Word of warning: do not read this post on an empty stomach!
Today, we take you to the north of Europe, to Estonia. Before we left Belgium, Lars and I knew little about this country, and especially about its gastronomy. Now, I am certainly not going to say that after having spent 5 days in this beautiful country that we have become experts, but today I will pass on to you the little knowledge that we do have about Estonian food. In a nutshell: it’s delicious!
The basic ingredients are rye bread, dairy products, pork, potatoes, beer, and vodka. Estonians stick mostly to seasonal food. In spring and summer, it’s all about fresh produce, such as berries, vegetables, and herbs; BBQing is very popular. In autumn and winter, they will eat pickled and preserved food and hearty dishes such as blood sausage, sauerkraut, and head cheese.
Maybe this doesn’t sound very gastronomic… Lars absolutely hates blood sausages and I am not a big fan of rye bread. It’s not that I don’t like it, but it troubles me that the taste of the bread tends to overpower that of its toppings. Anyway, in recent times, Estonian cuisine has been influenced by its Scandinavian, Russian, and German neighbors. And when Lars and I left Estonia, we agreed on one thing: we had tasted some of the best food in Europe!
Our food adventures started in the capital, Tallinn. Via booking.com, we had booked an apartment for three days in the suburbs of the Estonian capital. Upon arrival, a very friendly young man informed us however that the apartment was not available. He could offer us a luxurious apartment in the center of Tallinn and we didn’t have to pay extra for it. Of course, we said yes.
After having unpacked some of our stuff, Lars and I decided to explore the surroundings. It was a warm and sunny day and to our delight, we discovered that we were not far from the Old Town. But priorities, people, priorities; we were very hungry and chose the nearest restaurant, Kaks Kokka. Little did we know what gastronomic delights awaited us there…
“Kaks Kokka” means “two chefs” in Estonian; “kaks” is also the Finnish word for “two”. The restaurant shares the same kitchen with its more expensive and upscale neighbor, Ö. To be honest, the whole menu looked delicious and this is what we finally settled for.
Excellent and tender lamb (for me) and beef, hearty Estonian beer, magnificent apple wine (also Estonian) and desserts that were sweet and tangy at the same time. To. Die. For. Usually, when I eat lamb, I choose cutlets, but this lamb shoulder was simply divine. More information about the restaurant later.
The next day, we tried another restaurant in Tallinn. No need to give a lot of information about it, because Gulfstream doesn’t exist anymore.
Unfortunately, Lars can’t remember what fish he had, whereas I had fishburgers. The sauce with the fish consisted of mushrooms. Apple wine again after the meal. Tasty food, but not the same quality as Kaks Kokka.
The day afterwards, we were at the coast, in a place called Haabneeme.
This is the home of beach restaurant, OKO, specialized in slow fast food. Their sourdough pizzas are very popular, but Lars and I decided to share grilled fish together. Eating fresh food at a sunny beach, consisting of excellent ingredients, and perfect and very friendly service. What more do you want?
Kesk tee 27, Viimsi, 74001 Harju maakond, Estland. Open all year.
Yes, that’s the same apple wine… again. If I can ever taste it again, I will die a very happy person.
We spent our last evening in Tallinn at Kaks Kokka (where else?). It was even better than the first time…
100-minute poached egg. What a delight! And how did they do it? I have never tasted anything like this since.
Lars and I are not sure, but we think he had a variation on steak tartare. A masterpiece!
Mere puiestee 6E, 10111 Tallinn, Estland
I hope you learned something from today’s post or that you at least enjoyed it. Have you ever tasted Estonian food? If not, will you ever try it?
In my next post, I will bring you to Albania. I am not sure yet when I will publish it since I have quite a lot to do on Wednesday. Otherwise, it will be on Friday.