Varda’s deli

I met Varda in 1979.
I had just moved to Tampere, to a new and strange town.
Soon enough Varda called me, to find out who was the new Israeli in Tampere. We met and we’ve been friends ever since.
For three and half years we lived in the same town and this profound friendship sure contributed to my wellbeing there.
In the 90’s, when I already lived with my family in Helsinki, Varda came often to visit and at times took care of our kids when we were traveling.  I call her my sister and it sure feels like she is the sister I never had.
Last Saturday I drove to Tampere to visit her. Like always we talked of what is coming and what has happened, children, dreams, books. Ups and downs. Life.
And as always, Varda with her big and warm heart set up a sumptuous table for me.
With her permission I will share with you a couple of her delicacies.

Chicken schnitzel:
6 chicken breasts 
3 eggs
lemon or any other citrus fruit juice
bread crumbs
Flatten the chicken breasts and shape to steaks max 1 cm thick.
Mix the eggs, spice and juice in a bowl.
Let the schnitzels be in the mix for at least 2 hours.
Add ½ dl of flour to the blend
Cover the chicken schnitzels with bread crumbs
Fry in oil until golden brown
Tip: you can use ground corn flakes instead of the bread crumbs. It will stick better.
Fresh salad with fruits and berries 
1 Iceberg lettuce
2 Pears
1 Apple
2 Oranges or mandarins
1 Lemon
2 dl lingonberries or cranberries (frozen or fresh)
Cut the salad to thin slices
Peel and cut the fruit to small cubes and mix with a little bit of lemon juice.
Peel and cut the orange to small cubes
Squeeze the other orange for juice.
Mix all ingredients.
Add the berries (frozen or fresh) just before serving and mix.
Yes you got that. No salt nor pepper ! well, you can add some if needed.
In my opinion the freshness of this recipe is at its best without any additional spices.

Helsinki street food rules!

My friend Hanna getting oriented
Just a little patience… 
And the prize… 🙂
The stairs of the Helsinki Dome church attracted sunbathers
Streat Helsinki was a big suprise! Exactly like on May day, really crowded. But the most unbelievable thing was that the people rushed to the city center because of food! This would have been totally impossible still ten years ago… no alcohol involved! Great atmosphere, almost felt like abroad 🙂 
The food was “gourmet” street food: well made, simple portions to cater every taste. Unfortunately the lines were unbearable…. and in worst of them probably two hundred people waiting! 
But the food was amazing!
I ate Social food street‘s vegan dog which just melted in my mouth. The sausage was spicy and the sauces so good. My friend ate a sausage made of Northern pike and praised its taste. The price was five euros. We drank Salt’s fresh made cranberry juice (3,50 e). Not bad. 
Let’s hope that this was just the beginning! The crowds were that big that hopefully next time there will be more food stalls and trucks.
The home page of the happening is here.
You will find a nice video from the happening linked in our FB-page: 


Working in my studio


Working in my studio

My work takes me often abroad. Covering travel, life style and food  stories as well as stories about interesting people I get to meet on the way. Mostly I travel light without heavy gear like big flash lights. This means that I have to operate fast and make painful compromises regarding the technical aspects of photography.
Big part of my work, however, I do in my home town studio in Helsinki.
Here I can work with almost no technical limitations. The studio is big and full of useful equipment. I can plan my shoots or execute my client`s demands to the last detail.
Strange enough, I find myself doing product photography often. I like the impossible elements or sometimes difficult products and I especially like the challenge of bringing to life their glam/spirit/sex appeal or whatever you want to call it.
Together with my faithful assistant Teija Huovila we had a day’s session working on some hand tools. Here is the making off of this B&D pearl.





We get to taste all kind of delicacies on our work trips with Uzi as food articles is a big part of our work. And that is not enough… I realize that we also keep talking about food all the time! Uzi has told me so many times about his famous pasta recipe so that I told him to share his recipe here instead of giving it only to me. And so he did in his last post.

I tried the pasta today and it was so good! On my first portion I put some grated parmesan on it but on my second time (ate the leftovers cold!) I grated some feta cheese on the pasta. Great! I am sure I will cook this over and over again. I have this bad habit when I fall into something that I keep cooking the same thing until everyone is fed up with it. But I will take the risk 🙂

You can find the recipe here if you missed it.

The mountains of Sinai


The peninsula of Sinai was the backyard in my youth. It meant freedom, wide and high landscapes, emptiness and adventures.

The region in the early 70s was still wild, almost untouched by civilization, and as such it attracted all kinds of adventure seekers and hippies from around the world.
I did a few trips to the high mountain region in those early years, later in 1978 I introduced the area to the woman who became my life partner.
After Sinai was returned to the Egyptians in 1982, there was a long break in my desert journeys. I finally returned to these great mountains for a few more unforgettable trips between 1999 and 2002.
Sinai is a unique combination of different landscapes of desert, great beaches of the Red Sea with some rare exotic coral reefs and fantastic mountains that exceed the altitude of 2300 m. As the high mountain region is inhabited by Bedouin tribes the visitor will notice some cultivated wadies where almond and other fruit trees grow. Until a couple of decades ago the locals with their families and animal stock were still moving to the high lands for the summer months to avoid the heat.
Culturally Sinai goes as far back as 4600 years, when Egyptian expeditions searched for the local Turquoise stone and copper. In the old temple of Sarabit El Hadem, which was built within the mine area, written documents and reports can still be seen carved on the stone pillars. The Nabatians left their marks in shape of carved graffitis (Wadi el Mukattab) and the city of Firan in the Firan valley by Mount Sirbal.
And of course the traditional belief of the Tora having been given to the Israelites in Mount Sinai (Mount Moses).
Unfortunately the area has been considered rather unsafe for travelers in the past few years, so all I can do is look back at my big collection of pictures and hope to return to this wonderful place one day soon.

near Gebel Mrara sinai 4.2002_61 sinai 4.2002_99 sinai 4.2002_100 sinai 4.2002_127 sinai 4.2002_135 sinai 4.2002_178 sinai 4.2002_185 sinai 4.2002_187 sinai 4.2002_194 sinai4.2001_62 sinai4.2001_67_Masbat Abu Gurun sinai4.2001_68 sinai4.2001_78 sinai4.2001_90 sinai4.2001_136 sinai4.2001_155 sinai4.2001_162 sinai99_8_Wadi Razala sinai99_15 sinai99_16 sinai99_23 sinai99_73 sinai99_75_Ein Aliyat village sinai99_78 sinai99_105 sinai99_108 sinai99_147 sinai99_179 sinai99_210 sinai99_285 sinai99_292 sinai99_301 sinai99_311 sinai2000_5 sinai2000_9 sinai2000_23 sinai2000_54 sinai2000_56 sinai2000_60 sinai2000_75_Shaharany canyon sinai2000_85 sinai2000_118 sinai2000_121 sinai2000_125 sinai2000_217 sinai2000_222 sinai2000_226


Visit the blog of my friend Dr. S. L. Abrahmov for more stories of Sinai.


Vegan food in Helsinki

The mezze plate in Just Vege is exactly what you need for a lunch or a night grab. The price is moderate 9.50 euros.


Paikan omistaja Zeev Alter häärää itse keittiössä. Hän opetteli ruoanlaiton salat muutettuaan Suomeen parisenkymmentä vuotta sitten, koska ikävöi Lähi-Idän keittiön antimia, eikä niitä Suomessa tuolloin ollut saatavilla. Ruoanlaitto rupesi sujumaan niin hyvin, että Alter päätti ryhtyä kokkaamaan muillekin!
Paikan omistaja Zeev Alter häärää itse keittiössä. Hän opetteli ruoanlaiton salat muutettuaan Suomeen parisenkymmentä vuotta sitten, koska ikävöi Lähi-Idän keittiön antimia, eikä niitä Suomessa tuolloin ollut saatavilla. Ruoanlaitto rupesi sujumaan niin hyvin, että Alter päätti ryhtyä kokkaamaan muillekin!
Vaasankatu has been better known for other services but now it is worth heading there also for vege food! This little restaurant opened its doors one month ago and I was there on its opening day and tried it for a lunch. The cashier has slight problems with the credit card and some hassle like that but the food was good!
I ordered a mezze plate which contained falafel, hummus, cigars filled with beans and a variety of salads. Here the pita bread tastes fresh and the food home made. Well, it is. Zeev Alter, a former Israeli takes care of the kitchen. He says that he brought falafel and shawarma to Helsinki a long time ago but the timing wasn’t right. Now he believes that the Finns have already learned to appreciate Middle Eastern kitchen which Just Vege serve as fast food. But with class and moderately priced.
On my second visit I ordered feta-eggplant falafel in a pita bread and it was an excellent choice! The falafel balls were green and crispy from outside while moist inside. Just as they should be! The popular Fafa’s will get a competitor here but I would assume that in a place like Helsinki there is room for several vegetarian restaurants. (And greetings to my little brother, there is a special menu for vegans!) Most of the dishes are vegan or can be ordered as vegan. In addition to falafel and mezze, the restaurant serves vege burgers, filled doughs called kibbe and vege schnitzels. Prices vary 3-9,80 euros. 
For sure this won’t be my last visit in Just Vege. But I am still dreaming that one could spend a long night in a nice and cosy restaurant and eat a full vegetarian menu… But maybe the time is still not ripe for that in Helsinki. 
Just Vege, Vaasankatu 15, Helsinki