Chanoy Honeymoon: Helsinki, December 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

K and I have always talked about doing a cruise at some point in our lives. The main problem is that it really isn’t the type of holiday that suits us (me mainly!) – the idea of gambling and drinking in international waters isn’t quite enough of a lure for me. Combined with that, I also tend to get horrible motion-sickness so spending multiple days cooped up on a rocking boat isn’t an ideal scenario.

Still we decided to book ourselves on an overnight cruise with Viking Line from Stockholm to Helsinki, figuring that a short fourteen-hour cruise would be a good way to decide if a longer cruise in the future would be suitable. Having done it though, I don’t see us cruising any time soon – we spent part of the night with immense headaches and nausea as the ship rolled through turbulent waters, and the jangling and ringing of the poker machines on board weren’t particularly appealing either. Oh well. At least the cabin was surprisingly clean and well-maintained?

The most important thing is that the cruise took us to Helsinki, a hip and trendy little city that’s quite uniquely its own. With both Scandinavian and Russian influences, relics of a time when Finland was merely a vassal state for both Sweden and Russia, the main buildings and attractions of the city has a certain charm. ‘New’ Finnish architecture is particularly interesting as architects have sought to establish a firm national identity over the past century – buildings like the Church in the Rock,  the Kamppi Chapel, and Alvar Aalto’s Sugarcube are incredibly unique and a distinguishing point for the city.

Innovative design plays a large part in Helsinki. Marimekko, arguably the largest Finnish design brand worldwide, has a large presence in the city with some notable storefronts. I also enjoyed browsing through the Iittala store, and needless to say as a designer, K was in his absolute element when browsing through these stores.

We had some nice meals out including the most amazing burgers at Roslund and a Sunday brunch at the historic Karl Fazer Cafe with my friend Hanna. We ate a fair number of delicious Karelian pastries as well, a Finnish specialty! Taking advantage of the wonderful Christmas markets in Senate Square, we tried food featuring reindeer meat (when in Finland…) from a few different stalls. The reindeer sausage was quite tasty thanks to the addition of eleven assorted herbs and spices, but our attempt to try ‘fusion food’ with a reindeer meat ramen was a terrible decision. One bite of the ramen was all we could stomach before we threw it out – I can’t even explain how terrible it tasted. We won’t be rushing back for reindeer meat any time soon!

One of the real highlights of our stay in Helsinki was the fact that we were there for St Lucia’s Day. This saint’s day is celebrated in Scandinavia with the St Lucia’s Parade, where one lucky girl is chosen to represent St Lucia with her white robes and a crown of candles. In Helsinki, St Lucia is crowned at twilight in the Cathedral before descending the stairs of Senate Square, waving to the thousands of people gathered to see her, and joining a procession of Christmas-themed carriages down the main shopping street. I’m glad that we were there to experience it, as it’s not something we would celebrate in Australia!

Helsinki’s a gorgeous city, and there’s lots more that the city offers that we didn’t get time to do. Three and a half days was certainly not enough, however visa restrictions meant that we had to leave Scandinavia by the 14th of December and move onto a non-Schengen country – Russia! More to come on that soon.

Review: Roslund Meatshop, Helsinki Finland

Oh wow. I’m no burger connoisseur, but I know when I eat an excellent burger and Roslund Meatshop in the Hietalahden Market Hall in the south-west of Helsinki city sure does serve up an excellent burger! Their burgers were recommended to me by James, a former colleague who knows Helsinki very well after many visits over many years – the first as an exchange student in his teens.

Helsinki as a city is on the smaller side and therefore very walkable but Hietalahden Market Hall is a little bit out of way. Expect to walk for about twenty minutes from Senate Square before you get there. It’s very unprepossessing from the outside but don’t let that fool you – there’s a wealth of dining (and food shopping) options inside in addition to Roslund Meatshop.


Roslund is definitely the location that everyone flocks to though. While most of the other eateries had one or two people dining in at the time we went (3pm is not exactly peak traffic time!), Roslund was dealing with a queue of more than fifteen young, cool, hipster locals looking for their afternoon burger fix.

The menu is simple. Burgers are the specialty but they also offer other items from their deli counter including pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork, ribs, and steaks. We ordered two of the burgers, but shied away from trying the third – a bearburger using Finnish bear meat mince. After an unpleasant experience with reindeer meat the day before, we weren’t quite adventurous enough to try bear meat!


After placing and paying for our order (thank god for Finns and their fluent English!), we decided to take a seat on the counter rather than upstairs in their dining area, so that we would have a better view of the open kitchen. We watched the line cook shape the freshly ground local beef into burger patties by hand before slapping them onto the grill and placing a thick slice of cheddar cheese on top to melt.

From here, it’s interesting to note that the burgers aren’t cooked and finished on the grill – they’re taken off the grill just as they’ve got that delicious smoky flavour, placed on a tray, and then finished off in a commercial oven so as to keep the juices in the burger.

Rosburger and fries, 13 Euro
Rosburger and fries, 13 Euro+

This attention to detail certainly pays off! The first burger we ordered was the house Rosburger, described as ‘100% Finnish beef mince, spicy Russian dressing, coleslaw, pickled cucumbers, 12 month matured cheddar cheese and bacon’, with an additional serve of chips on the side. This is not a burger you can pick up and eat easily with your hands. I made the mistake of trying, and was rewarded with a mixture of dressing and burger juices running down my hands and arms. Roslund don’t expect you to eat it with your hands – just grab some cutlery and do your best to get an even mouthful of one of the freshest and tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.

Cheeseburger and side salad, 12 Euro
Cheeseburger and side salad, 12 Euro+

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the behemoth that is the Rosburger, why not try a simpler Cheeseburger? It’s essentially the same burger as the Rosburger but without the coleslaw and bacon, making it a more manageable size. I do recommend ordering a side salad with the cheeseburger though – not only for the sake of having some vegetables, but because the creamy vinaigrette dressing served with the salad is actually extremely delicious, and a great counterpart to the spicy dressing in the burger.

Roslund’s burgers have all the right ingredients – freshly ground beef (or bear!) straight from the deli, soft brioche buns, the best melted cheese, tangy spicy sauce, and most importantly, a reverence for cooking meat the right way. They don’t kill the cow a second time by overcooking the burger on the grill, they leave it there just long enough to enhance the flavour before finishing it off in the oven. If you’re looking for a great burger in Helsinki – this is the place to go.

Roslund Meatshop is located in Hietalahden kauppahalli on Lönnrotinkatu in Helsinki.