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Estonian Food: cloudberries and curd cheese


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63 replies to this topic

#31 johnnyd

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 12:04 PM

steamed powan with cream cheese tortellini and crayfish bouillon


That does it!

I have to find my skates so I can cross the Atlantic, get across the North Sea and over to you guys, for that, and all the other Estonian dishes, pastry and chocolate. Save me a seat: I'll be there by... um, morning.
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#32 MelissaH

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 01:03 PM

I'll just add to the chorus of those who now feel a need to visit Estonia. We'll be sure to bring our woollies.

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Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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#33 faine

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:24 PM

I loved this travelblog. One of my obsessions is lesser-known cuisines and now I am proud to say I have some vague idea of What They Eat in Estonia. The pastries look scrumptious. Was it incredibly cold? It sure looks that way.

#34 gfron1

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:34 PM

WTH is a wild dogberry shot?! Verjuice - I expect more from you - how could you pass up a drink with that name?!

These Estonians - they are hearty people (actually we haven't seen any Estonians have we - so Verjuice and Chufi are the pastry hounds! :rolleyes: )

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#35 Kent Wang

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 07:17 AM

Is Estonian cuisine similar to Finnish and Baltic?

#36 Verjuice

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:12 AM

WTH is a wild dogberry shot?!  Verjuice - I expect more from you - how could you pass up a drink with that name?!

These Estonians - they are hearty people (actually we haven't seen any Estonians have we - so Verjuice and Chufi are the pastry hounds!  :rolleyes: )

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You underestimate me, Rob.

Of course I had the other two cocktails... two nights later.

#37 Verjuice

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:19 AM

Is Estonian cuisine similar to Finnish and Baltic?

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Similar. Dark, sour rye bread, smoked and cured meats and fish, various berries... and then you have sea buckthorn, curd cheese and kama... I'm sure Klary will have a thing or two to say about kama.

#38 Verjuice

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:23 AM

I loved this travelblog. One of my obsessions is lesser-known cuisines and now I am proud to say I have some vague idea of What They Eat in Estonia. The pastries look scrumptious. Was it incredibly cold? It sure looks that way.

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It wasn't as cold as we'd expected. That said, I wore four pairs of socks every day and griped about frozen toes, while Klary usually had to pause for a few moments after we'd begun walking in order to tear off her leg warmers. So I guess it depends on how tolerant you are... :biggrin:

#39 Verjuice

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:24 AM

steamed powan with cream cheese tortellini and crayfish bouillon


That does it!

I have to find my skates so I can cross the Atlantic, get across the North Sea and over to you guys, for that, and all the other Estonian dishes, pastry and chocolate. Save me a seat: I'll be there by... um, morning.

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Well, I'm in Transylvania now and K is in Amsterdam, so make sure you stop and say hi to us on your way to Estonia! :laugh:

#40 Chufi

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:51 AM

That evening brought us back to Ö, this time with Dennis, and this time we went all the way with the tasting menu.

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Here´s the wild dogberry shoot mentioned above. Nouf ordered it, didn´t like it, and gave it to me.

Did I mention she´s a great travel companion?

We started with the same amuse of beetroot consomme and Baltic herring. Then we moved on to what the tasting menu had to offer us.

Jerusalem artichoke cappucino soup
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Apple wine poached eel with herb emulsion and cucumber
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Wild goat tartar with fresh horseradish and pickled mushrooms
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The fish course and meat course on the tasting menu were the courses Nouf and I had already tasted 2 days earlier, so we asked for substitutions for those.

Here´s the fish we got. I´m sorry to say I don´t remember much about it, and it´s no longer on their online menu. Nouf, help???? I think it was pike, on a pumpkin puree, with lightly pickled cabbage...

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Venison with onion marmalade tartlet and celeriac pure with blueberry sauce
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Oh this was so good. The green stuff in the background were soy beans. In the little tartlet were 2 types of onion marmalade, one of onion marinated in sea buckthorn, one of onion marinated in red wine.

We also ordered another intriguing dish: Rabbit with pear strudel and savoy cabbage
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Cheese course: Delicate goat cheese with cloudberry jam
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dessert: Blueberry cheesecake with vanilla ice cream and hazelnuts
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The cheesecake was amazing, with a beautiful gingersnappy crust. It was served with some sort of apple foam and vanilla ice cream.

An extra dessert we ordered, Curd cheese brulée with wild strawberry sorbet
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This was a really good dinner, and at 990 EEK (63 EUR) I thought it was really good value.

#41 Chufi

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:45 AM

Another day, another walk, another pastry.

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The Cafe Bonaparte
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Chocolate cherry cake.
When digging into it, it revealed a smooth layer of the omnipresent Estonian curd cheese. it worked really well - the tangy curd cheese and the soft sweet chocolate.

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#42 markemorse

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:31 PM

So when is Nouf going to share her, mmm...evocative description of what cloudberries taste like?

ETA: explicitness.

Edited by markemorse, 29 January 2009 - 01:09 PM.


#43 Chufi

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 01:18 PM

So when is Nouf going to share her, mmm...evocative description of what cloudberries taste like?

ETA: explicitness.

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Patience, my friend. We have another dinner AND a lunch to get through before we get to cloudberries...

#44 Alisuchi

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 02:39 PM

steamed powan with cream cheese tortellini and crayfish bouillon


That does it!

I have to find my skates so I can cross the Atlantic, get across the North Sea and over to you guys, for that, and all the other Estonian dishes, pastry and chocolate. Save me a seat: I'll be there by... um, morning.

View Post


Well, I'm in Transylvania now and K is in Amsterdam, so make sure you stop and say hi to us on your way to Estonia! :laugh:

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Care to share any impressions of Romania? May I ask where you are traveling--and what you are eating? Have you had any tuica yet? :biggrin:
(I hope this is not too off-topic!)

#45 gfron1

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:21 PM

Based solely on your pictures it appears that the pastries are very crudely finished - by that I only mean the presentation. They all have rough edges, thick chocolate, etc. Not sure if there is a question here but I'm finding it interesting. Are there more refined pastries that you're just not ordering?

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#46 prasantrin

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:25 PM

Well, I'm in Transylvania now and K is in Amsterdam, so make sure you stop and say hi to us on your way to Estonia!  :laugh:

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Transylvania! Langos from a street cart would be my favourite memory from there. The restaurant food. . . not so much.

I'm terribly jealous of both Verjuice and Chufi. They get to travel with each other! That's just as good as the Chufi/Abra/Lucy combination!

More food, please. I think everyone wants to go to Estonia now (though I really wanted to go after Pille did her food blog), but isn't Pille moving to the US soon? If so, people had better go fast! Where else would we get our insider foodie-info from?

#47 Chufi

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:33 AM

That night we first set out on another cocktail quest. Nouf had read about a cocktail bar located above a gay bar called Angel, in an alley called Sauna. We found a bar in Sauna alright, but when we perused the cocktail menu Nouf kept muttering "I can't find that cocktail everyone was raving about" and in the edn we found out we had ended up in the wrong bar. We weren't too happy with our drinks and left after a while to get to our dinner at Bocca

Bocca is an Italian restaurant under the same general ownership as Ö, so our expectations were high. The decor is beautiful, serveice very friendly and halpful. When Dennis and I had orderedn a glass of red wine, the waiter cam by after 5 minutes (when we had already taken a couple of sips) and poured us another glass of the same wine from a different bottle, and said that he apologized, he had realized the first glass was not good (possibly been open too long?) and that we deserved another glass. Since we had not complained at all I thought this a nice touch (and the second glass did, indeed, taste better.)

However, the food was a bit disapppointing. Maybe I had had my mind set for true Italian food, which this really wasn't: I would call it European food, with Italian influences. Our pastas were all swimming in pools of very heavy, creamy sauce, and the mains were very complicated with lots of things going on on the plate and again, a LOT of sauce. There were some great ingredients (wilde dove, wild duck, lamb sweetbreads, a whole grilled seabream) but instead of letting them speak, they were drowned in sauces that were (to my taste) too heavy.

Anyway, here's what we had:
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Despite the fact that there was too much rich creamy sauce, this was a really good dish and my favorite of the evening: raviolo with rabbit, in a mushroom walnut sauce.

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This was on the menu as "Gratinated goat cheese with cognac and acacia flavoured red onion", which made it sound much more intriguing and delicious than it was.

Dennis had a salad with fried sweetbreads that I seem to have no picture of.

Nouf had another starter, ravioli with smoked salmon:
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mains:
Wild duck breast with savoy cabbage stuffed with foie gras and goat cheese in a Nebbiolo wine sauce
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The meat was delcious and very well cooked, but the cabbage parcel with goats cheese and foie gras was just wrong. The strong tangy cheese completely overwhelmed the foie gras.

Dennis had "Oven roasted wild dove, potatoes topped with Gorgonzola and vegetables in a black truffle sauce" and Nouf "Grilled royal seabream with red chilli in mushroom sauce"... no pics.

Dessert: tiramisu
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#48 Chufi

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:45 AM

We spent the next morning at the Open Air museum located just east of Tallinn, and came back to Old Town cold and hungry. As we were looking for the restaurant we wanted to go to for lunch, we passed this place:
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I was kind of sorry we did not have another day to go here for lunch or dinner, because it would have been interesting how the supposedly real Italian food would have compared to Bocca's.

Anyway, we went to a place called AED. I can't seem to find the address right now, maybe Nouf can help here. It's a (mostly) organic restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, with a very elegant atmosphere. Speaking of that, on the whole I was very impressed with the way even small, unpretentious places are decorated. There is beautiful glass ware and table ware everywhere, white table cloths, even in paces where you'll only go for a cup of soup or a salad. There seems to a great attention to detail, and a great deal of care about the little things, which made dining out a very agreeabel experience.

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Lovely dark sour rye bread

A salad with wild pigeon and my beloved seabuckthorn, in the form of a sorbet that served as a kind of dressing for the salad.
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I also had a salad with something called 'milk caps sauteed in butter' (mushrooms), don't you just have to order that?

Seabuckthorn creme brulee, that no one liked but me, ah well, that meant I could eat it all :smile:
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Edited by Chufi, 30 January 2009 - 08:47 AM.


#49 Flotch

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 04:02 AM

Finally more pictures! Everything looks awesome Nouf. What a wonderful trip.

#50 Verjuice

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 09:44 AM

So when is Nouf going to share her, mmm...evocative description of what cloudberries taste like?

ETA: explicitness.

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Okay, I said it, and I'll say it again. To me, cloudberries taste like the smell of chamisa, or like a kindergarten classroom full of sniffly, coughing kids; a funky smell like sweet little animal kisses.
From the Wikipediaentry for cloudberries:

When eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste. When over-ripe, they have a creamy texture and flavor somewhat like yogurt.


They're very creamy. I don't get yogurt, but I do get fermented. Definitely an acquired taste, but I was very grateful and touched by Pille's generosity when sharing her supply of these notoriously elusive delicacies. What a privilege.

#51 birder53

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 10:04 AM

So when is Nouf going to share her, mmm...evocative description of what cloudberries taste like?

ETA: explicitness.

View Post


Okay, I said it, and I'll say it again. To me, cloudberries taste like the smell of chamisa, or like a kindergarten classroom full of sniffly, coughing kids; a funky smell like sweet little animal kisses.
From the Wikipediaentry for cloudberries:

View Post


For those of you who are not familiar with chamisa, check out this article from the NY Times Chamisa Chrysothamnus nauseosus!
KathyM

#52 Kent Wang

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 03:14 PM

There are cloudberry liqueurs as well (Google). That funky flavor Verjuice described sounds interesting.

I first heard about cloudberries at the liquor store. A woman asked about the liqueur; she saw it on TV and said the program said that cloudberries only grew at the high altitude of the Himalayas. Haha.

#53 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 02:41 AM

Well, I must be immune to funky then, because I loved the cloudberries!
Full report about dinner at Pille´s house coming up..

oh and btw, Pille has informed me she has limited internet access for a couple of days, but she will join in when she has the opportunity.

#54 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 06:05 AM

After a very entertaining, and slightly scary, cab ride (with a Russian cabdriver who did not speak a word of English, kept muttering to himself in Estonian and Russian, who could not find Pille´s address so I had to call Pille twice just so she could coach him through the drive to the Tallinn suburb where she lives...) we arrived at the lovely home of the Queen of Estonian foodblogging, Pille!

Pille had promised us a rustic, truly Estonian dinner and she did not disappoint.. we started with a plate of 3 different kinds of cured pork:

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accompanied by pickled mushrooms (home made, from what I guess will have been hand picked mushrooms, by a family member)
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and pickled sea buckthorn :wub:
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After a week in Estonia, I have had sea buckthorn juice, cocktails, sorbet, creme brulee, pickled sea buckthorn, and I brought home some sea buckthorn marmelade. I am officially in love with sea buckthorn. It´s funny because both Nouf and Dennis commented that it tasted a bit like mango, which I don´t like at all.. but the sea buckthorn has an added tartness which makes it really interesting and (to me!) delicious.

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There was also rye bread with a paté of cod liver, onions and eggs (there´s a recipe for that here on Pille´s blog) and a delicious sweet Estonian apple wine.

And then there was this:
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It´s called Mulgi kapsad, and it´s an Estonian dish of sauerkraut, barley and pork, simmered together for hours. You end up with a rich, sweet, ribsticking kind of dish that is just perfect comfort food on a snowy winter night.

On the plate with sült (head cheese) and Pille´s caraway potatoes:
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#55 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 06:18 AM

And then there was dessert.
I had requested a dessert with kama, because I am researching an article about this typical Estonian product (see Wiki for a very brief description of this product, and see Pille´s blog entries here, here and here for more info).

I had never tasted this stuff before but I expected I would love it, and I did! It has a very distinct, slightly nutty, roasted flavor that matches really well with creamy dairy products. Pille made kama mousse (kama mixed with whipped cream) and served it with her wild strawberry refrigerator jam (a special jam that´s made by mixing raw wild strawberries with sugar, because these berries can´t be cooked (or frozen)).

Here´s what happens when you have a gathering of bloggers:
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Kama mousse:
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Pille also brought a jar of cloudberries in syrup to the table, which were accompanied by glasses of cloudberry liqeur:
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The berries have a very interesting, creamy texture and a flavor unlike any berry I´ve ever eaten. As I said, I loved them and I think I must head to my local Ikea and see if they stock cloudberry jam there...

Thanks again, Pille and Kristjan for taking such good care of us and introducing us to Estonian foods we never could have found in restaurants. It was also a really nice experience to be in a home again, and eat a home cooked meal after almost a week of dining out!

#56 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 06:42 AM

And then there was dessert.
I had requested a dessert with kama, because I am researching an article about this typical Estonian product (see Wiki for a very brief description of this product, and see Pille´s blog entries here, here and here for more info).

I had never tasted this stuff before but I expected I would love it, and I did! It has a very distinct, slightly nutty, roasted flavor that matches really well with creamy dairy products. Pille made kama mousse (kama mixed with whipped cream) and served it with her wild strawberry refrigerator jam (a special jam that´s made by mixing raw wild strawberries with sugar, because these berries can´t be cooked (or frozen)).

Here´s what happens when you have a gathering of bloggers:
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Kama mousse:
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Pille also brought a jar of cloudberries in syrup to the table, which were accompanied by glasses of cloudberry liqeur:
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The berries have a very interesting, creamy texture and a flavor unlike any berry I´ve ever eaten. As I said, I loved them and I think I must head to my local Ikea and see if they stock cloudberry jam there...

Thanks again, Pille and Kristjan for taking such good care of us and introducing us to Estonian foods we never could have found in restaurants. It was also a really nice experience to be in a home again, and eat a home cooked meal after almost a week of dining out!

#57 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:03 AM

The next day we had time for a final walk around town, some shopping and browsing. This is the Bestseller Cafe, located next to the bookstore in one the main department stores. Again the beautiful table ware and the attention to detail struck me. In a place like this in Amsterdam, no way they would serve you your juice in a glass like that.. (btw, this is sea buckthorn juice...)

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On the way back to the hotel we passed Hesburger, a Finnish fast food restaurant. We did not try any of their food but I though the concept of a minimega burger was pretty funny!
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After arrving in Amsterdam airport at exactly 7:45 pm, we collected out bags, rushed home, left our suitcases, and walked to Pizzeria Yam Yam which is only a couple of blocks from our house. WE sat down at our table at 9 pm sharp! We all had their famous mascarpone/ham/truffle pizza, which has been my favorite for years.. and even though Dennis and I agree that is´s not as good as it used to be, it was still a great and very satisfying dinner.
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You can´t go out to dinner with Nouf and not order dessert..

#58 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:09 AM

The next day was Nouf´s final day in Amsterdam. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I took her to a couple of my favorite places and made her eat a couple of my favorite foods.
We started at the Vondelpark and had coffee at Het Blauwe Theehuis, mentioned with fondness in all my eGullet blogs. Then we went to my favorite market, where Nouf had a broodje haring..

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a broodje paling..
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a gevulde koek that she did not take a picture of,

friet
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and a coffee-caramel stroopwafel
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(all pics by Nouf).

Edited by Chufi, 01 February 2009 - 07:17 AM.


#59 Chufi

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:23 AM

That night, Mr and Mrs markemorse had invited us over for a taste of something Nouf had never had before: Surinamese pom. (see here and here for more pom info and Mark´s recipe)

broodje pom, served with pitjel (vegetables with peanut sauce) and pickles and hot sauce

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I made kama mousse with blackberry puree for dessert.

And that brings us to the end of a week of food, fun and friendship. We had a fabulous time and I can only say that I hope this isn´t the last of our travels together...

A special thanks to Dennis, who was patient and kind enough to listen to many a food related conversation, and who took this picture:

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I hope that when Nouf and Pille emerge from their various internet predicaments, they will add some comments/pictures. For now, from me, thanks for reading!

Edited by Chufi, 01 February 2009 - 07:27 AM.


#60 OnigiriFB

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:34 AM

Wow. Thank you for blogging. That was great to see. Estonia or any Russian area country hasn't been on my radar much but now I think it will have to go the list of places to go. :)