Finnish cuisine is fresh and uncomplicated. Long summer days and the Arctic midnight sun enhance the flavor of seasonal produce, while the northern climate allows for versatile and sustainable farming and food production techniques. Foodies visiting Finland are in for a treat, as the country offers tastes influenced by Eastern and Western food cultures.
Established in May 2015, Nordic Kitchen (Gate 35) is one such place that celebrates these unique dishes. Presenting good food in an unpretentious manner, the spacious dining spot is less an airport restaurant and more a restaurant that just happens to be located in an airport. There’s a huge difference.
The Cold Smoked Salmon (€8) is an excellent starter. Chef Mohamed Ismail, the brains behind the Nordic Kitchen menu, says that the salmon is from Pori, from a family that has been producing it for three decades. “It’s a simple dish and it’s all about the salmon,” says Ismail. The whitefish roe and deep fried shallots add layers of extra texture to the pillowy salmon rosettes.
Meatballs and mashed potatoes is a comfort food favorite. Of course, Nordic Kitchen’s version (€22.90) has a Finnish twist: lingonberries. Native to the Arctic tundra, the tangy berries provide a refreshing contrast to the savory meatballs, which are “made from scratch and served with a beer and onion sauce,” continues the chef.
The Smoked Reindeer and Forest Mushroom Pizza (€18.90), meanwhile, is a must for those curious about the taste of meat from Santa’s helpers but want it served in a more or less a familiar form. “The reindeer comes from Lapland and it is of very high quality,” shares Ismail. Since these cold-smoked sheets of protein tend to be on the salty side, pairing it with horseradish cream cheese – buried under molten mozzarella – gives it a pleasant kick.
If you’re in the mood for smaller local bites, Wine & View (Gate 26) has come up with Tastes of Helsinki Airport. The tapas-style offerings (€8.90) are comprised of the best flavors from different Finnish provinces. From Roe Toast and Puheidi Cheese with Sea Buckthorn Gelée to Smoked Beef Entrecôte with Roasted Onions and Tomato, Olive and Artichoke Salad, these dishes go down best with your choice of red, white, pink or bubbly.
Go ahead, don’t be shy.