Posted by: debrakolkka | June 7, 2011

Have you eaten Lapp food?

On a recent visit to Helsinki we were delighted to find  Saaga, which serves traditional and modern delicacies from Lapland.

Lapland is an area of Finland and Sweden mostly within the Artic Circle. It refers to the land inhabited by the Sami people, known for their wonderful colourful clothing.

Entering the restaurant is like walking into a Lappish wooden house, with a room at the entrance to offload your winter coats (and skis if you were arriving that way)

the entrance to Saaga

The interior has the touch of Lappish artisans and a definite atmosphere of Lapland. We went to Finnish Lapland a couple of years ago and found it enchanting.

a pretty window

We were the first to arrive at the restaurant so I was able to have a good look around.

the rustic setting

 I found all the details around the rooms fascinating.

traditional footwear

 I would be fun to have a pair of those shoes.

moose head

I hate to think what happened to the rest of him.

looking down from the second floor

 The food…

the menu

I love Finnish rye bread.

delicious bread and butter

 The restaurant uses only pure Lappish or Finnish products where possible, sourced from small producers. The dishes include reindeer, Atlantic char, bear (we didn’t eat it), mushrooms and berries.  Everything is served on wooden platters, in kuska wooden mugs and cast iron pots.

Atlantic char with potatoes and mushrooms

 Our fish was grilled on a wooden board and assembled at the table. It was delicious.

the mushrooms - yum

I am a sucker for anything with cloudberries, so I ordered the Lappish cheese in cinamon cream with sugared cloudberries.

sugared cloudberries

Cloudberries grow wild all over Finland. I would love to see them growing.

my delicious dessert

If you go to Helsinki try Saaga, at Bulevardi, 34, it’s great. (09) 7425 5544

There were photos of scenes from Lapland on the walls.  The Sami people are still reindeer herders, but use modern equipment to help them these days.

a Sami family from another time

a reindeer sled

I photographed a handsome Sami lad at Salone del Gusto last year. I really like  the traditional clothing.

pity he wasn't wearing the cute hat


  1. Deb, I love this post! I’ve just been watching a show about the Sami people and their reindeer! I would LOVE to wear their colourful clothing – I really must stop wearing black. Can you please come to Sydney and sort me out? I have absolutely no fashion sense. 🙂

    • I’d love to come to Sydney to meet you. I might just do that soon. Finland is a fabulous place. I’m so glad my grandfather was Finnish.

  2. Wow, you really know how to transport someone to another place. I wish I could smell it too. I am imagining the taste and the feel. Wonderful post.

    • We were delighted with our find. We’ll be going back there.

  3. Magical looking place. I’d love to eat something with the name of cloudberries!

    • You may be able to buy cloudberry jam at Ikea in Florence. They have some Swedish food. They are very delicious and do look like little yellow clouds.

  4. One of my favourite post of yours! I loved our time in Finland and it really brought back memories. Even the mention of Juuri brought back memories!

    • I love going to Helsinki, it is like going home. I think it is a beautiful city.

  5. That restaurant looks really great! I love the northern culture!

    • It was a lot of fun and the food was delicious.

  6. There are parallels with the indigenous people of Australia with the history of the Sami and the Swedes. I know you don’t do politics on your blog, but it’s quite interesting if you want to google it. There are always land use tensions between herders and hunter gatherers and farmers and other settled peoples. History has not treated these groups kindly. I think the Sami have won several landmark cases recently.

    • I will look into that, thank you for the pointer.

  7. Good starting point for learning more about the Sami here

  8. Derba: it reminds me a little of Seattle. we have a huge Scandanavian area in Seattle called Ballard. very cool restaurants.
    I cant beleive how cool their traditional clothes were.
    the young man with that belt on. it looks very classy. the family looks very proud.
    the food looks soooooo good. im just getting to work and it made me hungry.
    my dads side is not that far north but they are from northern Italy around the Dolomite Mountains called Lon near Trento . very Tyrolean, Austrian but still part of Italy as that part of Austria was talken over by italy in the war. just a little history.
    thanks for making my mornings fun. ciao.

  9. The place looks terrific and with plenty of atmosphere. And the fish must taste delicious… I have not seen the cloudberry jam at Ikea, although I always buy some Swedish food there whenever I go. Next time, I would ask them, just in case.

    • The fish in Finland is very good, I always order it. I occasionally order reindeer, but feel mean doing so.

  10. Hi Deb,
    Beautiful! reminds me of my time in Lapland. Ikea does a great take home jar of cloudberries – nice with salmon

    • Cloudberries are great aren’t they?

  11. Great post Debra. I would love to go there. I was once all hooked up to work there for a year, but it never eventuated. I always wonder how it would have been…
    It must be a stunning country.

    • We have driven over quite a lot of Finland and we loved it. I want to go back there in summer when everything is open and busy. We were there in late autumn and while it wasn’t too cold, we were a bit between seasons – the summer stuff was closed and the winter season hadn’t started. I really want to go back to Lapland in winter.

  12. Hi Debra,
    This restaurant is a must on our stay in Heksinki. Don’t feel bad eating Rudolph, there are plenty of them and cows are just as cute!
    My great grandmother was a Lapp, I would love to know more about her history but don’t know her maiden name.
    The Cloudberry jam from Ikea is OK but the Swedes make things very sweet. So I think it has too much sugar which takes away from the taste of these delicious berries.
    Finland is a stunning country in every season…

    • You could probably track down your grandmother’s name. There must be records somewhere. I have eaten reindeer and it is very good. I know they are farmed just like cattle are here, so I should feel too guilty. I think Finland is incredibly beautiful. Autumn was gorgeous with the golden trees. I would love to go boating on some of the lakes and for this we need to go in summer.

  13. Ciao Debra,
    never been there…but it sound really interesting!!
    have a lovely day!

    • Finland is lovely – you should go.

  14. Hi Deb,

    Lovely photos of your visit to Finland.

    I am currently travelling in QLD. Lovely weather and state.

    Thanks for sharing Rosi’s lovely photos. Loved the photo of Nila having fun in the lake.

    Cheers Judy.

  15. Excellent post. I can’t wait to try the restaurant!

    • It’s great. I’m sure you will like it.

  16. Atlantic Char roasting on a board in front of an open fire is the most delicious dish ever! I mostly remember eating Salmon and potatoes, practically on a daily basis for 6 weeks – with some intermittent reindeer… Awesome! Have you tried their Koskenkorva??

    • I haven’t. What is it?

      • It’s an extremely intoxicating white spirit of sorts. If I remember correctly (?!), it has a bit of an aniseed flavour. Best sampled ICE cold- straight from a freezer in shot glasses that are also chilled – or the taste is a bit of an assault on the old taste buds..especially for us Non-Fins, who haven’t grown up on the stuff! For me, it is no small wonder that the Finnish word for “cheers” is “Kippis” – after a few shots of Koskenkorva that’s exactly how I felt!

      • I will look out for it the next time I am in Finland. I love the word Kippis!

  17. Looks delicious! We’re definitely going to try and eat there this week while we’re in Helsinki. Thanks for posting!

    • We thought it was very good and the setting is wonderful.

  18. […] will not go hungry in Finland. Take a look here for some delicious Lapp food. Share this:ShareEmailPrintFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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