Favorite Quote

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel,
read only one page." St. Augustine of Hippo

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food in Tallinn

When we travel, we really like to try the traditional food of the places that we go to.  And without a doubt, Tallinn has some of our favorite food!  We met up with some Estonian friends one night at a restaurant that served traditional Estonian food, and we couldn't get in the door.  It was a Saturday night and we would have at least a 3 hour wait.  So, instead we went to Scotland Yard, an English Pub that doesn't have an English website.  Ah well ..... I don't remember the food much, and I forgot to take pictures because we were having so much fun catching up with our friends.  It was good though, and on the way out, I saw the fish tank and just had to take some pictures.  One of our group thought they were piranhas but reading the information from some of the other photos I took, they are actually Pacus.

Pacus inhabit most freshwater streams in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins.  They have also recently been found in the river systems of Papua New Guinea.    A full-grown pacu is much larger than its cousin the piranha, reaching up to 0.9 m (3 feet) and 25 kg (55 pounds) in weight.  But they are different in length, jaw shape and tooth size.  Their teeth are very similar to humans!  They are fast growing fishes, who eat basically anything.  In most cases, they are still vegetarian fish, but they will eat meat and smaller fish. Scotland Yard (the Pub) feeds them tomatoes, shrimp, chicken and special dry food.  This fish lives both alone or with companions. They interact and play with each other.  They say they are not very aggressive, but they tend to ‘pinch’.  The Pacu are notorious for having eaten the testicles of swimmers and fishers caught unawares, leaving them to bleed to death (really, not aggressive?!?!?!?!?!).  To give you a reference as to how big these are, I put my hand up to the glass.  :)
So, Ron and I went back to the restaurant that we couldn't get into on Saturday and we had better luck on Sunday. The name of the restaurant is The Beer House.  We got in with hardly a problem, but even on a Sunday night we had a hard time finding an empty table.  And the place is not small.  

We started out with our very favorite garlic bread.  And it is yummy!  It is a dark brown bread and it is fried, fresh garlic is rubbed all over it and it comes with a garlic sauce.  Seriously, we love this bread!

  And we decided to try something new, fried Estonian cheese.  And it was yummy as well!

While we were eating our appetizers, I looked up and saw pretzels on the lights.

And it turns out they were making the pretzels, right underneath of us (we were on the second level).

I love 4 cheese pizza, so I ordered one, thinking it would be the size of the pizzas in Italy.  I was wrong.  This was a HUGE pizza.  And it did not have your typical 4 cheeses.  It had Danablu, Feta, Camembert, and Estonian cheese.  It was very good, but way too much food.  I tried to give away half of my pizza to a group of young men sitting behind us and they thought I was strange and wouldn't take it.  A pity that it had to be thrown away.

And this is Ron's dinner.  It was "Juicy bacon, smoked on cherry chips with baked rosemary turnips and strong honey-cinnamon flavored mustard sauce".  And it was very good as well.  I think they really like honey and cinnamon in Tallinn because there was plenty of honey beers and cinnamon beers all over the town.

We  had scoped out the desserts before we ate all of our food and we had a hard time picking something.  We thought about the bread soup with raisins and sour cream mousse, but the honey-cake with fresh strawberry jam sounded good.  And then there was the creme brulee with fresh raspberries or fried Brie with cloudberry jam and raspberry.  Turned out we didn't need to bother because we were too full.  Next time, we'll share a pizza and save room for dessert!

Monday was my 50th birthday and we asked the hotel staff where we should eat.  They suggested Olde Hansa. So, off we went.

A medieval restaurant with a different kind of menu, as you can see below.

I guess they have regular items as well, but hey, it was my 50th birthday so we decided to go for a feast.  But which one?

They had many, but we chose to go with this one.

Hmmm .... I like caviar, but not sure I would want to pay €180 for it.  Even on my birthday.  Although, to be perfectly honest, if I had said I wanted it, I bet Ron would have let me have it.  The day after I arrived in Tallinn, I ended up in the emergency room and the next day ended up having a biopsy under general anesthesia and the doctor scared us to death.  She had 3 other doctors look at it, and instead of doing a 'local' they decided to go with the general so they could go  'deep and wide' with it.  She even talked about the possibility of needing chemo and radiation after the results came in.  She talked about my previous cancer metastasizing .... as I said, she scared us to death.  We got the results on my birthday and it was not cancer.  Thank God!  If I said I wanted to celebrate with caviar, I bet Ron would have said yes.  But I'm too frugal ... at least about something that will be in the toilet within 24 hours.  ;)

So, first up they bring our drinks and a special "surprise".  The monk's gift to warm us .... it was warm and cinnamony .  Delicious.

While we were waiting for our food, I took some pictures of the restaurant.

Only candles.  And the waitstaff left the place to go somewhere to get the food.  So, no electricity.

And then the waiter came with the bread and he had to go all medieval on us.  Ron was the "master" of the table.  He had to sprinkle salt on the bread and then pull it apart and sample it first.  It was very warm bread and it was delicious.  There was an herb bread with nuts and a rye bread. But, I couldn't try it until Ron had "approved" of it.  Which he did.

And then they started bringing us our appetizers which included Juniper ripened beef, horseradish sour cream, quail eggs, Andalusia salmon, French royal poultry liver pate, lovely onion jam (and it WAS quite lovely), Earl’s pickled cucumbers Livonian style, London merchant’s saffron pickles, Berries of the Highly Blessed Olive Tree, Spice Merchant’s berry sauce, and Castle’s fresh cheese.  YUM, YUM!!!!!  And since it was a "feast" it was unlimited food.  They said if we wanted more of anything, all RON had to do was ask.  Since he was the master.

And they would not bring the main course until the "Master" asked for it.  I had a lot of fun teasing him about it.  And for our main course we ate smoked grilled salmon with nut sauce, the Honorable cook Frederic’s game sausages with figs and almonds (the sausage was made with bear, wild boar and elk and was my absolute favorite), Grand Merchant von Hueck’s mild game pot, Grand Merchant von Wehren`s hunting company`s wonderful Rabbit roast (didn’t know that I love rabbit but I do!), wild boar plate favored by Earl von Uexkyll, well-cooked spelt with saffron, baked smoked-sauerkraut, Crusader’s lentils sauce and gingered turnips. And, once again, if we wanted more, all we had to do was ask.  When I told our waiter how much I LOVED the sausage, he was all set to run and get me more.  But I was SO full!

And when we were all done and I thought for sure I couldn't stuff another piece of food in my mouth, they brought dessert (after the Master asked for it, of course).  Velvet delight of the nobility - Rose pudding savory.  Which was delicious and was really made with roses.  And we were told that we were suppose to eat the rose petals.  So we did.  The whole pudding tasted of roses and it was delicious.

And when we asked for the bill, he brought it and said we could pay with money or squirrel, fox or other furs.  We asked him how many times people actually pay with furs and he said it does happen.  He showed us furs that people had brought in, and there was actually a fur on the back of my seat.

All in all, a WONDERFUL 50th birthday dinner.

We ate several times in our hotel because Ron worked late most evenings and the food there was really good but I did not take pictures.  But, next up is the Peppersack restaurant.  And once again, it was delicious.  Have I mentioned how much I loved the food in Estonia?

As we were taking off our coats, I noticed that they had a table already set up for a large party, and they were taking pictures of it, so I decided I may as well too.

Care to guess what we chose for an appetizer?  If you guessed garlic bread, you would be right!! We LOVE this garlic bread!

And for the main course, Ron and I both picked the same thing.   We got the Mansion Lord's musing which was actually duck breast with pear in caramel syrup, mashed potatoes and blackcurrant sauce.  YUM, YUM!

And once again, I just need to take pictures of the restaurant.  I just love the atmosphere of the restaurants.

And no heat, just heaters everywhere.

Maps .... I just love it!

And they insisted we get dessert, so we asked for one with 2 spoons.  This I didn't care for though, but Ron liked it.  It was called the Noblewoman's secret and it was Mascarpone caramel mousse with Vana Tallinn in a chocolate basket with cranberry sauce.

Our last day in Tallinn, we decided to go back uptown for one last garlic bread.  So, we just walked around and finally found a place we had not been to below that was actually in a basement of a building we found in an alley somewhere.  I am not sure I could ever find it again but they said they had garlic bread so in we went.  (By the way, almost every place in Tallinn has free wifi!)

 Nice windows!

And I had not slept the night before so I decided to get a coffee since we had a very long day of traveling to go before we got home.  I asked for a Tallinn coffee, having no idea what it would be but once again, it was yummy!  Expresso, vana tallinn, whipped cream and chocolate.  YUM!!!  (I seem to say yum a lot about everything we ate in Tallinn)

And not only did they have garlic bread, they had fried Estonian cheese.  We had a lot more of the bread but this is my plate.  I made Ron eat the rest.

Needless to say, once again, I gained weight during our travels.  Oh well.  The food was wonderful and I hope I get the opportunity to try it all again!

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