How I miss traveling. The magic of walking onto a plane or boat or train and stepping off in a new country where things are different in the most wonderful ways, where the streets are full of people speaking another language, the buildings and landscapes offer a feast for the eyes – while the smells floating from restaurants and cafes offer a feast of another kind. For me, at least, it is the joy of exploring new local cuisines that I miss the most.
For most of us, this year has been void of such leisurely travel, and it could be some time before we are able, or willing, to take an international holiday again. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still treat our taste buds to a holiday. Even while we are staying home, minimizing unnecessary outings. Today I offer you a round-the-world trip, all from the comfort of your couch via your preferred food delivery app!
Spice it up with flavours from India
India has a special place in my heart, it was one of the first big solo travels I did, and I am looking forward to one day going back. Recently in Helsinki, a few new Indian restaurants have popped up that I’ve been enjoying with some delicious regional flavors. Particularly in the case of The South Indian restaurant where you can enjoy, you guessed it, flavors from South India, from the Chettinad region.
This style of food is generally lighter with lots of lentils and fresh. Their dosa and idly are great for sharing to try some new flavors, and my personal favorite from the mains menu is the keerai kulumbu, which brings together lentils and spinach in a mild but fragrant curry that feels healthy and light but also filling.
©Ruby’s Private Collection
Over at Samarat their extensive menu covers several regions and includes the classic thali (which means plate), which is great for the indecisive as it allows you to try a few dishes of the chef’s choice. I recently tried their dal Tarka and will gladly admit I think it was the best I’ve had in a long time. Their chili paneer was a hit too, and my partner tried the mint masala with slow-cooked mutton, which was wonderfully fragrant and rich (Maisie was very disappointed he didn’t want to share).
Complete the week with an all American classic
On a Friday night, there’s no better feeling than sitting down with a cold drink and a juicy burger. Whether it’s to celebrate a good week or get over a tough one, a burger is classic comfort food, and when done well can be a real treat.
All across the city, there are fantastic burger joints to try, but if you’re after a proper American classic you really can’t go past the Hard Rock Café. It’s certainly not quite the same biting into one of their burgers on my couch as opposed to being surrounded by their all-American paraphernalia and listening to some rock and roll, but heck, it’s still pretty damn good. I recommend getting some tunes blaring on Spotify and taking a road trip down Route 66, with burger juices dripping down your chin. And the best bit? As a Snappmeal member, they often have great deals available on the app, recently they were offering 2-for-1 burgers! Keep an eye out and Snapp them up.
Head south to Mexico for a tasty taco
There’s a great selection of Mexican restaurants and taquerias across Helsinki these days as the appetite for this delicious street-food grows. My introduction to Helsinki’s taco scene was a visit to El Rey a couple of years ago, and it remains a solid favorite for take-away options too! I just wish I could get their classic margarita to-go! Lopez Y Lopez is on my ‘must-try’ list as I’ve only heard good things, meanwhile, my partner’s favorite is Pueblo’s.
Recently we tried Saint Tortillas, this restaurant is more of a cheap-eats option, but that’s not to say they scrimp on flavor. Their fish tacos were great with the combination of a soft tortilla and lovely crispy chunks of fish. My other half tried their burrito, and we had some quesadillas to share. Both were nicely flavored with fresh ingredients. And with meals coming in at around 10 euros, it’s a great option to spice up a lazy evening.
The Philippines isn’t so far away after all
If you’re ready to venture off the beaten take-out track, treat your tastebuds to a trip to the Philippines. Sentro is a small cozy restaurant in Punavuori serving up delicious homestyle Filipino cuisine with style, and now they offer take-away and delivery options. This is a great option if you can’t agree on what to order with your housemate or partner – from one place, you can get something healthy, light, and fragrant, or something rich with deep spices in a sticky sauce, go vegan or enjoy slow-cooked meats.
And if you feel like being a bit fancy, you could try another Filipino restaurant, Paisano, where you can order ‘finer take-away’. You have to order in advance, but then you’ll receive a delivery of everything you need to plate up your full 5-star, 5-course meal at home.
Sure, not traveling is boring, not going out as much has got us all feeling a bit cabin-fever-y, but right now, that’s the least we can do to keep each other safe and reduce the strain on healthcare workers. But during all of this, those trying to keep a hospitality business afloat are in a tough spot too. Helping them is easy though! Why not try making it a ‘stay at home’ date night, get dressed up, put on a playlist of music to match the food, and set the table with candles. Or get a bunch of friends on a video call for a virtual dinner party to recount your favorite foods from around the world? It’s time to get out your passport and prepare to take your tastebuds on the trip of a lifetime.