On a sunny morning of the early summer I sat down behind the wheel and headed from the west to east in the Kotka-Hamina region, aiming to find prime treats by producers of local food in the region. Indeed, I filled my stomach and my shopping basket. Here's the route that I took as a tip to those who also crave for local delicacies.
“A bun a day keeps your bones out of sight”
The motto of the Facebook page tempts me to have morning coffee in Pyhtää. Uusi Pullis Oy serves morning coffee and sweet pastries in the former premises of a bank.
“When the bank finished here, we came through the wall and took over the entire building,” says baker- confectioner and entrepreneur Henna Hytönen.
The locals have already picked up the most popular product of the bakery, traditional rye bread that has been baked here since 1985.
“We also sell a lot of seven grain bread, oat bread and possos, local sweet pastries. On Fridays, we bake garlic bread and sometimes also blue cheese bread – depending on the mood of the baker! In the summer, we have a summer kiosk at the nearby Huutjärvi beach,” says Henna Hytönen.
Honey, berries and vegetables from the Jaakkola farm
The road to the village of Huruksela in Kotka runs parallel to the river Kymijoki, but you cannot actually see the river for the forest until you have almost arrived at the village.
“Since 2003 we have kept bees and since 2010 we have produced berries,” says Maarit Jaakkola of the Jaakkola farm. “We pay attention to ecology and the cycle of nature. Bees and berries benefit from each other.”
The farm produces juice, marmalade, jams and mulled wine mainly from strawberries and raspberries. Honey is processed into seasoned honey and honey mustard. Sales mainly take place at fairs and through the REKO network.
“From early July onwards, we have a small farm shop where you can buy berries, onions, potatoes and peas as permitted by the harvest season and weather. We also have a small shop before Christmas,” Maarit Jaakkola says.
Also visit these in Kotka: local food shop of Neittamon herkku for meat products: neittamonherkku.fi, Kirjavainen fish shop, cafeteria and restaurant: kalastuskirjavainen.fi
Horse and reindeer in Hamina
There is a machine for queueing numbers outside the door. It raises a smile on my face but soon turns out to be quite necessary – the queue indoors reaches to the door. There are sausages, steaks and smoked meat available. The shelves carry garlic preservatives and mustard to go with the sausages. I do not really like pork, but I taste the smoked pork, and I'm sold.
“We have converted many a vegetarian here,” says Mika Nopanen with a laughter. He opened the store beside the Hamina-Vaalimaa highway in 2011. “We cure meat with smoke in the early part of the week and sell our products in the latter part of the week. In addition to our own smoked meat, we also sell reindeer meat that we get from the north. We used to sell fish but finished with that. Together with the microbrewery in the neighbouring municipality, we have recently developed the Kaski sausage, which utilises the taste of beer.”
Beer by a microbrewery in Virolahti
The website of Takatalo & Tompuri Brewery has been drawn up with a humorous idea. A place like this can only produce good beer, I think when I’m driving to the yard of the countryside idyll.
“The law prohibits the sale of beer directly from the brewery, but our products are widely available in grocery stores and restaurants,” says Mikko Suur-Uski, who founded the microbrewery on his home farm together with his childhood friend Juha Kokkala, who owns the nearby farm.
The establishment of the brewery with its licensing process took about three years and required much work, study and strong faith in the business. The brewery is the only one in Finland to produce beer from the grain of its own farms. The first product, cold-smoked lager Kaski Kylmäsavulager was completed for the Christmas market in 2016. Since then, the product family has grown by three beers, and there is more to come.
“Pure, fresh, balanced and unique beers, that’s what we want to produce here,” says Mikko Suur-Uski.
Lamb meat and wool from Miehikkälä
My journey continues to Miehikkälä. The door reads “Karitsabaari ja Villataivas” (Lamb Bar and Wool Heaven). Here, in a facility built in former horse stables, Anu Turu of the Seppälä Sheep Farm serves lamb meat delicacies produced at the farm.
“We serve lamb meals for groups by appointment. Moreover, about once a month we have a lamb meal day available through advance booking,” Anu Turu says.
The small shop in the corner offers products processed from Finnsheep: canned mutton, baby bootees, knitwear, hides and wool yarn, whose natural tones come from the fur of the sheep, not from dyeing.
“We sell our main product, fresh lamb meat, directly to the customers. The sales channels include the REKO network,” Anu Turu says.