Finally May 19 has arrived! I was waiting for it since a few weeks ago, when I discovered restaurant day. Basically, on restaurant day everyone can open their own restaurant or café anywhere. It could be a park, a backyard, an apartment or office, or even a window! Whoever participates can decide the menu and how to set up the restaurant. It’s not only an event about eating, but also about food culture. Restaurant day started in Helsinki one year ago, and took place four times since then. The last one was on Saturday, May 19, 2012. This time I only participated as a “customer”, but who knows, maybe one day I will have my own pop-up restaurant!
The event website also posted the information about the registered restaurants. Apparently, more than 700 people participated, in several different countries. Among them, more than 300 were in Helsinki. So, I planned my “restaurant journey” in advanced, and picked some restaurants and cafés which looked interesting to me, with preference to Italian-themed ones. Here you are my restaurant day itinerary!
My first stop was 77 organic cookies in Kruununhaka. I arrived in Mariankatu, and at some point I’ve found a chair with a map. I followed the directions and got into an inner backyard, where Grégoire was selling cookies and espresso through a window. It was so interesting! I’d never seen a cafè “through a window” before. I got a double choco cookie with pecan nuts and skipped coffee for the next stop.
My breakfast continued with the second place, the gran caffè Loungeria. For the occasion, Mikko and the staff of the Lounge transformed a hair salon in a café for one day. They served espresso, macchiato and cappuccino, and had a selection of Italian cookies from Signora Delizia. The place was cozy and the atmosphere very relaxed. I felt I was in a real caffè!
Then, I moved to the design district for my third stop. It was lunch time when I arrived in front of Eiring, a store selling professional cookware and fine food from all over Europe, including Italy. Eiring hosted the Apulia restaurant, where chefs Lina and Domenico prepared plenty of spaghetti alla San Giovannino, a traditional dish from Puglia with tomato sauce, black olives and anchovies. Yummy! Apulia restaurant also had a “pay what you think is fair” policy, and handed over the proceeds to charity.
Well, I had to go for a walk after lunch! So I moved to the next place in my list in Punavuori. Among the restaurants that popped up in the Sinebrychoff Park, I picked fat Tony’s BBQ ribs. The menu also included Kobe steaks, and all meats were skillfully grilled by the chefs.
I moved next to Hietalahti to pay a visit to Punainen Sakara, which claimed to be a North Korean restaurant. I was so interested because I don’t know much about that kind of food, even though I’m from South Korea. However, I only found military uniforms and a picture of Kim Jong Il, but I did not see any North Korean food – actually almost no Asian food at all, even not any kimchi or rice. I was so disappointed! But maybe my expectations were too high.
I finally went to the last stop at aperitivo melomangio. The idea behind the restaurant was pretty simple: the menu is one Italian aperitivo, consisting of a drink and a plate of stuzzichini – literally something which can stimulate the appetite before a meal. Since the organizers are originally from Abruzzo, the stuzzichini were mostly from that region. They included salumi and cheese from organic farming and bruschetta. There was also timballo abruzzese, basically lasagne where thin crapes are used instead of egg pasta. The plate also had olive ascolane, green olives stuffed with ground meat and fried, a dish from Ascoli Piceno (which is actually in the neighboring Marche region). That reminded me of Italy so much! In most Italian bars you can find an aperitivo like this, where the drink is usually wine or some light cocktail. Well done melomangio!
The next restaurant day will take place on August 19, 2012. Are you ready for your pop-up restaurant!?