Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A crayfish party for two

'I've never had a crafish in such polite society,' said husband as the friendly waitress tied our bibs on and asked if we wished to order some schnapps. We looked at each other and smiled. 'Of course,' he said.

We were sitting at a window table in a restaurant called von Knorring in Mariehamn's East Harbour. We'd picked out one of the few days it rained on Åland during our holiday to go out to dinner a deux. The town was deserted, partly because the season was coming to an end and the tourists were leaving, partly because of the weather, and partly because the islands' most famous philanthropist and business mogul was hosting a concert in his acres of prime coast-line in Järsö. Some 3,000 people attended the charity concert in aid of The Baltic Fund. That's a lot of people for Mariehamn.

Indigo, a popular cafe/restaurant/bar - empty.
But to our surprise von Knorring was full. We'd heard from the locals that the food was good here, and obviously a few other people thought so too. I saw online the restaurant on board a steamer was serving crayfish and  immediately phoned to pre-ordered some for us. (The season officially starts in early August). After a few moments a plateful of native Åland river crayfish arrived at our table, smelling of the sea and decorated with dill flowers. Then two glasses of chilled Marskin Ryyppy were placed in front of us, followed by two glasses of locally brewed beer, Stallhagen.

I can still taste them.

We had a rainy view of Österhamn - the East Harbour in Mariehamn
While the rain poured down outside, we chose our first crayfish. They were fresh-tasting, large and delicious. The brine was just right, not too salty or sweet. The dill was fresh and the cumin-spiced cheese, traditionally eaten on toast with crayfish, was excellent.

Me tasting the crayfish
Then it was time to taste the schnapps. Husband raised his glass, leaned across the table and in a low voice started singing,

Helan går

I joined him, in a whisper. Not because I was embarrassed but because I really, truly cannot sing. But it seems it's physically impossible not to sing when taking schnapps with or without crayfish, whether in public or not.
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej

Helan går

   Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Och den som inte helan tar 
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går

We drank the purest tasting vodka there is and continued,
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

The post-schnapps beer to dull the hit...
Strangely the other diners hardly batted an eyelid as time after time we sang our schnapps songs. There were a few envious glances directed at the crayfish but none at us. We left the restaurant happy and just a little worst for wear. The town was still deserted so we decided to head back to Lemland where a bottle of champagne somehow got opened and drunk. 

The Esplanaden. This was 11 pm on a Saturday night in early August...
Oh, I wish I was still on holiday!


Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening for two. I can imagine a little hangover the following morning?!

JulieB said...

Mmm, I love crayfish - they look fabulous! Of course the schnapps is obligatory. Jealous.

Ben said...

Your hair is FABULOUS.

Alison Cross said...

MMmmmmm - this looks VERY tasty! I now need to learn more about cumin-spiced cheese.

BTW What are the lyrics of the song, in English?

Ali x

Helena Halme said...

Victoria, well, we did have a bit of a sore head the next day - nothing that a sauna and a swin in the sea couldn't fix though...

JulieB - I'm already planning next summer.

Ben - Why thank you!

Alison, the song goes something like:

Down goes the whole,
Sing hop-la-la, hop-la-la,
Down goes the whole.
Sing hop-la-la-la-la.
The one who doesn't down it all, can't have a half at all,
Down goes the whole.
Sing hop-la-la...

A very loose translation, but you get the idea?


Wildernesschic said...

I adore Crayfish, I love most shellfish.. and love to get stuck in too :)
Great photos .. yes your hair does look great. You both look very relaxed xx Or is that the Schnapps ?

A Woman's Life said...

That sounds like a very memorable evening and a good recommendation for a dining experience next time we are in Sweden. I have tagged you - hope you don't mind, trying to get to know people and Wildernesschic did the same for me. Have a good weekend x

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Ah! Helena that sounds wonderful. I love seafood, especially crayfish. The best ones I have eaten here was at one of my favourite restaurant's St John in Clerkenwell. You must try it now you're in London. The food is fabulous although sometimes a bit scary! When I last took my friend he said "I can't understand the menu, is anyone here a vet?"

I've tagged you over at mine. You'll have to put a link to How I came to be in England for question 2. Have a great Bank Holiday xx

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