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Gastronomy party and 4 routes in Helsinki

By Ana Sánchez brom Gastronomistas

They literally do not stop. They are really aware of what a privilege it is to have long sunny days in summer and their agenda is full of events, all over the city. The best option if you go to Helsinki is to visit the tourist office and ask about the week's programme of activities. In our case, we couldn't miss out on Restaurant Day, the day on which ordinary Fins put their creativity to the test and play at being chefs, setting up street stalls all over the city.

This is one of the most important street food events on the planet, and although it started in Helsinki, where it is now best established, it is also international in scope and any city can decide to take part in it. It is held four times a year and if you are planning a trip to Helsinki in summer, take note, because the next Restaurant Day is 17 August. You'll find food stalls all over the city, but if you really want to go wild on a huge variety of home-made delicacies don't miss the Esplanadi, one of the city's main avenues.

Let yourself be wafted away by aromas on Restaurant Day. Remember that you won't have many such opportunities to enjoy really home-made food while on holiday. So get yourself ready, spoon in hand, to visit stalls to suit all tastes. You'll find not only traditional food, such as a variety of dumplings stuffed with rice, fish or red fruits, and the yummy cinnamon rolls; but also meat grills, and stalls with oriental and Indian food, cakes and cupcakes.

Four  essential routes around the city

It's impossible to do tourism on an empty stomach, so we suggest four routes around Helsinki with obligatory stops to replenish your strength.

Architecture:15 minutes from the centre, you can start on a route through the port to arrive at the Katajanokka peninsula, one of the most charming districts of Helsinki, and lose yourself in its streets, which preserve examples of modernist architecture from the early 20th century. If you are a collector of experiences and still haven't spent time behind bars, how about trying the most authentic accommodation on the peninsula, the Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka (Merikasarminkatu, 1), a former prison converted into a hotel in 2007? Skirting the peninsula you'll find Johan&Nyström (Hamringevägen, 1), where you can recharge your batteries with a great variety of ethnic and ecological coffees that they select themselves from around the world.

Opposite the café you'll see one of the city's highlights, a spectacular red brick building with a green dome. This is Uspenski Cathedral, the largest orthodox cathedral in Western Europe and the main legacy of the Russian invasion. Take Aleksanterinkatuy Street to reach Senate Square with its stunning white building of Saint Nicholas Lutheran Cathedral. Inside, you'll notice the great difference between its austere Nordic decoration and the golden, iconoclastic decoration of the Russian orthodox cathedral.

If you haven't had enough and you're still hungry for Finnish culture, top off the route by trying the traditional gastronomy in Savotta (Aleksanterinkatu, 22). This restaurant sticks to the centuries-old flavours of Lapp food, with it ties to the nature of Finland's woods and lakes. Here you can try traditional creamy Finnish fish soups (normally salmon), served with the country's typical black bread. Another star dish is the reindeer, served with vegetables and cranberry sauce. If you're curious and you don't have any qualms, in Savotta you can try bear meat. We went for fish, served in a variety of Finnish delicacies: smoked pike, rainbow trout roe mousse, rye bread filled with herring, and rye pie filled with potato and cranberry.

Alternative: I don't not know what you think of up and coming alternative neighbourhoods, but we love them. Helsinki's B-side is called Kallio, a workers' district that is rising fast thanks to students, full of boutiques, bars, record and second hand shops and rehearsal rooms. Don't be surprised if you go into a bar to find it full of Finns, beer in hand and dressed in black leather jackets. You haven't been beamed back to a bikers' bar on Route 66, it's just that the Finns are very into metal. They're probably watching a game of ice hockey.

We recommend you to stop at GalleriaKeidas (Fleminginkatu, 7), where, as well as serving great organic coffee, they display work by local artists. For lunch, don't miss the fashionable restaurant, Sandro (KolmasLinja, 17), which you'll love not only for its decoration but also for its sophisticated Moroccan food.

But if you really want to find a unique place that will satisfy the most alternative of palates, you'll have to go Teurastamo. Outside the Kallio district, to the north, on Työpajankatu Street, the old Teurastamo slaughterhouse has been fully refurbished as a space for gastronomy. Inside the old slaughterhouse there are a variety of activities, including the cooking and cocktail school, Flavour Studio, an urban agriculture garden in the courtyard and a barbecue free for all to use. At the restaurant, B-Smokery, decorated with old machinery from the slaughterhouse, you can eat the best grilled meat, ribs and hamburgers. And if you're still hungry, try a dessert in Jädelino, specialising in Italian gelato ice cream for all tastes (including varieties with soya milk, unsweetened and sweetened with stevia). The ones we asked for were with currants and coconut.

Cosmopolitan: We all know the reputation of Swedish design, but Nordic design doesn't begin and end on the Expedit bookshelf. In case you didn't know, Helsinki was chosen as World Design Capital in 2012 and is responsible for great interior design icons such as the curved iittala vase (designed by Alvar Aalto) and the puppy and ball chair by EeroAarino. If you like to pick up special souvenirs on your trips, we suggest you take a stroll in the DesignDistrict, an area close to the centre where most of the decoration, jewellery and Finnish fashion shops are concentrated. Our favourite is the DesignForum Shop (Erottajankatu, 7), where, in addition to finding real objects of desire, you can enjoy coffee and a wide selection of cakes in the café.

To put the finishing touch on an afternoon of shopping, nothing better than to relax watching the sunset from the place with the best views of the city: the Ateljee Bar (Yrjönkatu, 26) in Hotel Torni. From its cocktail selection, our favourite is the AAlto, a tribute to the Finland's greatest architect, made from cranberry vodka, Cointreau, soda and lemon juice with cranberry.

Sunday tripper: When the good weather starts, Finns love to spend their time outdoors and Helsinki is fortunate to have first-rate sea transport connecting it to the main nearby islands. So don't miss out: take a boat. We suggest a visit to the island-fortress of Suomenlinna. Boats leave every half hour from the port and you will enjoy one of the most incredible views of the city on the way over. The island, a former Swedish fortress that preserves its unique architecture, is today one of the city's main leisure spots and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are restaurants on the island, but as we are good Sunday trippers we know you'll love to take a picnic, and we suggest you ask them to make it for you at Sunn (Aleksanterinkatu, 26). Ours consisted of several dishes: seared salmon, broccoli and potato salad, lamb's lettuce and buffalo mozzarella, chicken pie and a selection of fruit and pastries.

So you feel like visiting Helsinki, do you? Book your flights here!

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Route Through the Gastronomy Museums of Emilia-Romagna

A trip to Emilia-Romagna takes you through a world of flavours, that’s for sure. Apart from its emblematic towns and magnificent traces of the past in the form of monuments, the region offers its delicious cuisine. Make sure you partake of it on your way through Bologna, Ravenna, Modena, Rimini, Ferrara, Parma or any other spot in this popular region of northern Italy. One way of getting to know their culinary delights, apart from tasting them, is to visit some of the gastronomy museums there. Following is a selection of such museums, where you can get up to speed on the history, origins, evolution and preparation of these delicacies in Emilia-Romagna.

Balsamic Vinegar Museum (Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale di Spilamberto)
(Via Roncati, 28, Spilamberto)

Balsamic vinegar or aceto balsamico has its origins in Emilia-Romagna. It is derived from a blend of different wines, both red and white. The process of making this type of vinegar is longer than for other vinegars. At Spilamberto, between Modena and Bologna, you can visit a museum dedicated to this delicious, delicate accompaniment to salads, meats and even desserts.

Museo del Prosciutto di Parma
(Via Bocchialini, 7, Langhirano)

Prosciutto is the denomination accorded Italy’s cured ham, and Parma is one of the protected designations of origin for this product, characteristic of northern and central Italy. Made from cured leg of pork or wild boar, it features in starters (antipasti), sandwiches and panini, pizzas, in pasta sauces and even as a filling in meat dishes.

This versatile product has its own museum in Parma where you can come to grips with its origins, history and manufacturing process. It is located in Langhirano, a municipality which also hosts a ham festival.

While we’re at it, in addition to the prosciutto of Parma, you’d should also try other cured sausages, including culatello from Zibello, Parma salami and spalla cotta (cooked pork shoulder) from San Secondo.

Parmesan Cheese Museum (Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano)
(C/ Corte Castellazzi, Via Volta, 5 Soragna - Parma)

Parmesan or parmigiano is a cheese which hardly requires introducing. Who hasn’t sprinkled it over pasta or risotto or used it as a grilled topping? The more inquiring minds among you will already know that its origins lie in Parma, hence the name. What you might not know is that the original recipe most likely goes back to Roman times. You will discover these and many other details at the Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano, located in Soragna. It is housed in a former cheese factory and has produce from the five Parmigiano-Reggiano-producing provinces on display. The museum exhibits cover the period from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.

Carpigiani Gelato Museum
(Via Emilia, 45, Anzola dell’Emilia)

Just a few kilometres from Bologna, in Anzola dell’Emilia, lies this museum, dedicated to one of Italy’s most popular and refreshing products –ice-cream. Inaugurated in 2012, its over one thousand square metres of exhibition space features ice-cream machines, photos, multimedia presentations and the implements used in ice-cream making, all props used to narrate its history and evolution. Incredible as it may seem, in ancient Mesopotamia they already used snow and ice from the mountains to cool drinks served at royal banquets.

The exhibition area is part of the Carpigiani ice-cream company, which opened the museum for the purpose of educating the public about this product.

Tomato Museum (Museo del Pomodoro)
(C/ Corte di Giarola – Parco del Taro, Collecchio)

A museum dedicated to tomatoes? This fruit, originating from the Americas and ever-present in Italian cuisine, deserves its own space to be extolled and studied in greater depth. Also known locally as “red gold”, the tomato has its own museum in Collecchio, the region’s agricultural and industrial centre, situated less than half an hour from Parma.

Why not broaden your horizons and get to know Italian cuisine even further? Get your ticket here!

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Pink Ayla, Turismo Emilia Romagna, Kelly Hau, faungg's photos

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Floating Gastronomy – in Venice

Venice envelops you in its melancholy, mist and light. It is also soothing. If you let yourself drift along that winding canal that dominates the city, your visit will flow, too. Notice how there are no cars and that, despite the flood of tourists that enter the city each day, this is a silent destination. Whether you find yourself on a bridge, at an intersection, in the heart of the Campo or in a narrow alleyway, wherever you feel famished, your deliverance is at hand. Not only because you can get anywhere fast on a gondola, but because the capital of Veneto is full of places to enjoy the cuisine. Either at street level or up high, with those views that swayed and swathed writers and intellectuals of all eras. Following are some of those spots with a sparkle of their own and a unique offering.

Fish
Given Venice’s seafaring nature, what could be better than to order and savour the city’s fresh fish? A prime spot for eating fish virtually from the market to your plate is the Antiche Carampane for its proximity to the Rialto Market. This simple, family restaurant is frequented by Venetians who know where to find the best of the best, as well as by well-informed celebrities. Here you will witness respect for food and for Venice’s most characteristic culinary tradition, both on and off the menu.

Street Food
In Venice you will wander about willy-nilly to come to grips with its soul. If time is short for having a relaxed meal, an advisable option is the street food. A tramezzino (wedge-shaped sandwich) at some café, or a pizza al taglio (sliced pizza) at Antico Forno, are both generous snacks. But, if you’re after something more authentic without having to sit down to it, better settle for Acqua & Mais, a dainty eatery which makes the most out of the Venetian culinary repertoire when it comes to a practical packaged takeaway. Your eyes will pop out at the fried fish, croquettes, polenta and the classic creamed codfish.

The Confectionery
Here there are two historic and thus essential locations. Two pastry shops, quite a long way from each other, have coexisted as successful local landmarks. However, each one has evolved differently over the years. At Rosa Salva they still serve classic single-helping pastries, buns and ice-creams in an atmosphere more akin to a bar. Colussi, for its part, is celebrated for its focaccia veneziana, which resembles panettone or sweet bread in shape and tastes like a really good ensaimada. It is ideal when eaten with hot chocolate from the same establishment, where they make dough and bake on the premises every day.

Wine and Glasses
Estro - Vino e Cucina is a modern gastrobar and wine bar with a lot of character where you can eat typical Italian dishes and raw fish – a hallmark of the Italo-Japanese chef, Mashiro Homma – marinated in the wine of your choice from among a wide selection within view of the tables. The wine has a “double label” and can also be purchased.

The historical Osteria ai Pugni focuses on aperitifs, sausage boards with regional fare, a variety of different flavoured croquettes and the typical tramezzini with unusual fillings. A striking feature is their wine, served by the glass, which can be savoured in a relaxed atmosphere alongside the Ponte dei Pugni, in the heart of the Dorsoduro district.

Paradiso Perduto
You can either sit at the bar or at one of the many tables in this huge, bustling restaurant which provides live music on Monday nights to fire the after-dinner ambience. Their forte is large helpings of homemade dishes. Their fresh fish comes highly recommended – complete with matching side dishes or contorni (vegetables, field mushrooms or roast potatoes)–as do the lasagna, fagioli (beans) and tiramisu, a dessert that originated in Venice. Keith Richards once played the piano here…

The Vegetarian Streak
The fact that you have to book in advance for La Zucca is the best compliment you can pay it. The artificers of the restaurant have managed to remain faithful to the origins of the business, where pumpkin is the major attraction and the basis of many of the homemade dishes on the reasonably priced menu.

Accommodation
If you can afford it, the Hotel Danieli is one of those places that leave their mark on you. Commensurate with the beauty of Venice, this luxury hotel is part of the city’s living history. It is just two-minutes’ walk from St. Mark’s Square and its two highly distinct buildings – the rooms in each hardly resemble one another – recreate the splendour of times past with an evocative atmosphere that fits in well with their 21st-century service. Their majestic Carnival ball, held near the lounge, is celebrated, while you can have a unique, enogastronomic experience in their new Wine Suite. You can also have one in the Danieli restaurant and terrace, a spot which entices you with its views over the Grand Canal and the Adriatic, as does the creative fare provided by their executive chef, Dario Parascandolo, featuring perennial classics and in-house recipes based on local products.

Souvenir
If you appreciate little gifts and good craftsmanship, treat yourself to a book marker, a notebook, a print, a postcard or one of the hand-painted recipe books by the artist, Nicola Tenderini. You cannot leave Venice without a keepsake that takes you back to the city, as far away as you might be.

I bet you can’t wait to delight in fine Venetian cuisine. Check out our flights here.

Text and photos by Carme Gasull and Belén Parra from Gastronomistas

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5 tips to enjoy the gastronomy in Vigo

1. - Seafood, seafood and more seafood

Vigo is a paradise for the senses but, especially, for the taste of gourmet travellers. There is no doubt that the main product here is fish and seafood, which you can find in its diversity at the old fisherman’s quarter of O Berbés or around O Pedra market.

One of the most interesting places  is Fish Street, which offers a unique spectacle when ostreras tirelessly open oysters on the street while preparing the dishes. You can buy oysters directly to them, give them a squeeze of lemon and you eat them accompanied by a good Albariño. There is no such a better pleasure!

But, although oysters are one of the products Vigo is better known for, we cannot forget mussels, modest and versatile. You can try them in many different ways at the mejillonería Tarugo (C/Carral, 9). Affordable portions and rare options are available, like the curry or beer mussels.

In order to eat the best seafood you should go to Bar el Puerto (Rua Arenal, 30). More than 50 years of experience attests to the recognition of this restaurant. When you seat at your table, you will find out there is no menu; the waitress will tell you directly the fish and dish of the day. Other well-recognized seafood restaurants in the area are Follas Novas or Casa Marco but, generally speaking, any option around here is worth going if you are looking for good seafood, at a reasonable price.

Furthermore, Vigo celebrates many food festivals and events during the year and is possible your visit coincides with one of these activities. The most popular is Fiesta del Mejillón (Mussel party) in Vigo, happening in September. In the same month, there is a party dedicated to seafood at the harbor in Vigo and another celebrating the best seafood cuisine at Bouzas quarter.

2. - Appetizers time

Visitar Vigo es una excelente oportunidad para disfrutar de un ritual inevitables como el aperitivo de tapas y cañas a los que los vigueses tienen una férrea devoción, especialmente los sábados y domingos por la mañana: el paseo y el aperitivo de antes de comer.

One of the most famous places to take an appetizer is the Don Gregorio café. The tables are full of icing must (mosto con guinda), which is what everyone orders here.

You can also go for an aperitif to Puerta del Sol or anywhere at Plaza Constitución and its surrounding.

3. - Terraces in Vigo

The people from Vigo are always aware of the weather to go to pleasant terraces when the sun shines. It is always a great pleasure in this city.

One of the nicest terraces are Grettel (Plaza de la Constitución, 10), right in the old historic quarter of the city, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink under the stone porch.

You can also sit at the terrace in Detrás do Marco (C/Londres), a bit hidden by the Principe street, to relax a bit, away from the crowd in she shopping area.

4. -Come up to a Furancho

Furanchos are venues or private homes in which buy excess wine or try on the spot accompanied by a good home cooked meal. Usually, served with tortillas, empanadas, meats, sausages and cheeses in a family atmosphere at a great price.In the area of Vigo ther is over a dozen to choose , in which attention is always exquisite!.

5. - And when night falls…

The best option is to visit one of the modern pubs and terraces in the city. For example, Albatros is a cozy and modern place with a nice view by the estuary. You can find it at the rebuilt seaport.

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.

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