Tasting Estonia

In previous post I promised to show you some food goodies from Tallinn. Since we have spent only half a day there, there is not that much to blog about, but well ;) here it is ;) We had a dinner in Beer House restaurant. It prides itself as  the only micro-brewery restaurant in Estonia. They brew 7 sorts of beer and as you might have guessed, it was a difficult choice so… we bought a tasting set ;) We liked the most Beer House Premium and Märzen Speziel. Medovar Honey was also really good, but I think it should be enjoyed by itself,  cause in combination with other beers it seems to be a tad too sweet. One can  see the brewery vats through the windows next to restaurant’s entrance.

Tallin takes pride in its Hanseatic history and many restaurants advertise their medieval dishes. Beer House is no different and not only it is stylized as a tavern but it also serves a wide variety of dishes that probably are similar to those from the past. For a beer snack we chose pig’s ears. Doesn’t it sound fun ;)? It is something really interesting to try, but for sure I won’t crave for it ;) For main Mr No Onion Please opted for ribs, while I got sausage of game with potato and forest-mushroom pocket, beet and horse-radish terrine, mustard sauce and fresh сranberry sauce.

I guess the most common food souvenirs one brings from any country are sweets and alcohol. Well, we are no different. That’s usually the first things we think of bringing back with us as well. When it comes to Estonia, the staple food souvenirs are Kalev chocolates and marzipan and Vana Tallin liquor.

I’m not a great fan of Kalev milk chocolates, but I must admit, they really know how to make good white ones. Both me and Mr No Onion Please adore the white chocolate with dried blueberries and crisps. Mr No Onion Please is also a fan of white chocolate with strawberries and cookies, while I prefer the one with dried cranberries and coconut. When we went to Kalev store, I have spotted a new milk chocolate with almonds and gooseberries. Oh my, I love gooseberries, of course I had to buy it! It is a nice chocolate, though, to my disappointment it doesn’t contain dried gooseberry bits (or not at least visible ones). I would also like a tiny bit more of the gooseberry flavor in it, but in general I was pretty happy with the taste and will definitely buy it again.

Another “souvenir” that one just has to bring from Estonia is Vana Tallinn liquor. As much as I  can’t really handle the original liquor (too strong), I really adore its cream and coffee cream versions. There is a tiny bit of rum and vanilla flavor with some  delicate citrus aftertaste. Definitely one of the best cream liquors I’ve ever tasted. They are absolutely delicious! Since I got now a new bottle (my stock always replenishes so fast ;) ) I’m planning to use it in  cheesecake, oh boy, can’t wait!

Kama chocolate

Now, something about Estonia’s national food product, that won’t be commonly found in a visitor’s bag – kama. It’s a mixture of roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flour. Historically, it has been used as a stomach-filling snack that could be quickly prepared by mixing it with lard. Nowadays, it is usually enjoyed  simply mixed with buttermilk and some berries. You can read more about it here and search for kama recipes on Nami-Nami blog. In fact, this ingredient is so popular, that Kalev has made a “chocolate”, using kama instead of cocoa. Actually, Kamatahvel is a fortunate outcome of Soviet times experiment. You see, during communism it was very difficult to get cocoa beans, so people started to search for alternatives. Of course kama could never substitute the real cocoa, but the outcome was not only interesting but also pretty tasty. It reminds me somewhat of a similar product invented in Poland during those times. Not only cocoa was a deficit  food product, it was also very difficult to get coffee. Similarly to kama, so called grain coffee was invented. It constituted of roasted barley, rye, sugar beets and chicory and despite it was barely reminiscent of real coffee, it remained popular not only through communism but also nowadays you can buy it as INKA grain coffee. Quite amazing what people can think of, when they are in need!

Though I bought kama just several days ago, I’ve already used 2/3 of the package (I guess it means another Tallinn trip quite soon ;) ). Apart from mixing kama with my morning muesli, I’ve decided to try out a recipe for kama mascarpone truffles – kamakäkid. I have substituted raisins with dried cranberries, as I’m much more keen on those. Thank you Pille for the recipe, we have enjoyed it together with our friends a lot!

INGREDIENTS

250 grams of mascarpone
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped dried cranberries
3 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
3 heaped tbsp kama flour
a generous dash of Vana Tallinn cream liqueur (can be substituted with eg. Baileys)

Mix everything together, put into the fridge for a while. Form into small balls, roll in kama or cocoa powder and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Luscious dessert – Berries poached in wine with mascarpone cheese

It’s been a while since I was preparing any dessert. I basically don’t enjoy baking that much when it’s hot, and I’m sure this summer hit the record in Finnish history – the temperatures were skyrocketing for this latitude! It was simply amazing how hot it was. Ok, if I say that the record temperature was +37C you’ll just laugh, but well here in the far North it is a serious thing when scale reaches over 30C ;) Actually I don’t remember a single day last summer that had a temperature over 30C… so you see, we don’t get much heat here in general. Well, I don’t complain actually, I’m not a fan of hot weather, my organism starts to go on strike above 25C, so Nordic countries are in a way perfect for me. There is another great plus of living so far North. We get here wonderful berries, the forests right now are full of billberries, cranberries, lingonberries and if you’re lucky you may find some cloudberries as well. This time of  the year is perfect to get most of the nature goods, also the mushrooms starts to appear. That makes me additionally thrilled as Mr. No Onion Please is also Mr. No Mushrooms Please, however this year he has promised to try some mushroom dishes (YAY ;) that’s another story though). Ok, so back to the recipe. I wanted so much to make a dessert with mixed berries and must say that as usual when it comes to fruit desserts Gordon Ramsay is unbeatable. I’ve found this recipe when I was looking through his “Fast food” book. The original calls for blackberries and figs (extremely difficult to be found here in a good quality), but a mixture of strawberries, billberries and raspberries fits amazingly well! I really loved it. The berries poached in wine are a bit syrupy and sweet, however as soon as they are paired with heavy, creamy mascarpone one just realises how perfectly everything fits together. Mmmm…. I want to eat it againnnn


INGREDIENTS:

1 vanilla pod

250ml red wine (eg. Merlot)

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 star anise

100g sugar

400g mixture of various berries

250g mascarpone

2 tbsp icing sugar

1. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds, reserve both the pod and seeds.

2. Pour the wine into the pot, add the vanilla pod, cinnamon stick, cloves, anise and sugar and slowly bring to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer, add the fruits and poach gently for 5-7 min. Let it cool down completely

3. Mix the mascarpone together with vanilla seeds and icing sugar.

4. Divide mascarpone and poached fruits. It will be enough for 4 portions.