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Christmas 2008 has now come and gone and as I write one of my last posts of 2008 I wanted to provide a recap of the past few days that has resulted in quietness and relaxation (and close to zero blog activity.) By the way, here is the Christmas tree that will be up for about one more week.
Now, a recap of the presents. I recently made a post about gifts to bring to Finland so it seems fitting to post about gifts received from Finns. This Christmas santa had some pretty good things in store for me. Below is a photo of most of the things I received this year and if you click on it you’ll be able to roll over each item for quick descriptions of what I’m about to reference.
At the top of the photo you see a Halti box which includes a new pair of long underwear. I swear by these. It is the Active Dry model and they are awesome, especially in really cold weather and fit great under jeans and other pants. To the bottom left are two boxes of the gifts that just keep on giving: Fazer chocolate. One box of milk chocolate pieces and one box of liquer filled candies- YUM- these are coming back to the U.S. with me! At the top right is a Marimekko travel bag along with Lumene soap and lotion. Marimekko is to Finland as spaghetti is to meatballs (tried to think of the most universal reference to mean that Marimekkoe IS Finland! This is awesome and compliments the smaller make-up bag I use. In the center of the photo you can see a square thing with the name Jääkaappirunous written on it. This is a package of Finnish refrigerator magnets. These are awesome. We bought a couple of packages last Christmas when we were in Finland but we found that the package, though FULL of tons of words, only has one or two of some frequently used words so a second package is AWESOME. You can get these from just about any Finnish book store and maybe online- I tried to find them online with no luck about a year ago. To the left of the refrigerator magnets is something I wrote about took a video of from Finn Fest 2008. Pitsinnypläys (Finnish knitting) creates things like this bookmark you see. I have one from my boyfriend’s aunt who makes them and asked for another one as I find myself in the middle of multiple books at one time. I am told that the shape in the middle is in the shape of the Finnish national Flower.
The bottom few items contribute to keeping me warm. When I came to Finland this year, I forgot the one item that I should never be without anywhere in winter, Marimekko slippers. The first trip I made to Finland I bought a Marimekko Nimikko robe and matching slippers. My slippers are awesome, so awesome in fact that I was wearing them up until the day we left and zipped up my suitcase probably still wearing them…so I forgot them. I tried for 4 days to convince myself I didn’t need them BUT, I had to get a new pair and I love Christmas time when Marimekko has sales. So, it was perfect for a Christmas gift that will STAY in Finland so I’m never without them again when I visit. On the right of the slippers are by far the two best pieces of clothing I’ve ever had and the main reason I’ve been able to establish an outdoor running routine this year. Under Armour cold gear is God’s gift to runners who do outdoor workouts. Combine these shirts with this Nike tight fitting fleece and we’re in business. On top of these two items I only need to wear a light wind breaker soft shell and no part of me is cold. My boyfriend hit the nail on the head with these- AWESOME!
And last, but not least, both my boyfriend and I received what we were told were the “hip” and trendy Helsinki gift this year- Svea hats. I have no idea what it means, who wears them and their significance but apparently they are sold out everywhere! We’ll take them back to the U.S. with us and try to think of something creative to tell people about their meaning. According to Wikipedia: Svea is a Swedish female name. The name was a very popular girls’ name during the first half of the 20th century. It is also the name of the Swedish national emblem, Mother Svea.
And, a little bit of food items. On Christmas Day, December 25th, also known here as the day AFTER Christmas…strange to me, dinner is a combination of food from the previous “Christmas Day” meal on the 24th along with some new stuff. I’m not sure if it is tradition or not but it seems like we always have the same thing- it’s a meat stew, typically moose but this year it was pork, beef and one other meat. GOOD!! Tastes just like the pot roast my mom makes. Soft baby carrots, served on top of mashed potatoes. REALLY good!
Also, this was the first year she tried it but my boyfriend’s mom turned the previous days plum pudding into a pie for dessert, spreading the pudding on top of a gingerbread crust. It was AMAZING. Something tells me there will be a repeat next year. I’m having a hard time remembering what day we had this- either later in the evening on the 24th or on the 25th…Either way, it was good.
And, one of the most traditional though terribly disgusting desserts in Finland- cloud berry over cheese. I hate it and I’m not gonna lie! The cheese tastes like rubber, the berry on top is just…strange…I’m not a fan. But, it’s beyond a tradition here so it was a must for everyone else- I had fruit cocktail!
And, that’s it for the few days after Christmas. The weekend was spent “Doing Christmas” with extended family, sleeping, reading, sauna, a trip to the movies, absolute relaxation- explaining the lack of blog posts, I did nothing but read! Look for one more blog post in 2008 as we prepare our dessert to take to our New Years Eve Party!
Sorry for the late posting but after dinner last night we all kind of passed out from being so full and when we woke up later in the evening we did presents then spent time “playing” with presents and then we finished up with some late night treats and tea before bed. So, to recap the end of our Finnish christmas let’s talk about the meal. Wow, always a treat, similar to what I was used to growing up actually but the day of significance is different. Growing up, we always had a big dinner on Christmas eve (the 24th of December) and then we celebrated Christmas on the 25th with presents and brunch like food in the morning and all day lounging as relatives and friends stopped by.
In Finland, as I’ve mentioned, Christmas and all of its traditions are celebrated on the 24th so, the big meal is the 24th for them- similar spread to Thanksgiving for all you American readers who want a comparison. I’ve got TONS of photos and was able to set it all up on Flickr with descriptions of each item (be sure to roll over the photos of the food for descriptions of what everything is on the table) I’ll start with the pig- traditional Finnish meat of the meal. HUGE pig, started cooking on the 23rd and by dinner time on the 24th (around 3pm) it was ready and perfect. Here is the transformation from oven to dinner plates.
Here is the pig after just coming out of the oven, you can see the big plastic bag it is in. This is how it was cooking in the oven. The magic temperature is 77 degrees Celsius (170.6 F).
It them comes out of the bag and is covered with wax paper. Not sure why, this is just the process. Should probably inquire one of these days!
Then it is put back in the oven to get all roasted and a little crispy and the seasoning is put on the outside (again, call me uninformed but I don’t exactly know what the seasoning is)
And that’s the pig, the main dish. Now, to the rest of this great goodness. Here is our table for Christmas dinner.
And here are two different variations of plates of food. On the left is the “full” plate of most potential options for Finns (be sure to click on it to go into Flickr and roll over what each item is). And on the right is my actual plate, you can notice what is missing (reindeer and salmon- not a fan of either). You’ll notice the little glass on the top right of each photo- this is our Christmas Schnapps. Last year it was a Lakka berry this year I’m not sure what it was but it was much better though REALLY strong. How do you know you’re in Finland, this traditional shot typically starts around age 8 here in Finland. Ei Tippa Tappa- finally get to use one of my new Finnish words (one drop won’t kill you). Cheers!
And then, there’s dessert, yummy and a Finland tradition for Christmas (or at least this family’s tradition)
Plum pudding. Oh it’s is so good!
And that’s dinner for Christmas. I’m getting full again just reliving it. After this meal the entire house passed out for about an hour- kind of just like Thanksgiving (again, for the Americans)
We’ve had breakfast, had a walk, done some relaxing, the pig is about ready so what else is left? Christmas sauna! Here are some photos of the process.
Here is the sauna in the shower room of the house
This is a shot from the inside of the sauna
And here is the lighting of the sauna
Next up is sauna then pig dinner, then dessert and presents!
How does one relax and recharge while waiting for Christmas dinner and Christmas sauna- head out and take a walk. So that’s what I did today. Went out walking around Rovaniemi, Finland for about 45 minutes I think, lost count, could have been half an hour but I had good company so it was hard to say for sure. But, it was great, got the blood flowing, it wasn’t terribly cold- in the mid 20s. It was perfect. Only thing to make it better would have been sun rather than the cloudy sky we had but, it was still nice. Here is a photo of the landscape from out outing in Rovaniemi.
So it is December 24th here in Rovaniemi, also known to Finns as “Christmas.” In the U.S. most of us who celebrate Christmas celebrate on the 25th though many have the tradition of opening presents on the 24th. In my family we always grew up waking up on the 25th of December with Santa Claus arriving the night before. Maybe since Santa is from Finland this is his first stop so they get the party started early. Not sure the reason. But, in Finland, today is Christmas so my posts today are all about what Christmas is in Finland. I’ll begin with breakfast.
I started my morning at around 7:30am to coffee and LOADS of pastries. My boyfriend’s mother holds off on putting out all the great treats until Christmas morning as well as all the great candy- probably because they would eat everything before the actual holiday arrived. You can see in the photo below some of the usual pastries we have as well as the full candy containers on the kitchen table- as though Santa made a little delivery in the middle of the night…these were not there when I wen to sleep
In addition to the pastries there is an AWESOME cake that I’m not sure if it is traditional but I’ve had it for every Christmas here so for me it is traditional. Kind of a cinnamon type cake and oh so very good! It is served with vanilla sauce. Oh, yummy. We’ll eat this all day!
Around 10am, breakfast was served. A traditional Finnish breakfast consists of pouridge/ rice outmeal, also known in Finnish as riisi puuro. Below are photos of the process from bag to bowl. First you combine the rice with water and whole milk and boil it in a pot (three photos below)
You then have the option of serving it with either plum raisin sauce or milk along with cinnamon and I add a little sugar in mine. The left photo as the plum raisin sauce and the right one has milk. The bottle of the plum raisin sauce is also included.
And, the last item, new to me this year, don’t think I’ve had them before- Ham and cheese rolls (ses photo below). Pretty good, not full of flavor but a good tasty treat.
And that’s breakfast. Stay tuned for more food and activities throughout the day as celebrate Christmas 2008 from Rovaniemi, Finland!
Tel. +358 50 447 3543
During the summer of 2007 I experienced for the first time a very unique restaurant with a very unique theme. For those who are not aware, Rovanemi, Finland is home to the the 2006 Eurovision winner, a band called Lordi singing “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” In response to this apparently surprise win, the band “leader” decided to create a restaurant or Rocktaurant as it is known in downtown Rovaniemi, Finland showcasing memorbilia from the band as well as creating an ambiance of everything kind of “freaky” but in tune with the bands image. I reviewed this restaurant last summer to an overwhelming hit count from people all over the world who are HUGE Lordi fans. The response was crazy and it is currently, by far the number one blog post on Frozen-Reindeer thanks to the detailed video and photos of the place (and overlooking the less than stellar review on my part in terms of the quality of the food).
Yesterday, I again found myself seated as this quite unusual establishment but this time my review is quite different and overwhelmingly positive. I’ll start with the food. Below is a photo of the menu followed by a review of almost everything on the menu- I love dining out with people who try different things- makes for well rounded blog posts. I’ll start from the left in the photo regarding items on the menu with a photo of each item we had.
Lordi’s Special Burger- I didn’t have a bite of this but heard it was quite good- nothing left on the plate. Served with french fries (the fries are AMAZING by the way)
Kebab- the last time I ate here, they had something similar to the kebab- kind of a “traditional” and common Finnish food you can find many places (and when it’s good it is great). This was really good. It comes burrying a plate of fries underneath and you can choose a different sauce from medium or hot. My boyfriend got the hot and it wasn’t even close- those who come from countries where hot means HOT, don’t be fooled. Hot here is rather tame. Adds a good spice. Did I mention this was REALLY, REALLY good (and I’m hard to please when it comes to beef- that’s what happens when you grow up in the bar-b-q and steak capital of the U.S….i.e. Kansas City, MO!)
One thing they added to the menu that I could not be more happy about (refer to my previous posts on being quite the health nut). They are taking a cue from the rest of the world by offering healthy options next to their more “filling” foods They have the Eat Well Chicken, Eat Well Wok and Eat Well Salad, promising less than 5% fat. It was lunch time and I’m typically not a heavy lunch eater so I went for the salad. Finland has never been a big salad place- it is really kind of pathetic what they call salad actually at the dinner table (few pieces of lettuce and tomatoes and cucumber). BUT, this salad was GREAT- the chicken made all the difference and the sauce was perfect.
Eat Well Salad with Chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese (you can see the center section of toppings, this is what you have to choose from on the salad and other choices that reference “toppings.” Quite a large selection. I would order this every single time with zero reservation. It was GREAT and perfect for something a little light. The chicken pieces are rather generous too. My compliments to the chef!
Eat Well Wok- well everything can’t be perfect so I left this review for the end. I should begin with saying I didn’t try it BUT, it was the only item on the table that was not finished or talked about with big rave reviews. But, the person who ordered it, I have witnessed other things she has eaten and she does not appear to be a strict or picky eater by any means so her opinion I would probably agree with myself. The Eat Well Wok is similar to the salad- you pick toppings and it is then tossed together. What the diner stated that was unexpected was that it was tossed with pasta with no mention of pasta on the menu- knowing this might have affected her decision to order it- sometimes people just aren’t in the mood for pasta. But I would have to agree with this. Whenever you are going to use pasta, you must mention it and this might even be a benefit for them to call it a pasta dish with your selected toppings. Other than that, the spice smelled quite strong- maybe peppers. I’ll say again, I didn’t try it, I’m just a reviewing bystander so feel free to try it yourself.
So, that’s the food. Up next, a little about the remodel. Lordi Rocktaurant is under new ownership which has contributed to the amazingly good change in the menu and it is now opening up into the new Kauppakeskus Revontuli mall which is a perfect location especially with all of the foot traffic in this mall. The outisde of the restaurant from inside the mall opens up to a terrace for drinking coffee and perfect for a little break in between all the Christmas shopping going on right now. I hate to say it but it has such an American feel to it its scary. From my experience in Finland, the Finns have always been quite traditional people, not eating out much and eating at home and not big on eating and running, things seem to be slightly changing moving out and about, eating, shopping and moving. Still not as fast as the U.S. but things are changing. Below are some photos and video of the new design of Lordi Rocktaurant, enjoy.
Photo from outside looking into the Kauppakeskus Revontuli mall with tables for eating and drinking coffee.
Video from the inside and one looking out into Kauppakeskus Revontuli (sorry for the darkness but that’s Lordi- it’s just all REALLY dark)
So, overall, the place is great, it is a great, unique restaurant and I would recommend everyone to go who visits Rovaniemi, Finland. Not just because of the ambiance but the food really is quite good and there is something for absolutely everyone! For more information check out their website: http://www.rocktaurant.com/index2_en.html
This morning we got out and about in the city. Went shopping in Sampokeskus, roamed around the new mall, Kauppakeskus Revontuli, lunch at the newly owned and designed Lordi Rocktaurant with a GREAT new menu and finished off at the largely crowded City Market to grab some Christmas flowers. This post is full of photos and videos from downtown Rovaniemi as we were out today. I’ll dedicate a separate post for the new review of Lordi’s Rocktaurant to balance out my semi-negative first, though widely popular Lordi Rocktaurant review.
Here are some photos from downtown Rovaniemi, Finland in all its Christmas glory
These photos are from the front of Sampokeskus Mall in the middle of Lordi Square
Here is video from the above area in Lordi Square
Here is a video from inside Sampokeskus Mall
And this is a chopped together video as we drive away from downtown.
Sorry for all the cars getting in the way and stopping and starting- MUCH traffic.
So, a quick update. Today was a BUSY day and I have tons of footage that I’m working to get uploaded. It’s going to take me quite a bit though so be patient. Full day of shopping, lunch at the new and very much improved Lordi Rocktaurant, photos and video from downtown Rovaniemi, Finland during the few hours of “daylight” they got between 10am and 2:30pm. And now, we’re home and beat. The photos and video from today are uploading to the net so nothing to post…yet, but when everything is ready for linking got a ton to get up. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a snapshot from my typical Finnish morning. Coffee, treats and my morning news via the computer. Stay tuned for LOTS more!
Yesterday (Saturday) was our first full day in Rovaniemi, Finland and we did a little browsing and walking around. In downtown Rovaniemi last year they started building a new shopping center a year or two ago. Last Christmas they had one half of it done and this year, they have a large piece of it that connects over the highway. We only did a quick walk through and it was totally crowded with Christmas coming up but we saw a little of the new shops and the redesigned/open Lordi Rocktaurant. I’m sure I will be able to give a more detailed account later when we go sometime during less crowded times and I can take some internal photos and video but for now, the photo below will have to suffice.
Photo: Kauppakeskus Revontuli , Rovaniemi, Finland
So we are now here, final destination, Rovaniemi, Finland up on the arctic circle! Made it out of Helsinki with no trouble and landed in Rovaniemi around 11:30am this morning. We were told that the day before a big wind came in stripping all of the snow from the trees. It’s a little warmer than usual so it’s a quite wet landscape up here…but it sure is pretty. I’m terribly jet lagged but forcing myself to stay up until at least 9:30…the first 24 hours are the hardest after night one when you’re so tired you can sleep no problem…night two is typically a 1am wakeup because my internal clock is in shock. Boy does this trip knock the wind out of me. An 8 hour time difference is hard. But, lots of sweats and good stuff. We were greeted by our usual plate of treats and pastries (see photos). And below is a video coming from the Rovaniemi, Finland airport. Another day or two getting caught up to the time difference and I’ll be able to roll out some good posts. We’re here! Let the games begin!