Local Food in Rovaniemi
It was the first destination where we never ate out! Incredible, unbelievable, but truth. Definitely if you are staying in the centre, you will spot some attractive places to eat in Rovaniemi, and why not trying out their food. But for my standard European taste, Finnish food is not something I long after, only it’s plainest forms are acceptable. What are them – meat, dairy and vegetables, cooked and consumed in its’ plainest, most natural way, on fire. And I have what to tell you about cooking reindeer meat and shopping in Rovaniemi.
This is something you can try in a very limited number of countries, and even in Lapland, where they say there are more reindeers than people, it’s a delicacy which costs a lot.
A kilogram of reindeer meat costs (parts which we bought) approx. 40 EUR. They sell it frozen in large supermarkets, all the labels are in Finnish so we chose based on our intuition and out of 4 packs – 2 were really good! Here is what it said on the labels:
- Pakastettu Poron Sisäpaisti – Fryst Innerstek – tasted like reindeer steak, couldn’t find the translation of ‘fryst innerstek’
- Pakastettu Poron Sisäfile. Fryst ren innerfile – and most probably this was filet
Other two parts were not very successful – one was definitely cut to become something like shaorma, the other contained pieces of meat on large bones, and I think it’s quite good for soup, but not for grill.
Did I tell you that our house had a grill? A separate cabin with a large grill in the middle, and lots of wood to feed us daily. Based on this good luck our cuisine was set – daily grill of either reindeer meat, or salmon!
We bought large salmon filet pieces in a supermarket as well.
How to prepare reindeer meat and salmon on grill?
If you are lucky and booked a house with grill, then just cover the meat with salt and spices, some oil, and that’s it. Don’t put any more oil to the pan on the grill.
With salmon it’s even easier – only salt, no oil. Local salmon is very greasy.
Other great stuff in Finnish shops:
- Cheese – called Koskenlaskija, It was so good, that we couldn’t stop eating it and even bought 6 packs and imagine we were even ready to fight for them in the airport. The security check in Rovaniemi airport didn’t mind us carrying them in our cabin bag, but the one in Helsinki confiscated my dear cheese. So what was the solution? Asking our cheese back from the security officer, and going back to get our cabin bag checked in (and it’s been a month after the trip, but I still have some of this precious cheese left in the fridge!)
- Vegetables – surprisingly good in a northern country which grows them only in greenhouses. The salad stayed fresh even on the second day after cooking (which I’m usually never able to eat, but save to check it out).
- Berry smoothies in small yogurt cups
- Berry champagne – not made in Finland, but in Chile, although very suitable for a Lappish evening
- Black bread – it’s not brown, but exactly black. Feel free to take some with you home, it stays fresh long in its original package and fridge (mine is still under consumption after a month since the trip)
Where to buy food in Rovaniemi?
First we went to Lidl, but it didn’t have reindeer meat. K-supermarket had both. The direction is here
There are other K-supermarkets in the area, so don’t worry about food supply.
Alcohol restrictions in Finland
Now this is a serious subject which we first faced in Helsinki airport. Have you ever been rejected from buying anything in a duty free shop inside the airport? Me – for the first time.
We were flying from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and knowing that we’d arrive late decided to buy alcohol in the departures duty free shops. At the cash desk after checking our boarding passes, they didn’t let us buy anything (including innocent chocolate), because we had a domestic flight.
So we went towards a non-duty-free shop just at our gate, which didn’t sell any alcohol (surprise!)
On board of the plane, in Finnair’s meal card we saw various alcohol drinks which can be purchased on board – remark ‘only on board on non-EU flights’. And ridiculously, we found a solution from this situation – there was a possibility to purchase the 0,2 l bottled wine, so we bought 4 pieces 🙂 and felt like heros as we overcame Finland’s alcohol restrictions!
On the next day in every supermarket we entered, we were looking for the alcohol section – which we never found! And only on the last evening before leaving Lapland, we found an alco-shop inside a shopping centre, which worked limited hours, but it did work. We couldn’t consume what we bought – berry champagne and local vodka, but at least we were able to bring alcohol from Lapland as a souvenir back home.
So officially in Finland:
- If you are 18 you can buy drinks containing at most 22 per cent alcohol (so wines and beers)
- If you are above 20 you can buy any kind of alcohol drinks. Those are sold in official Alko shops, owned by state
- Beer and cider is sold in supermarkets as well, but only until 9 pm
Read more about Alcohol restrictions in Finland here
Restaurants in Rovaniemi
In case your stay in Lapland is longer than ours, you’ll definitely get fed up even with the best reindeer meat cooked on your grill. So a selection of best restaurants in Rovaniemi will be very handy:
- Arctic Boulevard – serving local food from Lappish forests and lakes, and seafood from Arctic Ocean
- Arctic Snowhotel Ice Restaurant – located within the Snowhotel where we stayed overnight, obviously, the restaurant is made of ice, and you have to make a reservation for dinner.
- Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi – a family run restaurant located in the Santa Claus Reindeer Resort, with a traditional Lappish interior and local meals.
- Frans & Cherie Bistro – in case you want a break from Finnish cuisine, a French bistro will diverse your diet in Rovaniemi
- Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara Restaurant – for a dinner with a view 🙂
- Pohjanhovi – an a la carte restaurant with classic Finnish cuisine and a view of Kemijoki river.
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