Chef Franco Lania says – So long Scandinavia,at least for now.

Herring Market, Helsinki


 Chef Franco Lania – So long Scandinavia…for now!

After spending the holidays in Scandinavia, it’s now time to share some of my experiences.

The two countries and their cities that I visited  were Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.



These are two cities that I visit often and find more and more interesting each time I visit!


Silja Line terminal, Helsinki


At  the port of Helsinki, we boarded Silja Line’s Christmas Cruise we journeyed across the Strait of Finland and part of the Baltic Sea to Stockholm Sweden.

We arrived in Stockholm, Sweden on Christmas Eve and it was a very quiet and peaceful day in the city.  A perfect day to walk around this beautiful city and see all the holiday lights and decorations.

For information regarding Silja Line Cruises >


Gallerian Mall, Stockholm


We even made it to the Gallerian Shops, which is a large indoor mall that is a main attraction in the city center.  After some chocolate covered marshmallows and last-minute Christmas shopping, we left the mall to venture around the city and explore.

For more on the Gallerian Mall…click >



Jacob’s Kyrka

While exploring, we came across a beautiful looking church. In proceeding to take pictures of the church, we found out that there was a 1 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass that was literally minutes from beginning.

So by default and exploration, we landed at a beautiful holiday mass in “Jacob’s Kyrka” (Jacob’s Church) in Stockholm.

This Church has a rich history in Stockholm dating back to 1588 when it was commissioned by King Johan the third.

For some further facts on Jacob’s Kyrka … click  >


Attending a Christmas Eve mass was a  perfect way to end this visit to Stockholm. We, then, began our trek back to our ship to wait for Santa’s arrival, while the ship cruised back across the sea to the port of Helsinki.


Helsinki trams

Back in Helsinki, it was time to regroup from the Christmas Cruise and get ready for New Year’s Eve. 

In Finland, the New Year is marked with fireworks!

The fireworks tradition is very similar the American firework tradition of the 4th of July. 

Here people begin shooting off fireworks long before midnight on New Year’s Eve and carry on until the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day.


New Year’s Eve is definitely a party time for many and the fireworks just elevate the party to a whole other level!


Perho, Culinary School, Helsinki.


Shortly after New Year’s on a cold snowy day, I made the journey out to the Helsinki Culinary Institute, Perho.  

Here we ate in the restaurant that is run by the school, staffed by the students and is open to the public.  The setup was very similar to the French Culinary Institute in New York City >

It is a very welcoming dining room, well-lit and full of smiling and very friendly students waiting to accommodate you the very best that they can.

I had a very delicious venison stew followed by a creamy cheese cake with a nicely  textured cookie crust which came accompanied by a flavorful and tasty berry compote.



Perho Restaurant


 Overall, dining at Perho was quite a nice experience and definitely surpassed all expectations!

For additional information on Perho click > >

Before leaving,  I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the faculty, who nicely explained to me that there is an opportunity for me!  The school often has guests chefs from abroad come in and do cooking demonstrations for the students and lecture on certain types of cuisine and the overall career of being a chef.


So, what began as a simple afternoon lunch on a snowy winter day turned into a cooking demonstration class that I may be slated to give at Perho in the Spring.

This is extremely exciting and humbling at the same time.  I remember all to well my culinary school days and how I looked forward to the guest chef demonstrations and lectures.

  It is extremely nice to be able to give back and share with the next generation of up and coming student chefs and I’m looking forward to this opportunity.

So needless to say this holiday season spent in Scandinavia was inspirational and  rewarding.

Siljia Line, Christmas Cruise


Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank all that followed along on my Facebook  and Twitter –  pages during this trip.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, enjoyed the posts and learned something along the way.

Wishing everyone the very best for the New Year, 2012.  Let’s make this year an extremely positive and eventful one!