A Magazine Focus special, about Fare's new Helsinki issue! 
Coverage, an indie magazine newsletter by Dan Rowden

Issue 4 — February 14, 2018
Magazine Focus Special — Fare, issue 2 “Helsinki”

It's that time again! Coverage is back in your inbox.

This time I have a special treat for you!

Instead of covering indie mags from a range of different topics and sources, I decided it would be fun for us all to dive deep into a single magazine.

I've been a big fan of Fare since I first saw the first issue about Istanbul last year. It covered the city in a fantastic way, merging food, people and place into a really interesting package that I struggled to stop reading.

I've spent nearly half of my adult life in and around Helsinki, so it was with utter glee that I saw Fare's second issue was about my favourite city. 🇫🇮

I got in touch with editor, Ben Mervis, asked a few questions, dug around the issue and here is the first ever “Magazine Focus” special edition of Coverage. (I'm thinking this could even be a regular feature every four issues)

Read on for an interview, some spreads of the magazine, Ben's favourite places in Helsinki, plus of course the Fare's Origin Story and an exclusive discount for you, Coverage reader. 👍

Nauttikaa, ja nähdään!


PS: Have you seen Coverage's new website (launched yesterday)? You can read more and view all previous editions at coverage.email

Origin Story

Coverage's regular feature explores where magazines come from and why they exist, something I'm eternally fascinated about.

Here, editor Ben Mervis explains how his background working with renowned chef René Redzepi and a trip to Istanbul triggered an exploration into the city, its food and its people.

“Fare’s conception comes from my time in Copenhagen. I worked at noma, and MAD (noma’s food culture non-profit) for 2 years. I began as an intern and eventually became the assistant to head chef René Redzepi where we did a range of work together: writing, editing, developing concepts, researching into food histories and cultures, providing a soundboard for ideas, and less glamorous things (but still fun) like biking across town for rendered bone marrow or getting fresh peas or strawberries from the market.

“René gave me the confidence to pursue my own project, my own print publication, and when I left he gave me his blessing to go and do this project. It was deeply inspiring to be around such a creative genius, to see how his mind works, to see his work ethic, the way he plans. He has been hugely supportive of me.

“Previously, René and I had gone on a trip to Istanbul for a CNN show called Culinary Journeys, in which René researched baklava. That’s where I fell in love with Istanbul—it was just so beautiful, chaotic, buzzing, and somehow deeply familiar and foreign at the same time. And that is to say nothing of the history, or of its food, which we found to be amazing in all parts of the city.

“At that point it was a case of merging these passions. Fare Magazine is more or less the way I think when on the road: curious about food, history, and people. I generally prefer the deep reads and cultural immersions over long queues at museums etc. I wanted a product that looked good, but was really about the reading, relatability, and relevancy. None of our content is time-sensitive. No ‘hot tips for Istanbul summer 2017.’

With Helsinki, I wanted to provide a strong contrast to Issue 1, with a younger, nascently proud, vibrant, and creatively charged city. By choosing such a contrasting location we could, from the outset, establish that our city selections might be a bit unpredictable, but would always follow the same sort of stories.”

Photo by @ZarinaHolmes

Where to eat and relax in Helsinki

Based around content from the magazine and Ben's trips to Helsinki, here are his suggestions for places to visit while in the Finnish capital.

  • A sauna experience at Kotiharjun Sauna (pictured) or Yrjönkatu swimming hall. Nothing more Finnish than a trip here. Kotiharjun Sauna is the authentic public sauna experience in Kallio, and Yrjönkatu is the more polished experience. If neither of those suit you there are plenty of options down by the harbour.
  • Eating at one of the venerable old-school institutions like Kosmos — there are many more to choose from though, like Sea Horse, Elite, or Savoy.
  • Pastries or a breakfast sandwich at Levain, a new bakery in town, serving some of the best pastries, cakes, and sandwiches around. It makes a perfect pit stop or cozy late night meal.
  • Break free of the city a little and check out Nuuksio forest, just beyond the city limits. It's the recommendation of most locals for immersing yourself in the greenery.
  • A personal favourite for me has always been the warm, intimate atmosphere at BasBas and BasBas Staff wine bars. BasBas Staff (owned by the wine bar's staff) does smaller plates in a more relaxed atmosphere. The kitchen stays open until 2am, which is perfect. 

Photo by Ben Mervis


Explore Helsinki through Fare's eyes


How does an issue of Fare come together?
Q&A with editor, Ben Mervis

Dan R: Generally, what’s your plan for creating each issue, from a city perspective?

Ben M: I’d like to say there was a master plan for tackling each city, but there isn’t. I like to do a deep dive in terms of reading books and articles about the place, having calls with people who live there or have lived there. Then of course once I’ve visited it all becomes so much clearer, and the ideas slowly formulate.

DR: Why Helsinki for your second issue?

BM: I wanted to choose a place that would contrast heavily against such a moody, chaotic, and fantastically surprising city like Istanbul. In Helsinki you have that, and you have the appealing “Nordic” culture that is currently riding a wave, but you also have a history of tug of war between Russian and Swedish influences, the story of a young city and an even younger nation. I’ve loved Helsinki since my first visit, and it was exciting to get to go back again and do more research there.

DR: Bringing out issues about different cities, are you worried that some issues may not be so popular due to their direct link to a certain place? Travel and visiting cities are closely tied to personal preference. How will you combat that?

BM: I don’t actually worry about that anymore. I was worried about it with Istanbul, since it was in such a difficult political period when I published Issue 1--and then people got super excited about it anyway. So if I’ve done my job well then people will want to visit!

DR: Food is a large part of Fare, and you have worked in the food industry. Yet Fare isn’t a typical food magazine. How much of your planning for an issue revolves around the food aspect, and how vital is food to Fare’s success as a magazine?

BM: Yeah, it’s sort of incidentally about food, which I think is perfect. We don’t shove it down your throat. But food is my starting point, it’s where I begin the conversations, begin the research, and also understand how the city ticks.

The editor's favourite feature

Finally, I asked Ben if he had a favourite piece or feature from the Helsinki issue...

The one titled “A Window into Karelia”, which I got to cover. It's about the shared origins of one of the city's best bakeries, Hopia (above), and the country's national epic, the Kalevala.

The interior of the bakery is decorated to channel the essence of Karelia, and the Kalevala. The walls are painted with murals depicting different scenes and motifs from story cycles of the Kalevala, including the tragic tale of the wizard Kullervo. It's quite special, I think, that they have this connection, and that it is so openly and tastefully (pun intended) enjoyed.

Photo by Ben Mervis

A discount just for Coverage readers ❤️

 Ben has been very kind to offer you all an exclusive 20% discount.

for 20% off the 2018 subscription (Helsinki issue, plus the next two).

Use the code DANSDISCOUNT2
for 20% off issues 3 and 4.

Thanks so much to Ben for sorting this out!

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