Visit Finland's lake district for surprising local flavours
The Finnish Järvi-Suomi, or lake district, is in the Central and Eastern Finland towards the Russian border. Lakes cover over a quarter of the area and the scenery is astounding. Recently the lake district has become a hotspot for Finnish cuisine – making it a great destination if you want to combine your love of nature and food.
Modern cuisine meets history
One of lake district's most hyped places to stay is the historic Hotel Punkaharju, fully restored in 2016. It is the oldest state hotel in Finland and originally built as a ranger's lodge for Tsar Nicholas I in 1845. The picturesque building now offers high quality accommodation as well as interesting modern food.
Restaurant Punkaharju serves dishes inspired by the surrounding nature and sourced from local producers. The offering changes according to season and availability. Staples on the menu are wild caught fish, local root vegetables, game meats and berries.
The hotel's owner Saimi Hoyer is known for her interest in mushrooms and local varieties are often featured on the menu. For winter the dishes include wild mushroom risotto and Jerusalem artichoke soup with ceps. In the spring expect to see an abundance of morels and chanterelles.
Rustic food in a spa setting
Hotel and Spa Resort Järvisydän in Rantasalmi is your best bet if you want to unwind in a spa and get active in the surrounding nature as well as feed on comfort food. The resort offers activities to suit everyone – from fishing to yoga and hiking. There are several restaurants to satisfy your hunger at afterwards.
The main restaurant Piikatyttö serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a local focus. The food is robust and satisfying with decent portion sizes and hearty flavours.
The other dinner restaurant Kievari has a menu featuring dishes cooked on an open fire.
If you are looking for a special eating experience, try out the outdoor hut or kota, where you can enjoy dinner sitting around a fire pit. The other option is stepping on board a steam ship! Järvisydän has its own little port where you can find m/s Puijo. Its menu focuses on fish, most of it locally caught and some smoked on site.
Classic elegance in a manor house
Tertti Manor, just outside Mikkeli, is a charming destination with a sprawling garden that provides ingredients to some of its delicious offering. The rest of the produce used is mainly sourced from other local growers. The manor's restaurant has been selected as one of top 50 in Finland and it is well known for its abundant and fresh buffet offering. The manor house provides an atmospheric setting to your meals.
If you are looking for a smaller refreshment, Tertti café has a great selection of freshly baked goods, coffees, and teas. You should also visit their own shop to take some goodies with you. The cute store stocks locally sourced food items, many made using the manor's traditional recipes, but you can also find home goods and decorative gifts.
An unexpected afternoon tea
The heart of rural Finland might not seem like the obvious place to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. That is exactly why Teahouse of Wehmais in Juva, surrounded by countryside, has become quite the sensation. The teahouse is located in a charming side building of an old manor house. In the summer you can have your tea in its garden.
Wehmais is committed to baking perfect traditional scones. You can have them with strawberry jam and Chantilly cream at the classic cream tea. If you are looking to try a variety of sweet and savoury ones, you should visit the teahouse when they have one of their popular scone buffets.
Teas are also taken seriously at Wehmais. There is a tea menu of over one hundred varieties from classic Earl Grey to floral teas, pu erhs and rooibos. You can even buy the teas from their own shop Wehmais Deli and Deco to take home. The shop also sells delicacies from other small local producers and artisans.