>> Finnish Christmas Fair | Eat the World NYC

15 December 2015

Finnish Christmas Fair


Of all the Scandinavian holiday fairs in the city, this one is definitely the least blond of the group. Owing to its location on busy Christopher Street, on any given Saturday that this fair falls on, it tends to attract a large amount of passersby inside its small cafeteria. The brunching masses take a break from their eggs benedict to the promises of rice porridge and glögi within. Finns are probably not as naturally blond as their neighbors either, and would be the first to point out that they do not belong to Scandinavia.

As with all their regional cousins though, the people that run the show here are smiling and happy to explain all the exotic foods to anyone wandering in for the first time. The aforementioned glögi ($3, not pictured) is unfortunately alcohol-free, as the limits of a church operation are always prevalent in this country. They do a good job with it though, it is pleasing on a chilly day regardless.

With the fair technically upstairs, I find the cafeteria on the first floor the most exciting. A few tables are covered with various trays of food, lots of cookies and pastries for sale. This year even saw the introduction of open-faced sandwiches, something I had not seen in the past at this event. They must have caught on to the Danes and Norwegians and the fact that they were pulling in so much cash at those events. Here though prices are very reasonable, you can get a sandwich with coffee or tea for $5.

New to me were the Karelian pies ($3, below), eaten throughout Finland and neighboring Estonia, which Finns actually share much more in common with than Scandinavian countries. The crust is made from rye bread and this is the taste most prevalent. The rice, butter, and egg filling is not flavorful enough to add much except texture.

The reason I come back here most years though is for the delicious rice pudding ($3, below). Riisipuuro is a milk-based porridge and here comes with a choice of two toppings, a mixed fruit and the more traditional prune and raisin you see below.

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