Saturday, 24 October 2015

Some Alsace Poetry: Gustave Lorentz Tasting in Helsinki With A Nice Range of "Gastronomic" Wines

Few weeks ago in Muru, there were some amazing wines to taste in the afternoon, and some other amazing wines were getting ready to be tasted in the evening, there was a nice, slight rush.

Pascal Schiele, the export manager of the Alsace producer Gustave Lorentz, came all the way through Helsinki and I can only say that I was just lucky and happy to be invited to that tasting by a very good friend, and it was just a perfect, beautiful, sunny day for such a beautiful occasion. (Note: The tasting took place out of the service hours, therefore not public space.)

Pascal Schiele of Gustave Lorentz. Behind at left, Muru's DRC bottles getting ready for the tasting.
We started in the early afternoon with the introduction of Alsace and Gustave Lorentz by Pascal. Of course Alsace is certainly one of the most interesting regions in the world and some of the best wines come from there for sure, I had fallen in love with Alsace since the first Alsace Gewurztraminer I had some years ago and Pascal did quite a good introduction to Alsace, how sophisticated the production and consumption of the Alsace wine, how it is a way of living, a culture, a lifestyle as itself, and the Alsace vineyards, and their own vineyards and more. A lucky man would be born in Alsace probably. I just simply love the wines of Alsace.

Well, then, we started the tasting with the Pinot Noir Rose and Pinot Noir before the whites. There is no rule that all wine tastings would start with whites, there might be some whites that need to be tasted after some light bodied red, or the line up would require such order. Today was a good example for this. The winery is producing a series of organic wines called Evidence and we had the chance to taste all of them too, together with many other Grand Crus.

What I realized in the middle of tasting that all the wines had some kind of same structure like a backbone which is mellow, elegant, like reflecting a mathematical formula, a design, a same skeleton that every other element was build on after like acidity, tannins, aromas, minerality and so on. This same skeleton that every wine has regardless of variety, is probably the signature of their winemaker Markus. Simply intelligent wines.

Pinot Noir Rose 2014: Beautiful color, red apple and slight orange peel at the nose with berry aromas. Velvety texture in the mouth, fresh with a nice acidity.

Pinot Noir Evidence 2012: Little bit different, "out of the box" Pinot Noir with its darker color and very nice fruity character. First vintage of that wine. Rather than earthy and peppery notes, a beautiful fruit is dominant at the nose and mid palate. Slightly oaked as PNs in Alsace are usually not oaked. Supple, amazingly delicious, beautiful final with heavy flavors of ripe cherry and berry aromas. Very food friendly, so to say "gastronomic". I just thought about an oven baked salmon or bonito cooked with tomatoes to match with this red right before Pascal said that it might be good with fish too. It is just so normal to consume fish with today's elegant, beautiful, velvety and light reds. This is one.

Pinot Blanc Evidence 2013: Green notes with amazing acidity, well minerality at the palate. Great wine to be served by glass in a restaurant since it is quite "an introduction wine" to Alsace. Great acidity. Told as getting a bunch of rain during the harvest. Available in Alko at the moment (surprise!!!).

Riesling Reserve Magnum 2013: Amazing parfum. Floral with daisy notes. Very satisfying with citrus and green apple notes.

Riesling Evidence 2013: Very nice tipicity at the nose. Sharp citric flavors, very high acidity. I would love it with a traditional creamy Finnish salmon soup.

Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim, Grand Cru 2008: Simply amazing wine. Even a body is possible to talk about, very fruity while having a relatively high acidity, Very distinct color, great balance. With a half an hour decanting it could be just amazing. Lemon, apple notes with floral background, it is like walking in a spring field blossoming flowers, you can hear the bees flying around. Beautiful. Intelligent.

Riesling Kanzlerberg, Grand Cru 2007: Slight stone fruits notes followed by a little honey touch, then citrus aromas take the scene again. Wonderful performance, simply joyful wine, just made up to make your day happier.

Pinot Gris Evidence 2013: Citrus flavors as a signature, in, and then s slighly smoky touch like ham, or i am too drunk, high minerality with a warm but fruity final.

Gewurztraminer Altenberg De Bergheim 2010: I just got the parfum into my nose. I instantly got a smile on my face. I simply love Gewurztraminer. Would I get married again? With the right woman maybe yes, and Gewurztraminer would be the right woman I guess. Beautiful yet strong, funny yet serious, self-confident yet humble, down-to-earth yet charismatic, honest and loyal, passionate (I mean passion fruit in case of Gewurz). This is a tasting note. Yes. After these words, you should be able to understand how the fruit, acidity, body, structure and condition of the wine are. If you dont get it, come on, get some poetry and imagination into your life, which is the same as getting a bottle of well made Gewurz for your dinner, just like Altenberg De Bergheim 2010. It is a wine that I want to swim inside. The sugar is masked so well by the acidity, which makes it sooo "gastronomic".

Pinot Gris Selection De Grains Nobles 2008: Sweet wine. Beautiful amber color. Cooked fruit aromas with caramel in the mid palate, such a velvety, joyful structure.

Gewurztraminer Selection De Grains Nobles 2007: Very classic Gewurz tipicity which is beautiful. Intense aroma of caramel and honeycomb. Oaked. Very long final with the beautiful essence of tropical fruits.

Gastronomic. it is the right word. Alsace is anyway well known of producing gastronomic wines that match with such cuisines that does not include wine in their dining culture, such as Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc. and anyway Gustave Lorentz wines are greatly suitable for a great dining table.

I came home. Still felt like drinking something. Opened a bottle of red, no reason to say what it was, if so then it was French too, but my level of quality was so high that I just couldn't go more than half a glass, after having the very high quality wines of Gustave Lorentz, I could not enjoy that bottle I had and got a glass of water for myself. After having such well made, elegant, such beautiful, such serene wines, as the poet said "intelligent wines", then water might be the best beverage if you dont have anything to drink at least at the same level of intelligence.

By the way what is great about Restaurant Muru is that it is really a wine-driven restaurant running tastings and events every now and then, for example while we had this tasting by Finebrands, Team Muru was getting ready for a DRC tasting in the evening. Wine is not just a make-up for this team to correct their image and make money, but it is something "running" the restaurant, Samuil is doing a great job on keeping his crew, or lets say "pushing his crew" into wine, which is simply great and he takes that responsibility "to teach".

So at the moment, surprisingly(very), Alko has 3 products of Gustave Lorentz, some very recently started to be listed (Gustave Lorentz Evidence Pinot Blanc Biologique 2013, Gustave Lorentz Sylvaner Reserve 2014, Gustave Lorentz Riesling Reserve 2013). Go and check if you wanna have a idea about Gustave Lorenz. It is also available in some restaurants in Helsinki now... And Finebrands, thanks a lot, for the effort that is put in to bring such great wines to Finland. Do it.

May Alko shelves be filled with such wines like Gustave Lorentz. Greetings.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Wine Prices of Restaurant Grotesk in Helsinki: A Momentary Lapse of Riesling

"A Momentary Lapse Of Reason", one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums... A momentary lapse of reason. Also a very nice English phrase which is sometimes used to define "losing mind for a moment".

There is a restaurant in Helsinki, Grotesk, which the restaurant manager and sommelier Paul Hickman (and a good friend before all) started to sell the restaurants' wines for such prices with a very unexpected calculation method since more than a year now. Now I will write here his method of calculation. You will probably think that he lost his mind, maybe he has "a momentary lapse of reason". But no, actually what happens in Grotesk is a momentary lapse of Riesling!

Photo Courtesy:
Few days ago I met Paul in Grotesk and quickly talked about this calculation on paper. So when you check the wine list, you start to see prices like 30 something or 40 something or 50 something euros etc... Of course depending on the type and quality of wine, there are higher prices too and anyway because of the high rates of rent and other costs, it is simply hard to survive as a restaurant so restaurants might keep the wine prices high, even some of them very but very high. But now check how Grotesk's wine prices are calculated:

The retail price from the importer has a Value Added Tax (=VAT=Arvonlisävero=ALV=24%) "in it", so to calculate, before the wine goes into the wine list, this tax gets excluded, now what you have is the price without tax. Now a certain margin added on the price which is 20€ for every wine regardless of retail price, quality or reputation. After that the VAT (ALV) added on top of that final number and there we go, we now have the price to be presented in the wine list. Sounds complicated right? So let's make it easy by numbers:

For a wine that is bought 45€ per bottle from the importer:

45€ / 1.24=36.29€ is the price we got. Now 20€ is added on it:

36.29€+20€= 56.29€. Now the tax added on this number again:

56.29 + 56.29 x 0.24= 69.80€ is the price you will pay.

Crazy. Right? But why he does that? I did ask. What he said is that he is willing to change the wine culture and the idea of wine drinking in a restaurant by finding a method which will keep them survive but also make the customer to be able to have more wine without fear. True, most of us are anxious about prices in a restaurant when we are having a meeting with friends or going out with someone special. Also, wine is a culture, Finland must see this truth someday, people get drunk and lose their health shot after shot filled by heavy alcohol, but wine should not be considered as heavy alcohol, wine is a culture, is a liquid form of art, it is comfort food; it is meant to enjoy slowly, it is not something you can get drunk on if you really dont drink 2 liters of it alone in half an hour, which makes it never possible to enjoy!

So I think Paul did a very "aggressive decision" with this method and started to run it since more than a year. There are anyways only few really wine-driven restaurants in the town and if the restaurants, sommeliers and bloggers do not act, the wine culture will never improve.

May your glass be filled with fine wines. Greetings.

Friday, 11 September 2015

COGITO CATERING (Wine Events, Workshops, Private Cooking Services)

If you are interested in a private dinner with your friends and family or a tasting event to share and learn more about wine or looking for catering services, feel free to contact

 I will be more than happy to do my best to help you. Thank you/ Kiitos.

Like the Facebook page and see the photos, just click HERE

From one of my events in Helsinki

"Chef", a French word that means "Cook", the person who is performing the cooking process of the food materials. For some reason some people take this word "Chef" so serious which make it so hard to understand and it is even worse if these people have no idea about cooking or the restaurant business at all, and they think they have a right to teach you what "Chef" means, regardless of the lack of confidence they have. They think, when you say the word in French, it becomes a "label". (Nothing against the beautiful French culture and language though).

Because of the reasons related to this issue, I am proud to call myself "a simple cook", after I have seen such people call themselves "chef" without any experience and knowledge, more of these, without creativity "the most important". Only some people I know really deserve "the label meaning" of the word "Chef" and they are such humble and kind people that they mostly refuse this labeling and prefer to call themselves "A Cook".

I decided to become a cook after I got into wine culture and since then always have wanted to be a cook working on recipes to design specific flavors to match with specific wines, so as being a simple cook specializing to highlight the wine culture, I started my own private company and since then I do catering of wine events, beer events and other beverage events as well and cooked many dinners for private diners too.

So if you are interested to book, contact:

 I will be more than happy to do my best to help you. Thank you/ Kiitos.

Like the Facebook page and see the photos, just click HERE

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cogito is not a company that is selling wines. Sales, service and charge of alcoholic beverages are prohibited according to Finnish Alcohol Act if it is done out of a licensed premise which is open to public. Cogito applies all its services according to the Finnish Alcohol Act. Cogito aims to give catering services which are fun and informative, and wine service only would be a small part of the whole event with all the food, presentations and consultancy. Cogito never aims to advise and raise the alcohol consumption. Contact for more information.

For more info please continue to read:

Cogito is a small catering company highlighting wine and wine culture.

What does Cogito mean? 

We are living in an era which very big crowds of people had forgotten to think about what they drink and eat. Spending less time in the kitchen with the rush of the daily-urban life and slowly getting used to lose the sense of taste by consuming the industrial chemical vegetables, fruits and other products made us not to sense, therefore not to think about what we drink and eat. But once the wiseman said "COGITO, ergo sum. / I THINK, therefore I am. ". According to him, the existence came up with conscience. A quick analyze of this one of the most famous phrases of the philosophy history with today's nutrition-wise vision just brings up the idea of losing conscience hence existence. When we don't think about what we drink and eat, lack of thinking brings the question of nonexistence, that easily connects to the idea of "you are what you eat" too, an interesting and clear connection to what the wiseman said about existence. So dreaming about setting dinners and tastings where people have fun while thinking and discussing about the food, wine and other matching beverages made me start my company and think everyday about flavors and pairings. So much things to try, experience and learn. An expertise of wine&food is just simply impossible for a human life. So I read, learn and think. As much as I do, I realize how less I know. As I realize that, my hunger for knowledge grows bigger and I read, learn, and THINK more. Therefore COGITO!

Developing an interest in culinary arts and the passion of wine made me come up with an idea of setting up different wine events which for instance we taste red wine with fish and white wine with beef, compare wine to beer for cheese pairing and setting up many other events with the "out of the box" ideas while thinking and discussing with guests in a cozy, spontaneous and cheerful atmosphere. My type of wine tasting is a family dinner concept, funny, cheerful, friendly, rather than a silent, serious tasting like a business meeting. As Larry Stone said, wine is a comfort food, so put more wine on the table. Think winewise!

The very simple cook and the wine blogger behind Cogito

Contact via email - - 

for more info and bookings. Private dinners, private tastings, parties and all kind of activities

Like the Facebook Page and see photos, just click HERE

Thursday, 10 September 2015

This Ain't A Restaurant Critic, But More: 300 Hours In The Kitchen Of Juuri

Internet is full of restaurant critics. Anyone just writes many good and sometimes few bad things about the restaurants they eat in. But I find only some of them really accurate, as I know only some of them certainly have a realistic critical vision of food preparation, wine service and quality(what to look for in terms of expectation as a customer). Without the knowledge and the consideration of how hard and tiring to prepare a plate of food with all its protein source, vegetable and sauce condiments; writing without this "knowledge/vision" certainly makes someone incompetent, unfortunately. People simply do not know what to appreciate and what not to care about. Many bloggers go to a restaurant only once and mostly write so many extremely good things, or bad things. But writing about a restaurant by only one visit is I think really wrong, unfair and inadequate. Internet makes people think they are strong and effective, but reality doesn't work like that. Only some of the bloggers I know have such a knowledge and respect for this business which make them trustworthy to follow what they write.

Photo Courtesy:
I dont say all these just to bore the readers, but I do say these to legalize all the words I will now write here about one of the casual-fine dining restaurants in Helsinki, Juuri Keittiö ja Baari (Juuri Kitchen and Bar so to translate). Not I was only a customer here, I was also an intern in this kitchen and worked 300 hours among "the heroes behind the doors" and after the first week of what I all have seen here, I starkly decided to write about Juuri because I saw that it deserves to pay serious attention.

When I was looking for a good place for an internship, a good place that I can learn, that Juuri came up as one of my few options. A friend of mine did intern there before me and I asked that friend about how Juuri was, as an experience. The answer was: "Yiiiieah, huuh huh... The big and tough guys. Good luck." Well that was not encouraging. It was really not encouraging to hear such words but still I decided to meet the head chef Jukka Nykänen and try my chance since I heard many good things about the food they serve in Juuri and to be honest their menu has been always interesting, full of pickled, cured dishes, many vegetables and interesting sauces etc. Especially Sapas, the Finnish style Tapas, where the "S" of Suomi (Finland in Finnish) replaces "T" of Tapas, is the name of many different small appetizers/starters, and are certainly one of the most interesting selections in what Helsinki restaurants have to offer.

So when I certainly decided to try it, I contacted maybe the most smiley restaurateur in Helsinki, Ilja Björs, one of the few personalities behind the idea of Juuri that was established more than 10 years ago. Via him, I reached the head chef Jukka and got an appointment with him, and then I went to Juuri, sat down together, discussed shortly and after all Jukka was positive about having me there. I was quite happy of that since I really wanted to be in that kitchen to see and learn about how their Sapas dishes are prepared already in action. I was going to be the first English speaking intern.


Samuli rocking the yellow beets
It is of course not easy to start in a new kitchen, you go in there, you have no idea where is the oil, where is the salt, sugar, where is the cutting board, where are the spices, what is used for what etc. Many questions and surprises while being extra careful to not to piss off anybody and interrupt their work. Starting in a new kitchen is quite embarrassing for the first few days, surely. And it was the same for my first day in Juuri too. It was a morning shift. It was a rainy, cold morning. I came and knocked the window after I saw Jukka from outside, working on the bread, then I walked to the door, another chef opened the door, Juuso, another big, tough looking guy, whom I was about to figure out that he is the most funniest and talkative hero in the kitchen actually. I remember, my first task was to chop red onions as brunoise, and I did, I did whatever I was taught in the culinary school for the perfect brunoise onion by the teachers and the cooking books, as I did when I worked in some other restaurants. Then suddenly I felt it, there was someone, a shadow, two big eyes behind me, I slowly turned over my shoulder, looked up and I saw his face, yes, that was Jukka looking at the onions over my shoulder, with sharp eyes and eye brows threading ("Jukan valvovan silmän alla" in Juuri slang :), he asked " What are you doing?" I said "Chopping brunoise." He said "Save them for another use and bring new onions, I show you." I did bring more onions and Jukka chopped them maybe 4 times smaller than what we were taught in the culinary school. The same story happened every day of my first week, with carrots, celeries, fennels and many more vegetables. You might think like "Hey so what, if one piece of carrot is little bit bigger than another?" Well then you can't simply get anywhere if you are looking for perfection in your plate. As simple as that. A simple cut might be the most important sometimes, you can only realize that at the final result, the plate. Also, it was about the level of cooking and the idea of perfection in the kitchen of Juuri, that even the simple cuts should be done with care. Sounds too much? Well just spend an evening in Juuri, you will understand what I mean.

Sakari rocking the evening service
Kyyttö Mozzarella in making

Juuri is OPEN EVERYDAY in a week, from Monday to Friday serving lunch and A la Carte and Saturday-Sunday only A la Carte. In a day in Juuri, kitchen starts with bread and cheese actions. I worked there last spring and at my time Juuri had own made mozzarella cheese made of the Kyyttö/Finnish Eastern cattle milk and a very delicious bread was made with their own growing yeast, everyday, fresh, delicious, beautiful. I am still a big fan of that bread. And then the last lunch preparations get to be done before 11:30am and at the same time preparations for evening service continues. The new orders come to kitchen anytime during the day. Almost all the ingredients used in Juuri are organic. In the kitchen, there is the recipe folder and every sous chef at least once touch this folder everyday to check a recipe, because it is so hard to remember all those different dishes, 12-15 different sapas with 4 different mains and 4 different desserts. What is hard in case of recipes is that the menu changing 6 times a year. The kitchen is so active, always new dishes coming up, I have seen Jukka with Kim working on new recipes at the back kitchen many times before, during or after the service, just the whole day whenever they have time for it. Jukka could easily change the menu only twice a year and keep the recipe issue easy. But no, the kitchen is always coming up with new recipes. I asked him why he is changing the menu 6 times a year, he just said these: "Well if I don't change then it is not a creative kitchen anymore. So many things are possible to do. I want this place to be a restaurant, not a museum. Otherwise it is just boring." I dont know what could be said after these words. He also has a background in restoration, he did study and worked in that business for some time until he decided to become a chef, so renewing things is his thing. Oh, there is also music included, he is also playing the guitars of a hardcore metal band, I know that some people call him "the killer chef" :)))

In Juuri lunch menu also changes twice a week. You can follow all the changes and news from the webpage What I most appreciate in Juuri, is that they put the same effort in lunch dishes, same high quality ingredients like the A la Carte menu, similar cooking methods, same ideas and same time to be spent for a plate with care and perfection. For the price, that quality food is a great offer for your business lunch meetings or just having a very high quality lunch for yourself. I worked in many kitchens in short and long terms before Juuri and the idea in many of those restaurants (not all) was basically, "it is lunch, customers pay less than a dinner, so throw the food on the plate whatever it is and send it to them." This idea does not exist in Juuri. The quality of lunch dishes and the effort they put in are not lesser than the dinner service. There is a certain standardization of quality in the kitchen of Juuri, no matter it is lunch or dinner. But dinner has of course much more different options to enjoy. But all in all, great ingredients coming together with creativity, lots of time spent in the kitchen, strong stocks and lots of flavor concentrations are the base of the idea behind Juuri. Concentrating flavors is very important. That much concentration I only saw two years ago during my internship in the two-Michelin starred Chez Dominique.

In Juuri lunch is also important and prepared very well

Many different condiments come together in small plates; "Sapas", plated by number of diners

I have eaten in Juuri twice during my internship. It was of course quite nice to see the other side of the restaurant running and see the customer reactions during the evening service. I had dinner once with a bunch of wine enthusiasts and once with a very good friend who has been in Juuri 4 years ago and had not liked it at all. Now probably Juuri is one of the first on his list if he needs to take friends or his guests out. For me both dinners I had were great experiences with concise yet complete wine list of the sommelier Pilvi. It is very important for a good restaurant to have a properly priced wine list with a philosophy behind it. Because restaurants exist to offer experiences to people to "restore" themselves not only by the food, but together with wines as an experience and a sense of a philosophy. The idea behind Juuri is serving high quality food with the best local ingredients that they could get with intelligently made, organic and natural wines,"intelligent wines/smart wines" that have serious characters and different layers of aromas and flavors(organic and natural wines don't always mean "intelligent wine"). Pilvi could easily take 120 labels in her wine list but what she does is focusing on well made organic and natural wines and having about 7-8 sparkling, 10-12 white, 10-12 red and 7-8 sweet wines. Also a very noble Rose. A good selection of beers and alcohol-free drinks can be found too. What is amazing is that all these amazing wines are also available by glass. This is just perfection customerwise.

Ulysse Collin, a very small artisanal champagne house, much more different and beautiful than any other giant house champagnes at this level and at the right side the beautiful, funky, natural style Christian Venier of a PN and Gamay blend, simply cheerful

Sommelier Pilvi, with her sweetest smile, has been in the restaurant business for 13 years in several positions like as a bartender and waitress. She started in Juuri about 6 years ago and she first started to be interested in wine culture when she was working together with Karoliina Kettunen in Juuri and got influenced by her and worked together until Karoliina left in 2011. Then same year the wine bar Latva started to run in a 50 meters distance to Juuri (just around the corner) and Pilvi became responsible of the wine lists of both Juuri and Latva. She did manage very well by focusing on certain things. For example, if there is a question for Pilvi: Are you more into the story of the wine or just the price, flavor and label design enough for you?

-I am definitely more interested in the story and the producer. It all depends on what kind of effort and philosophy was put into that wine. Also organic and biodynamic wines are more interesting to me.

Do you educate the staff?

-Yes, I educate the staff 6 times a year every time the food menu changes, because I add new wines to the list also.

Tell little bit about your pricing policy.

-I keep the prices mostly about between 45-60€ that makes them affordable, reachable. I want customers to be able to drink these wines and I want to show them little bit different wines in my list.

This is what Pilvi says. There is also a small tasting room in Latva, you just need to contact and book it for your private events, wine tastings etc.

Roni, the food&beverage manager, is the key man who is one day running the restaurant side of Juuri, another day making coctails in Latva, and another day cooking the lunch in Latva, and another day probably running to another task. He is ready to handle anything with his cooking background. After a whisky talk we had, he showed me his tattoos on his arm (A Scottish island figure and his son's name in one word; "Jura" :) I asked him how he sees the improvement of Juuri in time since he has been working there for such a long time. "We are always improving because always trying to do the better of whatever we do and when we achieve it, it becomes our new standard and next time we try even better than that, until we achieve it."

The amazing Mosse Anjou which is a natural style Chenin and beautiful Chateau de Gaure Campagne, a classic southern blend from the Mediterranean coast of France

And of course other people working there during my intern... Some of the most friendly and funny chefs, for example Juuso, he will never stop talking and keep the laughter going on in the kitchen. He is just great and if you had a hangover last night and if he is the one cooking the staff food, then you are lucky, because he always cooks fatty but really delicious, full of protein staff meals. Then Sakari, always kind and helpful, and always calm and talkative, Samuli, silent but the sweetest and friendly sous chef ever, Kim, who will always share his passion on Eastern spices, he will always be there whenever you need help. He was also the best singer in the kitchen. Yes he was. Aleksi was another sous chef, and have you seen the movie "The Big Lebowski"? Yes, Aleksi is the dude. Kaisa, was one of the two ladies in the kitchen and she was such a hardworking person. Mirjami, the other lady in the kitchen, was probably the most smiley of all, so kind and helpful, always.

And the restaurant side was full of attractive and charismatic ladies, Pilvi, Anni, Johanna, Inkeri, Tiina, Nelli, Happy Zoe(She is happy)... They are just such sweet people. Oh I feel so emotional now... :(  Okay its gone :) So lets write more.

There is also the team Latva and during my intern there was Janne, Jesse, Eppu, Teija and Anne-Sophie. I am so sorry if I forgot to mention any other name. I also heard some good news that after I left, an old good friend, Mixu The 'Mixu'logist had started in Latva. Great man in great place! I should stop by soon for a cocktail by him.

So, after all, I finished my culinary school in two years. But I got a great knowledge and experience only in two months in Juuri. Now I am having a small company specializing on wine and food pairings. From time to time I do caterings and organize tastings and wine workshops. Actually i did my first workshop on "Fish and Red Wine Pairing" and then just the next morning the fish dish for lunch was paired with a red wine in Juuri. It was a funny coincidence and I was happy to see it because nobody really does these kind of "out of the box" pairings.

Team Juuri also released a cook book called "Juuri Nyt" which you can get from Juuri, Latva or any other Pihka lunch restaurants and last year I received the book as a gift by a good friend, he said "Deniz, if you want to know what is happening in the Finnish cuisine right now, this is the book you need to have." That good friend is definitely someone I trust his words. He is a culinary missionary. He is running his mission as a sommelier in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Huvilakatu since more than 4 years.

Juuri Nyt available to practice recipes!

Team Juuri: Ilja Björs, Antti Ahokas, Jarkko Myllymäki, Jukka Nykänen. Also Arto "Viinipiru" Koskelo and Mika Wist are credited for this book

The last dinner I had in Juuri. Looking forward to the next one

The last dinner I had in Juuri. Looking forward to the next one

So, why did I write all these here? In a wine blog why I decided to write about a restaurant? Because Juuri is not simply a restaurant just to make money. These people have an idea behind it and I have been at that "behind", I spent 300 hours in this kitchen, I saw everything at its place and got amazed of it. Of course it is a very hard work to get everything perfectly prepared, cooked and plated and you have to be such a passionate, hardworking and strong chef to be able to work in Juuri. I salute these people with all my heart, it was very nice to have an internship with them. my experience in Juuri will definitely help me a lot on the long path of wine&food that I will keep tracking.

You should most definitely have a dinner in Juuri one day and after that, please, send me an email about your experience to I will be more than happy to read.

May your glass be filled with intelligent wines. Greetings.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Craft Beer Tasting @Bier Bier in Helsinki by Viinitie

Some people are working on bringing new flavors in and for this reason we met in the craft beer bar Bier Bier on the first Monday of May after the people of Viinitie's call for it. Okay this is a business, okay they are looking for selling their products, because we all need to earn money, but in a country like Finland where the alcoholic beverage sales are strictly controlled and under the monopoly of the state, to focus on such specific area of business requires to be little bit crazy and I am proud my own craze and my crazy friends who are passionate about wine, premium beers, good whiskies and more. Please do it, dear friends, more please.

So, for all these related, Dominic Lombard, an Irish man from Spain who has got the title "Beer Sommelier" there, has gone with the wind in Helsinki and hopefully will be back with the wind soon. He is first of all a trained chef, which means he knows the food preparation methods and effects of different ingredients on the beverages, which is highly possible to give him a better understanding of food&beverage pairing, is the representative of some beer producers which we tasted that day and he gave us a presentation about the products and Spanish producers that he represents in Bier Bier, here surrounded by some professionals, some I know well, some I dont. Meanwhile we can learn more about Dominic by some words telling about him:

"Trained as a chef in Ireland and France working in several different restaurants up to 3 star Michelin and for U2 in their studio when they where recording the POP album. For health reasons had to stop and started working for a cheese importer distributor in Dublin buying over 250 different types of cheeses. Then working with wine for over 10 years, has WSET higher certificate (Ireland) and a Master in winemaking, viticulture and marketing of wine (Spain). His great grandfather, grandfather and father worked for Guinness so he has been from a very young age involved with beer working in pubs during holidays, weekends and running a Irish pub in Spain. Since 2013 he is working with young up and coming wine producers and craft brewers in Spain and in 2014 became the first Beer Academy Beer Sommelier in Spain and is now looking to study the USA equivalent cicerone certification."

When we started the tasting, first we talked about the drinking habits of the Spanish and what the young generation is looking for, as easy to guess, such a warm climate, people are mostly looking for a cold simple lager to cool down themselves sitting at the shadow. Flavorful craft beers which are more food-matched rather than drinking like water, are quite slowly coming to the scene. Dominic also talked about the Parkerized wines after the American wine critic Robert Parker, which brought out strong, almost over-matured tannic wines, Dominic pointed out that today same thing happening in beer which the hop is overused by some breweries. It is true that I really had so much beers that are really hard to drink, some not possible to enjoy at all. I like the taste of hop, yes, but too much is too much, that simple it is. But since the consumers re-discovered the cool-pronounced IPA -ay-piy-ey- hops become something people started to demand more and more, I personally think this is just a fashion that is coming and will for sure fade away.  

Anyway, we continued to talk during the tasting, about consumers, drinking habits to the philosophy of the beverages and food, then the first producer we went through that day was Dougall's, located in Santander, close to Bilbao, up very north of the Spanish peninsula, started commercial brewing in 2007. They exactly have some products that will make the usual Spanish consumer very happy, easy going yet nice to drink, fun, happy beers which some kind of a brewery's "hello" to the locals. Especially Dominic told that there is a big local cheese production in the area and one of Dougall's beers called Leyenda, I would love to try this beer with the local cheeses since I believe beer is a great match for cheese, the carbonization of the beer is the key to wash down the fat of the cheese. I even did a beer-cheese pairing workshop in Nomad Cellars, click to see photos from that event. Also with the oceanic shellfish dishes of the north Spain, Leyenda and Tres Mares beers would be something to try. More of that, with trying the beer Django with a barbecue steak, slightly burned surface yet juicy and fresh inside, it would be also very possible to search for the G-Point in our mouth. Mhhhmmm, yes baby right there, don't stop...

After that we went through a very interesting producer, "Mateo&Bernabe and friends" which is already interesting with their location, a wine kingdom of north, La Rioja. Sounds like from Game of Thrones. Again a man with a chef-background, Alberto Pacheco who went to Italy to learn more about brewing then started this brewery. They have these parking beers available in Finland by Viinitie,  Labelled B with a crab on it, C with a duck and A with a gorilla. quite interesting and delicious beers with high alcohol volumes, but their big bomb is actually a beer they called 29 Daniel made together as a collaboration with the Beancurd Turtle Brewery, made as the same principal as sherry, kept in wine barrels, a perfect match for desserts that are light on sugar, or some washed rind cheeses. I might be wrong. Hard to talk about certain pairings without trying it.

But definitely I got it as a mission to myself, I am a man of wine, but I will conduct this mission that I will make people to eat more cheese with beer because it might even match better than wine in some cases, I will, hopefully, in my own bar/restaurant/gastro pub someday or anywhere that I would be in charge, I will put more and more cheese and beer workshops that I organized before and hopefully people of Finland will add more cheese next to their beers someday ;) 

Thank you Viinitie, thank you the smiley man of Viinitie, Santeri, for this organization and the opportunity to be with you in this tasting.

May your glass be filled with well-made craft beers, greetings.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The First Wine Bloggers' Meeting of 2015 in Helsinki

On 21 March Saturday I attended the first meeting of Finnish wine bloggers, Kevään Miitti/The Spring meeting and it was amazing to meet the wine lovers at the same time blind-tasting several wines while having some snacks together.

A very lovely woman and a good friend, Heta of Viinilla blog took a lot of responsibility for this meeting and we all had a great time with wine, about wine and into wine! The schedule was calling for meeting at 3pm in front of Helsinki Distilling Company at Teurastamo.

I have been professionally interested in wine culture almost about 3 years now, and in time, this wine interest also took me into premium beers and good whiskies and I became an advocate for these beverages too. So, visiting Helsinki Distilling Company was I think a great start for such a great meeting. 

So, on Saturday, 21 March, we all met about 3pm at the distillery and a very friendly cool man, Séamus of HDCO warmly welcomed us and he quickly started to introduce the building and the project to us. Séamus is an Irish man, who would be a great partner for a political conversation during/after a few beers (Usually Irish people have a lot to say about politics for sure as a historical result), and his interest in whisky making business was not a surprise for me anymore after I knew he is Irish. He gave us a great amount of info about the distilling premises, even the names of the 3 steel tanks named after the 3 workers carrying them in. I lost the names since i took my notes into my phone and lost some of the data. Thanks to technology.

Séamus told us how they found the building, all the challenges and problems they went through and finally how they did set up all in Teurastamo. He also introduced us their products -whiskies, gins, applejacks- and upcoming trials on different products/ideas after he told us the details of their production line. It was amazing to be there and be able to ask anything directly to the CEO of the company. They do organize tours in the distillery, well, do u have a friend who is into distilled products? Dont you have enough money to buy him/her a ticket to Scotland or Ireland as a gift? Contact the distillery and take your friend to a distillery tour, it is very reasonably priced.

Then we all headed to Nomad Cellars which is a relatively new wine cellar and tasting room in the very heart of downtown Helsinki. It is started by the business partners Petteri Laine and Kale Angus. I have done and still doing some business together with them. They are very relaxed and calm people who are very easy to go along with and I am really happy to know them. 

Petteri in the very middle

In Nomad Cellars, Petteri Laine was already waiting for us to introduce the cellar premises and luckily he joined us at the tasting table with his bottle too. Altogether, we had 10 different bottle of amazing wines, it was just about to be 11 if Antti's bottle was not corked, Otto's non-vintage champagne from 70's was also little bit out of bubbles but it was still drinkable. I also opened a kind of bonus bottle which was not tasted blind, an organically produced Turkish wine of an indigenous Turkish/Balkan variety of Papaskarasi by the producer Chamlija which I am a big fan of. This bottle was recognized as the most interesting of the night by some of the bloggers, but I do not take this wine as in "the same package" with other wines since it was organically produced thus it is another category of wine. It is just so easy to sense "the nature" in that wine so it can easily become your favorite wine and make you write poems, well, say it again Robert! ----> 

"Wine is bottled poetry." 


From the blind tasting, my favorite was Pieropan Calvarino 2012 brought by Copatinto's Teemu, with its fresh, energetic and supple structure. and I joined the tasting with a bottle from a classic French region Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a classic blend of the region, which actually people all guessed that it would be a New World, which was somehow surprising. By the way, I had been practicing my Finnish wine vocabulary via Teemu's blog Copatinto from time to time and it was fun to meet him that day :)

The blogs if you want to visit:

Loppasuut     Pullon Henki     Blanc de Blancs     

After the tasting we all had some small chat, drank the rest of the wines and tried to get to know each other more. The next stop was Restaurant Grotesk for the bloggers but I was not able to join them at that part of the night. People left, I finished my last drops in the glass, cleaned around little bit. I was feeling the satisfaction of being with people who are into wine, who take wine serious, who put effort, spend time and money on it. 

I left the cellar, I was satisfied and happy, my hands in my pocket, slowly heading home while thinking about wine and how powerful it is as a culture or was it me giving it the power, slowly walking in the evening of Helsinki streets, what time it was.... It was after the sunset, but before the midnight, after the offices were closed, but before the taxi drivers started their long night work, after lots of people started to get drunk, but before they got wasted, after the shops were closed, but before the prostitutes occupied the corners, after people started to meet each other, but before they got refused and confused, after the lonely nurse started her night shift, but before she fell asleep on the desk... After the end of a good day, but before the procreative night started. 

May your glass be filled with intelligent wine. Greetings.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bovik Organic Farm and the lifesaver Kyyttö/Finnish Eastern Cattle soup

The time we live in is seriously sick. It is seriously sick in many different aspects, which one of them is also food production. The industrialization of food has turned into such a violent concept and we are taking irreversible steps. But few people has woken up and started to work against this continuation with starting organizations, collaborations, farms, plantations etc. Bovikin Luomutila/Bovik Organic Farm is one of them and it is a good topic for me to drop few notes here in my blog. It has been such a busy and hard period that I just could not write at all.

On Monday morning I happened to be in South-Western Finland on the way to Hanko, where we stopped in Bovik Organic Farm run by Ülle and Sebastian Nurmi in somewhere close to Tammisaari. Sebastian Nurmi of Bovik welcomed us and we visited the barns of Kyyttö/Eastern Fincattle Breed as well as their sheep barns. 

Then they welcomed us also in their house and we were served with nice, delicious and hot soup of Kyyttö meat. It was such an early but amazing morning. Take a look, find more info here:

You can visit the farm and have a free tour in English.

Ülle and Sebastian preparing the soup

May your plate be filled by healthy, delicious and organic food. Greetings.