Fazer: the chocolate, coffee and deli pride of Helsinki, Finland [classic article]

A bright and lively shop was right across from my hotel during my recent trip to Helsinki, Finland: Fazer. It turned out that the place — also known as Karl Fazer Cafe’ — has been rightfully the pride and joy of Helsinki since 1891. It’s a French-Russian style pastry shop, cafe’ and deli all in one.

Sure, it’s on the pricey side, considering the dollar to Euro exchange rate, but it’s oh-so-worth it. It’s also worth the considerable calories. I often wonder now how much my life would change if Fazer were across from my house . . . I’d have to become athletic to burn off the indulgence and all other meals would have to be broth only.

They serve many kinds of hot chocolate, including one with liqueur. I ordered the non-alcoholic Karl Fazer special chocolate. It was served on a tray with crushed mint candies, hot milk, whipped cream, cinnamon, cardamon and cocoa. So divine!

My hotel, Hotel Glo, had Fazer cocoas in its mini-bar area. I had some at home and tried to recreate the experience in vain! In Helsinki, the cocoa was so rich, like drinking chocolate. I used filtered water and 1/2 and 1/2, melted Fazer chocolates with pear, whipped cream, crushed peppermints and chocolate liqueur. Good, but not even close to how good it was in Finland!

The fancy department store, Stockmann, has a branch of Fazer on the 8th floor. Not only do they serve a loaded with fresh, tender shrimp sandwich, but they also have free WiFi.

The main Fazer also serves delicious light fare: I took a small snack for afternoon tea back to my room: perfect smoked salmon and creamy shrimp salad.

Just don’t get overly excited upon seeing Fazer chocolates at the duty-free shop at the airport . . .like I did. Picking up a big bar, I lost my U.S. passport for about 20 minutes! I probably lost 5 lbs of stress sweat right there. And then, with time before my flight drawing to a close, I still bought the Fazer candies!

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