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Foodie in Finland

Local fish and game play a prominent – and delicious – role in Lappish cuisine. Lappish cuisine features many unique ingredients found only in the sparkling clear waters, the forests, and the bogs of the north. Lappish cuisine lives according to the season and is very much based on the natural resources available. Many traditional methods of preparing Lappish cuisine are still used today and it can be found on restaurant menus all through Finland. Let me tempt you with some of our favorite dishes and restaurants from Lapland!

Lappish Cuisine

Sauteed reindeer

Sauteed Reindeer

One of the most traditional Lappish dishes is sauteed reindeer, which is kind of like little chips of roasted reindeer. It is typically served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. Hotel Ilveslinna in Ranua serves us a delicious buffet lunch for just €12.50 per person that features sauteed reindeer.

Lappish Cuisine

Reindeer pizza

Reindeer Pizza

I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking the exact same thing when we heard that we were going to restaurant that serves reindeer pizza. But Tim and I will try just about anything once and Puistopaviljonki (say that five times fast!) in Kemi is renowned for their delicious pizzas. The pizzas are made from scratch and the menu features the “renna” pizza with reindeer, peaches, red onions, and feta cheese. The combination might sound a bit odd, but it is absolutely delicious! And the Malbec wine paired perfectly with it.

Lappish Cuisine

Reindeer soup

Reindeer Soup

Are you seeing the theme here? Reindeer is delicious and a very lean red meat with only around 4% fat. Reindeer is a main food source in Lapland and another way it is served up is as reindeer soup. We had reindeer soup all over Lapland, but our favorite by far was at Sokeri-Jussin Kievari in Oulu. It is a cream-based soup with cold-smoked reindeer roast chopped up with false morel mushrooms (which even Tim ate even though he hates mushrooms) and is served with rye bread that is perfect for dipping. It was so good we ate at Sokeri-Jussin Kievari twice just for the reindeer soup!Jdombs-Travels-Reindeer-Finland

Smoked Reindeer

In the old days, smoking was a way of preserving meat. Well, I’m glad that the tradition of smoking reindeer has lived on because it is delicious! Our favorite way to enjoy smoked reindeer is on a cracker with a bit of cream cheese and a thin slice of smoked reindeer. Pick up smoked reindeer, which travels easily home, at the Oulu Market Hall or in many supermarkets throughout Lapland.

Lappish Cuisine

Elk meatballs

Elk Meatballs

Elk meatballs are meatballs made from minced elk meat. Sokeri-Jussin Kievari has a section of their menu dubbed Grandma’s Kitchen, featuring traditional Lappish dishes including elk meatballs. They are served in a creamy game sauce with buttery mashed potatoes and lignonberry sauce. Try the lingonberry red wine with the elk meatballs; it is perfect for pairing with game dishes.

Lappish Cuisine

Bear meatballs

Bear Meatballs

Like elk meatballs, bear meatballs are made from minced bear meat. Brown bears are the kings of Lapland and hunts are controlled with a limited number of permits each season. The meat has a distinct gamey taste, though slightly sweet. I liked it enough to have bear meatballs twice, though my favorite was at Gaissa in the Hotel Santa Claus in Rovaniemi. The bear meatballs are served with a black currant sauce and turnip puree as part of the 3-course Rovaniemi menu.

Lappish Cuisine

Cloudberries and reindeer pate

Lappish Cuisine

Cloudberry ice cream

Cloudberries

Cloudberries grow in bogs and marshes from 55°N to 78°N and can withstand cold temperatures well below -40°C. They sort of look like a blackberry, but are bright orange in color. They are a delicacy in the Arctic and prices can exceed €10 per kilogram. They are so prized in fact, gathers often keep cloudberry patches secret! Cloudberries have a very distinctive taste and are tart when eaten fresh. Overripe cloudberries become quite sweet and are often served in desserts like cloudberry ice cream.

Which of these dishes from the Lappish cuisine would you most like to try?

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure. Google+

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17 comments

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  1. Sofie

    Hmm, I’m a real food fan, but I have to say Lappish cuisine doesn’t look like something for me.
    Then again, when it’s that cold so often I probably wouldn’t mind some ‘rough and tough’ food.
    If I’d have to choose something from the phoos, i’d go for the ice cream. Of course::)

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    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    The ice cream was fantastic! I wish I could get cloudberries at home. I really like them. The reindeer is really good too and it’s very lean and healthy.

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  2. Mirella Guglielmi

    LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKED! Great!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Thanks, Mirella!

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    Jdomb's Travels Reply:

    Thanks, Mirella!

    [Reply]

  3. Larry

    All the dishes look fantastic. I don’t have any access to Reindeer but I have some White-Tailed Deer meet that I’m going to try if I can figure out some of these recipes.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    They make a dish that is smoked reindeer and then chip it into little pieces. Then they bake it in the middle of mashed potatoes like a casserole and serve with lignonberries. We actually had it with beef, but it was very tasty!

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  4. Leigh

    I’ll have the cloudberry ice cream – will definitely pass on bear but will be game enough to try reindeer.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Reindeer is delicious and very lean! Bear is definitely the “gamiest” of the meats. It has an unusual taste and is definitely not for everyone.

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  5. Water Habitat Retreat - A Palace Heritage Hotel in Jodhpur

    Fantastic foodie material for non-vegetarians.Cloudberry ice cream is looking wonderful, I hope same in taste too. :) :)

    [Reply]

    Jdomb's Travels Reply:

    Cloudberries are delicious!

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  6. Matt

    Reindeer actually sounds pretty tasty to me. I love to try different dishes, here in Peru they eat Alpaca which is equally healthy for you.

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    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    We would try alpaca. We’ve also heard camel is pretty tasty, though haven’t tried it yet. Reindeer is delicious though!

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  7. Andrea

    How good was reindeer? Was not expecting to enjoy it so much!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    I know! My dad hunts deer in Pennsylvania every year and we would have venison. But reindeer is so much more tasty! I like traveling to the arctic just to eat reindeer.

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  8. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    I’ve only eaten farmed venison meat once and didn’t love or hate it…. wonder if reindeer tastes similar? Better get used to eating it if we plan on going to Lapland!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Reindeer and venison aren’t quite the same. I really like reindeer but could take or leave venison. You’ll enjoy eating it and traveling in Lapland!

    [Reply]

  9. Nat

    Why would anyone want to eat Rudolph!? ;)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    LOL, Natalie! But Rudolph is just so tasty!

    [Reply]

  10. Ali

    I’d try most of that. Reindeer is pretty good, and some of those photos look delicious. It’s actually some of the sauces that don’t appeal to me, but the meat itself sounds good!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Most of the sauces are made from arctic berries, which are very tasty. The sauces are almost always served on the side, so you don’t have to use them. Though they really do enhance and compliment the flavors of the meat.

    [Reply]

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