Food/Travel 201 – Day 4, Tuusula, Finland

Monday 12th June, 2017 – Tuusula, Finland

And so, after a gloriously sunny Sunday, we were back in the gloom on Monday, with a cold damp morning and increasing drizzle. It was time to go home anyway, and we’d had a text from Finnair suggesting that, as it was the first day of the Summer holidays (hah!) it would be as well to arrive early at the airport. We decided we’d aim for a couple of hours before the flight to give us time to hand back the hire car, do a little bit of shopping, and relax in the business lounge. Meanwhile there was the question of what to do with the day.

We had one more very good hotel breakfast, and while we sat drinking coffee we checked the guidebooks. It turned out that – with the exception of the castle which we visited last year – NOTHING in Hämeenlinna is open on a Monday. Not a damn thing! So to Plan B. Lake Tuusula came up as being worth a look, and was also on the way to the airport if we opted for the scenic route, so we set the satnav to avoid the motorways and headed in that direction, all the while hoping the weather might improve. By the time we got there, it was raining gently but persistently and so we parked up by the lakeside and went to investigate the wooden church we’d just spotted.

As with many Finnish, and for that matter Scandinavian, churches the tower was a separate construction, because when your main building material is wood, you really don’t want to lose the tower (and thus the bells which you might want to use to warn people of fire) to a fire if the main body of the church goes up. A nose around inside revealed a lovely if somewhat stark interior with an unusual shape, and least to us.

The arms of the building seemed to all have entrances apart from the end with the main altar, and each of the arms was roughly the same size. A leaflet or brochure giving the history would have been nice, but we enjoyed our visit anyway. The grounds were also of interest, with a patch full of military graves lined with blue and white pansies, and a memorial overlooking the lake. It made for a very peaceful place.

From there we walked to the lakeside but it had got colder and was raining quite a lot harder now, so we decided to head back to the car and go in search of lunch.

From the church we drove to the rather wonderfully named Krapi where I’d been led to understand that a very good lunch could be had at the Restaurant Krapihovi, run from a lovely hotel and based in an old villa close to the golf course and ideal for fishing apparently. We figured out which of the buildings was the restaurant and were led to a table by the window. The waiter then took us on a tour of the buffet, explaining all the dishes, poured us some wine, and left us to pitch in.

We both decided the fish soup looked like a good option, especially with some of the freshly made sourdough bread.

I really must have a go at making my own version of this soup. The doorstop of a book, The Nordic Cookbook, contains a recipe for it, the only issue would be what to use as a substitute for vendace here in the UK where they are very rare indeed and are considered an endangered species, though to be extinct until around 5 years ago. Somehow I suspect eating them would be frowned upon!

After that we moved on to investigate the cold dishes on the Summer buffet menu. There were more vendace (vendaces? I have no idea what the plural is), the inevitable herrings both cured and in sauces, some salmon, some prawns and some “white fish” to munch on. It was hard to choose and the menu didn’t help in some ways. For example, they listed the following as possible options and certainly some of them made it onto our plates! I quote: “From Finnish waters: glacier’s arctic char, mustard seasoned herring, smoked vendace and summer potatoes, fennel marinated salmon with lovage sauce, lavaret with roasted kale and nettle pesto”. Very good it all was too!

We moved on to the meat course (cold version) after a pause. The vegetables were all present and correct, including the ginger and cabbage salad, a new potato and mushroom salad, cinnamon seasoned cherry tomatoes, honey seasoned home grown carrots, vinegar seasoned cucumbers, and a summer salad with rhubarb vinaigrette. To go with the we had a country style pãté with nuts and marinated mushrooms, some native cattle ribs with grilled summer vegetables, lamb neck cooked and pressed to melting tenderness, and some wonderful home-made sausages with mustard and crushed lingonberries.

We could have hit the cooked course next but we were a bit too full to manage it. There was a dense chicken casserole in what looked to be a heavy cream sauce but as we didn’t opt for it I can’t comment on how good it might have been. Certainly everything else had been delicious so I can’t see why it wouldn’t have been too. Instead of attempting any more meat we took a look at the desserts. We were offered elderflowers and elderberries in jelly with vanilla seasoned cream, milk kissel, and honey and coffee cake with a home-made compote.

Very good it all was and we finished with coffee and chocolates. It was then time to pay up and head for the airport and home, knowing we’ll be back in August. And the threatened queues at the airport? If they were there, we didn’t see them. That was not what a busy airport looks like.

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