Lapland, Finland: a Christmassy Tasting Tour
Lapland is the ideal destination for Christmas. Whilst children will be thrilled to wander through Father Christmas’ village, adults will be equally delighted by the surrounding magic, the vast snow-covered landscapes, dog-sled excursions and of course the local cuisine.
Fine Dining Lovers will tell you all about the Lapland best food and typical dishes to look for; they are similar to Finnish specialities.
LAPPISH GASTRONOMY: INLAND
Although some may find it disturbing, Lapps love reindeer and moose meat! Smoked, tartare, roasted, in stews or as cured sausages, this meat is the equivalent of our beef and is an integral part of Lappish culture. Traditionally it is served with potatoes, a vegetable you’ll often find on your plate here to go with meat and fish.
As Lapland is mostly wild, you’ll need directions to find a good restaurant. If you’re around Saariselka, stop at Laanilan kievari, a cosy restaurant/chalet where you will savour tasty game by the fire before relaxing in the house sauna.
In the area of Rovaniementie, you’ll want to pick the Nili, which serves an excellent reindeer stew as well as bear meat! You can also taste a bilberry dessert, bilberry being the most common berry in Lapland, generally served in tartlets, mousses, cakes or crêpes stuffed with jam.
After this hearty meal, you’ll certainly enjoy a little local digestif, such as Salmiakki Koskenkorva, a blend of vodka, glucose syrup and liquorice extract.
LAPPISH GASTRONOMY: SEASIDE
You can’t leave Lapland without having tried the famous local salmon, which here is to fish what reindeer is to meat: essential. It is smoked, grilled or served as tartare, but it can also be found as kalakukko, a fish pâté en croûte. Herring is also prominently featured on Lappish restaurant menus and is generally enjoyed as an appetiser with a fine rye bread.
For quality fish cooked with care, head for Pirko Pirtti. This restaurant, lost in the vast snowy plains, welcomes you in a charming and comfy setting that you won’t want to leave. If you’re there in the evening, you may have a chance to glimpse the aurora borealis.
WHERE TO FIND A TYPICAL CHRISTMAS DINNER
Lapland is undeniably the best place to enjoy a fine Christmas dinner. Lappish restaurants even start serving these typical meals in November so as to satisfy as many tourists as possible.
As in France, the Christmas table in Lapland is a lavish one, and guests generally feeling they have eaten their fill. Lapps are in the habit of eating: a mushroom salad (sienisalaatti), marinated herring (lasimestarin silli) or salted raw salmon (graavilohi) as their appetizer.
They then continue with a Christmas ham (joulukinkku) served with various puréed vegetables and roast reindeer (poronpaisti). The meal traditionally ends with a Karelian tartlet (karjalanpiirakat), a prune mousse (luumurahka) or cinnamon rice pudding (riisipuuro). Finally, champagne is generally replaced by a fine beer.
Your trip will certainly include a tour to Rovaniemi, the Village of Father Christmas. After you’ve put in your Christmas gift order and take a reindeer sleigh ride, stop at Kotahovi. There you’ll find typical Lappish food in a warm ambience, seated around a cheery wood fire.