Bakery Ekberg and Alexander’s Cake

Today I want to share with you a story of the oldest bakery in Helsinki and its founder.

Fredrik Ekberg was an orphan boy learning an art of watchmaking. He didn’t really like it, and was looking for other options. He ended up being an apprentice to Master Baker Shulin in Helsinki. He learned the baking craft and travelled to St. Petersburg, Viborg, Hamina and Riga to hone his culinary skills. In 1852 after he was done with the trainings and the culinary exam, he founded bakery “Ekberg” in Helsinki.

Couple of years later, Ekberg applied for a license to open a coffee shop. At the time, one could buy a cup of coffee in Helsinki only at the market tents in summer, and the idea to open a “designated” place where one would go just to get coffee was surprising. The authorities denied his request saying that no one would go there except for “poor widows”. Ekberg appealed the decision and finally opened his first cafe “Gropen.” It was a huge success as students and government officials working nearby became a permanent customers.

But Ekberg didn’t stop there. Later he built a three-store building in the center of the city – bakery, bread shop and cafe, all in one place. He also founded a spirits factory and invested in tobacco business. Interestingly enough, these investments actually saved the bakery and cafe during the time of financial troubles in 1869.



Edvard Munch – “The Art of Life” Exhibition

Today Markku and I went to the Didrichsen Art Museum to see the work of famous Edvard Munch. The exhibition includes the paintings from several museums, but most of them are borrowed from Oslo.

I wish I learned about this event earlier. It started in September, and tomorrow is the last day when it’s open, so a lot of other people rushed there with us. I saw a report on the Finnish news that 60,000 people have attended it so far. I decided we are not worse than this 60K cultural guys, and despite the shitty weather we traveled to the museum.

The museum itself is a piece of art. Famous architect Viljo Revell designed this villa. It’s surrounded by gorgeous pine trees and it faces the Baltic Sea. I want to come back there in spring or summer, because it’s supposed to be really nice to hang out outside. I bet they have open terrace where you can have a cup of coffee while looking at the sea and thinking about life. Anyway, need to wait for the sun to show up first.



The paintings were arranged from the merriest to the saddest or so it seemed to me. It started with a huge picture of naked dudes hanging out in the forest. Bright colors and hints of smile on their faces. Then started the part that reminded me Henri de Toulouse Lautrec – both the style (graphic sketches on paper posters) and the scenes (cabaret, mostly). Then the absolute horror began – themes of jealousy, sick kids, loneliness, and death, with the famous “Scream” toping it all.




I was wondering why Munch was so preoccupied with the scenes of death and suffer. Apparently, it came from his childhood. According to Wikipedia: “The oppressive religious milieu, plus Edvard’s poor health and the vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard, who felt death constantly advancing on him. One of Munch’s younger sisters was diagnosed with mental illness at an early age. Of the five siblings, only Andreas married, but he died a few months after the wedding. Munch would later write, “I inherited two of mankind’s most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity.” Gee, I didn’t see that coming…

The photos we took turned out to be grey and gloomy. Inspired by Munk and today’s weather. I liked the museum and the Munk’s art, but was even more happier to return to the warm house and watch the Ice Skating Competition’s finals 🙂