Oh Helsinki, you sure know how to put on a food festival, never mind the weather.
|The Senate Square was the perfect location for nearly 40 food trucks.
|This delicious pulled pork sandwich on potato bread was courtesy of Kellohalli restaurant at Teurastamo.
|The weather at the beginning of the week was so promising: warm, calm, clear.
My head is so full of new food ideas, memories of new flavors, thoughts leading back to a week full of inspiring discussions around food – in particular, Street Food.
Streat Helsinki – celebrating Street Food from all over the world, all week long – has just ended.
Thanks to Timo Santala and the entire team for a truly enjoyable heart-warming and belly-filling event! I have so much to think about, so many new ideas to process, so many new recipes brewing inside my mind. I’m looking forward to the continued discussion this year, and to the return of Streat Festival in 12 months.
|Chanterelle Bacon Burger from Kantarellkungen, Stockholm, Sweden (Sunday’s fare)
The week kicked off for me on Monday evening at Kellohalli in Teurastamo (the site of the old meat factories in Helsinki; now the home of several really great, new restaurants) with discussions around the possibilities for street food in Helsinki, regulations, and what street food can, should, and will look like. Certainly there are obvious challenges in Helsinki given the fact that this place is chilly 7 months out of the year, but if we can pull of a successful Streat Festival in the freezing cold winds at the end of March, I have no doubt these ambitious and resourceful people can work further miracles.
|This food truck made me smile.
Tuesday we enjoyed a presentation giving by a couple of entrepreneurial women who are pushing the envelope on street food in Berlin: Kavita Melu as the organizer of a new, modern street food concept in at Markthalle Neun in Berlin; and Susan Choi, an entrepreneur driving a successful food business under the memorable name of Mr. Susan. Lots of great ideas there – and I’m feeling the urge to book a flight to Berlin to eat my way through the available options: hand-pulled ramen noodles in particular seem like a must-have in the near future!
|How good does that look? Time for a trip to Berlin…
On Wednesday evening we enjoyed the brilliance of Sami Tallberg and his brave, bold treatment of local and seasonal ingredients: from red cabbage marinated in a fennel seed & mustard vinaigrette topped with dill, to roasted celery root delivered under two sauces: a brown sauce with smoked pike roe and toasted sunflower seeds and a brown sauce served with dried buttermilk and a few other delicious ingredients which I forgot as soon as I started eating because the flavors were so incredible. Thank you, Sami, for showing us what is possible with the ingredients in our own back yard! That panna cotta with local berry, rose petals and bee pollen was so memorable, I can almost taste it now, as I type.
|Sami (left) and team creating the first sampling. Love his enthusiasm!
|This dessert was amazing – this was taken before the final touch of bee pollen.
Thursday brought San Francisco to our doorstep as Geetika Agrawal from La Cocina, the incubator for food companies and organizers of a local street food festival came and talked to us about how they are enabling women entrepreneurs in particular to create a food business and support their families at the same time by providing the commercial kitchen spaces required for production; the financing required to get a business up and running; and the coaching that helps the entrepreneurs to create a viable business. I have great respect for this new kind of impact investing through food entrepreneurship, and I am still dreaming of attending their street festival to enjoy the fruits of their labors myself. Very, very impressive.
|Slide from presentation; La Cocina Food Incubator, San Francisco
Friday and Saturday were full of other things that life brought our way, but on Sunday we joined the fun in the center with 67 food trucks around the Havis Amanda statue and in the Senate Square to taste the food on offer. We started with a delicious Chanterelle Bacon Burger brought all the way from Stockholm by Kantarellkungen.
|dining at Morton’s
|Ham, Sauerkraut and quick dill pickles from Morton Restaurant (Sunday)
continued with a slice of ham and homemade sauerkraut from Morton Restaurant Helsinki, and then we topped off the lunch time meat fest with Beef Goulash cooked for hours and hours in an old German war-time wood-fired soup vat and served in a bread bowl.
|Beef Goulash served in a crispy bread bowl – one of my favorite foods all week!
|The lean, mean, goulash cooking machine
Bellies full and fingers freezing, we did the only logical thing and wandered off to find ourselves a good cup of coffee. Kunst Coffee from Russia really delivered with a sampling of their cool, refreshing and bubbly Kunst Soda coffee made with Ethiopia Deri Kochoa, Guji Sidamo, Li Czhi from China, honey from Udmurtia and harvested near Sarapul and a few drops of lemon juice. After savoring that for a few minutes, we followed the suggestion of the smiling ladies at the stand and sampled the lemon cream hot coffee – a truly surprising, special, belly-warming beverage. I’d like to have another one today…and tomorrow…and frequently thereafter. These two are doing things truly unique with coffee – a welcome change off the standard lattes, espressos and pour-overs. Well done!
|The brains and talent behind Kunst Coffee; that tall bottle holds the secret sauce: lemon cream.
We wrapped up the day with a Spanish hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and then scurried on home to escape the freezing winds, fully content. As I said, I am already looking forward to next year!
So put this on your calendars: Third week in March, 2016, Helsinki, for the Streat Festival. You don’t want to miss it again. If you want to follow what’s happening in the food scene in Helsinki in general, follow the Facebook page, Lisää ruokakultuuria Helsinkiin, mostly in Finnish.
Here’s what I’m hoping for next year:
- warmer weather (one can always hope!)
- more vegetarian & healthy options (meat was really nearly everywhere)
- more dessert trucks (Brooklyn Cafe held their own, here)