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North Karelia
Etusivu / Travelling / North Karelia / Culture and history / Traditional and modern cuisine
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Traditional and modern cuisine in North Karelia


In Finnish cuisine there are traditionally two trends: eastern and western. Some of the influences of Western cuisine came from Sweden and Catholicism. Food was cooked on the stove, no mushrooms were eaten but there were a lot of blood and sausage dishes. Bread was baked in great quantities and eaten dried. Eastern cuisine has its roots in the Slavonic, Orthodox tradition of cooking food in the oven. Mushroom dishes were consumed in abundance and bread was baked every week as it was eaten soft and fresh in addition to pies and pasties.

The cuisine of North Karelia is part of Eastern Finnish cuisine, which is based on food cooked in the oven. For instance, the area of Ilomantsi was fully Orthodox before the 17th century. Orthodox cuisine with its fasting tradition is still preserved in Karelian cuisine. An example of this is the abundance of mushroom, fish and vegetable dishes. Many kinds of pies, pasties and rye loaves stuffed with swedes, potatoes and meat are also a part of our eastern cuisine.

After the appearance of the first water powered flour mills in the 17th century, the processing of grain became easier. However, for a long time even after that grain was ground by hand stones. Nowadays in many places old flour mills have been renovated and turned into museums, for instance, in Värtsilä, Juuka, Tuupovaara and Kitee.

Places of Interest:Restaurant Parppeinpirtti

The generous Karelian buffet of the restaurant Parppeinpirtti situated in Ilomantsi, the easternmost municipality in Finland, combines the ancient culinary traditions of the region and modern tastes. Its rich menu includes various salads with forest mushrooms, carrot-garlic salad, Karelian cabbage, tomato-onion salad as well as pickled cucumbers, jam made of lingonberries and carrots, goat cheese terrine, beetroot terrine, cold-smoked salmon, herring, smoked roach, various pasties, minced egg and butter, salmon baked in cream, Karelian stew, oven baked root vegetables, stewed berries, tea and coffee, non-alcoholic malt beer and black currant juice.

Karelia a la Carte is not only the chain of North Karelian cuisine restaurants but also that of enterprises connected with tourism, local food and handicrafts. The network of food tourism includes over 80 enterprises in the region. The restaurants of the Karelia a la Carte are filled with the tender aroma of roast wild hog meat, mutton and Karelian stew. Anyone who has tried local cuisine will remember the dishes of vendace and other lake fish, forest and shiitake mushrooms, stewed vegetables, terrines and rye bread for a long time. These are accompanied with different kinds of honey, flavored mustard, berry juices, berry jams, birch sap and various traditional Karelian pasties melting in your mouth. You will be guaranteed to get freshly baked Karelian pasties at the cáfe Martta at Joensuu Market Square in the summer.

The dishes of the traditional Karelian cuisine such as Karelian pasties are perfect when served with North Karelian berry wines or birch sap and as a dessert North Karelian ice cream. Most of the birch sap produced by Nordic Koivu Ab is sold to the international market. Its head office and bottling plant are situated in Tohmajärvi in North Karelia. The Hermanni winery in Ilomantsi is the oldest in Finland and the first to have started the production of sparkling wines made of berries. The products of the winery are made of berries picked in North Karelia. The winery has a shop and a café restaurant Viinitorni at the top of the 33-meter-high water tower. Ice cream from Vuonos (Vuonoksen jäätelö) being situated in Outokumpu is the first farm dairy whose products you will find in the farm shop as well as in several shops, restaurants and cáfes.
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