I grew up in Greece in a humble, middle class family of hard-working entrepreneurs. We followed a Mediterranean diet cooked with fresh ingredients from the local street market. Our palates were not exposed to flavours such as caviar and oysters, yet there was a weekly dose of a cheap and delicious fish roe spread (called ‘taramas’ or ‘the caviar of the poor’) on our breads.
Living in Finland, as an adult I tasted various caviars at events, restaurants and hotels and I developed a taste for this salty and oily speciality. In summer 2015 the first caviar shop and restaurant opened its doors in Helsinki. This year we had a business meeting at Finlandia Caviar over lip-smacking caviar and oysters. A true caviar oasis in Helsinki!
Finlandia Caviar Shop & Restaurant specialises in the world’s most exclusive caviars and is known for Finland’s widest selection of both caviars and roes. Located near the Old Market Hall and the market place of Helsinki on Eteläranta 20, it offers the opportunity to caviar newbies and connoisseurs alike to taste a variety of caviars, rish roes and oysters.
The impressive selection of fish roes at Finlandia Caviar includes Malossol Baerii, Malossol Siberian, white sturgeon, Malossol Osetra (Russian sturgeon), Imperial, Beluga, Beluga Kaluga. High-quality, Finnish roes also belong to the selection such as the Finnish speciality Carelian Caviar.
These precious raw ingredients create the minimalistic and full of flavour Finlandia Caviar menus. The Helsinki Menu is a delicious selection of Finnish roes, while the Moscow Menu consists of different caviars.
We tasted and loved the Helsinki menu that consists of five different Finnish roes served together with quail egg and smetana sour cream. The roes you see in the photo below from left to right are –vendace, capelin, lumpfish, keta salmon and cold smoked trout roe. We also enjoyed some caviar cups with Siberian sturgeon caviar.
At Finlandia Caviar, you can also enjoy fresh oysters daily at the caviar bar, where all the products can be ordered from the menu or you can choose a tasting selection. Last, we tasted the Paris Menu with fresh oysters.
For each option Finlandia Caviar also suggests drink recommendations chosen from a selection of fine wines, champagnes and vodkas. (As a breastfeeding mother I didn’t taste the oysters nor alcohol myself. Wille and Kim found them delicious though!)
Caviar: nature’s fish oil capsule
The long dark winters in Finland and the lack of sun can justify the importance of adding caviar to our diet. Instead of taking omega-3 fish oil capsules, we could eat delicious caviars! Thankfully you can find good quality caviar and roes at affortable prices. Remember that your favourite caviar is a matter of taste and not price. For instance, my favourite ones are vendace fish roe which is delightful and slightly salty as an everyday snack on toasted bread and keta salmon caviar with a distinct, mature taste and glorious vibrant orange roes for more special occassions!
Most people are not well aware of the health benefits of fish roes and oysters. Caviar contains large amounts of A, B12, E vitamin, iron, magnesium, selenium and iron. Oysters contain a lot of zinc, which works as an aphrodisiac and an energy booster.
Sturgeon and other fish contain some of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Recent evidence has suggested that fish consumption and the associated intake of EPA and DHA from fish can help maintain healthy heart function. In addition, studies show that high doses of omega-3 fatty acids – caviar is rich in omega-3s – may alleviate symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder.
The story behind Finlandia Caviar
Finlandia Caviar is a family company owned by Entrepreneur Woman of 2012 Valeria Hirvonen, who has been already working in the business for two decades.
Valeria moved to Finland in 1992, and in 1996 she started a fish refining and selling business. Everything started with a small kiosk by the road in Lappeenranta (a Finnish city about 30 kilometres from the Russian border) that soon grew into a chain of three large shops within vicinity of Russian border mainly refining fish products (cold-smoked, hot smoked, gravlax) and selling roe and caviar to the Russian customers.
Valeria wanted to create a business in Helsinki for a long time. It was the political and economic situation with Russia that actually enabled her to turn her desire into action. Due to the ruble exchange rate and the Russian border not allowing the import of large amount of food and the subsequent lack of Russian customers, Valeria decided it was time to create Finlandia Caviar at the heart of the Finnish capital. “Finlandia Caviar offers the possibility to guide both Finnish customers and Helsinki’s international visitors to the enchanting world of caviars,” she explains.
Together with CEO Valeria Hirvonen her son Kirill Siren dedicates his time in the development of the company. “My vision is to expand the existing concept and brand of Finlandia Caviar Restaurant & Shop first within Scandinavia and then globally. Airports and high-end market halls are important markets. Making Finlandia Caviar into a known brand within caviar retail is essential,” says Kirill.
Enjoy caviar in a stylish Scandinavian milieu
Apart from its delicious caviars, roes and fresh oysters, Finlandia Caviar is known for its elegant Nordic design. The fresh and airy decoration is designed by renowned interior architect and designer Joanna Laajisto. “My goal was to achieve the clear, Nordic style, which both suits to the purposes of a shop and a cosy restaurant. The main attention belongs to the high-quality products: caviars and roes. The role of the interior is to offer them an elegant and calm background,” Laajisto says.
The interior design represents artisan luxury. The furniture is handmade by carpenter Sampsa Hänninen, while the stylish, black and white caviar themed paintings have been created by artist Eeva-Maria Piiparinen. Also, the tableware and lightning fixtures represent artisan design made in Finland.
Caviar doesn’t have to be just a restaurant food – it can be enjoyed at home or be given as a gift. If you are visiting Finland as a traveller, you can bring to your home country a taste of luxury.
At Finlandia Caviar whether you are a caviar newbie or caviar connoisseur, you will indulge and treat your palate to delicious and healthy caviar in a relaxed and not pretentious atmosphere. Valeria and Kirill are warm, knowledgeable and ready to welcome you into the fascinating world of caviar and demystify the secrets of caviars and oysters!