Gastronomy – Taste of Finland

photo © Visit Finland

In 2000, when Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary as the European Capital of Culture the city initiated a project called the HelsinkiMenu. The aim of the project was to bring global awareness to Finnish cuisine, introduce the world to the quality of ingredients here and to the expertise of Helsinki’s chefs.

The HelsinkiMenu typically features fish from the thousand lakes, berries, mushrooms and game from the forests as well as special produce from small farms. In essence, the idea is to provide diners with a chance to experience the tastes and flavours from throughout Finland in one city, and at present there are 16 restaurants taking part.

The success of the project was such that a host of other Finnish towns and cities were inspired to emulate their efforts. You can now also enjoy an EspooMenu, HankoMenu, KirkkonummiMenu, MikkeliMenu, OuluMenu, and RovaniemiMenu, with over 30 restaurants now providing Taste of Finland city menus. All the restaurants can be recognised by the Fork of Plenty symbol that was chosen to symbolise the versatility of the menus.

Additionally, there are now 17 restaurants gathered under the Taste of Finland Province banner, with four regional variations, each with its own distinctive charecteristics that adapt to the local ingredients that are seasonably available. Taste of Finland Province restaurants features two menus, the KainuuMenu and FoodProvinceMenu.

KainuuMenu: The Kainuu region lies in the centre of Finland, bordering Russia in the east, Lapland in the north, and Ostrobothnia to the west. The landscape of Kainuu is one of forests and fells, lakes and rivers, much of it unspoilt wilderness. The cuisine is famed for its local fish, game, berries and mushrooms, oven-baked cheese, and for the wide variety of its breads. Menus typically feature elk, lake perch and delicious soups of reindeer, salmon or cep, and there are also unusual tar flavoured foods to sample.