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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

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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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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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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!)

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.

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!

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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 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:

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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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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.

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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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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.

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.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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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!

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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 !

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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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:

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.

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?

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.

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.

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

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

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!

Thank you for de-lurking, Viva!

How do you use the rue ?

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?

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 :)

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 !

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

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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.

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!

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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!

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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

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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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

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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.

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I tried to post this last night, but either my server or then eGullet's acting funny, so I couldn't do that. I didn't have any dinner last night, unless 3 raspberry cookies and countless glasses of water during the photography course count :unsure:

But I did have a lovely cafe lunch. I met some of my colleagues at Park Cafe in Kadriorg. Kadriorg translates as Katherine's Valley and the park and the palaces were built upon the orders of Russian Czar Peter I in early 1700s (Swedish Kingdom, to whom both Estonia and Finland 'belonged' at the time, lost Estonia and parts of Finland to the Russian Empire in 1710 after loosing the Nordic War). A classic Viennese style cafe was opened in one of restored buildings in the park early this year, and it's become one of my regular places, especially during the weekend, when one can walk around in the surrounding park. Here's the cafe:

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The place is run by a young couple - the wife is Estonian and the husband German, who's got the German 'konditormeister' certificate. We visited the place during its first opening week, and were slightly disappointed then - the menu was combining cakes, soups, and salads, and wasn't really saying anything. Within few weeks, however, they downsized the menu, which now has just a huge range of cakes, tortes, sweet and savoury pastries, as well as hand-made chocolate truffles and ice-creams. Much, much better:

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And finally, here's my lunch (and the only afternoon meal I had) yesterday. A cup of elujõu tee or 'life strength herbal tea' (peppermint, stinging nettle leaves, marigold, blackcurrant leaves, iron grate), a ham and cheese croissant and a slice of very nice sour cherry torte:

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Note the cute waitress' outfits from 1930s :biggrin:

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The other is a trademark:
We left house 8.15am this morning. Kristjan drops me off at work in the mornings, and it's usually a 20-minute drive to the city centre. As as we ended up in a traffic jam, it took us 35 minutes. The route is very scenic - we drive along the coast a lot of the time, and the teaser photo of Tallinn skyline is taken on the way. We both have quite flexible schedules, so we usually leave home a bit later, around 9ish, to avoid being stuck in traffic.

No tram or metro?

Nope, no metro/underground in Tallinn. I read from somewhere ages ago, that metros are mainly considered for cities with over 1 million inhabitants. Tallinn has only got just over 400.000, so I guess it wouldn't pay off. But the public transport system in general is good, and covers most of the cities. Some of the newer suburbs just outside city centre are worse off, and rely on private cars or 'route taxis'.

There's a urban train system that connects Balti jaam (Baltic station) just outside the old town with Nõmme suburbs. Then there are buses, covering most ground, so to say. A bus ticket costs 10 EEK if bought beforehand (7 EEK if bought in packets of 10), or 15 EEK if bought from the bus driver. There's one bus that connects city centre to Viimsi, where we live, but this costs 10 EEK extra, as we're in Zone 2 (alas, outside Tallinn administrative borders). There there are trams - 4 lines across town. Here's a food-related one for you:

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:laugh: And then there are trolley buses/trackless trolleys (currently 9 routes), which I haven't seen much elsewhere (outside former Soviet sphere of influence at least):

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(Sorry for the photo quality - it's taken last night at 11pm, and I couldn't find all the right buttons on my camera :sad: )

Buses, trams and trolley buses are all in the same ticket network, so if you've got a monthly bus pass (costing around 250 EEK), you can use all transport freely.

There are also route taxis (marsruuttakso), run privately. They seat around 12-15 people, and drive on certain routes according to a timetable, but you can get on or off wherever you want to. They cost 25 EEK on average per journey, and I use the Viimsi route taxi no 260 quite a lot.

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

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.

MarketStEl - I never suggested that national flora/fauna are unique to Estonia - I know all about the English rose, Welsh leeks, Scottish thistles etc. However, I had never come across about a national fish until they chose one in Estonia this year :biggrin: Official state/national drink is a novel idea to me, too.

And whether you'll be seeing foodblogs from Estonia anytime soon again, depends on Snowangel (or you can always read my other foodblog :laugh: )

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

Oh, verivorst or black pudding/blood sausages. I cannot imagine Christmas without them, as I said before :raz: I'm impressed that your husband enjoyed them, Kay, as a lot of people view verivorst (and its summer-time cousin verikäkk) suspiciously.

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.

I'm so happy you liked the dessert, Marigene! Your alterations sound inspired..

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

Dejah - thank you! I think Tallinn's beautiful indeed :rolleyes: (though as all towns, there are pockets which aren't exactly visually pleasing. Some of the Soviet residential areas are downright horrid!!! :unsure: )

Milagai pm-d me and asked the following question:

For your blog, I am looking forward to seeing how (and which) spices are used in Estonian cuisine. It's interesting how in Europe, spices go more into desserts than in main dishes...., especially cinnamon. Do you use cardamom at all?

Traditionally, the food here isn't very strongly seasoned. Most common herbs would be dill, parsley, chives, and savoury food would be seasoned with salt, pepper, caraway seeds, Hungarian paprika powder (I'm talking about traditional food here, and not what young foodie couples use nowadays!). You are right about the non-use of spices in savoury dishes. Sweet cakes & puddings would use cinnamon and cardamom quite a lot, ginger a bit less, as well as nutmeg and cloves (though the last two also appear in savory dishes occasionally). Christmas baking is especially spice-laden.

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I'm interested in hearing about how food has changed since Estonia became independent.  When I was living in Moscow, I was really struck by how there was very little packaged food on the market and what little variety of fresh food was available, except for the wonderful (but overpriced) produce and dairy products available at farmer's markets.  There were also very few restaurants back then, and not much ethnic variety, besides the fabulous Georgian restaurants and a few Central Asian places. We were dying for Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese food.  All this has changed in Moscow, of course.  What was shopping/eating at home/eating in restaurants like during the Soviet years and how has it changed?

Such a good question, Dasha, thank you. First of all, I was still rather young when the Soviet occupation ended – 17, to be more precise. This means I don’t know much about putting food on the table, and coping with food shortages. I do remember empty, absolutely empty grocery stores, however. Food rationing (for sugar, for flour, for bread, you name it). Queueing for food every single time we were shopping. Not having a banana or a hamburger until I was 18 (though why either one of them would be bad, I don’t understand now :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Luckily, most of us would have grandparents with big farms or summer cottages with a vegetable plots, so this provided plenty of fresh vegetables, dairy and meat. The popularity for forageing for wild mushrooms and berries also dates back to this period. And as freezers were not available back then, Estonian mothers became very skilled in canning and jamming and preserving the summer bounty, which is still popular nowadays.

And of course, there was a huge under-the-counter economy. My grandmother worked as an accountant in one of the food trusts (a central food provision office), so we’d occasional get rarities from there (olive oil and mango juice during the Moscow olympics, and canned cod liver later). My mum worked (and still does) in the Registry, and as an employee of Tallinn City Government, she could use a special shop occasionally selling coffee etc. There was even an under-the-counter economy in that special shop!!! One of my aunts worked in a kolhoos/collective farm that was specialising in poultry, and she'd often bring us chicken gizzards and chicken necks. My mum would make a delicious stew from the former, but I used to hate the chicken neck soup - there were far too many bones, and too little meat - yet, as a rare source of meat protein, we were eating it quite often..

I should ask my mum how we always had food on the table (and apart from chicken neck soup, it was all very delicious) in circumstances where the shops were selling nothing for most of the time :blink:

As far as restaurants go, the better ones were mainly for the privileged classes - Communist party apparatchiki and such like - and only became open for general public during Perestroika. There was no market economy to speak of, so the restaurant receptionist (or any of the employees) didn't have any incentive to let you in and feed you as it didn't influence anybody's income whether the restaurant was full or not.

Definitely not an era any sober-minded Estonian would want to return, food- or otherwise :huh:

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And it's Sunday, the last day of my eGullet foodblog. I'll be posting about rye bread and sea buckthorn desserts later today, but before I head out for a few hours, I'll show you the picture of today's breakfast.

Also Kristjan and I have lived together barely a year (anniversary coming up in October :wub: ), we've already got at least one well-established tradition - pancakes on Sunday morning. Sometimes we have them at his mum's place or at my parents' place, but often we make them ourselves. Or he does. You see, I can bake multi-layered fancy cake and make a mean Boeuf Bourguignon, but I cannot really make pancakes. Must be a division of labour thing dating back to my childhood - pancakes were the only thing my sister Merle could make, whereas I was trying out various more or less difficult recipes :laugh:

Luckily, Kristjan makes absolutely perfect pancakes, and often I wake up on Sunday mornings to a house smelling of freshly-made pancakes. Today he made both small and large, and we ejoyed them with home-made wild strawberry jam and home-made apricot jam:

gallery_43137_2974_90853.jpg

Quite a perfect start for a sunny Sunday, I'd say :rolleyes:

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