The New Nordic Cuisine emerges in the Finnish capital with design-flavoured themes. Pure, clean, local, creative and playful are epithets that describe the Helsinki food scene today.
The city’s gourmet restaurants are rooted in the Nordic traditions and classic gastronomy, applying seasonal products from wild Finnish nature and from specialised small producers. A local foods movement is evident in a quest for Finnish roots to find the purest and best ingredients.
A dynamic grassroots foods movement has produced happenings where anyone can become a gourmet chef and restaurateur for a day, and citizen-cultivated gardens produce local foods in the city centre. As a result, Helsinki is a new captivating destination for international gourmets, where foodies with a taste for the original find rewarding experiences.
The staples of Finnish cuisine are the produce of the country’s vast forests, thousands of lakes and local farms. Fish, berries, mushrooms, wild herbs, reindeer and game come from Finnish nature; meat, roots and vegetables are produced by local farms, many of them organic. The selections of breads from dark and hard-crusted rye bread to other traditional Finnish breads made from a variety of grains are some of the most diverse in the world. The Finnish cultivated berries, including the seasonal strawberries, are famous for their exquisite taste.
Local wineries produce wines and fine liqueurs from Finnish berries. Dishes and food preservation and preparation methods reflect east and west. Helsinki, the World Design Capital of 2012, adds a design-angle to the city’s culinary scene. In one of the Design Capital’s major programmes, food and design meet in a rough former abattoir, whose buildings are being turned into an urban concentration of restaurants and other food enterprises, while preserving the meat-cutting identity.
The revitalisation and new uses of the Abattoir are part of Helsinki’s commitment to build food into one of the cornerstones of the city’s identity and attractions, adding to the city’s role as the centre of Finnish food and first-class gastronomy.