suomenlinna and helsinki

10 Jun 2019

Well I'm back home again. I flew in last Tuesday night and I'm still waking at 1.30 a.m irrespective of the time I go to bed. The last few days of my trip were spent in Helsinki, a city I last visited in 2010. Apart from a new rail line to the airport, the city seems little changed. 

My hotel was down on the wharf near the cruise ship terminal. Soon after I arrived I caught the tram to see Helsinki Cathedral and Market Square, a lively part of town filled with tourists.

I had a delicious salmon supper for dinner.

The next day was my designated shopping day having done none in Greece. I bookmarked a few shops on the Design Trail and spent the morning wandering around.

The shops don't open until 10.00 or 11.00 in Helsinki and most are closed on Sunday so I wandered around the town first and then around the Esplanade.

The park was a hive of activity and lots of spring flowers were in bloom.

I managed to buy a few things on my shopping trip that came home with me. I was restrained though because after Greece I found Helsinki quite expensive. 

The locals were out and about enjoying the sunshine. After lunch the day clouded over so I postponed my trip to the UNESCO heritage site of Suomenlinna until Sunday.

Maybe that wasn't such a good idea when the day dawned grey and drizzly. I visited the Art Gallery first then made my way to the ferry. 

I'd come to Europe well prepared for bad weather and had packed both an umbrella and a rain jacket just in case. Naturally I'd left both items in my hotel room that day. 

I knew Suomenlinna was the site of a Swedish fortress so I was expecting it to be all grey stone and dour. I wasn't expecting it to be so pretty.

800 people live on the islands and many of the buildings are really colourful. There are cafes, restaurants and shops and many, many museums.

There is a walking trail (the blue route) you take from the jetty across 2 islands to the Kings Gate.

You pass by Suomenlinna church and these fantastic buildings.

These buildings are part of the Russian Merchant Quarters.

The island is lush and green.

It was heady with the scent of lilacs.

You walk through a tunnel to reach the Great Courtyard.

This is such an elegant building.

I walked towards the fort as the weather started to take a turn for the worse.

By this time the drizzle had turned into cold driving rain so I decided to return home.

This is what the sky looked like as the ferry came into Market Square.

As soon as I made it back to the hotel the sun came out. I hadn't finished seeing the island and felt a bit cheated and with a late flight the next day, I decided to make a 2nd visit to Suomenlinna.

On Monday the weather was much better and there were fewer tourists.

I found all these places I'd walked by in the rain.

This is Piper Park, which is so pretty and it houses a cafe overlooking a beach and some battlements.

The Cafe

The battlements overlooking the water.

The pretty cove.

I kept walking until I reached the Kings Gate.

Finland is quite a young country formerly governed by both Sweden and Russia. Now the Finnish flag flies over the Fortress

A final look at the buildings before the ferry back to Market Square.

I was so glad I made the 2nd trip to Suomenlinna. It was well worth the 15 minute ferry ride.

So that's it. No more holiday happy snaps for a while. I'll have to start planning for next years holiday.

See you all again next week with some baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



buckwheat chocolate chunk cookies

6 Jun 2019

The holiday is over. The backpack is back in the cupboard, the laundry has been washed, ironed and folded and I've already survived (!) 3 days of work. Just before I went on my holidays, I met a friend for dinner. I always like to bring along a treat so I looked through my cupboard and the fridge and realised I had all the ingredients to make chocolate chunk cookies.

I'd recently bought some buckwheat flour and wanted to use some of it in the cookies. I've never baked with buckwheat flour before so consulted the internet for some guidance. I adapted my old recipe for Baker's Chocolate Chunk cookies and when I compared it, the recipe was very similar to this one by David Lebovitz 

I baked half the batch and the rest I portioned in the freezer waiting to be baked. They've since been baked and consumed.

She cookies straight from the oven. Look at all that melted chocolate.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, 60 gm eggs and unsalted butter unless specified. My oven is a conventional gas oven, not fan forced, so you may have to lower your oven temperature by 20°C.

Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies – makes 24 small cookies
¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup caster sugar
115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour minus 2 tbs
¼ cup buckwheat flour
½ tsp baking powder 
Pinch salt
175g (6 oz) coarsely chopped dark chocolate (55%)
½ cup (60g) pecans or walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped
flaky sea salt

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, caster sugar and the melted butter. Add the egg and vanilla and stir well to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together the plain flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture and then mix in the chopped chocolate and nuts. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Use a cookie scoop or your hands to form 4 cm balls of dough. Return to the fridge and refrigerate overnight or at this stage you could freeze the cookie dough. 

The following day preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and place the cookies evenly spaced (about 2½ inches) apart on the baking sheet. Slightly flatten the tops and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.

Bake the cookies until they are just golden around the edges but still a little soft in the middle, about 12 -15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and tap the top of each cookie lightly with a spatula, just once, to compact them slightly. Let cool.

These are best eaten still warm from the oven but they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The dough can be frozen for up to two months.

See you all next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,




Where do I start with Delphi? A few months ago while planning this trip, I saw a Joanna Lumley travelogue on Greece, in which she visited Delphi. It looked magnificent and I was sold.

Getting to Delphi from Kalambaka was no mean feat, involving multiple bus rides and an unexpected taxi drive in Lamia. Once I'd arrived and sorted out my accommodation I walked down to the Temple of Athena Pronaia, outside the archaeological area. Even though it was late afternoon it was hot, dry and dusty.

The Tholos is a magnificent structure but trying to get a photo without a horde of tourists in the frame was a challenge. Instagram has a lot to answer for. One 'grammer plonked herself on a rock under the tree directly in front of the Tholos and took selfies for 10 minutes. Eventually a Greek gentleman became impatient and told her to get off the rock.

I liked the temple so much I photographed it both in portrait and landscape format.

The following day I visited the archaeological site. I arrived just after opening time and the site was very quiet. An hour later when the tour groups arrived it was a different story. The place was heaving.

One of the first buildings you pass is the Treasury.

Delphi is set in the most breathtaking location, under Mt. Parnassus overlooking the Gulf of Corinth.

Some of the featured sites of Delphi including the sacred omphalos of Delphi, a stone that Zeus is thought to have thrown to the earth.

The amazing Serpent column flanked by a cypress tree.

The Temple of Apollo

Despite the tinder dry grass, I still managed to find some flowering trees.

There is a complicated sprinkler system surrounding the relics. Clearly there are concerns about potential bush fires.

The amazing Delphi Theatre.

Messages are inscribed on these rocks.

The Delphi Stadium

Some of the archaeological finds. It's hard to believe a hundred years ago, these structures were buried underground. In general the Delphi relics are much better preserved than the Parthenon.

If you visit Delphi, don't skip the archaeological museum as it's excellent.

These are the last photos from my trip Greece. I just have a few Helsinki photos to share with you and the holiday spam will be over, for now. Then I guess it will be time for me to return to the kitchen.

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,

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