Share some taste sensations as souvenirs from these selective shops.
Eating is such a pleasure and is the most talked-about activity for people on holiday. Finland’s vast selection of gourmet delights make unique gifts for family and friends back home.
Anton & Anton
It’s a local, a real neighbourhood shop where the staff greet you with a smile and add that special ingredient called ‘good service’ to your shopping experience. It’s called Anton & Anton and is to be found in three locations in Helsinki – Töölö, Kruunuhaka and Ullanlinna. The name priced my interest and the friendly guy behind the counter called Daniel, he had a nametag on, was happy to help.
“The business originally belonged to two families and as it happened they both had sons called Anton. Hence the name.”
“We try to sell mostly organic, local stuff but it’s a bit of a problem when it comes to some exotic fruit like avocado, not exactly grown down the road. Not only that but we care about ethics and we like to buy from sources we know.”
“What about additives?”
“We don’t like e-numbers and colouring much.”
You’re not likely to buy carrots and onions as a gift but there is such a selection of everything including tinned elk, beautifully wrapped rye crackers and cheese from local producers like Helsingin Meijerliike and abroad of course.
Petris Chocolate Room
Just down the road from Anton & Anton there’s a corner shop that’s dreadfully difficult to walk by. It’s Petris Chocolate Room owned by Petri Sirén whose first work practice session was in a bakery where he fell in love with confectionary. Ever since then, he’s had a penchant for cakes and chocolate. He’s raised the bar in that he only uses real ingredients as fillings. Hence, if you see cognac on the label, it’s real cognac, champagne, the real thing, no essence or flavourings are good enough as far as he’s concerned. And then there are the cakes, not that you would want to transport those back with you, but they also have sofas and decent coffee to get you off your feet for a wee while. His stuff is so irresistible that he’s created a small chain of shops. Here’s more: www.petris.fi
The three market halls in Helsinki will tempt you with their array of delicious delectables. Each one sells the usual fresh meat, fish, cheese and bread but each one has a slightly different slant. Kauppahalli has reindeer, sauna-smoked ham and other locally cured meats while Hakaniemi is said to be slightly cheaper and a place where the locals go, whereas Hietalahti is not left behind with their selection of epicurean delights. The latter is also a great place for lunch.
Helsinki’s answer to Harrod’s is Stockmann where the food section will leave you gaping. If you can’t find it anywhere else, you’re sure to find it there. The products come from abroad but needless to say, they concentrate heavily on stuff found in Finland from farmers and producers.
“Delicious, is our password. That’s first and foremost.” The words of the owner of Ceesta Shop who also assures me that whatever they sell are sourced from small manufacturers that don’t use e-numbers to enhance flavours. Most of what you can see on the shelves is from Italy but they also have some fine goods from England and of course, Belgian chocolate.