Banana Split Ice Cream
On the fourth day of our 7 day cruise, we found ourselves in Helsinki, Finland. This was probably the stop of the entire trip that I was most looking forward to, mainly because of the fact that my husband is part Finnish. I had been to Helsinki before, but this would be his first trip there. I was curious to see what he would think of Helsinki. Unfortunately, our time in port was limited to only 6 hours, so we didn’t really have to experience much of the city. Most of our time was spent experiencing the city, the sights and interacting with the people that we didn’t really have time to sit down and eat a meal, as I had hoped.
Towards the end of the day, we found ourselves in Market Square in Helsinki. Market Square is the main hub for locals and tourists alike. Located right on the waterfront, public ferries depart from Market Square for the many outlying islands that surround Helsinki. The Presidential Palace is also located right off the square, and famous Helsinki landmarks such as the Lutheran Cathedral and Uspenski Cathedral are less than a 5 minute walk from Market Square. And Helsinki’s grand Esplanade boulevard filled with its world-class design shops and cafes starts from Market Square.
Every day at Market Square, local farmers and craftsmen set up tents and sell their goods to both locals and tourists. The locals flock to the farm stands selling all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables. And the tourists flock to the vendors who sell their unique, often hand-crafted, Finnish goods. It’s a lively, colorful, and bustling outdoor market.
Both locals and tourists love to partake in the food vendors who come to Market Square to sell local Finnish delicacies that make for an excellent lunch meal. You can find all sorts of grilled fresh fish, especially salmon. The smells from these food vendors is enough to make your mouth water. You can also find herring, which is a staple in this part of the world. And there are lots of potatoes. And there’s even grilled reindeer meat and reindeer stew. Unfortunately, we were running out of time, so we had to skip the grilled salmon and potatoes.
Further down the row of vendors you find the fresh fruit and vegetable vendors. The locals gather here to purchase their fresh fruits and vegetables direct from farmers. Whatever is in season, you can find in the market. When we were there, there were plenty of berries to be found – blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Cherries were also extremely popular in the market.
Since we were running out of time, and needed to grab something we could eat on the go, we ended up settling on something you just can’t go wrong with, ice cream! Ok, so it’s not a Finnish delicacy. Oops! But, Finns actually do take their ice cream seriously. They are great lovers of sweets, and ice cream fits the bill perfectly. Ice cream stands/kiosks can be found all over the country, and are especially popular at beaches. Finland may experience a short summer, but the Finns make the most of the summer they are given.
There are 2 popular companies in Finland that serve jäätelöä – Finnish for ice cream. The kiosks with the polar bears are made by a Finnish company called Ingman. Ingman is the Finland’s largest domestic manufacturer of ice cream with a philosophy of making products that are safe, taste good, and maintain a high standard of quality. In Market Square alone, there were 2 different Ingman kiosks serving up ice cream cones. It was a nice warm summer afternoon as we strolled through Market Square, that I just had to have some ice cream. Their unique ice cream flavors looked so inviting. They had flavors such as: Mango-Melon, Irish Coffee, Pear, Toffee chocolate with roasted almonds, and marshmallow among other flavors.
After look through the different flavors, I had to go with Banana Split. Remember, I’m a HUGE banana lover and when anything has banana in it, you can bank on the fact that that is what I will order it. At first my husband was skeptical and wanted no part of the ice cream. But after I took one lick of the cone and remarked on how this really tasted like banana split, he couldn’t resist and just had to have some. Then he had 2 licks, and then three and soon I was telling him he should get his own ice cream! The ice cream was really good. You could taste the banana, strawberry, pineapple and chocolate. All the flavors came through clearly and distinctively. It was the best banana split ice cream I’d ever tasted. And to think I had to travel all the way to Finland to get it!
Now, if I could only import some of it here, I’d be set. We truly had a terrific day in Finland and were sad to have to leave after just a few short hours. We know that some time in the future we’ll be back again. And hopefully there will be some jäätelöä in our future when we return!