Porvoo is twee. It's tearooms are chintzy. Runeberg tart, it's local specialty, is delicious. We picked this one out at Cafe Fanny, from a lineup of more staid treats. Made from almond flour, jam and rum, Runebergs are surprisingly light.
Porvoo is known for its sweets, and its easy to get tempted often - there are chocolates, licorices and caramels in every window, begging to be gobbled up. But this is something of a Finnish anomaly. In fact, we found that Finns generally like more solid, less sweet, decidedly nordic treats.
in Mariehamn, asked if I wanted my Ålandspannkaka with strawberry jam (she shook her head no and frowned) or the traditional prune cream (she smiled and nodded her head yes). I took the hint and went with the prunes.
Ålands "pannkaka" bears very little resemblance to most pancakes - it's a dense, rice cake that's springy with egg and often served cold. Rice flour seems like a strange ingredient to find on a cold archipelago in the Baltic Sea, but the Åland shipping industry connected the islands with Asia and the Pacific for centuries. Because growing grains in the harsh climate was so difficult, a lot were imported anyway - why not rice?
The prune "cream" was more of a compote, and was the perfect sweetness to accompany the rich pannkaka. When the waitress asked if I wanted whipped cream, she was nodding and smiling again.
Basically a sweetened, slightly floured omelette, hillomunakas is usually served with jam. In fact, some Finns translate the name to "jam omelette," which doesn't quite do the thing justice. It's more of an egg cake, browned in the broiler and topped with preserves or berries. I did see more appealing versions, but they weren't handy when I needed them most.
Our hostesses in Sevettijärvi, where we stayed on a reindeer farm, served us their gourmet take on the woodland fruits: homemade bilberry icecream and buttery crepes with lingonberries.
Siida museum, after a heavy plate of reindeer casserole. It had everything one wants in a donut - sugar, fat and a hole. The surprise? It was also made with whole wheat flour.