Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The journey home

After our rather hurried day through St. Petersburg we were exhausted and looked forward to our relaxing time on the ship. The only thing we hoped was that the older drunken Finnish ladies from the night before had landed in Russia and decided to stay there. We were in luck; the night was quiet.

Instead of trying our luck again at the Drunken Rabbit though, we decided to go a little classier and try something that would guaranteed be fish - the sushi joint.

So, German K and I had sushi and J had Italian. Love it when everyone's needs can be met.

Now it's been a long time since I've had Japanese food - actually the last time was with German K, for our last big gathering before I went off to Thailand and she went off to India. Just goes to show, you never know.

So what did I order on this Russian boat?

I started off with some classic miso soup. After our cold day in the city this sounded like just the thing. And it was. Delicious, simple, and exactly as I remembered it.

California rolls with tobiko. I was surprised that the tobiko was mixed in with the crab mix (which was surprisingly real crab and not krab), but I guess it's a cost-saving measure instead of slathering the outside of the roll with it, so I get the point. Instead the entire thing was covered in sesame seeds, which I can also get behind. Not as tasty as normal in general, but still delicious enough for me after hankering for Japanese for months.

And seaweed salad. Fabulous. Oddly it came with a side of creamy Asian dressing, which wasn't necessary, but I indulged all the same. Fatty dressing? Sure I'll eat that too! Yummers!

Surprisingly high quality sushi considering it comes on a boat. No idea where they get their fish from. If they get it from the Finnish side I guess it shouldn't be surprising that it's so high quality.

After our delicious and fulfilling dinner we decided to visit the duty free store for one last stroll and to use up any remaining rubles. I only had 30 or so left at this point (so slightly less than a euro's worth) so it was time to buy a bottle of water and whatever other duty free goody that might catch my eye.

What caught my eye you ask? Finnish gummies (with no salmiakki!...gasp!).

As I was chomping away on these magnificent fruit diamonds later in the room, I noticed that they had letters on them (it is entirely likely and possible that they're called "Alphabets" in Finnish and I've just never realized this). As I was humming to myself a song that had been introduced to us during our couchsurfing experience in Norway, I started to wonder: would this alphabet mix have the weird letters too?! Like the "a" with the dots over it?

I frantically started searching the bag for what I thought must of course be there.


it was.

This totally made my night in a way that it shouldn't have. I was tickled.

Anyway, that was the remaining excitement for the night. We called it early again and slept better, not needing to be kept up by the cackling of drunken older ladies.

The next morning we woke up in Finland again, back on the mother soil.

After some much needed showering, reorganization, resting, and a delightful breakfast a la German K, we headed out to Kuukuu for lunch (which was surprisingly open despite the Easter holiday).

Ah, so wonderful to be reacquainted with places that I'd loved so much during my residency in Helsinki. It was just as I remembered:

And the food was stupendous.

I ordered these dumplings with meat in them called "pelmenis." They were fantastic. Like the meat-soup dumplings of China but European instead:

They had tiny bits of broth stuck in them (not sure if that was intentional or not) and were so juicy and succulent, as though they had been boiling in a pot of their own juices. And it was flavorful. Wonderful.

To the side were some pickle spears and some delightfully caramelized red onions.

Strangely it came with a little dish of fluffy chili cream, which I wasn't sure related to the dish that well, but I spread over bread and ate just for good measure.

And because I couldn't resist...

I ordered dessert:

Because why wouldn't you order that weird fig and armagnac parfait with salty toasted nuts? Literally that's what this was, though in reality it was more like fig icecream with a hint of brandy and some really salty pistachios on top. Really odd, but somehow worked.

What really made this dish (I'm not going to lie) were the incredibly sweet berries around it and the rich but not too sweet vanilla sauce. The fig icecream was fine, but a bit weird. Would I order it again? Probably not (and I was incredibly curious about the baked Alaska with raspberry sauce that was also on the menu), but it was certainly worth trying.

And such ended our wonderful lunch at Kuukuu. Was wonderful to be at my old haunts again. Really like no time had passed. I would definitely live in this city again.

The rest of our time was spent laughing and talking and unfortunately before I knew it, it was time for me to catch the bus and make my way to the airport.

When will I see my beloved Finn again?

...actually it's shaping up to be in another 2-3 weeks, haha. But that was only recently found out, and will likely be a business trip. So, we'll see what happens.

But glad to have seen it again so soon. Just reinforced what I already knew: I loved living there and the memories associated with it will never change.

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