The Minnesota Orchestra recently announced a major European tour this summer, which comes on the heels of The New Yorker declaring them "the greatest orchestra in the world." Conductor Osmo Vänskä, a native of Finland, can be seen at Orchestra Hall this week conducting the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. Between performances, Vänskä had time to talk about native favorites and local foods.
1. As a Finn, do you miss your native cuisine? Your hometown of Lahti is near the sea (much nearer than Minnesota is to the sea)--is seafood one of the things you miss? Actually, I don't miss my native cuisine. I have been traveling around the world for many years, so I have access to amazing cuisine throughout the world, and I'm happy about that. I do like seafood, and the Twin Cities have many options for seafood, which works out well.
2. Do you have a local restaurant that makes Finnish cuisine well? (One reader wants to know where to find Finnish rice pies) Soile Anderson, owner of Deco Catering, makes great Finnish cuisine. I have not found a specific restaurant that specializes in Finnish cooking--and sorry, I don't know where one could find Finnish rice pies.
3. What's your favorite native dish to make at home? Is it easy to find the ingredients here? A selection of traditional foods served at Christmas time, such as the various casseroles-- rutabaga and sweet potato. It's very easy to find the ingredients locally.
4. Do you eat before an orchestra performance? Are there foods you avoid before going onstage? I don't eat before concerts. Similar to athletes, I always look forward to a great meal after the performance.
5. When the orchestra is on the road, what is your favorite city to dine out in? There are too many to list!
6. The New Yorker recently called the the Minnesota Orchestra "the greatest orchestra in the world." Where and how did you celebrate that declaration? I actually read it on my laptop at home and celebrated with a lot of smiling that day.