Almost 24 hours of travel can take energy out of the strongest person. Leave you dead, defeated, dazed, delirious. But then you are surprised by the energy you find in the home of beautiful people. Last night we arrived in Helsinki (or Esbo, a suburb, to be more precise) and were met at the airport by our friends Jörn & Monika, Jörn being a former exchange student who lived with my husband’s family when they were both in high school. They visited us two summers ago when they made the trip for my husband’s father’s 75th birthday party and it was the first time I met them. We happened to have planned a dinner party that night prior to their announcement that they would be coming, and so of course I thought THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!! (! One more exclamation point, please!) They met us with the same enthusiasm last night and it was so fun.
I constantly compare myself to others, assess & evaluate, consider how what I do fits into the social norms of those around me. And many people in my life do not put much value on planning or organizing or making special preparations. Some consider that those things are beneath them, that somehow “whatever…it’s not important” places higher priority on the serious part of a visit, which is, well, visiting. While I can see the value in prioritizing life in that way (because OF COURSE the people are what matters), I also think it’s valuable (and more fun) to go all the way with entertaining. I was matched last night. Seriously matched. Perhaps the fact that Jörn owns a catering company might help that a little. A little. Because Monika did all the cooking.
When I saw her preparations of meatballs and salads, it sounded delicious but not something I would have ever put together. I always imagine that meatballs go with pasta or in a crock pot covered in sauce for a football Sunday. But then she said that she thought she would do several light things because she knows it’s hard to travel and manage eating. At our age, digestive systems scream after a day of plane and airport fare, even though we always plan our own healthy snacks. It’s simply not possible to pack food for 24 hours, either in terms of freshness or space.
So here was the menu, served al fresco on a beautiful deck …
Meatballs (homemade, not Costco)
Mushroom caps filled with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled
New potatoes boiled with fresh dill (LOTS—very surprising!)
Garden salad with vinaigrette
Caesar salad with crawfish
Corn on the cob
After the travel and the food craziness, I was hungry for dinner, yet not, at the same time. Kind of weird. So I took a small portion of everything and still ended full. Funny how you can go from famished to full so quickly. Yet I couldn’t resist Monika’s sweet surprise…These cute little pancake thingys that really weren’t pancakes but weren’t crêpes or Swedish pancakes either. Something in between. “Letut” in Finnish. “Thin pancakes was the translation,” he said.
Stacked precisely, topped with a trail of flowers, served with sliced strawberries and sugared, wild blueberries and white chocolate ice cream. Heaven in Helsinki.
Adorable people, thoughtful meal and sumptuous dessert. Can’t wait to see what else is to come…