A couple of months ago I signed up to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, attracted by the idea of conquering the world’s highest freestanding peak in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. As you might imagine, trekking to 6,000 metres comes with quite a training schedule.

Judging from the crowds outside, it seems as if everyone in Helsinki is training for some immense marathon. Everyone seems to be lifting weights, Nordic walking or taking Body Combat classes, if not doing all three at once.

An exotic Northern African café in Helsinki welcomes people to take a break from their hectic lives and try drinking coffee sitting on a floor. That’s right – Helsinki! So, if you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth or are a fan of art and design, then ChoFé is the place for you.

The weird and wonderful tastes of your local Asian grocery store.

Dried versus Fresh

The eternal questions that never seem to raise heated debate – brown bread versus white, white wine versus red, fresh versus dried. Fresh has to be better – right? Not necessarily. Some ingredients in Asian cookery are optimised by the drying process, with flavours becoming more enhanced, and usability increased because they are always ready to be used in the pantry. Don’t be put off by their skeletal nature, after a brief soak in hot water, or being wakened up in the pan with some clarified butter or oil, you will find the flavours of dried herbs, foods and products far from petrified. Here is a list to set you on your way to the marvellous world of dried miracles..

There are things that can be done cheaply in Helsinki (good schooling, public transport) and there are things that cannot be done cheaply (umm, eating… and everything else). But since we must eat pretty much daily, and that it’s nice to dine out at least occasionally, here is a roundup of Helsinki’s 5 best budget restaurants, in alphabetical order. Let’s call the definition of a budget restaurant one that serves food to your table, provides chairs and metal cutlery, and offers mains of around 10-15 euros.

The weird and wonderful tastes of your local Asian grocery store.

Hello and welcome to a brave new world of… dried spices. Much maligned and far from being inferior to fresh herbs, dried spices have been used for centuries to preserve foods, add flavour to otherwise blah dishes and to disguise the tell-tale flavour of food that has ahem, somewhat passed its use-by date. Many spices might be familiar to the Finnish kitchen but what about Asian spices? Let’s take a look shall we?