Sunday, June 10, 2018

Summer in Two Cities - Porvoo

Part one of my Summer in Two Cities series here.

Last Monday was a return to Porvoo. We had such a pleasant experience with our friend in November that we decided to try it again in much nicer weather. I booked a visit to the Pieni Suklaatehdas/ Lille Chokladfabriken / The Little Chocolate Factory. Booking via the website didn't seem to work, so I advise calling the factory itself. Factory is a bit of a misnomer here as it is really one large workshop room and one shop room, but for our group that was just about right, enough detail to learn something, to try some new things and to not go running off and getting into trouble. 

Pieni Suklaatehdas is the only chocolate factory in Finland that does organic bean to bar chocolate, so we got to see and taste all the different stages. I wish I had a chance to get Pudding's face after trying the roasted beans, it suprised her that chocolate could taste like that, but I was too busy cleaning up the spit out pieces. Kids!

The owner was lovely and patient with the kids. The girls didn't want to put on the funky hats, so we had to have a discussion about that. But once the tour started they were forgotten and fun was had.

The tour was short, but it meant they didn't have a chance to get bored and there was chocolate cake, chocolate tea and several varieties of chocolate to try afterwards. 

The tour isn't cheap at 20 euros per person, it says on the website, but the  kids are discounted, so 2 adults, 4 kids between 11 and 4 and 3 bars of chocolate cost me just over 100 euros. And they threw in a sample bar of chocolate on top of all we ate. I'm happy paying a little more than usual to support artesian crafts. 

There is a small variety of flavours, licorice, strawberry, dark, milk, salted milk, etc, and it was all lush, except the cricket chocolate. I braved it and it wasn't bad, the crickets only gave a mild after-taste to the choclate, but finding cricket bits in my teeth a bit later wasn't pleasant.

We then crossed the river for a wander towards the Old Town and stopped in the writer Johann L Runeberg's house. I wasn't going to bother going in as 18th century houses don't interest my kids and we were looking for a place to have lunch, but they had a sign outside that said free entry to the garden and the play area. Good advertising. The garden was amazing, apple trees and lots of scented flowers. The gardener was out so he explained to me some information behind Fredrika Runeberg's garden. 

They had a man posted at the play area, as it's a bit unassuming and we may have walked by it. Good thing as it was really well-thought out and the kids loved it. There was a fishing 'pond' and magnetic poles to catch the fish, a kiosk all set up with money, bags and a few items the kids could sell. They could gather eggs from the hen house, pump water from the well, brush the horse and clean its stable, play with the pigs. My kids also sold the fish and the eggs. They had a great time and I'd be tempted to look inside next time to see if it's as interesting. Tickets are 8 euros for adults and free for under 18s, but it is a summer-time only thing. 

We then headed back to Vanhan Porvoon Glassiko because we such a lovely meal there last time. The menu was limited to some pizzas and salads, but once again the attention to details was amazing. My chicken salad came in a lovely soft pizza base. There was very little dressing so it wasn't soggy, but it was still flavourful. My friend's caprese salad was layered in a jar which he then poured onto his plate. Both were great. The pizza toppings were a bit beyond my kids, but they made them a margharita pizza big enough for 4 littles. I definitely recommend them. They do ice cream too.

After my reluctance to return, Porvoo seems determined to surprise me at each new visit. 

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