Does Sushi Love Wine?

There are some combinations between wine and food that have no place in history. Sushi and wine is one of them. Sushi, originally from Japan was meant to be enjoyed with local beverages, some hot sake for example, or green tea. However, more recently, a lot of Asian restaurants have popped up pairing oriental dishes with cocktails and different wines. Sushibar + Wine is one of them. The concept restaurant has four different locations in Helsinki, and I was lucky enough to be invited to one of them for a drink and a nibble.  Continue reading “Does Sushi Love Wine?”

Wineweek 170: Decoding Riesling

Riesling – one of the most well known grape varieties in the world, and the enormous gap in my knowledge of wine. I have been dodging Riesling for years. Probably because it is one of those varieties that produces so many different types of wine. Learning Riesling has just felt like too much work. But now I have come to my senses. During this fall, we have been taking a walk on the sweet-side, so Rieslings have no longer been on the list of “too much sugar”. But to be able to become serious about Riesling, one has to do some studying. So here are some of my findings about my new grape-obsession. Continue reading “Wineweek 170: Decoding Riesling”

Bubbles’n Riesling

Did you know that sparkling wine consumption per capita in Germany is one of the highest in the world? Local sparkling wines: sekt and schaumwein are extremely popular. When I think of German sparkling, I think of Rotkäppchen Sekt (the little red riding hood), the cheap supermarket sparkling that I bought during my many trips to Berlin around ten years ago. That was vile stuff, but no matter, it cost only a few euros and was available in every corner kiosk in town. Today, the trend with German sparkling is more towards quality and differentiation. Vintners often select individual, small, high quality batches of wine for their sparkling wine production and favor the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle. Exciting! Continue reading “Bubbles’n Riesling”

Wineweek 119: February Favorites

For those who have been reading this blog:  you know I am not a winter person (I was clearly born in the wrong country). However, February is a month of hope. Days are getting longer, skies clearer, and they sell these awesome plush buns with whipped cream and almond mass in the middle. You eat them until the end of February when the buns have their own signature day: Fettisdagen (fatday).  With more light, there is a feel of having more time; and I am not so tired all the time. This week we did a lot of stuff at home. I even baked (bake-off croissants. Haha!), and got an inspiration for making some cocktails at home.  Continue reading “Wineweek 119: February Favorites”

Wineweek 110: Return to Matkonsulatet

There is nothing like finding a great new winebar. I guess when you live in one place long enough, you stop looking for new spots proactively. Or at least I get a bit lazy. We stumbled on Carotte almost accidentially. Well, not exactly, but the visit was mostly unplanned: Googled with an aim to find a spot for a glass in between our house and Matkonsulatet, the prime destination of Saturday night. Continue reading “Wineweek 110: Return to Matkonsulatet”

@ OX Helsinki

It is time for food porn again my friends, and plenty of it. Our recent visit to restaurant OX in Helsinki was a real feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. OX serves bistro style food from ingredients from the season and the wine list features small producers also from the biodynamic movement. The small restaurant is rather new in town, located on the edge of the center and Punavuori. Continue reading “@ OX Helsinki”

Discovering New York Wines

Finally I am writing from home. I have time, I have good pictures, I also have a jetlag…but I will write something anyway. I have been super excited reading up on two new wine regions (new for me) in New York county. When traveling we always aspire to try wines from the area. If there are some. I did not expect New York to be anything special, but was proven wrong when trying produce from Finger Lakes  and North Fork of Long Island AVA (American Viticultural Area). We ended up gulping up wines from the region all trip long and bought a bunch of great bottles to take home (only 16 bottles this time). Continue reading “Discovering New York Wines”

High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York

A few years back M and I made a decision: we would no longer do the cramped cattle thing on long haul flights. If we were to fly for over 6 hours, we would do it comfortably or not at all. Not to say it would have to be Business Class, but at least economy extra with a proper leg space. Up to this date, we have not yet paid for one pair of business class tickets, but always flown in comfort. We have used points and vouchers, traveled on dates inconvenient for others, whatever has been at that time the best way to secure leg space. So today, an eight hour flight does not really sound like such a bore. It is actually an extended part of the vacation as it is enjoyable. Continue reading “High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York”

Wineweek 51: Preparing for the Holiday Season

I love Christmas! Its one of my favorite times of the year. Bright lights and candles, great food and presents; not to forget a good excuse to buy some great wines (as if I need an excuse). However, every year, Christmas starts too early if you ask me. Who wants to bring out the decorations already in rainy and gray November? As a business owner, you realize that you kind of have to. Continue reading “Wineweek 51: Preparing for the Holiday Season”

Classic Dining at Carelia – Helsinki

Last Sunday I was (shortly) writing to you about Carelia, a restaurant and wine cellar in Helsinki. Carelia is one of those places that has been where it is for a long time. It is an old apothecary turned restaurant almost 20 years ago located in my childhood neighborhood of Töölö. A popular venue among opera-goers and athletes as it is located near to the stadium and the Opera of course. I can’t believe that this was the first time I visited as it for sure will not be my last.

Today I will be mostly concentrating on the restaurant part, but just so you know Carelia also rents out a private wine cellar. There are several tasting rooms you can use if you are a member and catering can be arranged from the restaurant kitchen upon request (basically you can just order of the menu). What a perfect concept to be able to enjoy your own wines with some classic food.

Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
The restaurant and bar
Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
Old apothecary deco
Carelia Restaurant Helsinki
Decorations at Carelia

We were invited for dinner by an old friend of mine, Iisa, who is also the sommelier of the restaurant. She had picked an aperitif for us, a bottle of Pierre Gimonet Oenophile Premiere Cru 2008. We don’t often see each other with Iisa, but it is like she read my mind with selecting a 2008 (one of my favorite young vintages) and a non-dose. It tasted like yellow apples and brioche and was absolutely perfect for the start of the dinner. I peaked at the menu and noticed another Gimonet (Cuis1) only around 13 euros for a glass, that is a definitely a fair price here in the Nordics. For food (starters) we ordered the beef tartar and asparagus with Hollandaise accompanied by some semi-sweet Riesling. Both dishes were very good, but I must say the asparagus was perfect, a simple dish with no compromises.

For mains we had the classic entrecote with Bernaise, fries and salad, and some tasty small chicken (why is it that the smallest are always the tastiest?). The meat was wonderful and made exactly like we ordered, medium rare (almost mooing). To accompany the mains Iisa selected a nice Pinot Noir from Chambolle-Musigny. For dessert we shared a platter of cheese, the rhubarb sorbet with almond and rosemary sauce and the Tarte tatin.

Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
The beef tartar
Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
Tarte Tatin
The Carelia Sommelier Iisa showing us around the cellar
The Carelia Sommelier Iisa showing us around the cellar

After the dinner things started getting “out of hand”. I am not talking drunken wild, just that we ordered a great many wines for tasting (we ordered one glass of each and split them by four people). We tried several Rieslings from Auslese and a Muscat de Rivesaltes Grand Guilhem. The Rieslings were served from beautiful Magnum bottles and tasted fresh and fruity. The Muscat was interesting with light notes of port wine but a very low alcohol content. A nice dessert wine. We also took a “short” tour down stair in the wine cellar. A friend of ours was arranging a tasting there and we stayed a bit. To end the evening, we moved to the bar (to get out of the way from hungry opera goers) and ordered a bottle of Blanc de Blancs (2007) from Lilbert & Fills.

All in all Carelia is a beautiful restaurant. The wine list is awesome with closer to 30 different champagnes and prices are not a rip-off. Of course champagne is always quite pricey, but Carelia has clearly positioned its self as a place for wine-lovers, and most wine-geeks will stay home and drink from their cellar if the restaurant aims to rob you blind. I must say I had similar feelings or reasonable pricing at Sinne Helsinki (review here), so it seems like the Helsinki wine-scene is really starting to get on its feet. The food is nothing innovative (it does not aim to be), but it is classical dishes made extremely well. My salute to the kitchen! Last but not least, the sommelier at the place is really something, so if you visit, I recommend leaving your wine-adventure into her capable hands.