-rich Food of the Gods (aka cacao) and berries and nuts, just to name a few of my current staples, but I have to admit that together with increased snacking and general food consumption, my activity level has decreased significantly since leaving HK. Trying to find the balance with all the treats within my grasp and the lazyass lifestyle that my dog is teaching me is not that easy!

Life juice, some shrooms and new great friends
Life juice, some shrooms and new great friends

I have never tried sprouts in a juice, or used a juicer before now. I prefer to eat my vegetables, but I do have a thing for dehydrated crackers using the leftover pulp from juices. The shrooms here are slightly different than those I used in Asia, but there are some similarities, too. 😛 And the new friends are the best part of it all!

Other good things right now: The pink kettlebell I bought, the trimmed appearance of my dog, the job (in Finnish only, but ahh the food porn), the view from our balcony, July’s activities, upcoming strawberry picking season(!!), and the list continues.

 

Every morning, day and evening I get to look at this
Every morning, day and evening I get to look at this