Food & Fun is finally in Finland and its current food capital Turku. Makuammuntaa tested both the Food and the Fun.
The Food & Fun Festival has arrived for the first time in Turku, Finland. The event is based on good food and good company and it has been organized in Reykjavik, Iceland already 11 times. Visiting chefs build up delicious menus from local raw materials in the Food & Fun restaurants – and have fun.
Nine restaurants were chosen to participate the festival in Turku: Pinella, Kaskis, Hus Lindman, Smör, Mami, Karu Izakaya, Ludu, E. Ekblom, and Ravintolalaiva Cindy. Each one received a visiting chef from abroad. Makuammuntaa tested two of the restaurants: E. Ekblom and Ludu.
E. Ekblom is a cozy wine restaurant along the River Aura. Food & Fun invited Makuammuntaa to taste the menu at E. Ekblom.
Visiting Chef at E. Ekblom Rene Uusmees comes from the restaurant MEKK in Tallinn, Estonia. Uusmees brought an Estonian nuance to the Finnish ingredients, and also provided flavors which are less frequent in Finland.
We visited E. Ekblom before the actual table-settings, which provided us a great opportunity to discuss with the chef Uusmees and the people at E. Ekblom. Uusmees explained some of the background of his menu, even including food experiences from his chilchood. It was especially pleasing to hear how he wanted to offer world’s best pork as a main course and thus followed his grandmother’s way of preparing pork. Uusmees believes in good raw materials, pure taste, and that the simple way is the best. Together with the excellent wine selections of E. Ekblom, the food became an unforgettable experience.
Amuse consisted of spiced sprat on roasted black bread with quail egg and root artichoke cream. The flavors accompanied eachother well, and the taste of sprat reminded baltic herring.
Starter was a very lightly salted pike-perch, foie gras, caramelized celery, gooseberry jam and garlic brioche. The dish was very fresh and well-balanced – fishyness of the pike-perch, tartness and sweetness of gooseberries, as well as fattiness of foie gras completed the dish. A fruity semi-dry white wine (Les perles rares, Laurent Vogt, 2012, France, Alsace) was perfect for the dish of pike-perch. Despite the – maybe excess – fishyness of the pike-perch the food and wine were together just like a rare pearl.
Next course was a creamy soup of rabbit with roasted hazelnuts and Estonian rye bread. In fact, rabbit soup was found to be of great taste and the structure was a very nice and fluffy foam. Umami of the rabbit soup was quite strong but it was softened by cream. The soup was enjoyed with Austrian white wine (Nezl Weissburgunder, 2011, Austria, Carnuntum), which was very oaky but together with the soup became almost smoky. Just a wonderful combination, and among the best soups we have tasted.
Pork belly was served as the main course. It was cooked for a long time and served with parsnip purée, roasted parsley and carrots, wild mushrooms and kale. In addition, the dish was finished with crisp and airy puffed pork skin. Simple flavors turned into a stunning main course. Southern Italian red wine (Rosso di Montefalco DOC, Sacciadiavoli, 2009, Italy, Umbria) was offered with the pork and due to its lightness the wine gave enough space to the flavours of the pork.
Dessert was tasty but not too sweet. The dessert was based on thyme-caramelized apple, rosemary ice cream, fried and salted hazelnuts and meringue. Dessert wine (Château Cars, 2009, France, Bordeaux, Cadillac) had herby notes and completed the flavors and sweetness of the dessert. Uusmees also offered us some Estonian dessert wine made of apples (Põltsamaa Kuldne, 2005), which surprisingly was not particularly sweet but tasted pleasantly of apple.
E. Ekblom and Rene Uusmees co-created a balanced menu that became a harmonious experience with the wines. This was Food with a capital F. Great to have Food & Fun in Turku!
Food & Fun in restaurant Ludu ment a secret bar – or a speakeasy – in the spirit of 1920’s . The menu was prepared by chef Hamilton Johnson from Washington DC, USA.
Ludu had decided to invest in the Fun part of Food & Fun Festival: the theme was extended to outfits of the staff, smoky air and a pianist playing live in the restaurant. In addition, customers were encouraged beforehand to dress up to the theme, and a large part of customers did so. The atmosphere was quite excellent! Also Siggi Hall, the founder of Food & Fun Festival praised the theme.
The menu in Ludu was made by chef Hamilton Johnson of restaurant Vidalia in Washington DC, USA. It was a very unique menu, with some American flavors, as well.
Amuse was a sympathetic mini burger: brioche with slightly salted beef and vegetables. Mayonnaise was offered separately.
The starter consisted of lemon-cured freshwater rainbow trout, roe and smoked potatoes. In addition, the dish included mustard and yolk foam and buttermilk soup.
The following course of a deep-fried crispy porkjelly was accompanied with porkearconfit, crab – gribiche, mustard oil, plus some highbush blueberries .
Main course was red deer tenderloin marinated with juniper, lingonberry and smoked pecan butter.
As a dessert a ”sweet potato pie” was offered. It consisted of Chocolate ganache, sweet potato doughnut and brown butter ice cream with toasted marshmallow and orange foam.
Hamilton Johnsson’s menu certainly reflected the man himself. Dishes were good and each had something special. They were experiences, although not all of the flavors were perfectly in place. The starter was the most enjoyable of the dishes: Lemon-cured freshwater rainbow trout and smoked potatoes were fantastic. The mustard and yolk foam was a good addition.
The small greeting burger tasted good but the mayonase missed something. A fun idea, however. Crispy porkjelly and grab-gribiche formed a really hefty dish. The blueberries were fantastic with the porkjelly, and the dish would have needed some more freshness and tartness to balance the heavy components. Crackling pig ear confits on the other hand, did not really inspire us .
The main course of red deer was very tender and soft. The great-tasting meat was, however, shadowed by the strongly smoked pecan butter. Lingonberry purée and the whole lingonberries suited very well for the flavours of the red deer. The dessert was good and in particular the ice cream tasted excellent. Sweet potato doughnut, chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallow divided our opinions – one liked, the other liked less.
Despite the originality of the menu of Ludu and Hamilton Johnson – or perhaps because of it- the evening was rare experience. The atmosphere in Ludu’s speakeasy showed what ”Fun” in the name of the festival means. We want more!
Food & Fun was a great experience and we are delighted that Turku was chosen as the host in Finland. Recently, several restaurants in Turku have established themselves as top-quality sites, and as a consequence Turku is now the Food capital of Finland. International exchange of ideas during the chefs’ visits results in new partnerships and futher collaboration between food enthusiasts around the world. Food & Fun encourages relaxed, great quality dining with our friends and families. Food can be – and should be – Fun!