Restaurant Day 2014 (a mini post)

It’s cold! I could honestly say that about most days here, but how cold it actually feels can vary quite a lot despite the temperature being the same (for example, today’s +2C — roughly 36 degrees — felt much, much colder than yesterday’s +2C). The good news, as I was assured by some locals today, is that today’s weather is nothing compared to -20C. How the Finns can see the bright side of things.

I wanted to just do a little update about an annual event called Restaurant Day. Well, apparently it was today. And luckily, I was able to go! Restaurant Day is a day where basically anybody can set up shop and sell all kinds of food. I unexpectedly ran into the food festival when I was making my way to the harbor to grab a bite to eat (a plan that I quickly abandoned). I’d read about Restaurant Day before I arrived in Helsinki, but I had no idea that it was, well, today. Right place, right time!

There were all sorts of different cuisines from around the world being sold, but I gravitated towards more Asian foods. There were no special requirements for being able to sell something, so you were just as likely to see somebody selling a home-cooked meal as you would somebody selling one of their restaurant’s staples. It was definitely neat to see (and delicious to taste!), and it was nice seeing Esplanade Park so busy on what was a relatively drab rainy day.

Not a ton of pictures, but I took a few! Click on them to see an enlarged view.

Esplanade Park was busy! The park is one of the most popular meeting places in summer (it's a beautiful place for picnics/eating ice cream), but it was nice to see so many people come out on a rainy day.

Esplanade Park was busy! The park is one of the most popular meeting places in summer (it’s a beautiful place for picnics/eating ice cream), but it was nice to see so many people come out on a rainy day.

My first dish, takoyaki! They're a popular street food in Japan, and they're made of octopus. One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego serves them, so I was able to get a little taste of California here in Finland.

My first dish, takoyaki! They’re a popular street food in Japan, and they’re made of octopus. One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego serves them, so I was able to get a little taste of California here in Finland.

The next snack, Chubby Buns! It consisted of meat patty on top with a chewy, doughy base. "Make sure not eat the leaf!"

The next snack, Chubby Buns! It consisted of meat patty on top with a chewy, doughy base. “Make sure not eat the leaf!”

Obligatory selfie.

Obligatory selfie. And photographic evidence that I got a haircut.

Next snack: A gingerbread cupcake and a spiced cider-y drink. Delicious, and most crucially, hot. I may have gone back for seconds of the drink. Or thirds.

Next snack: A gingerbread cupcake and a spiced cider-y drink. Delicious, and most importantly, hot. I may have gone back for seconds of the drink. Or thirds.

The next snack was a braised pork sandwich with a chili/bellpepper topping. The day was filled with all sorts of delicious food.

The next snack was a braised pork sandwich with a chili/bellpepper topping. The day was filled with all sorts of delicious food.

There were tents stretching all of Esplanade Park. Each one sold a different kind of food or specialized in a particular cuisine from around the world.

There were tents stretching all of Esplanade Park. Each one sold a different kind of food or specialized in a particular cuisine from around the world.

Vietnamese sticky rise was next on the list.

Vietnamese sticky rise was next on the list.

And finally, a chocolate ball covered with coconut. I asked what exactly it was, but they didn't know the word in English. It's a popular sweet here in Finland though. And yeah, that's definitely thirds on the spiced cider. I had to take one on the road to warm back up.

And finally, a chocolate ball covered with coconut. I asked what exactly it was, but they didn’t know the word in English. It’s a popular sweet here in Finland. And yeah, that’s definitely thirds on the spiced cider. I had to take one on the road to warm back up.

BONUS STORY: 

Today and yesterday have been really good days in large part because I’ve been able to see my favorite street musician perform in the Helsinki City Center. His name is Feodor Grigoryev, and he plays glass bottles!

Feodor sets up right in the middle of the city center and will play for hours. I read that in winter he is forced to put anti-freeze into the bottles (for obvious reasons). He's been my favorite person to watch since I arrived in Helsinki.

Feodor sets up right in the middle of the city center and will play for hours. I read that in winter he is forced to put anti-freeze into the bottles (for obvious reasons). He’s been my favorite person to watch since I arrived in Helsinki.

I haven’t seen him perform for a while (I don’t know if he’s been in Helsinki lately, as he commutes between Helsinki and his hometown of St. Petersburg), so I was really excited to see him play yesterday. People usually rush by him and maybe drop some change in his box, but I love listening to him play. I think I probably listened to five or six songs yesterday, and then the same amount today. His playing is so upbeat, and it brings me back to the sunny summer days when I first explored Helsinki and heard his music — no need to rush! Even in this gloomy weather, you can be taken back to the warmer days of summer! Right before I left yesterday, I left him a freshly-baked pretzel and a korvapuusti (a Finnish/Scandinavian cinnamon roll) and waved goodbye and thank you. I was lucky to see him again today, but I never know when I’m going to see him next, so I just try to enjoy his performances while I can. Watching him play always brings a smile to my face, so I hope I can see him play again soon!

You can learn more about Feodor at his website: bottles4music.com

And here’s a video of him performing! It’s really impressive, so please check it out:

(I actually saw him play this yesterday. It’s one of my favorite pieces. That bit at the end gets me every time.)

And that’s the end of this post. Short, but sweet (I hope). I apologize for not having put up the rest of the St. Petersburg posts/pictures up yet. I was bit busy/lazy this week. I plan to get the rest up in the next few days. But for once, I posted something about Finland! There will be more to come though, especially as the days get colder and nighttime arrives earlier (it gets dark around 4:30ish or 5 now). Writing these blog posts usually takes a lot of time (and energy), so pardon the long periods of time between each one. I’ve got plenty to write about though and I’ve taken tons of pictures, so look forward to more in the future.

Oh, and I go Copenhagen on Thursday!

Thanks for reading!

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