A Little Bite of Finland

Remember that Finnish cheese I told you about, Juustoleipä? I snacked on it every day while I was there and I knew I’d miss it once I got back home. Of course, this is New York City, a place where you can find pretty much anything, and this is the age of Google.

I turns out there’s a company out of Wisconsin that makes Finnish style “Bread Cheese.” So last weekend I paid a visit to New York City’s Mecca of cheese, Murrays, to pick some up.

Tytti, my Finnish colleague, had mentioned the cheese to me before my trip, which was what prompted me to try it. It’s common in Finland to eat this cheese warmed with some kind of fruit preserve so Tytti had recently made my recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Sauce to pair with Juustoleipä. Of course now that I had the cheese in my own kitchen I had to try it!

The cheese itself was wonderful with that same great texture I’d come to love, but I’d say the flavor was slightly milder. This may be all in my head because nothing ever tastes as good as when you’re on vacation or it may be because in Finland Juustoleipä is often made with Reindeer milk and obviously it’s American counterpart is made with Cow’s milk. The Bread Cheese definitely sated my cravings thought and I’d definitely buy it again.

Once I heated it in a pan for a couple of minutes and paired it with the sauce though, it really elevated the whole thing. I loved home the tartness of the sauce cut through the creaminess of the cheese and the basil I’d torn on top added a certain freshness. Delish!

Apparently Bread Cheese is made by a few companies in the US, some of whom call it Juusto, and it’s not all that difficult to find. If you see some near you I’d highly recommend picking some up and giving it a taste.

Helsinki: Day 4

Well tomorrow morning I say goodbye to Helsinki. This is one cool city and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Believe it or not I did do a lot more than just eat, but this is a food blog so that’s what I took time to talk about. Maybe when I get home and have time to concentrate I’ll post non-food pictures.

One of the nicest food related places I visited was Eat & Joy market which carries local organic foods in their 3 locations in Helsinki.




The food I’ll miss most when I leave will most certainly be Juustoleipä, bread cheese, which I snacked on every day that I was here. It has a similar texture to Halloumi in that it squeaks on the teeth and, though I wasn’t able to try it warmed, it’s often served heated as like Halloumi it doesn’t melt. Unlike Halloumi it has a sort of creaminess to it reminiscent of fresh mozzarella and it’s not salty, but instead a bit sweet. Also because it’s baked it has these little charred bits that add a whole other layer of flavor.


Finally today I took a ride on the Spårakoff, the pub tram. It’s literally a one car tram that’s been converted into a mobile bar so you ride in a loop around Helsinki taking in the city sights while drinking a nice cold beer. Definitely a great idea.



Helsinki is an incredibly cool city and I’ll definitely miss it when I leave. Kiitos Helsinki!


Helsinki: Day 3

A Finnish colleague at work, Tytti (Toot-tee) who is currently based out of Sweden, asked me if I’d like her to try and find some Finnish company for me one night in Helsinki. Of course I said yes as one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to meet locals. So tonight I met up with Tytti’s friend Juha (Yoo-ha) a fellow foodie who works in the restaurant industry. Juha made wonderful company and he took me to for a fantastic dinner at Kuurna restaurant which serves traditional Finnish food with a modern twist.

Both the food and company were great! Generally when I travel I can be very nervous about my food allergies, but Juha had called ahead to let them know and at the start of the meal the owner came out to talk to us and was clearly well equipped to handle my needs.

If you ever travel to Helsinki add Kuurna to your to do list.

Spinach “crepes” with black currant vinaigrette. Creamy on the inside, crispy in the outside with a slight tartness from the currants.


Oven baked white fish with salsa verde. Wow! The fish had a sort of smokey flavor and was just so fresh. All the vegetables tasted like summer and sunshine.


Dessert. O!M!G! Strawberry milkshake. I’m not generally a fan of milkshakes in the US because I think they’re usually way too think and cloyingly sweet. This, however, was my perfect dessert. You know that strawberries are my favorite food on the planet and this dessert was all about highlighting the flavor. The “milkshake” was smooth and creamy without being too thick. I could eat (ok drink) this dessert every day of my life!


Helsinki: Day 2

Run Run Rudolph! You can’t be in Finland and not try Reindeer meat…


I spent some time in Market Square before heading by boat over to Suomenlinna Island. The square is filled with farm stands and outdoor stalls selling fresh cooked fish and potatoes. It smelled delicious and I was sorry I’d already eaten.




The day was capped off with a house beer at the Suomenlinna Island Brewery.


Helsinki: Day One

So I totally forgot to take a Copenhagen: Day 5 photo which is a shame because I had a Danish hot dog for lunch which is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m there. If you’re ever in Copenhagen make sure to buy one from any of the carts that dot the streets.

On to Finland. Look how fresh and beautiful the food in the department store, Stockmann, is. Oh how I wish we has this tradition in department stores in the US.



Beautiful fresh berries sold on the street.


F is for… Finland; Salmon Soup For the Soul


Finnish flag

It looks like I might be travelling to Finland this summer. I’m really excited about that, but I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t like talking about things before they’re official. The Finns love Hockey and I’m in full on Hockey fever right now (go Rangers!), but I’m way too paranoid of a sports fan to talk too much about it when we’re tied 2-1 in the series so I don’t really want to talk about that either.

Instead I’ll talk about licorice!

I looove licorice. No not those waxy, red, articfial straw shaped things; I mean real licorice or as we Americans call it, usually with disdain, black licorice. I have never understood why it gets such a bad wrap in the States because I love it. I come from a licorice loving family, maybe because my Grandparents are European, and we always fought to see who could get to the black jelly beans fastest.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Northern Europe, having lived in Denmark, and have often joked with my friends there that if I ever visit Helsinki I expect to find the streets paved with candy. Every time I pick up a package of non-chocolate candy anywhere in Europe it seems to be made in Finland which leads me to believe that these people love their candy. Lucky for me all of the strongest and best licorice also seems to come from Finland. Yum! While I love to travel I’m not much of a souvenir hunter due to my general aversion to having “lots of stuff,” but I know that if I make it to Finland this summer I will be returning with bags full of the best licorice I can find (and extra for my Grandma of course!). It may not last as long as some souvenirs, but I’ll smile every time I eat a piece.

In preparation for this possible trip to Finland, it only made sense to visit there, culinarily speaking, for my “F” recipe. Last night I whipped up some Lohikeitto, Finnish Salmon Soup. I only made two real changes from the majority of recipes I saw in my research. First, most recipes just called for water while very few called for fish stock. I’m a big believer in getting as much flavor in things as you can, but, since salmon is a fairly fishy fish, was afraid the fish stock might be too much so I used vegetable stock. The second change was that I didn’t peel the potatoes. I refuse to ever peel small potatoes for any recipe unless it’s absolutely necessary. Not only is it less work, the skins of potatoes have tons of nutrients so you’re getting more health benefits too.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks; sliced and thouroughly rinsed
  • 32oz low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaves
  • 1lb small new potatoes cut in to halves or quarters depending on size
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1lb salmon; skin off, cubed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lots of fresh dill

Heat olive oil in large pot. Add leeks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Bring pot to a medium simmer until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Add allspice and salmon and simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat to low and gently stir in cream and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle dill to taste on top.

It ain’t no licorice


 This soup was fine, but nothing special. I admit that I’m pretty neutral about salmon itself. I’ve never really understood it’s popularity, especially among people who don’t eat any other fish. The texture is nice and firm, but the flavor if fairly strong. The soup could’ve used more pepper, but I really don’t think there’s any way to make this dish any more exciting.

Maybe this summer I’ll meet a Finnish chef wh0 will teach me the culinary secrets of the Finns, but until then I don’t think I’ll be making this soup again. Either way I think my trip will be way more exciting than this dish.

Extreme close up

Hyvää Ruokahalua!