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When I made my first trip to Rovaniemi many, many years ago, I quickly noticed the following scene:
If you couldn’t guess from the photo, you are looking at a row of slot machines. This is not an arcade, it’s not even a casino. This photo is from the local grocery store. And the scene is everywhere- either a group if 5-10 as above or single slot machines at local restaurants like Kotipizza (below)
The major company in Finland regulating slot machines is called Ray. Money earned from slot machines and other gambling under Ray (there are local casinos and online play opportunities as well) goes to support health and social welfare groups (more than 250 million euros in 2011 to approximately 800 groups). Even on their website they advertise Ray gambling as a way to support these organizations.
Personally I’ve never been a fan of gambling. BUT, when I’m waiting for pizza or folks to finish shopping at the grocery store, or even waiting for a flight at the airport, it really is a great way to pass the time. But don’t get too excited- this isn’t Vegas and payout aren’t the stuff of movies. I have turned a couple euros into over 20 before though
Here’s a photo of the exterior of a casino in the Sampokeskus shopping center
What is the experience like? We took a video of a recent play (below). It’s long but cycles through a few different games on one machine. You can see at the bottom of the screen in the video that English is a language option. This is new. I’m familiar with the Finnish language ones- made it more exciting- I really had the excuse that I had no idea what I was doing and therefore couldn’t be at fault for a loss. Those times are no more. You will be happy to know that Ray does its part in supporting responsible gambling though. They provide a link on their site to test if you have a problem. I couldn’t find an option for English on the page so I guess I’ll never know: Link to gambling problem support
Enjoy the video!
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The above video was shot in Northern Finland and Norway during winter 2011. Make sure you turn on your audio and make the video full screen. Enjoy, it speaks for itself.
We fly out from Rovaniemi, Finland early tomorrow morning (Tuesday) so I’m getting in a few last posts before I continue from the U.S. (so many things that require a little more time such as Santa Claus Village and other local places that I want to post in their completed form so they have to wait.) You’ll notice by looking at my YouTube Feed or Flickr Feed that I’ve posted photos on some of these things, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them…but in a week or two I’ll get to it all). As one of my final posts from Rovaniemi (sniff..) I wanted to round out my posting about gifts and souvenirs FROM Finland. I’ve posted about gifts to bring to Finland, gifts Finnish people might give so I figured I would round things out with gifts to bring for yourself and others when traveling away from Finland.
For me, this is my sixth time to Finland so I get to be really selfish and bring mostly stuff for myself- since I’ve brought souvenirs for just about everyone I know at this point. Souvenirs from Finland include about four things- especially since we know we’re always coming back- kind of changes your mind set when you aren’t questioning how long it will be to obtain that unique thing on a visit in the unknown future. These things include: Rye Bread or Ruis Leipä in Finnish, Candy (karkkia), Chocolate (suklaata), coffee (kahvia), and Golden Cap cider (ciideriä). I guess that comes out to five things, huh? Some might say chocolate is candy but to me the categories are a little different when you’re talking about Fazer chocolate- deserves it’s own mention. Why these five items? Easy answer- they are some of the best pieces of Finland and you can’t get them in the U.S., well, some you can such as Fazer chocolate from FinnStyle in Minneapolis, MN when it’s in stock but everything else you typically need to ship FROM Finland. We’ve done that but the shipping charges can get a little crazy.
To understand the significance of each of these items you really have to taste them for yourself but I will provide my opinion. The candy and chocolate might not excite people as it does me but I have a HUGE sweet tooth and Finnish candy is a amazing. True Finns will talk non stop about Salmiakki and it’s hard to find a bag of candy without Salmiakki- it’s as Finnish as candy gets. Kind of like black licorice on the lighter end but it can also be really strong- you really have to taste it to understand what I’m talking about and it comes in so many different forms. There is a good post on Wikipedia about Salmiakki and readers might find interesting. In the photo below you can see two bags on the left- the one on top is black licorice the one on the left is full of different forms of salmiakki. The huge bag on the right is all fruity!!! We’re about to head to City Market to buy more- the idea is to get as much as possible to last for months- these bags would last through February at best so we’ve gots tons more to buy!
Chocolate or suklaata? Don’t be afraid, but we got a little crazy with Fazer chocolate and liquer filled chocolates this year between gifts and our own purchases. BUT, like the candy, it will all be gone before summer because we just LOVE it!
Up next is coffee or kahvia. Nothing to say other than the taste is just unique and Finns love their coffee- similar to the British and tea. Served all day, everyday for every occasion! We prefer the Paulig coffee but there are tons of different varieties.
And then there is the Rye Bread- a Finnish specialty that you can’t get ANYWHERE in the U.S. unless you make it or order it, just ask any Finn, they miss it terribly when away from Finland. I hate to suck it up and admit my fault but…I must admit that I have made a complete 180 degree flip on my stance of Finnish rye bread. The first time I tried it I felt like I was eating card board. Like actual card board. Not like rice cakes or similar taste that you think might be card board but you can eat it. No, this was terrible at first (and second and third bite) for five years I completely rejected it- so very unFinnish of me. BUT, this past summer in the U.S. I hit a health kick and switched from wheat bread to Wasa Crackers. Difficult at first- also in the card board family but I adjusted. And wouldn’t you know it, after 5 months of Wasa crackers, rye bread began tasting oh so very good. And it is ridiculously healthy being 100% rye! I LOVE it, can’t get enough of it, will fight my boyfriend for it. Guess I became one step closer to becoming Finnish though I know I have a LOT to make up for with my negative comments over the year. We’re taking back five bags to keep in the freezer and pull out once a week or so. We’ll ride it out as long as we can and then long for our next trip to Finland to stock up again. Or, I might try to make it if desperation sets in mid summer!
And the cider? Well, my previous post will do this justice. Read my “Ode to Finnish Cider (Golden Cap)”
And that’s it, 14 hours and we’re off to Helsinki- maybe a post or two left and then back to Minneapolis. It’s been fun!
We’re in our last few days in Rovaniemi which means our last meals. Thankfully, last meals are (typically) represented by the best of the best foods. In our case on this trip that includes Reindeer stew (or sauteed reindeer, no official name for reindeer over mashed potatoes) as well as blueberry pie! I’ve posted MANY times on reindeer stew but this was the first time I caught all the action from the very beginning, well almost, the VERY beginning includes hunting down the reindeer and that doesn’t sound like something I would find all that appealing. There is a mixture of photos and video from the process of making reindeer stew, enjoy!
First, the reindeer pieces are cut from the large hunk of reindeer slab. Here, they keep the huge slab frozen and cut off pieces from the semi-frozen mound as they need it so it can continue to stay in the freezer. One huge slab can serve about 30 or so people. Here are photos of the slab, the knife used and a little video of cutting these raw pieces of reindeer.
After the reindeer is cut, or at the same time if two people are making the reindeer- the entire bowl is filled with reindeer first so you can imagine that cutting from a frozen piece might take a while. Bacon is cut into pieces and added to the pot to cook before adding the reindeer. In the grocery store, the bacon is called “American” bacon
Then, after the bacon has had time to cook and the flavor is brought out, the reindeer is added and they are mixed together with pepper and seasoning. Below are photos of adding the reindeer and the pot simmering. Why a wooden spoon rather than metal? No idea, but that is actually the norm I see with lots of cooking here. I would never call myself a chef or a cook so I’m not sure of what else one might use.
Once the reindeer and bacon and spices have had time to cook- a good 30 minutes or so (could be more, could be less, I went out for a quick run in the middle so actual timing I’m not sure of 100%), but anyways, it is now time for the secret ingredient- beer. NOTE- this is not a “standard” recipe and you will most likely find many households who don’t cook it this way, but this is an ingredient my boyfriend’s mother uses and not only does it seem to do the trick, might contribute to why I feel it is the best reindeer EVER. Anyone who cooks with wine or other alcohol knows that the actual alcohol cooks away and it is the flavor that is valued in the recipe. Regular old Lapin Kulta beer is the brand.
And that’s it, about an hour to cook and simmer with all the ingredients and you’re done! Below is the finished product- tastes as good (or better) as it looks- or if you think it doesn’t look good, oh boy does it look 100% better then. It’s really amazing and a must for ANYONE traveling to Finland (or any other place in the world where you can get reindeer! I will so miss this until the next time we make it back to 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:
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 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!
Hi Frozen-Reindeer readers. Tomorrow I have my Finnish final. Today I had to study, work and finish packing and I didn’t have time to write a good blog post (hope you understand). We are leaving or Finland tomorrow (Wednesday) and I want to show where we’re going.
* A treat for any Finnish readers or people who know a little or none at all- this post is in English (above) and Finnish (below). Also, this video has been posted previously but I didn’t want to leave this post empty. Figured something old was better than nothing!
Terve Frozen-Reindeerin lukijat. Houmenna minulla on minun Suomen kurssin päätöskoe. Tänään minun täytyi opiskella, käydä töissä ja viimeistellä pakkaukseni ja minulla ei ollut aikaa kirjoittaa hyvää blogi viestiä. Lähdemme kohti Suomea huomenna (keskiviikkona) ja minä haluan näyttää minne menemme.
Video from last winter in Rovaniemi, Finland- thanks U2 for providing the music!
On Friday, July 25th, 2008, Tarja Halonen, the president of the republic of Finland became honorary Dr. Tarja Halonen. The ceremony took place at 10am in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) as part of FinnFest 2008 in Duluth, Minnesota. Below is a photo and video recap of the days events including the music of the Sieur Du Luth Festival Orchestra; a welcome address by UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin; The singing of the Finnish National Anthem (I did not include the U.S. National Anthem but might upload later); The Honor Song; The presentation of Tarja Halonen’s degree; Tarja Halonen’s speech and address to the crowd, followed by the performance of Finlandia conducted by Gaetano Colajanni. Enjoy!
Photos From left: 1) waiting outside the DECC for Tarja Halonen; 2) stage prior to Tarja Halonen’s arrival; 3) arrival of Tarja Halonen’s husband and Delegation of the President of the Republic of Finland; 4) The color guard leaving the stage; 5) Performance of the honor song by MA-IIN-GAN singers; 6) Procession of Tarja Halonen to stage
Part 1 – Academic Procession of Tarja Halonen to stage
Part 2 – Tarja Halonen walking to stage
Part 3 – Welcome Address
Part 4 – Finnish National Anthem
Part 5 – Introduction of Tarja Halonen
Part 6 – Awarding Tarja Halonen her degree
Part 7 – Tarja Halonen’s Speech
Part 8 – Finlandia performance (part 1)
Performed by Sieur Du Luth Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Conducted by Gaetano Colajanni
Finland performance (part 2)
So, our first day in Duluth, MN for FinnFest 2008 is coming to a close and we have had one heck of a day. At 6pm this evening as we walked into our hotel room, I sprawled out on the bed and just crashed because I was so exhausted. We walked around everywhere, saw a lot of the things in the area, and ate a lot! Duluth is an awesome city in terms of scenery. The weather was perfect today (a comfortable 75 degrees or so) no humidity and just slight clouds in the sky- enough to provide us with some good photos. But hilly…wow. Definitely not the flat lands of Minneapolis we have become accustomed to.
So, FinnFest…where do I start? We went by the DECC around 1pm to pick up our program schedule books. Things were pretty quiet at this point- kind of like the calm before the storm. The festival didn’t officially start until later today, with most things including workshops, presentations and musical events beginning on tomorrow (Thursday). So we got to get settled in and scope things out before the crowds (which for me was great). After grabbing our books we headed out to Canal Park to walk around and grab something to eat. The weather was just too beautiful to spend the day inside.
Canal Park and Canal street are great, fun places. We strolled up the street and grabbed a quick lunch at Subway then spent the next hours just floating around the street and the shore. The photos tell the events better than I could. Enjoy those below- click on each photo for the larger size.
After some sight seeing, some food and some coffee, we felt it was time to head over to the DECC and check out some FinnFest stuff. By this time, around 3pm or so, things were really picking up, the crowds were coming in and my boyfriend was totally excited. We got our official FinnFest 2008 T-shirts and bags and headed in to the food court which led into the tori. We made our list for what we planned to eat the next day while spending Thursday at FinnFest- pulla, hot dogs, lots of coffee and milk to quinch the thirst of a small army (or thousands of Finns!) Milk is a Finnish native’s staple product if you did not now. They seem to drink it more than water! One of the food court spots had a special Finnish coffee menu that we’re gonna try out tomorrow. View below. Funny thing about the food court: As we walked in, my boyfriend saw another festival goer with his same last name- being that these were mostly people of Finnish descent there was a small chance they could be related…turns out his heritage from a more southern region than my boyfriend’s family but they were able to strike up a good conversation and share their connection to Finland.
So then, next we had the tori or ‘market’ in English. Oh, what a great place. We only gave ourselves a small taste since we knew Thursday was dedicated completely to FinnFest. In just a short period of time, my boyfriend was striking up Finnish conversations right and left with some of the vendors who were directly from Finland or Finns living in the U.S. I even got to practice my own Finnish- not in as bad a shape from not practicing much over the summer as I thought which was nice to find out! I think I might learn this language after all!
We grabbed ourselves some candy, scoped out places to buy rye bread before we head back to Minneapolis- big excitement from my boyfriend who misses this almost as much as he misses his family back in Finland. We also got lots of great reading material and found some great local artifacts. Can’t wait to head back tomorrow. Here are a few videos from inside the tori. Glad we got to give it a once over before it crowds up tomorrow.
As we left the festival on the first day we grabbed some ice cream which was so good, I wonder how much I’ll be able to take before Friday…I’m totally going to find out, it was absolute heaven!! So, think that covers day 1. Tomorrow brings more events, some workshops and presentations, food, coffee and hopefully candy!
Signing off for Day 1. Check out our day 1 goodies below- this festival is sooo great!! Hyvää yotä Duluthista (good night from Duluth)