My lingonberry smoothie

I used to have major problems eating breakfast. I’m one of those people whose natural sleeping cycle involves staying up until 1am and waking up around 9-10am.

So when the society wants me to be at school or in the office at 9am, you can imagine the struggles I have had. One of the shortcuts to get started on time was to skip breakfast. And it worked fine for a while!

Then I realized that I’d rather enjoy my life than optimize everything down to the last minute. So now I have become a breakfast smoothie addict. I use lots of berries that are from Finnish nature. Lingonberry has been a little problematic berry for me, but I finally found a smoothie combo with it that I actually enjoy having!

Lingonberry smoothie à la Annu

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2 cups of Almond milk
1 teaspoon of Almond butter
1 tablespoon of Almonds
1 cup of Lingonberries
1 tablespoon of Flaxmeal
1 tablespoon of Dried goji berries
Dash of raw vanilla powder
Natural honey (high on nutrients)
+ Pollen (to help me with my allergies)

Please not that the amounts are not exact. I never measure the ingredients myself, instead I use my gut feeling to make the smoothie a little bit different every time.

How to make: put the ingredients to the blender and let the blending magic happen. It’s as simple as that! The amount of honey you use is critical to the sweetness of the smoothie (to balance out the strong sting of lingonberries) so use it according to your own taste.

This smoothie really starts my day though lingonberry might be quite strong to begin with. What do you think? Is lingonberry a good ingredient to use in a smoothie?

Annu

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Coconut fish taco in Shanghai Cowboy

Food: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Style: get in wearing your jeans

I was going to lunch with an old colleague of mine, when she suggested we’d eat in Shanghai Cowboy in Mikonkatu 4. I was glad she did, because I had not even realized there was such a restaurant in Helsinki! The restaurant is hidden in plain sight in Aleksanterinkatu. Sometimes the most obvious ones are the easiest ones to miss…

After stepping into the premises I was told to go down to the basement. On the bottom of the stairs there was a quiet and cosy restaurant with drawings on the walls. I really liked the interior design, and absolutely adore these frogs in tuxs:


The waitress was eager to offer wine and we ended up ordering glasses of champagne for appetizers. They had Feuillatte which we okayed with a smile. Sparkling was nice but the waitress ended up getting really annoying with constant suggestions for more wine (even after we had already said no several times). Like, really REALLY annoying.

The menu of the place is fascinating! The concept is sort of Asian-Mexican fusion and the it looks quite odd at first. Coconut in tacos is not the first combination I’d come up with, so yeah, I had to order just that: Coconut fish taco.

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It’s not really looking like the taco I was expecting, but the taste was really good! I’m not easily impressed, but this was delicious!  The salmon was soft and ginger majo balanced the overall dish very nicely. Green garnishes added the much needed freshness with a nice twist. But beware: the chili was plenty but easily picked to the side.

I’m not easily impressed, but this was delicious!

It was a pity that I was not that hungry at the time for I’d be curious to know what their menu tastes like. For a casual bite in the centre this place is now on my go-to list. I’m a little bit worried that the S-group ownership might want to spoil this place with some anti-culinarist boredom to please an average nobody.  But I hope I’m wrong to worry so.

Overall this place was a positive surprise, even with the pushy waitress harassing us. I felt a little uncomfortable about how well the other people probably heard our private discussions so either hope there’s more people (and noise) when you go there, or be prepared to be overheard. We had such intimate stories to share that I actually felt a little bad for the other people for having to listen to us… Oh well, what can you do!

All in all, you might want to give this place a try!

– Annu

 

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Oh crab! A Finnish crayfish party

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Every year when the summer turns into August and September starts creeping in, Finnish culinarists look into our thousands of lakes for something hard and delicious. Rumours of suspiciously noisy dinner parties start spreading like viruses and half of the population blames the Finnish Swedes for bringing too much happiness into the darkening evenings.

Blaming the Swedish for such a tradition actually has some accuracy. The story has that the Swedish are the ones to spread crayfish party tradition around the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. To this day, the tradition lives strong among the Swedish speaking population in Finland and an increasing number of the rest have also started “doing it”. Well, it is after all one delicious tradition!

Once you get the taste of it…

…the crayfish party becomes something you simply HAVE TO HAVE every year. I can take pleasure in knowing that I’m not the only one consumed by this obsession.

The concept of the party is simple and genius. The crayfish party is basically about… well, eating the crayfish. However, the tradition is greatly affected by the raw alcohol shots included in the dining experience. Messy eating and happy drinking combined with warm August nights and the best possible company of friends and family – could it get any better? It’s basically Christmas time for adults! We get to be messy and sing special songs too. There’s nothing to dislike!

Messy eating and happy drinking combined with warm August nights and the best possible company of friends and family – could it get any better?

This year it was yet another great experience

So this year we planned our own crayfish party with a small party of friends. Last weekend we left the city light behind us and drove into a summer cottage by the lake somewhere in the middle of Finland. Saturday was our chosen day for some major crayfish enjoyment. It was the very same day the “Kiira” storm hit Southern Finland. We chose to embrace the possibility to eat inside the small candle lit wooden cabin, while the big thunderstorm would rage outside our windows.

We had it all planned and ready to go:

  • we had the crayfish prepared
  • we had the booze smoking cold (Koskenkorva)
  • we had replaced the forgotten crayfish knives with the ones we found in the cottage
  • we had last minute bought the much needed shot glasses for the booze (something we also forgot to take with us)
  • we had loads of bread to eat the crayfish with (too much bread)
  • we had replaced the missing butter with selfmade garlic oil (which btw tasted fantastic)
  • and most importantly: we had theme related setting and deco

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Boy, were we ready for the big thunderstorm and the romantic atmosphere it would create for the party! The rumbling closed in and it was loud. It started raining. And then that was all of it! The storm circled right past us, never giving us more than distant murmuring and some gentle rain. What a disappointment. So we had the party with rain conforming us with its soothing sounds.

When you combine Finnish people with alcohol after midnight, there’s a good chance that they start digging deep. They will start philosophical, earth shattering, honest conversations about life. Sitting next to a living fire exponentially increases the chances of this happening.

When you combine Finnish people with alcohol after midnight, there’s a good chance that they start digging deep.

We ladies took our fruit in a basket and walked through the dark forest to start an open fire to make some dessert. What happened was exactly was could be expected: we talked long into the night about life, relationships, fear and dreams. It was sun that made us realize that the night had passed in deep conversation. There are few joys in life that are equal to first pouring your heart out to someone and going to bed with the sunrise. Overall, one might argue that the crayfish party was an overall success this year!

With friends and traditions like these – who needs therapists?

-Annu