Northern delights: 1881 Uleaborg


Across two weeks in Finland, spring had arrived.  The lake ice had melted and the last snow was fast vanishing from the high ground.

The birch and alder had come to bud and the woods echoed to the sound of nesting swans, woodpecker and cuckoo. The Arctic hare and fox were returning to their summer colours from the white of winter.

We took a weekend break in Oulu to catch up on communications.  Trusting to the Lonely Planet, we chose 1881 Uleaborg for dinner – an old wooden warehouse on the waterfront. With a choice of degustation or a la carte, it was hard to make up our minds.

Both of us chose the potato soup to start, with sliced shitake mushrooms, infused with truffle oil and foamed to the constency of a great cappuchino. For a pair of mushroom addicts, this was heaven

For the main meal, I chose fried breast of pidgeon with a bird comsommee and winter vegetable pot-au-feu and sour cream with fennel. The rare-cooked meat was perfecly matched to the aniseed of the fennel. Steve’s Arctic char poached in red wine, with fried lentils, vegetables in filo and beetroot sauce was a triumph.

The glass of 2007  Peter Lehmann Seven Surveys Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvèdre blend was a fine match to the richy flavoured pidgeon.  The Finns are lovers of fine reds and I look forward to introducing our wines into this most-approachable part of the Arctic.

The chef  was thankfully happy to share this beautiful soup recipe with me.  Thank you Johanna – I look forward to my next visit to your wonderful place!

Truffle flavoured Potato Soup with Shitake Mushroom Foam (for 4-6 persons)

For the soup:  Peel and slice 6 large firm potatoes into a pot. Add a mix of ‘runny’ cream and full-fat milk (your choice, depending on taste)  just to cover them up and simmer gently until cooked. Blend to a smooth texture, with a little extra milk if required. Flavour with salt, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of white truffle oil.

For the foam:  Simmer down 100ml of  fresh shitake mushrooms with 300ml of cream until there is one third of the cream remaining. Flavour with salt and black pepper. Blend the remaining mix, then add 50ml of non-fat milk and bring to the boil. Add a further 50ml of cold non-fat milk and whip air into the mushroom ‘soup’ with a small blender.

Place the potato soup into individual bowls. Add a few thin slices of shitake mushrooms on top of the warm soup and spoon the shitake mushroom foam on top.   A slash of grated nutmeg on top makes for an optional final touch.  Johanna’s suggestion is to

“Enjoy the soup with good spirit and nice people!”

And enjoy with a crisp white wine – perhaps the Treeton Estate 2008 Unwooded Chardonnay.