Thursday, 10 May 2012

Another night without my apron on and enjoying the sunshine in Helsinki. Not known for its culinary delights but I'll have you know that there are plenty of hidden gems in this city. For starters, Kabuki is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants with a great atmosphere and very good Izakaya type food.

But tonight, I was far too lazy to leave the hotel and had plenty of work to catch up on so made the epic journey 4 floors down to 'Pub Fidel' to sample, and I quote "Wide selection of beers and delicious meals featuring international 'gastro pub' style." Well the 'Anchor and Hope' ( it aint!

The menu consists of a Caesar salad (with chicken or salmon or without), a couple of burgers, a club sandwich and a roast beef sandwich. There's also a large dessert menu bizarrely, which could and should be replaced with some nibbles to go with beer. Ice cream with jam or buffalo wings?????? Tough one! "A pint of Murphy's and a slice of lemon cake" is not something you hear that regularly....

I got myself a pint of Murphy's - actually I'm a big fan of Murphy's even though you don't see it that often in England anymore. A quality session beer. Then I decided to go for the Cheeseburger & Fries. The cook is obviously Usain Bolt's brother because the food arrived within 5 minutes of ordering it. Firstly, the chips; in Finland they always leave the skins on their French Fries and cut them a little bit thicker than the Mc / BK types. I actually like the way they do them, so no surprises but no disappointment either. The burger itself was a decent version of what I have termed a 'Finnburger'. Fairly standard in the hotels of this fair land in that they add this kind of sickly yet quite pleasant dressing to them. It's a kind of cross between the Big Mac dressing and Thousand Island but isn't a bad thing to add to a burger. The pattie itself was a good size, made out of some decent meat and cooked medium; nicely melted slice of jack cheers, decent accompaniments of lettuce, tomatoe and gherkin and a bun that had had a bit of griddle treatment, which I like. Had to ask for mustard as is customary in Finland and had to do with than sweet sickly, 'French' style stuff,as usual. but being mentally prepared for it, it was better than having none. So a decent 5 out of 10 for the burger and chips at the Crowne Plaza Helsinki.

This lunchtime in the Nokia canteen, being a Thursday was Pea Soup day !!! As it is every Thursday and will be until the world freezes over. I can't say I've had any Finnish Pea Soup since about 2001 but it looks the same and smells the same as it always have. Something straight out of the times when rationing was still in place .... Went for a bit of pork loin with mixed veg - boring. Except the "Chilli & Nut Sauce" which smelled like hot smoked carpet fibres and tasted of air.
I actually started to have a panic attack when I realised that the table with the condiments was no longer there but before I started breathing into a paper bag, found the relocated condiments. Thank fuck for Tabasco, that's all I can say.


I'll leave you with one of my favourite food books of the moment and this will not be the last time you see me mention this wonderful person and her books again. Here's an interview with Claudia Roden about her new book on Spanish cuisine. It's a beautiful book with some wonderful recipes from someone that is truly dedicated to the art and traditions of cooking. Highly recommended.

Enough for today folks, hope you've eaten well today!

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