Taste of Helsinki 2013…

11 Jun

…is coming sooner than you think!

I missed the inaugural Taste last year. Bad timing and bad organisation. Not this year. We have tickets and I’ve been scouring the menu trying to create my ultimate night out. I think dessert will be ‘SALT-CARAMEL CAKE with pine fudge and rhubarb’ from Juuri, and starter is looking more and more like ‘ORGANIC BEEF CARPACCIO, beetroot aioli and juicy salad’ from Bistro O mat. Main course is causing me all sorts of difficulties – there are 12 really great options and while I can’t try them all, I think I should make a decision before I get there 🙂

So, what is Taste of Helsinki? I hear you ask. As per their own site it’s a gourmet food and beverage festival, a boutique picnic, a journey! Where else can you sample the best of Finnish Food and be entertained at the same time? Here is a really good guide to the Taste which as well as being informative, is also really easy to read!

As I type this, the clock is ticking. Only 1 day, 12 hours, 39 minutes and a few seconds to go! Actually for me it will be a little more as we will be heading to the dinner session on Thursday night. Either way, as I mentioned, it’s just around the corner!

The clock is still ticking

Now, if you are wondering why I insist on abbreviating the title to the Taste, well that stems from attending what is now called The Taste Festival in my home city of Hobart, Tasmania. It’s been running for 24 years already and is known just as the Taste. Old habits really do die hard.

In the meantime, I’ll be reporting back after I’ve enjoyed my own Taste of Helsinki!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

17 May

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be on the water and visiting one of Helsinki’s pearls: Kaunissaari (Beauty or Beautiful Island). It’s a very interesting island, almost in the open sea, one side covered with thick forest and the opposite side featuring wind-swept rocks. Although it’s not a big island, 2 km long and about 800 metres wide, it takes a good couple of hours to walk around and savour the nature. I took the camera along with the intent to capture any pattern that caught my eye: some are man-made, some courtesy of mother nature. Unfortunately the battery was empty before my walk was finished, so I had to fall back on plan B, my phone!

Pine-cone Starfish

Pine-cone Starfish

I didn’t get very far before sight this was on the ground in front of me. The longer I looked at it, the more convinced I was that it was starfish that had been pulled apart.

As we made our way along the path it was very quiet. The ‘summer’ season has just started and there weren’t so many people on the island. The guest harbour was emptying as everyone started heading back to their home port.

Birch Forest

Birch Forest

There is something very haunting about a birch forest that has no leaves. Although it won’t be long and this forest will have its green cover on.

Valkovuokko

Valkovuokko

The forest floor close to the path was covered with this lovely valkovuokko (wood anemone) and when I stooped over taking this particular picture a couple passing by made a comment joking that I should hurry as there weren’t many around 🙂

 The island has plenty of facilities for day visitors and campers alike. There’s a dog park, saunas to rent, a very cute little cafe, oversized board games and a meandering nature path. Before we got to the nature path there was something we had to take care of though! Coffee and pulla, the staples of Finnish social life.

Nautical Theme

Nautical Theme

Nothing says nautical quite like red, blue and sails. This was inside the cafe looking back to the large sheltering umbrella’s on the terrace. While I was fluffing around with the camera a customer came in to charge his phone. That’s one thing to remember, there’s no electricity service. Strictly candles, grills and generators.

Oversized Chess Pieces

Over-sized Chess Pieces

Remember the over-sized board games? You weren’t sure exactly what I meant were you? If chess is not your thing also on offer are darts, volley ball and the age-old favourite of chilling in a hammock with a good book!

Wood Stack Art

Wood Stack Art

There is an art to stacking wood. It takes an extra special talent to make your wood-stack look like… an Angry Bird perhaps!

Weathered wood

Weathered wood

If you are interested to visit Kaunissaari, you can catch a ferry from Vuosaari. The journey takes approximately one hour each way. Alternatively, if you have access to a boat of your own, head to the sheltered guest harbour at the end of the island.

I’ll leave you with this detail of a cabin up close.

By the way, please let me know what you think of the pictures all the way down the left and the text on the right. I thought I’d try something new and now it feels like it doesn’t quite work. I might just have to come back and do some editing later.

So if you want to see other entries from this week’s challenge, head over to here and follow the ping-backs!

The next Restaurant Day is just around the corner

14 May

and I will be hosting a restaurant! As I mentioned in my opening post of the year, the first restaurant day has already been. The 2nd restaurant day for 2013 (and the ninth overall) will be held this coming Saturday, May 18th. If you are unaware of Restaurant Day, please drop by the official site and read a little about the mechanics behind the restaurants.

Perry posing for Restaurant Day

Perry posing for Restaurant Day

I’ve been contemplating having my own restaurant for at least the last 12 months and having taken that leap of faith and decided to do it. My Dog on the Tuckerbox restaurant is going to cater to our four-legged friends and their two-legged companions. At the time of publishing there are well over 1200 restaurants taking part, and in the greater Helsinki region alone you will have the choice of over 400 to choose from!

You’ll find restaurants in parks, in shops, in courtyards, on beaches, on terraces… anywhere that there is a passing parade and hungry customers. My location is in a dog park situated just a little way from the city centre, close to where both the president and prime minister have their official residences and dog heaven. There’s a beach too which is always busy.

I hope you have a great time exploring Helsinki and finding a restaurant or three that you like! Name the cuisine, I’m quite sure you’ll be able to find someone serving it up! Be brave, try something new!

No doubt Perry will have a great time too 🙂

A Word A Week Challenge: Orange (Helsinki)

11 May

When I first read the challenge from A Word in Your Ear I thought I would post under my other, living in Finland blog. After all  orange and Helsinki is not exactly the first combination that springs to mind. I actually thought there is no possible way I can find orange. Then I was in the kitchen opening a packet of rice with my trusty kitchen scissors… the ones with bright orange handles! The next day I had to catch the bright orange metro to the market place with its, yes you guessed it…  bright orange tents. So I have spent the last week, camera or phone in hand capturing orange Helsinki. Or as they would say in Finnish: oranssi Helsinki.*

 

Now that I’ve seen my gallery in all it’s glory, some of my oranges are almost red or yellow 🙂 Have fun finding your own orange Helsinki!

If you want to see other posts dedicated to orange head over to A word in your ear and check out the other posts.

* Orange the colour and orange the fruit have two different words in Finnish. Appelsiini is the fruit, oranssi is the colour.

Some lessons learnt….

9 May

I ran a little competition last month. Luckily three answers arrived, so each contestant will receive a prize. I’ll be in touch with each of you soon. Thank you very much for taking part!

THINKING THINGS THROUGH
However, I didn’t really think things through properly.
Next time I start a competition I will promote it! Everywhere. Relying on the strength of the words ‘competition’ in these early days obviously is poor planning.
Next time I start a competition I will ask others to help promote it. There is a time when doing EVERYTHING yourself is right and there is time when you should admit that a little help goes a long way 🙂
Next time I start a competition I will promote the prizes as well. I’ve just realised that the prizes were mentioned only once. What’s more there were no pictures of them anywhere.
Next time I start a competition it will NOT coincide with the beginning of the end of the school year and more classes and assignments than the rest of the year put together.
Did I mention that next time I will promote it better?

THE NEXT COMPETITION
will be in June. In the meantime, have a look at this picture:

Cultural Sauna / Kulttuurisauna

Cultural Sauna / Kulttuurisauna

It’s the eagerly awaited, recently opened Kulttuurisauna (Cultural Sauna). While it is open, there is a dearth of good information about it (Finnish or English). Sauna Flow had a very nice post last year and World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 also had an interesting piece at the beginning of the project. I can tell you it is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and capacity is 40. I am very much looking forward to visiting and using the sauna for myself.

April 9 is Mikael Agricola’s Day & ‘Finnish Language Day’

9 Apr

Yes, it’s another flag day in Finland. April 9th is not just the anniversary of Mikael Agricola’s death; it is also when Finn’s celebrate Suomen kielen päivä. Now I know if you drag this text into your favourite translator it will give you an answer something like this: Finnish language day. That is a little misleading! Mikael Agricola is recognized as the father of written Finnish language.

Taken today 9.4.2013 *

Wikipedia has a quite nice page in English that discusses his achievements. By all accounts he was a gifted student, particularly when it came to languages.

If you visit the Mikael Agricola Foundation page there is a neat summary of his achievements under the Elämä page. There is some small confusion over his birth date, some references record it as 1507 while other texts rely on 1510 as his birth year. His sudden death in April of 1557 is now the date used to celebrate not just his life, but also his achievements in recording the Finnish language.

Even though he spent time studying in Germany, he was more than just a student of languages. He was a member of the clergy and was appointed as Bishop in Turku (back when Turku was the Finnish capital. He was a diplomatic as well, and his untimely death occurred on the return trip from a peacekeeping mission with Russia.

When Agricola’s first writings were published, there was no standard Finnish written text nor was the Bible readily available to the general population. Agricola solved this dilemma by publishing a primer and catechism as one and the same. I’ve done some digging, and if you’re interested in reading the very first Finnish language book ever published, check this out! While the spelling has evolved over time, if you say the words phonetically it’s definitely the same language I muddle along with everyday!

A listing of his works is available here, and there is a detailed listing of additional links here. Unfortunately the links are in Finnish only. I will keep hunting and try to add additional English information as and when I find it.

If you are looking around Helsinki for Mikael Agricola references, one of the most obvious choices would be the Mikael Agricola church situated a few blocks from the city centre. Did you know that there was a design competition and the selection committee were unhappy with the 56 designs submitted (too much ‘functionalism’) and so a second round was instigated with the brief to follow ‘traditional church forms’. The winning design by Lars Sonck was dedicated in 1935. You can find the church here:

Another address to check out could be Agricolankatu (Agricola’s street) in Kallio:

Last yet not least there stands a statue inside the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral:

Mikael_Agricola_-_Helsinki_Lutheran_Cathedral_-_DSC05388

Mikael Agricola in the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

* I love flag days! It’s wonderful to see flags flying from every building and in every yard. I can’t help myself, I just have to take a picture. This one was taken as I arrived for class this afternoon at Liiketalousopisto-Helmi.

Caption time!

2 Apr

Caption this photo:

I’m sure you can do better than: Somewhere in Helsinki!

My first competition of the year! Actually my first competition ever 😉

The rules are pretty simple: write a caption for this photo in the comments section below before 30th April 2013. *

Prizes & categories are:
most original: Design napkins & lid-support (Iittala);
most amusing: set of 5 vintage poster style postcards;
most accurate: futuristic Finnair playing cards

Need a hint? Ask me a yes/no question in the comments.

Thinking caps on! Your time starts NOW 🙂

* Fine print: comments received after April 30 2013 will be appreciated, just not in the running for one of the groovy prizes on offer. Judges decision is final. Bribery attempts will be acknowledged, they just won’t accept the final outcome 🙂