Sunday, 5 February 2012

Restaurant Day walk in Jyväskylä

It's close to 10 am in Jyväskylä and the temperature is freezing -30°C. No idea if others are dying to go out for a walk unless they have to but for me there's no choice: have to leave the house as soon as possible to be among the first in the city center for the Restaurant Day. I've got one sure destination in my mind and don't want the last yummy cookie to disapper right in front of my nose.

I don't know how many pop-up restaurants are set up in Jyväskylä on this Saturday, Feb 4, that marks the 4th ever Restaurant Day in Finland. The Restaurant Day concept originates in Finland, and the idea is that anyone can set up a restaurant or a café for a day!
We take a brisk walk across the deserted-looking town to get desserted - at Poppeli, a wool shop at the back of which a round table will serve as a café table today.  Poppeli is located at the first pedestrian street in the history of Jyväskylä (more of a residential than shopping street, but with some shops), at Keskustie 18, between Gummeruksenkatu and Kilpisenkatu streets. The Restaurant Day café at Poppeli is run by Hooked On Sweets.
Normally, the choice of yarns, knitting needles, and crocheting hooks etc. are the main thing here but now there is heavy competition: the wonderful smells from the back of the room draw us to look at the baked goodies. The first café customers look very pleased...
There are different kinds of cheese cakes (e.g. blueberry), three kinds of banana bread, cookies, muffins, domino truffle balls. Wow!
This must be the best display of North American baking in Jyväskylä. The Canadian baker Dominique has done a fantastic job in baking all this. It's difficult to choose what to taste - you can't possible sample them all - but luckily we are three and can share a plateful. I'm especially happy to bite into a Santa's cookie (dried cranberries, dark and white chocolate, crushed almonds), among other delicious things. So glad there's also takeaway!

After visiting Poppeli, I try to find the locations of other Restaurant Day places in Jyväskylä by going online, but unfortunately that's exactly what others are trying to do as well, and I can't access the restaurant list due to the overload. I manage to get only one exact address, and besides that know that there should be pop-up restaurants on two streets not too far.

However, no matter where I look at Väinönkatu street, there are no signs guiding to a Restaurant Day restaurant. Next, I walk to the quiet Yrjönkatu street a bit further, but the result is the same. Apparently they don't have a need for advertising for casual passers-by? Also, silly of me not to write down the addresses before I left.
Finally, my luck turns at the corner of Yrjönkatu and Kyllikinkatu streets where Ravintola Sovinto (Restaurant Reconciliation) is set up for the day, and dares to advertise itself outside. Welcome! Who's the guy in the poster? Well, this pop-up restaurant is run by the local Green youth and students, in support of the presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto.
Inside, the atmosphere is peaceful, and the musicians are setting up their acoustic equipment. There's also a free concert for us customers. The restaurant menu is simple: two kinds of tortillas, fruit salad for dessert, tea, coffee, juice. Simple but good.
The restaurant tables are decorated by the presidential candidate's campaign material - after all, the election is only one day away on Sunday, Feb 5. I enjoy my tea and Seitan kebab tortilla, listening to the folk music singer.
I've already given up hope of how to find more Restaurant Day destinations by accident, and the temperature doesn't allow spending too many hours outside... When I see smoke coming up a chimney on Pitkäkatu street, my only thought is: wish I had stumbled also on a pop-up restaurant with an open fireplace!

P.S. Hooked on Sweets bakes for Poppeli once a week - visit Poppeli wool shop on a Friday to see what's available...

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