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#91 Pille

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 11:41 PM

The fifth day of my eGullet foodblog - and starting with breakfast again. I made something that could be called 'my savoury French toast'. It's something my mum used to make quite a lot when we (me and my sister Merle, that is) were kids. I know French toast is usually sweet, made with sugar and cinnamon, but I like the savoury version a lot, too. You whisk some eggs with some milk, season with salt, pepper and herbs (I used dill), soak (stale) white bread or rye bread slices in the mixture for a few minutes, and then fry the bread slices on a medium hot frying pan, pouring the extra egg mixture over:

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After few minutes, turn the bread slices around and cook from the other side. Serve with slices of cooked ham and cheese:

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And today's fruit (in addition to the tomatoes from our windowsill container) was a tiny watermelon ("Sugar Baby") that we had grown in a container on our windowsill just for fun. Surprisingly sweet and flavoursome, even if it was only the size of a tennis ball :laugh:

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We drank coffee, and then drove to work. It's drizzling outside. Reminds me of Edinburgh :biggrin:

#92 Pille

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:21 AM

Wow, these pictures and commentary are so interesting that you actually made haggis and liver look GOOD. I'm still not eating any, but the seed has been planted!

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Well, both are worth checking out, Kent! Re: liver - it might be a good idea to start with chicken liver - it's got a milder flavour, but the texture and taste are still 'livery' enough for you to decide if it's something you're keen to explore further..

I'd say bear qualifies as fairly exotic here in the U.S., or at least unusual, although there are certainly a few people around who hunt it and eat it.
Heck, even venison and rabbit qualify as exotic to a lot of people. I have known people who were seriously freaked out by the idea of eating rabbit. Fortunately for me, my dad did a lot of hunting when I was kid. He never brought home a bear, though!
So, can you buy bear meat in the market in Estonia? How about horse?

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Scottie, I don't think you can buy bear meat here, but occasionally hunters catch a bear, and the meat then ends up in restaurants (bear hunting season is from August till October; about 20 bears are shot each year to keep the population under control). Olde Hansa in Tallinn has it on its main menu, as does Seegi Maja in Pärnu - both are serving medieval food. It has appeared occasionally in the menu of the fancy Russian restaurant, Nevskji, in Tallinn. But it's not a meat you'd use in your everyday cooking - it's way too expensive and hard to find for that! I've seen crocodile meat for sale here in Estonia - imported, obviously :laugh:
We do not eat horse meat.

It seems like Estonians do a lot of foraging, for mushrooms, berries, etc. When you go foraging, is it typically on public lands? Private lands? Do you have to pay a fee or get a license?
The sale of foraged foods is pretty strictly regulated here. In some places or for some things you have to get a license or a pass, for example to forage for mushrooms in the state forests of Oregon. I think there you have to buy a day pass.
In other places, there is a strict season, and if you are caught foraging out-of-season, you can get fined. For example, in areas of the southern Appalachians there is a limited season for ginseng, aka "sang", to reduce over-foraging.

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Thank you for the fried green tomatoes recipe, Scottie - I haven't had a chance to try them yet!
For hunting and fishing you need to buy a license, depending on the equipment you use, the amount you plan to fish/hunt, etc. There's an exception, however - if you're rod-fishing, then that's fine - no fees need to be paid.
According to Estonian legislation, it's ok to forage for wild mushrooms and forest berries everywhere, including private lands and forests (gardens & courtyards are of course off limits). There are some exceptions, however, but I don't know all the fine print at the moment.

Edited by Pille, 21 September 2007 - 12:24 AM.


#93 Adam Balic

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:25 AM

The flowering quince are really interesting. In Australia I grew up with them, but they never set fruit. I had no idea that you could eat the fruit until my trip to Vilnius. After that I picked all the fruit that ripened at The University of Edinburgh.

To my mind the freshly picked fruit smell of violets. The preserved fruit not so much.

A really wonderful blog.

#94 Pille

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:13 AM

Ok, time for some supermarket photos. There are three shops we frequent regularly. If there's anything specific we need, then we head to Stockmann in the city centre:

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It's a branch of a large Finnish department store, and they've got a very well-stocked food hall. It's quite pricey compared to most other shops, but you are more or less guaranteed to get what you want, get it quickly (i.e. the cashier queues tend to be shorter than elsewhere), and be sure of high quality. Their meat and fish counter is known to be best in the country, stocking a wide variety of various meats and cuts and fish.

For regular everyday shopping we stop at Pirita Selver, which is en route to Viimsi where we live. It's a good supermarket chain (equivalent to Sainsbury in the UK, perhaps), and there are plenty of shops around the country. If it's just the basics we want like milk/butter/bread/flour, we shop at Viimsi Market, which is a local food store where we live. I did a lot of shopping there during summer, as it was within easy cycling distance.

Yesterday we did our grocery shopping at Stockmann, as I needed to get beef liver, and couldn't be sure I'd find it in other places.

Fish counter:

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And a bit closer view of the fish counter (sorry, a bit fuzzy again). In the front, from left to right: pike (Esox lucius, 75 EEK), pike-perch (Stizostedion lucioperca, 159 EEK), locally farmed sturgeon (259 EEK), baby trout (189 EEK). In the back, from left to right: perch (Perca fluviatilis, 141 EEK), eels (Anguilla anguilla, 299 EEK).

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And more fish. Note the almost empty container of gutted Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) - the national fish of Estonia (yep, it won the title in a tight competition with pike (Esox lucius L.) at the national internet poll in February this year). It's a popular and cheap fish. There's tuna on the back, and the expensive white fillet on the left is perch (Perca fluviatilis) and cheaper one above it is bream (Abramis brama), both caught locally.

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Fresh salads and herbs (not a bad choice, and all local. However, they're much cheaper on the market. The iceberg lettuces you see on the shelf are from Uus-Kongo talu - the same people that sold fresh asparagus at the market in early spring and now sell really sauerkraut):

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If you cannot make it to the forest yourself, you can always get your mushrooms from the supermarket. Cultivated mushrooms (šampinjonid) from Lithuania on the top (the fresh yellow chantarelles are to the right, just outside the photo), and various salted and pickled wild mushrooms at the bottom (in this case, pickled Estonian chantarelles):

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General overview of the 'cool room', containing dairy shelves, frozen products, ice creams:

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Pontormo asked if Estonians are open to new foods. Well, we've definitely taken the Russian dumplings, pelmeny exceptionally well - look at the range! :laugh:

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A dairy counter. Roughly, the top shelf is full of various yogurts, the second shelf and the first half of the third shelf are full of various curd cheese products (plain and seasoned curd cheese, curd cheese creams etc); the further section of the third shelf is full of various cottage cheese and cream cheese products; milk, buttermilk, kefir, fernented milk and single, double and sour creams are on the floor:

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Apologies for a fuzzy photo (I was taking quick & sneaky shots), but here's a cold ready food counter that I wanted to share:

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You can see savoury sandwich cakes on the left (also a popular party food), and various salads on the right (note the number of beetroot salads). And more cold salads (prices per kilogram):

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And finally, something sweet, the cake counter:

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The prices are for each cake. Stockmann is celebrating a New York month (they do such themed months every now and then), so there are stalls selling Ritz crackers and peanut butter and Ocean Spray cranberry juice drink etc. You can see a New York cheesecake on the counter marking the occasion. Quite expensive, compared to other cakes! Other cakes on the top row are 'Exotic fruit & chocolate tart' (middle) and Drama Theatre cake (right).
On the next shelf there's Cream Cheese & Raspberry Torte, White Chocolate Cheesecake, and some kind of berry pie. On the third shelf from above there's Raspberry & Curd Cheese Torte (left), Bilberry & Yogurt Torte (middle), Cottage Cheese & Raspberry Torte (right). Bottom shelf: Cream Cheese & Cherry Torte (left), Whipped Cream & Berry Torte (middle), Cherry & Cream Cheese Cake (right). On the far right/bottom of the picture, you can see various marzipan figurines - very popular here, too.

You'd always have a fancy cake at birthdays and various family celebrations, so cake culture is well developed. Various bakeries and cafes would offer cakes. Stockmann would sell cakes from different bakeries, as well as cakes from their own bakery.

Edited by Pille, 21 September 2007 - 12:50 PM.


#95 Pille

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 04:34 AM

Lunch on Friday. About a year ago a cute little place opened on a street corner about 7 minutes' walk from the University, called Creperie Kristjan & Kristiine. It specialises on crepes & galettes & salads, and has become rather popular. You can still get a table for lunch, but booking is recommended for evenings, or you might end up having to look for another place. Luckily, I've had a fair number of lunches/dinners in this place during this year, and like their food a lot.

It's not as cheap as some of the nearby cafeterias - main course salads cost about 125-150 EEK, so it's not the place for your daily lunch (at least when you work in academia!). But today is Friday (that's a reason to celebrate already :raz: ), and I'm supposed to blog about my favourite places, so my friend Edith and I headed to Creperie for lunch. (It's also where I went for my birthday meal with my girlfriends back in April, so you know I like the place).

It's on a corner of Vase & Faehlmanni streets in Kadriorg, in this very humble-looking old building:

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The place is small, with one larger table in the front and six smaller tables (seating 2-4) in the back, with a dark and cosy atmosphere. I'm very fond of those large photos of old Estonian peasant life that are scattered on the walls:

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Choosing the food:

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I opted for their Le poulet salad (125 EEK): "Crunchy iceberg lettuce, cooling cucumber, cherry tomatoes, roasted mushroom in creamy sauce, juicy chicken fillet, piquant herb sauce" - a huge portion with plenty of chicken:

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My friend Edith wasn't feeling so hungry, so she ordered "Wonderful bruschetta with juicy tomato salsa, garlic and fresh basil":

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And we shared "Tender Crème Brule with colourful berries" (70 EEK) for dessert:

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Note that they use flower petals as garnish for both sweet and savoury dishes - I've never seen that elsewhere (but the petals definitely looked nice on my salad).

And finally, a view of the bar area with a large table in the front:

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Should you be in Tallinn and on your way to or from Kadriorg & the new KUMU art museum, then this place is recommended for lunch/dinner. Although there's another very special cafe in Kadriorg, that I'll be going tomorrow :wink:

#96 prasantrin

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 04:57 AM

If you like savoury French toast, you should try savoury bread pudding. I don't normally care for bread pudding, but I love the savoury kind!

Are the flowers that garnish the food at the creperie edible?

#97 Pille

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 05:13 AM

I'm so jazzed about this blog from Estonia and the Baltic Sea -- romantic, beautiful and so much to learn. (Don't forget the fridge and pet shots!)

View Post

The fridge. I warn you, it's pretty cramped, which is inevitable if you have a food-loving couple cooking a lot and not having an American-style huge fridge in their kitchen!!!

Here's the main part:

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Starting from the top shelf, left to right: a jar of pickled mixed wild
mushrooms (a housewarming gift from my cousin Maiu), on top is a jar of cherry & Amaretto jam (made by me). Then three Lock&Lock containers, containing sea buckthorn berries (bottom), blue cheese (middle, incl. Irish Cashel Blue), and another box of cheese. Then a ceramic bowl with fried gypsy mushrooms. A jar of adjika (remember the market lady?), another glass of jam, and the tall jar at the back is full of salted wild mushrooms.

Second shelf from above, left to right: a tub of cream cheese, a packet of whipping cream; a packet of puff pastry, and some cheese that Kristjan's mum brought back from her trip to Slovenia last week; the small glass with a white lid on the back contains my rye bread starter :raz: , and it's MacSween of Edinburgh haggis in the front; a jar of Kalamata olives, a jar of Fonduta (we went skiing in Italian Alps in February, and brought this back with us. Need to eat it soon!!!). The stripy bowl is full of salted gypsy mushrooms.

Third shelf from above, left to right: seven small jars of wild strawberry jam, and two jars of plum and vanilla jam (all made by me). A packet of eggs we get from these happy chicken. A tub of miso paste (on the back), a small bowl of sour cream.

Small plastic drawer contains garlic and butter.

Lower shelf, left to right: a bottle of soya sauce, a jar of pickled crab apples (by Kristjan's mum), a jar of wild mushrooms (picked by us and pickled by me), two tubs of sauerkraut (one white, one red), a jar of gooseberry chutney and some jam, and a large glass of salted cucumbers (from my mum).

The bottom drawer is stuffed with vegetables: beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, bell peppers, fresh horseradish/limes/lemons (hiding) and fresh herbs (you can see rue, sage and parsley on the photo). Green tomatoes aren't usually in that drawer, but the rest is pretty typical:

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And the fridge door:
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The very top shelf is empty (at least I've never used it :biggrin: ).

The second shelf contains some mouthwash ( :wacko: ), a small glass of peppermint oil, tahini, Thai fish sauce, horseradish, capers, wasabi, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, tomato puree and Guinness-flavoured Marmite.

The third shelf contains (from left to right) hempseed oil, chocolate sauce, veal bouillon fond, Tamari soy sauce, agave syrup, soy sauce, and lemon & lime 'juice' for those moments when there's no fresh fruit in the house.

And the bottle shelf contains (left to right): half a bottle of Põltsamaa Kuldne apple wine, small jars of carrot jam bought from a market fair recently, a carton of kefir, /a carton of milk/, a large bottle of 100% unsweetened pure Azerbajiani pomegranate juice.

#98 Peter the eater

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 06:37 AM

Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) - the national fish of Estonia (yep, it won the title in a tight competition with pike (Esox lucius L.)


You have a national fish - how cool is that! Was there a plebiscite or something? I would have gone with the pike (I caught a 40-pounder once as a kid)

Nice fridge shots. I think most people (North Americans at least) have an over-sized fridge, yours looks to be around 15 cubic feet which I think is ample for up to four people.

Loving your blog - I must make it to Estonia. Perhaps instead of a second wedding I could arrange a second stag party.
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
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Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

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#99 lucylou95816

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:35 AM

I agree with the post above about savory bread puddings. I have a recipe for a french onion soup bread pudding that always gets rave reviews at parties.

#100 Pontormo

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:36 AM

Pille: Thank you so much for answering my questions, and even keeping them in the back of your mind as you shopped. :smile:

One of the reasons I asked about openness to other culinary traditions is that I thought the question might be something a sociologist considers, especially in light of the focus of your research. As an American, I am constantly reminded of how important emigration has been in shaping the meals I eat.* Travel, of course, also broadens our tastes. It's always interesting to see other factors at play, especially in an Eastern European country.

Along those lines, one country's perceptions of another's food can be interesting, too. Or perhaps I misinterpret the English text on cases in the food department of the upscale store you just visited? Does Stockmann compare the high prices and quality of its fish to New York?

* * *
I also hope your rye starter is something we can replicate at home.

* * *
Yes, this really is a great food blog! Have a wonderful weekend!

*Choosing the correct preposition isn't always easy for native speakers, either. I revised this sentence to avoid a difficult decision.

Edited by Pontormo, 21 September 2007 - 08:39 AM.

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#101 viva

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:47 AM

Wow. I normally lurk in the foodblogs without comment, but I had to say that Pille, you are making me want to fly over to Estonia immediately. Very beautiful pictures and descriptions. Thank you!
...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

#102 Kouign Aman

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:07 AM

How do you use the rue ?
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#103 Dasha

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:50 AM

Pontormo asked if Estonians are open to new foods. Well, we've definitely taken the Russian dumplings, pelmeny exceptionally well - look at the range!  :laugh:

Posted Image


You are SO lucky! I will do just about anything for good pelmeny, but only a few little Russian groceries here in St. Paul stock them and the quality isn't great. There's a fabulous Russian restaurant that makes incredibly delicious pelmeny but they're pretty expensive. But they're sooooo addictive! :biggrin:

One of these days I'll have to try to make them. Have you ever made homemade pelmeny?

#104 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 10:43 AM

I'm so jazzed about this blog from Estonia and the Baltic Sea -- romantic, beautiful and so much to learn. (Don't forget the fridge and pet shots!)

View Post

The fridge. I warn you, it's pretty cramped, which is inevitable if you have a food-loving couple cooking a lot and not having an American-style huge fridge in their kitchen!!!

Here's the main part:

Posted Image

Starting from the top shelf, left to right: a jar of pickled mixed wild
mushrooms (a housewarming gift from my cousin Maiu), on top is a jar of cherry & Amaretto jam (made by me). Then three Lock&Lock containers, containing sea buckthorn berries (bottom), blue cheese (middle, incl. Irish Cashel Blue), and another box of cheese. Then a ceramic bowl with fried gypsy mushrooms. A jar of adjika (remember the market lady?), another glass of jam, and the tall jar at the back is full of salted wild mushrooms.

Second shelf from above, left to right: a tub of cream cheese, a packet of whipping cream; a packet of puff pastry, and some cheese that Kristjan's mum brought back from her trip to Slovenia last week; the small glass with a white lid on the back contains my rye bread starter :raz: , and it's MacSween of Edinburgh haggis in the front; a jar of Kalamata olives, a jar of Fonduta (we went skiing in Italian Alps in February, and brought this back with us. Need to eat it soon!!!). The stripy bowl is full of salted gypsy mushrooms.

Third shelf from above, left to right: seven small jars of wild strawberry jam, and two jars of plum and vanilla jam (all made by me). A packet of eggs we get from these happy chicken. A tub of miso paste (on the back), a small bowl of sour cream.

Small plastic drawer contains garlic and butter.

Lower shelf, left to right: a bottle of soya sauce, a jar of pickled crab apples (by Kristjan's mum), a jar of wild mushrooms (picked by us and pickled by me), two tubs of sauerkraut (one white, one red), a jar of gooseberry chutney and some jam, and a large glass of salted cucumbers (from my mum).

The bottom drawer is stuffed with vegetables: beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, bell peppers, fresh horseradish/limes/lemons (hiding) and fresh herbs (you can see rue, sage and parsley on the photo). Green tomatoes aren't usually in that drawer, but the rest is pretty typical:

Posted Image

And the fridge door:
Posted Image

The very top shelf is empty (at least I've never used it :biggrin: ).

The second shelf contains some mouthwash ( :wacko: ), a small glass of peppermint oil, tahini, Thai fish sauce, horseradish, capers, wasabi, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, tomato puree and Guinness-flavoured Marmite.

The third shelf contains (from left to right) hempseed oil, chocolate sauce, veal bouillon fond, Tamari soy sauce, agave syrup, soy sauce, and lemon & lime 'juice' for those moments when there's no fresh fruit in the house.

And the bottle shelf contains (left to right): half a bottle of Põltsamaa Kuldne apple wine, small jars of carrot jam bought from a market fair recently, a carton of kefir, /a carton of milk/, a large bottle of 100% unsweetened pure Azerbajiani pomegranate juice.

View Post


That's a pretty good looking fridge no matter where! It looks every bit as big our American style monster.
I'll happily sneak up you your place to raid the fridge any time!

#105 Pille

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:20 AM

Along those lines, one country's perceptions of another's food can be interesting, too.  Or perhaps I misinterpret the English text on cases in the food department of the upscale store you just visited?  Does Stockmann compare the high prices and quality of its fish to New York?

View Post

I don't think that's the case :biggrin: As part of the New York month at Stockmann, they've got various cookery demonstrations and they offer recipe leaflets, and some special offers related to those. I imagine there must have been a recipe using 'seasoned salmon steaks' (on the left) and salmon fillets (on the right), and these black'n'white New York slogans are drawing customers' attention to the fact that these ingredients have something to do with the NY month's recipes :laugh:

#106 johnnyd

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:47 AM

Guinness-flavoured Marmite

This is something I could get behind...
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#107 gfron1

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:58 AM

Here's the amazing thing to me...in my fridge I have Guiness Marmite right next to a what looks to be the exact same Dijon! Even if its not the exact same - what a small world when it comes to food. Thank you for this blog.

BTW, I keep toying with the idea of swirling the marmite into a savory cheesecake.

Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM


#108 JTravel

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:13 PM

General overview of the 'cool room', containing dairy shelves, frozen products, ice creams:

I was surprised when I first came across "cool rooms" in European supermarkets. It makes sense to keep the cold making machines off by themselves. I don't know if other supermarket chains in the U.S. separate their cold things but I've never seen it anyplace.

This has been a great blog, I am all set to find some local specialties thanks to all your terrific local info. Great photos too.....and amazing cafe food. I am so glad we decided to add Tallin to our trip.

If you would like to meet us for lunch or something I have sent a pm.

#109 Abra

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:13 PM

Pille, if you make it down here you've got to make that savory French toast for me, it looks so good! I like eel a lot, what would you typically do with them?

I've been in a Stockmanns in Helsinki, and what I remember is all the beautiful-looking prepared foods they had for a solo traveler to take back to her hotel room, and how helpful they were about trying to speak English. I guess Finns expect that no one speaks their language, and I'm guessing it's much the same with Estonians.

#110 Toliver

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 04:57 PM

I was surprised when I first came across "cool rooms" in European supermarkets.  It makes sense to keep the cold making machines off by themselves. I don't know if other supermarket chains in the U.S. separate their cold things but I've never seen it anyplace.

View Post

My local Costco now has a refridgerated room for their more fragile produce. You don't linger long in that cold room unless it's during the high heat of summer. :laugh:
It would make sense to group all refrigerated items together.

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#111 C. sapidus

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:20 PM

Pille: First of all, you are doing a wonderful job. If English is your second language, doubly wonderful. Thanks for the Moomintroll reference – I had not thought about those books for years, and regret that we missed the opportunity to introduce the boys to the land of Moomins. I am also looking forward to trying Cream of Wheat with an egg yolk when the weather cools suitably.

We found Edinburgh delightful when we visited a few years ago. We stayed in a cottage on a sheep farm and took the train into Edinburgh or Glasgow. Your mention of haggis, neeps, and tatties caused a chuckle – my Scottish mother would slip back into her native dialect after a long phone call with the Edinburgh relatives.

Re bear meat: a co-worker brought crock pot of bear meat to an office potluck once. It was greasy, stringy, and nasty. I do envy your fish selection, though, especially the eels. Fascinating to see that you can get Thai fish sauce in Estonia.

I am looking forward to the remainder of your week, and more of your lovely writing and photographs. Best to you and Kristjan!

#112 Pierogi

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 10:46 PM

Pille thank you so much for sharing your life and food with us. I knew virtually nothing about Estonia on Monday. Now I want to visit your beautiful country. You have such a wide variety of absolutely gorgeous foods, that salad you had for lunch was absolutely amazing !

And the pictures of the scenery and architecture are breath-taking. Thank you so so much for inviting us into you life this week !
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#113 Pille

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 12:24 AM

As someone noted, the US isnt as friendly to foragers who want to sell their goods.  Check out this old topic: LA / wild mushrooms :sad: . The market mushroom ladies you've been showing us are just too cool. However, we do have a 'driveby' tamale lady in our neighborhood. :wub:

View Post

A Drive-by Tamale Lady sounds cool, Michelle :)

The flowering quince are really interesting. In Australia I grew up with them, but they never set fruit. I had no idea that you could eat the fruit until my trip to Vilnius. After that I picked all the fruit that ripened at The University of Edinburgh.
To my mind the freshly picked fruit smell of violets. The preserved fruit not so much.
A really wonderful blog.

View Post

Thank you, Adam! Yes, flowering quince is definitely edible. I don’t know how violets smell, so I cannot comment on that. But we kept to quinces on the dining table for a while, and they had the most amazing fragrance, so wonderful.

If you like savoury French toast, you should try savoury bread pudding.  I don't normally care for bread pudding, but I love the savoury kind!
Are the flowers that garnish the food at the creperie edible?

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Prasantrin – I do make sweet bread pudding every now and then, but haven’t had a savoury one yet. Re: the flowers on top of my salad - I’m sure they’re edible. I think it’d be bad practice to garnish dishes with anything that ‘s inedible (or that’s not useful/suitable for the dish), no? As this particular Creperie serves light and airy and French-influenced dishes, garnishing their dishes with something flowery is very appropriate as far as I’m concerned. Last time I was there, they had scattered most beautiful red rose petals over my creme brulee – soooo nice!

Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) - the national fish of Estonia (yep, it won the title in a tight competition with pike (Esox lucius L.)

You have a national fish - how cool is that! Was there a plebiscite or something? I would have gone with the pike (I caught a 40-pounder once as a kid)
Loving your blog - I must make it to Estonia. Perhaps instead of a second wedding I could arrange a second stag party.

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Yes, we’ve got a national fish now :) It was part of a huge promoting-Estonian-food campaign that began few years ago. I don’t actually know if it’s typical to have national fish. We’ve also got a national flower – rukkilill or blue cornflower (Centaurea cyanus, possibly known as ‘bachelor’s button’ in the US, declared a national flower in 1968); a national bird – suitsupääsuke or the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica, declared a national bird back in 1962). And now räim or Baltic herring as our national fish. No national animal or mushrooms that I know of :)

I agree with the post above about savory bread puddings.  I have a recipe for a french onion soup bread pudding that always gets rave reviews at parties.

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Mmm. Intriguing. Willing to share a recipe? Please, LucyLou?

I also hope your rye starter is something we can replicate at home.

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I hope so, too, Pontormo. I’ll ask my granny, or study my cookbooks in more details.

Wow.  I normally lurk in the foodblogs without comment, but I had to say that Pille, you are making me want to fly over to Estonia immediately.  Very beautiful pictures and descriptions.  Thank you!

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Thank you for de-lurking, Viva!

How do you use the rue ?

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I haven’t used rue (Ruta graveolens) before – my mum grows some, but for ornamental and not culinary purposes (it’s got lovely grey-green leaves). She’s pretty content with using the Estonian herbs – dill, parsley, chives, although she’s also taken to basil and oregano now, I believe (I gave her the seeds). It’s not native to Estonia, neither is it widely known as a herb. My herb reference book tells me to use it for seasoning salads and gravies, patees and cheese.
By the way – given that we’ve just spoken about various national flowers, then it might be an interesting tidbit to know that rue is the national flower of Lithuania, the biggest and southernmost of the three Baltic countries.

You are SO lucky!  I will do just about anything for good pelmeny, but only a few little Russian groceries here in St. Paul stock them and the quality isn't great. There's a fabulous Russian restaurant that makes incredibly delicious pelmeny but they're pretty expensive.  But they're sooooo addictive!  :biggrin:
One of these days I'll have to try to make them.  Have you ever made homemade pelmeny?

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Nope, Dasha, not yet – there’s plenty of good pelmeny available in the shops (or I can always go for the great pelmeny at the Russian restaurant Troika on the town hall square – they do a great dish with pelmeny in wild mushroom sauce that I love!). However, I did look up a stall at one of the non-food markets in town that also sells pelmeny presses – just in case I get a craving to make them myself :)

Edited by Pille, 22 September 2007 - 12:33 AM.


#114 Pille

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 12:37 AM

Here's the amazing thing to me...in my fridge I have Guiness Marmite right next to a what looks to be the exact same Dijon!  Even if its not the exact same - what a small world when it comes to food.  Thank you for this blog. 
BTW, I keep toying with the idea of swirling the marmite into a savory cheesecake.

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That’s hilarious Gfron1!!! Savoury cheesecake sounds intriguing. I’m only using my Marmite for 2 things – Nigella Lawson’s mini Marmite sandwiches; and it’s also a secret ingredient in most of my gravies – incl. that liver gravy above. I find that a drizzle of Marmite enhances the colour and gives a nice subtle flavour to sauces..

This has been a great blog, I am all set to find some local specialties thanks to all your terrific local info.  Great photos too.....and amazing cafe food.  I am so glad we decided to add Tallin to our trip.                                                                 
If you would like to meet us for lunch or something I have sent a pm.

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JTravel – thank you! I’m glad you’re coming to Tallinn, too – and I’d be delighted to meet up for a coffee in the Old Town while you’re here. I'll pm to you soon.

Pille, if you make it down here you've got to make that savory French toast for me, it looks so good!  I like eel a lot, what would you typically do with them?
I've been in a Stockmanns in Helsinki, and what I remember is all the beautiful-looking prepared foods they had for a solo traveler to take back to her hotel room, and how helpful they were about trying to speak English.  I guess Finns expect that no one speaks their language, and I'm guessing it's much the same with Estonians.

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Abra – that’s the thing with small nations – we cannot possibly expect tourists to speak more than few words of Estonian (like Tere! Tänan! Head aega! Terviseks! Palun!). I’m not a great fan of eel – find it too greasy – but my parents, and especially my paternal grandma are huge fans. We gave grandma a large pot of fried eel in marinade for Christmas last year, and she loved it :) Usually it’s simply eaten as part of a cold table (kind of Swedish smorgasboard) – with a slice of rye bread, perhaps.
And sure – if we’ll meet in France, I can make savoury French toast for you :)

I was surprised when I first came across "cool rooms" in European supermarkets.  It makes sense to keep the cold making machines off by themselves. I don't know if other supermarket chains in the U.S. separate their cold things but I've never seen it anyplace.

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My local Costco now has a refridgerated room for their more fragile produce. You don't linger long in that cold room unless it's during the high heat of summer. :laugh:
It would make sense to group all refrigerated items together.

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JTravel – they’re not too common hear either (in wholesales, yes), but Stockmann does have an area specialised in frozen foods and cooled products – I always get goosebumps there, especially during summer when I’m dressed for warm weather :) Toliver – thanks for clarifying that! Costco-type wholesale stores always have separate cool rooms here too.

Pille: First of all, you are doing a wonderful job. If English is your second language, doubly wonderful. Thanks for the Moomintroll reference – I had not thought about those books for years, and regret that we missed the opportunity to introduce the boys to the land of Moomins. I am also looking forward to trying Cream of Wheat with an egg yolk when the weather cools suitably.
We found Edinburgh delightful when we visited a few years ago. We stayed in a cottage on a sheep farm and took the train into Edinburgh or Glasgow. Your mention of haggis, neeps, and tatties caused a chuckle – my Scottish mother would slip back into her native dialect after a long phone call with the Edinburgh relatives.
Re bear meat: a co-worker brought crock pot of bear meat to an office potluck once. It was greasy, stringy, and nasty. I do envy your fish selection, though, especially the eels. Fascinating to see that you can get Thai fish sauce in Estonia.

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C. sapidus – bear meat is apparently strong in structure, colour, aroma and taste, and should only be eaten with a very gutsy wine. Apparently it’s a tricky meat to handle, but if done properly, should be very rewarding. Sorry to hear that you’ve only experience was with greasy, stringy and nasty bear meat!
Re: Scots dialect – living in Edinburgh (and working at the University there), you don’t hear dialect that much. But haggis-neeps-tatties is a must – I never heard anybody say haggis with turnips and potatoes!

Pille thank you so much for sharing your life and food with us.  I knew virtually nothing about Estonia on Monday.  Now I want to visit your beautiful country.  You have such a wide variety of absolutely gorgeous foods, that salad you had for lunch was absolutely amazing !
And the pictures of the scenery and architecture are breath-taking.  Thank you so so much for inviting us into you life this week !

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Thank you, Pierogi! I’ve still got almost 2 more days to go, and more scenery photos are on the way :)

#115 Pille

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 12:52 AM

It's already Saturday. I thought I'll try to cook a proper Scottish fry-up breakfast for today, but then I wasn't sure if I could find baked beans in the stores here (surprisingly, they're not a breakfast stable here :raz: ) and even if I could, I didn't know where to look for them. But then I had those green tomatoes, and tried Scottie's recipe for fried green tomatoes instead. Here was the recipe:

Did you ever do anything with your green tomatoes? Here is how I make them:

Heat a cast-iron skillet.
Slice tomatoes to about 1/4" thickness.
Dredge the slices in seasoned (salt and pepper, maybe a little cayenne) cornmeal, or in a mix of cornmeal and flour.
Add bacon fat to the hot skillet.
When the fat is hot, put in a few slices- don't overcrowd.
Let the tomatoes cook for a bit, don't stir them around. Flip them over when the bottoms are nice and golden, then cook until the other side is golden, too.
Be careful not to burn them! Cornmeal burns pretty easily.

Drain the fried tomato slices to a plate lined with paper towels, then serve while hot with some spicy mayo or whatever dipping sauce you like. Remoulade is traditional.
You can also fry them in butter.

These are really good when hot. I like them for breakfast with fried eggs.

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And here's what I had:

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I enjoyed them with my favourite dipping sauce - the Georgian pepper condiment adjika that I get from a lovely lady at the market (see the section on Tallinn Central Market previously). I fried the tomato slices in butter, and used cornmeal, salt, pepper & cayenne in the coating. I think I'd prefer thinner slices next time, but it's definitely something I'd eat again.

Thank you, Scottie!

Edited by Pille, 22 September 2007 - 12:55 AM.


#116 Pille

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 02:39 AM

When I agreed to do the eG foodblog, I didn't remember that I've got a very busy Saturday. I've got a work-related meeting at 2pm in a very nice cafe, so I hope to take lots of nice pictures of the cafe and the neighbouring Kadriorg Park. But then I'll be busy from 5pm until 11pm, and won't have any access to my laptop until midnight or so :wacko: I have signed up for a weekend session on studio photography, and will be spending six hours tonight at Eesti Foto Stuudio learning how to take way better pictures of shiny drink glasses and liver gravy :laugh:

Considering I won't be able to blog a lot today, I'll leave you with some pictures I took in Tallinna vanalinn or Old Town yesterday and on Tuesday:

When you approach the town from the harbour area (remember the teaser photo of the skyline?), then this Paks Margareeta alias Fat Margaret tower is one of the possible entry points:
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It's part of Tallinn's medieval defense wall, built in 1518-1529. It's 25 meters in diameter, and houses Estonian Marine Museum.

When you approach the old town from the Vabaduse plats, then you'll see this:
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Niguliste kirik alias St Nicholas Church. Parts of the church are from the 13th century, though most of it is newer, dating back to 1500s and even later.

After reaching the church you can turn to the right down towards Karja street:
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and then you'll have one of the best-known restaurants, Olde Hansa, that specialises on medieval food, on your left:

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I'd say it's definitely a place to visit when you're in Tallinn. It won't be the best gastronomic experience you'll ever have, but it's certainly entertaining and enjoyable. If cannot get a place inside, then at least grab a tube of spicy sugared almonds from this 'fast food joint':

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(But then again - if that's not an option, you can always use this recipe from my non-eG foodblog and make your own :rolleyes:)

Turning up to the left after Olde Hansa will take you to Raekoja plats or Town Hall Square, where you can marvel at the town hall Raekoda. The Town Hall has been on this location since 1341, although the building you'll see on the photo was built in 1402-1404:

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You can barely see Vana Toomas or Old Thomas on top of the spire. He's an important guy, as he has been keeping a watchful eye out for enemies since 1530 (well, the original Vana Toomas has retired into a museum now, but still... :wink: )

And two more photos. When you do want a delicious gourmet experience, then I suggest you go to my favourite restaurant in town, Stenhus (Chef de Cuisine: Tõnis Siigur). We were hoping to go there last night after the theatre, but despite the high prices, the place was full, so we agreed to postpone the visit until mid-October when we're celebrating the first anniversary of our moving in together/me returning to Estonia :wub: I've only been there once, over a year ago with Kristjan, but have been dreaming about going back ever since (it's too expensive for casual dining unfortunately). To get there, walk towards Pühavaimu kirik, and turn down to Pühavaimu street:

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You can see Stenhus down on your left at the bottom of the road:
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Ok. That's the end of the city tour, as I need to head to town :sad: See you later!

#117 MarketStEl

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 07:22 AM

Tallinn is very pretty! Thanks for the tour! Can we who won't be traveling to Estonia anytime soon see more?

I also have to second the comment made way upthread about Tallinn's modern architecture. It does strike me as strongly influenced by Finnish modernism.

(And while we're on the subject of your next-door neighbor, I've long thought that the Finnish and Japanese languages were separated at birth -- even before I ever heard of Marimekko. :biggrin: I have some Marimekko dinnerware in my randomly accumulated collection.)

As for national flora and fauna, I don't think that's unique to Estonia or the Baltics: All 50 US states have a state bird, a state flower and a state tree; many of them have a slew of other official state items (for instance, I believe that milk is the official state beverage of Pennsylvania, and repeated efforts to declare the tomato the official state fruit -- or vegetable -- of New Jersey have failed; instead, the blueberry is the official state fruit). The US as a whole has a national bird; unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin's choice for the honor -- the turkey, which is native to the country -- was ignored in favor of the bald eagle.
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
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#118 kayswv

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 10:01 AM

Pille
Thanks for your "tour" of Tallinn. We visited there two summers ago after a cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg. We found the architecture and decorations so colorful and vibrant after many drab buildings in Russia. We stayed at a hotel a few blocks from Stockmanns. My husband, Al, enjoyed verevorst at a nearby restaurant.
Kay

#119 Marigene

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 05:59 PM

Pille, thanks for sharing your wonderful blog. I couldn't wait to read it each day. I made your Curd Cheese and Apple Souffle today...one word:delicious! The only change I made was to put a layer of apples on the bottom of the springform pan and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of them. I will be making this often. Thank you for posting the recipe.

#120 Dejah

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 08:03 PM

Tallin is beautiful - like a story book town. Thank you for a great blog. :biggrin:
Dejah
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