Northern Savonia is the region with the most delicious cuisine in Finland.
The region with the most delicious cuisine in Finland
Text: Pirjo Rättyä
The Kuopio region in Northern Savonia has been awarded the title of the European Region of Gastronomy, which will be celebrated in the entire province for the next two years.
The European Region of Gastronomy is an internationally recognised title awarded annually to one or more European regions. The Kuopio region was awarded the European Region of Gastronomy status for 2020–2021. This recognition is the first of its kind in Finland, so Northern Savonia has every reason to be proud.
Several high-quality restaurants that specialise in local cuisine are located within a hundred kilometres of Kuopio city centre. The area is also home to several primary producers who provide unique, high-quality products for the local restaurants.
Local ingredients are featured on the restaurants’ menus as well as in various festivals held in the region. The most well-known foods in Northern Savonia include cheese, berry juice, different fish, and meat and vegetable products. Organic and local food production has significantly increased in the area.
Milk, meat and berries are still popular raw materials in Northern Savonia. Northern Savonia is a traditional cattle farming region. Local production has for a long time been focused on milk and beef production.
Welcome to the Suonenjoki Strawberry Carnival!
Strawberry production is particularly prevalent in the Suonenjoki region, where strawberries have been cultivated for over 70 years. The Suonenjoki Strawberry Carnival is one of the oldest summer events in Finland. The first carnival was held in 1970. This year, the carnival will take place on 17–19 July.
Lignell & Piispanen, which still operates in Kuopio, is the third oldest family business in Finland. The company produces mild and strong alcoholic beverages, such as Kova Tee, a long drink developed during Prohibition and taken into production last autumn, as well as another novelty, the hand-crafted Gustav Metsä Gin. The gin is produced from ingredients found in Finnish forests, including rowanberry, birch leaf, lingonberry, nettle, and dandelion root.
However, Savonia is not completely self-sufficient either: the annual Kuopio Wine Festival brings the most famous wine country, France, to Kuopio. This year, the Wine Festival will be held between June 25 and July 4 at Kuopio’s Passenger Harbour. In addition to wine and champagne, the festival also features French cuisine and concerts (at a fee).
The market hall showcases Savonian culture and cuisine
Kuopio Market Hall will take you back in time and help you explore the versatile range of produce the region has to offer. The market hall offers fresh and processed fish, meat and meat products, fish pastries (kalakukko), sweet pastries, Karelian pies, flatbread, canned food, and many other delicious products. Café SalaCavala right by the market hall allows you to create your own wok platter.
Restaurant Urban , located on Puijonkatu street in the centre of Kuopio, is a modern restaurant specialising in lunches and catering services. The restaurant does not take table reservations for lunch, instead, guests are seated at mixed tables. The restaurant has been granted the Chaíne des Rotisseurs shield in 2016 and it is run by Anssi Kantelinen, the winner of Finland’s Top Chef competition.
B/P Gastro Bar is also located on Puijonkatu street. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner every day of the week. Alongside your meal, you can enjoy micro-brewery products in a relaxed atmosphere.
Dine at the revolving restaurant
If you climb up Puijo Hill, you can see the whole city of Kuopio with its beautiful forests and lakes. The restaurants in the Puijo area offer local food from Savonian farms. Restaurant Puijon Maja and the restaurant and cafeteria in the Puijo Tower combine local know-how with high quality and local foods.
The tower restaurant is located at the top of a 75-metre-high tower that rotates a full 360 degrees in up to half an hour, depending on the speed of the mechanism. Guests who make a table reservation at the restaurant will not be charged an entrance fee to the tower.
The best burgers in town are served at Restaurant Morton on Haapaniemenkatu street. Morton is open during the summer, and all meals can be ordered to go or delivered to your door.
Restaurant Isä Camillo cultivates European culinary traditions. In the summer, the menu consists of lighter options: summery flavours, green ingredients, grilled food and light wines. Isä Camillo can be found across the way from Snellman Park.
Built in the 19th century on Satamakatu street, the legendary restaurant Musta Lammas has been in operation for almost 40 years. The restaurant serves a four-course surprise menu called “Experience”, which is a testament to the chef’s talent. The restaurant is also known for its use of hand-picked wild herbs. Definitely worth a try!
Muikkuravintola Sampo on Kauppakatu street celebrates its 85th anniversary this year. The music from the restaurant’s vintage jukebox adds a nice sense of nostalgia. The restaurant’s specialty and most popular dish is fried vendace, which, naturally, is served with mashed potatoes. Those who are familiar with the Juankoski-born pop singer Juice Leskinen, who is known as the founder of Finnish pop music, also know that he was a fan of Sampo’s fried vendace. Juankoski also has a market square and a statue named after Juice.
Enjoy beer in Iisalmi and opera in Olavinlinna
After the Nordic Rally, you can head to Iisalmi’s traditional Oluset Beer Festival. This year, the 90s-themed beer festival will be held on 10–11 July.
In Iisalmi, you can enjoy beer and delicacies at Kuappi, the world’s smallest restaurant located near the Olvi factory. Kuappi is open on request and it can be booked two days in advance at the adjacent beach restaurant Olutmestari. As many as two customers can fit into Kuappi The restaurant terrace also has two seats. Restaurant Olutmestari serves exceptional food. You can also dine at Restaurant Chaplinin the city centre, where you can enjoy fried perch or a good steak.
Beer has been successfully brewed in Iisalmi for over 140 years. You can learn about the history of beer by visiting the Brewery Museum on Luuniemenkatu street by the Olvi factories. A camping park connected with Iisalmi’s traffic park for children is also located on the same street.
Pizzeria Capero has been operating in Savonlinna city centre since 1983. Capero is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. In addition to tasty pizzas, the restaurant also serves delicious hot pot dishes.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival is a four-week event. This year, the festival will be held between July 3 and August 1, and the programme will also include baroque opera performances, which are rare in the history of the festival. The festival will also feature the award-winning Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who is celebrating her 60th birthday this year.
If you have time to visit Savonlinna , you should stop by the market square or the harbour and try a local pastry called “lörtsy”. You can choose a savory or a sweet version. Both are delicious! Lörtsy pastries can also be found in other market squares across Eastern Finland.