Last week I told you about how we explored Turku, and today I am going to tell you where to eat in Turku. The food in Turku was similar to the food we tasted in Helsinki. Arctic char, asparagus, and blueberries continued to be present in the cuisine, although the restaurants were slightly more casual.
Where to Eat in Turku:
After our trip to Flow Park we had lunch at Pinella, the oldest restaurant in Turku. We had a healthy lunch of cod with vegetables.
That evening we had dinner at Smör, a fine dining restaurant in a cavernous space just below street level. My meal began with a taste of asparagus foam. This represented both the Finns love of asparagus, and their sophisticated culinary approach that experiments with molecular gastronomy. For my first course I had turnips with fresh bread.
Then I had the potato pasta with broccoli with a cheese sauce. I loved the fresh flavors of the food at Smör. The menu was definitely focused on seasonal ingredients and bright late spring tastes. For dessert some of us shared a deconstructed preparation of almond cake with ice cream.
After dinner we went out for drinks. We started off at Blanko, a wine and cocktail bar in a building with gorgeous brick vaulted ceilings, just beside the Aura River.
Then we went to explore the large boats docked in the river that are home to bars and restaurants. Christian, the captain from our boat ride the day before pointed out Katrina, a bar popular with young people. There we befriended a group of skateboarders, walked over to a trendy cocktail bar called B4R with them, and proceeded to have the most amazing time. They loved telling us all about the area, and several of them spent their days working in the food and beverage industry. They were very eager to hear about the restaurants we had visited. (This portion of the evening is included in the video at the top of this post).
While we were out the friendly Finns insisted that we try two liqueurs made in Finland. The first was Lakka, which is made from the cloudberry fruit, and the second was Salmiakki Koskenkorva has a subtle licorice taste. Both were surprisingly good, and I always like to try locally popular locally produced products.
Turku’s Market Hall
The next day we visited Turku’s Market Hall, a 120 year old indoor market that is home to restaurants, grocers, and small shops.
While we were there we tried the “Kiss My Turku Cake”, a blueberry chocolate cheesecake from M Bakery. The bakery was named the Best Bakery in Finland in 2015, and the cheesecake was fantastic, I especially loved the bit of chocolate in the center. Blueberries are native to Finland, and very popular. They even served blueberry juice on our Finnair flight!
My favorite culinary experience was a ferry out to a tiny island where we ate a feast of traditional Finnish food. We boarded the SS Ukkopekka and spent an hour passing big beautiful seaside summer homes as we made our way to the island. The rocky tree-lined coast reminded me of Maine.
On the island stands a single home, where a family of 11 people once lived off the land eating a diet of fresh fish supplemented by milk from their cow.
I can’t imagine it was an easy life, but it was a beautiful piece of land. Today the house is a small museum.
Dinner consisted of hearty Finnish fare, which we ate on picnic tables. The experience reminded me so much of the trip my family took out to Cabbage Island in Maine, except with very different cuisine.
We tried smoked salmon, chicken skewers, grilled fresh cheese, potatoes, carrots, and an excellent wild game sausage made with faro. We really loved it.
During the ferry ride back we listened to a band play traditional Finnish songs and covers of popular American songs as the moon slowly rose in the sky. The sun was just starting to set when we pulled in to the dock.
That night we went to a wine bar called Tinta, just beside the Aura River, and toasted to the end of an incredible adventure in Finland.
I have been lucky to travel all over Europe between studying abroad in college twice, visiting my husband’s family in Europe, and taking vacations, and I must say that Finland was one of my all-time favorite trips. Maybe I loved it because in some ways it is so similar to Maine (especially the landscape and some of the food) but also completely different from anywhere else. Both Turku and Helsinki were beautiful cities with historic landmarks to visit, nature sites to explore, incredibly sophisticated cuisine, and welcoming locals. I truly fell in love with Finland while I was there, and I keep saying that I would move there in a heartbeat, but maybe the long winters with very limited daylight mean that summering in Finland would be best.
You can read all about exploring Helsinki, eating in Helsinki, and exploring Turku by clicking these links. Finnair flys direct from Chicago to Helsinki from May 6 – October 6 (basically the ideal time of year to go).
This trip was sponsored by Visit Finland and Finnair.