Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy new year dear everyone!

Champagne in Paris! Big Indian dinner waiting for us at the table!

Happiest new year to all of you and your loved ones!!

champagne new year paris

Elegant amuse-bouche recipe for Christmas

Our Franco-Finnish Christmas meal begun with an amuse-bouche of quail eggs. These eggs make an elegant alternative to normal eggs and are pretty easy to find everywhere. We had tarama and black caviar as a topping but only your imagination is limit! Here you go with my recipe:

1. Boil the eggs for 5 minutes. I was under the impression that I should put the eggs into boiling water but when I did this, they cracked. Thankfully I had bought a dozen of eggs, so I boiled new eggs but this time in cold water and in lower temperature. The second time no egg cracked.quail eggs amuse-bouche2. Peel the eggs. Keep the eggs in cold water for a good 10-15 minutes before you start peeling the shells off. Change the water to keep it cool, if necessary. Once you start peeling, be careful. This is the trickiest part as you can see in the photo above….

3. Cut and place the eggs on a serving platter or a cocktail plate. A tip: have you ever wondered how to make an egg stand still? By cutting a tiny slice off of its bottom!

4. Be a Michelin-starred chef! Think of the presentation and colors. Green always looks great with yellow and white, so I added slices of leek and cucumber.quail eggs with cucumber

5. Topping: I added scallop tarama and black Russian caviar on both eggs, with a sprinkle of dill, but I am sure that herring, salmon, dried and smoked meats, cream soft cheese etc. would all marry well with quail eggs! And if you want to make the amuse-bouche a bit more heavier, place the egg slices on a blini….quail eggs with caviar and tarama

Voila, the easiest and classiest amuse-bouches are ready to be served with French champagne! Happy Boxing Day everyone.

Merry Christmas!!

midnight mass at Notre DameWith this photo taken at the midnight mass at Notre Dame de Paris, I wish my dear family, friends and followers a merry Christmas!!

Christmas food shopping at the Bastille Market

Today’s mission was to buy tons of fruits and vegetables for Christmas. The Bastille market was even more attractive than usually and some stalls had installed Christmas decorations. There were more specialty foods like stuffed lobster tails as well as different types of poultry. They looked so delicious and mouth watering that I had to get some photos to share with you –enjoy!

Scallops: scallops

Blue Breton lobster and sea urchins: Blue Breton lobster and sea urchin

Famous “Bresse chicken”: Bresse chicken

Snails with parsley and garlic: snails

Frog legs, of course!frog legs

Chapon (capon/rooster) and goose, traditional French Christmas poultry:capon

We skipped all of these appetizing foods and focused just on fruits and vegetables. Upon arrival at home, I placed everything on the dining table and this is what it looked like: fruits and vegetables from the Bastille Market

Tomorrow we continue the groceries and the list includes: foie gras, oysters, blinis, fish eggs, ingredients for chocolate cake and Mont d’or cheese. Not forgetting wine from Le Baron Rouge! Tuesday will be another big day as our stuffed goose is ready and we can pick it up. So, three more nights until the Christmas Day and the menu already looking fine!

How is your menu coming along? What are your favorite Christmas dishes and do you prepare them yourself?  Follow Pearlspotting on Facebook to read more about our Franco-Finnish Christmas in Paris!

Bringing a little bit of Finnish Christmas to Paris

My parents arrived in Paris yesterday, carrying a little bit of Finland in their suitcase.

Finnish Christmas treeFirst of all, they brought us a tiny pine with some Christmas decorations. The tree seems to be seven years old and now waits in the kitchen to be properly planted. It will be interesting to see how it will like French climate and after how many years it has to be moved to the balcony?

transporting frozen fish in a suitcaseIn addition we received almost ten kilos of fish caught by my father in our summer house lake: salmon (järvilohi = landlocked salmon) and pikeperch (kuha). They were frozen when they left Finland and arrived intact upon arrival in Paris. I put them directly back to the freezer together with some berries sent to us by friends of my parents. No shortage of organic, local and healthy food this winter!

Do you think we will manage to succeed in creating a fine Franco-Finnish Christmas in Paris this year? What about you: how is your own Christmas coming along? Do you have influences from different countries and cultures? I would love to learn more about you!

PS If you find this interesting and fun, why not to check out Pearlspotting’s Facebook page too!

Parisian fireplace

Our renovation company came over this morning to do some last touch up paint, so it was a convenient day to begin pre-Christmas cleaning. I used the opportunity to see what our 1870s marble fireplace looks like without the mirror and all other decorations and this is it, in its rather minimalist style: Parisian marble fire place from 1870s

The round wooden boxes come from Afghanistan and the region. I learned in Turkey, where I bought them, to keep almonds and pistachios inside, but I do wonder what tribal treasures they carried one hundred years ago?

The painting is by a young, talented Parisian artist called Dominique Dubien (

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Ice swimming in Finland

One of the most common questions people ask me when they hear I am originally from Finland is “so, you swim in the frozen water”?  And my answer is “yes we do”. Sometimes, and depending on the family member.

Below I am going to demonstrate what this ice swimming ritual contains.

1. Find a frozen lake, sea or river. There is probably going to be a lot of snow, so get rid of it. You need to see the ice before you can start making the hole in it (at least it is easier this way).frozen lake in Finland

2. Start making the hole. Whether you do it manually or mechanically, you will sweat. Believe me.making a hole in the ice

3. Once the hole is ready, have a respected family member (like your father or mother) check that the hole fits you and your needs. swimming in the ice

4. During the last phase, other members are invited to participate in the ritual. Some like combining swimming in the ice with meditation, some prefer it with a glass of wine.  My brother thought that One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is a relaxing way to enjoy the ice swimming, but you are free to do as you feel. hole in the ice

I hope that I have convinced you to look for plane tickets to experience this fantastically purifying ritual in Finland! Should you have questions, do not hesitate to ask me…. (and remember not to take everything I wrote too seriously!).

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White Finnish Christmas

I do like celebrating Christmas in Finland, especially during those years when there is a lot of snow, but I do not need to go back there every year. I am not one of those people who follows all Christmas traditions. I do not even like most of the traditional Finnish Christmas dishes. I have spent many Christmases abroad and to be honest, one of my most memorable Christmases was in Mamallapuram, India (eating lamb chops!). Quite a traitor, some of you are thinking now…

This year we are going to celebrate Christmas with my parents in Paris. The preparations are yet to be completed, but on the 24th we are invited to a birthday party/Russian Christmas Eve buffet at a friend’s place. After smoked salmon and champagne, our night will probably continue to the midnight mass at Notre Dame. Sounds like an other excellent way to start the celebrations to me!

However, to pay respect to the Finnish Christmas and to show you how it looks like, I thought to share some old photos from where my parents live. In this first photo, you can see my father preparing a path for ice skating (yes, he is walking on a frozen river!).Finland at Christmas time

This next photo shows you the house from the river. There is a very little of light around the Christmas period, but often a nice blue light appears just before the sun sets.. frozen lake in Finland

In this last photo you can see a huge pile of snow that we accumulated by keeping the ice path free of snow. We thought of constructing an igloo of it but the time run out! snow in Finland

If I get a permission from the people involved, I will post more photos of Christmas in Finland and especially of what jumping half-naked to the frozen river or lake means…! Meanwhile, what does your Christmas usually look like? Which has been your most memorable Christmas?

Paris-Venice by Emirates?

Did you know that since November 2012 it has been possible to use Emirates miles toward Easy Jet flights? This is indeed a very welcome partnership for Europe-based travelers like us who use Emirates for Africa- and Asia-bound flights and accumulate a considerable amount of miles every year. It is fantastic knowing that we can now use these miles toward a long weekend in old European cities in winter or toward some beach time in the Mediterranean in summer.

Last weekend some of our miles were about to expire and we put this new partnership to the test. As a result, Venice, here we come! There were no hidden costs and indeed even the airport taxes were included in the package. The simplest and quickest purchase ever. Bravo Emirates-Easy Jet partnership!venice canal This photo was taken in Venice where we celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. I very much look forward to picturesque walks, Venoto wines and sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines), one of my favorite  Venetian dishes! Moreover, for the first time ever, we have already booked a hotel and will be staying at Palazzo Stern by the gran canal.

Last but not least, I would love to hear about your favorite spots in Venice: galleries, restaurants, wine bars and other places of interest. Be my guide!

PS To follow my travels and life in Paris, why not to check Pearlspotting’s facebook page?

That Parisian view

Some of you have seen a similar photo a few times but I just cannot get enough of this view from our balcony. I took the photo tonight, just before the sunset. Loving the combination of pink, green, grey and rusty orange! view from the balcony

Previous photos taken from the balcony are:

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