Just back from a weeklong drive around Finland. Maitohorsma is in full bloom all over Finland, and the scenery is incredibly pretty, although a bit repetitive. Trees, trees and a whole lot more trees, dotted with lakes and more lakes.
One of the biggest challenges to traveling in Nordic countries is that in most smaller places, food options are really limited, ranging from dreary to dismal. On many previous car trips, a cheap portable grill in the trunk has been the perfect solution and the provider of some really memorable meals. This time, however, my husband was pretty fussy about his new car: ashes and bits of coal floating anywhere near it was a definite no-no. So before we started out, I had pretty low expectations foodwise – I wondered whether it is possible to travel in Finland for a week without resorting to either one of our recently adopted national dishes, pizza or kebab.
Considering that we didn’t really plan our trip in advance, we managed to eat surprisingly well throughout the trip. We relied on a few Google searches, local newspapers, and asking around. Although my main impression is that the most decent options in smaller places involves seeking out the skillful women who provide mass catering for schools and workplaces, we managed to have a few decent (if not stellar) meals in more gourmet oriented restaurants in larger cities like Kuopio. In general, the average price of a meal in a Finnish restaurant is slightly higher than what I got used to in New York: the quality of food is often a bit lower, as most Finnish customers are not particularly demanding. High quality produce and fresh fish were surprisingly hard to find (nigiri in Oulu – buyer beware). And too many places with chichi aspirations still resort to bizarre finishing touches – what’s with the pea shoots?
Anyhow, it’s good to be back home. The strawberry season is almost over, and I should make a few pretty jars of jam before it is too late. Before that, however, a recipe I have repeated countless times this summer –
The Ultimate Strawberry Daiquiri
serves 2 to 4, depending on the size of the glasses
5 dl ice
125-200 g frozen strawberries (softened for about 15-30 minutes before starting)
0.5 dl sugar
the juice of 1/2 lime
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1 dl dark rum
In a sturdy blender, combine ice, sugar and strawberries. Pour in lime juice, lemon juice and rum. Blend until smooth, the consistency of slush.
Rub the rim of a glass with the peel of the squeezed lime, dip in salt or sugar to create a frosty rim. Pour the daiquiri into glasses and serve.
As you prepare daiquiris a few times, you become more confident with the proportions and can start pouring without measuring. Adaptations are also fun: my current favorite involves equal amounts of ice and frozen strawberries, 2 tbsp of sugar and the juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 to 1 dl of Bacardi Coco. (I know coconut liqueur sounds incredibly tacky, but I ran out of dark rum and the tequila I bought in Tijuana tastes of pizza herbs. The combination of strawberry and coconut works nicely as a dessert drink).
If you are pregnant or still waiting for the liver transplant, virgin daiquiris will work, too: you can substitute lemon-lime soda (Sprite or 7Up) for the rum. And yes, this is one of the really few recipes where frozen strawberries will work much better than fresh ones.