When travelling, one of the best ways to learn about the local culture is to try some of the food that is popular in that region. National dishes and homemade specialities tell you about the history and culinary passions of a destination and giving them a try could result in finding your new favourite feast.
Here are some tasty morsels you should look out for on a Tallinn city break or any other trip to Estonia.
The link between Estonians and rye bread has deep roots and goes back to the times when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, Germany and, before that, Russia. As food was scarce, people learned not to take anything for granted and so even something as humble as bread became very important.
A modern trend has developed for Estonians to install their own furnaces and make loaves at home, but bakeries all over the country still sell rye bread in abundance. It’s usually eaten with some delicious local cheese.
The influence of the Baltic Sea is obvious in Estonia as the country enjoys lots of fish. Kiluvõileib is simply a sprat sandwich, served on some of that delicious rye bread and topped with a boiled egg. In 2014, a team of local chefs in Tallinn created the world’s largest kiluvõileib. It measured a whopping 20 metres in length.
Smoked fish is also widely eaten around the country. It can be found on restaurant menus but you can’t get fresher than the local ‘turg’ markets. In the summer, women gather to sell the fish that their husbands have caught at sea, as well as other produce grown in their gardens.
This is something that you are more likely to find in a supermarket than a restaurant and will not sound too appetising at first. Kohuke is sweet cheese curds (like cottage cheese) that are pressed together into a bar and then smothered in chocolate and individually wrapped. There are different flavoured fillings available, including berries, mint, coconut and toffee.
From a British point of view, aspic looks like an upturned pie that’s had its pastry removed. Vegetables such as peas, carrots and beans are layered along with meat and then set in a mould using pork jelly. This is typically served during Christmas and Easter but can also be found throughout the year.
Having started life as something that was just eaten on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), vastlakukkel can now be found in bakeries all year round. A wheat bun is sliced in two (near the top), filled with whipped cream and then sprinkled with icing sugar. Traditionally, these are eaten after a hearty bowl of pea soup.
On ‘Vastlapäev’ (Shrove Tuesday), children would slide down hills on sledges to see how abundant that year’s crop would be. The further the sledge went, the better the harvest would be in the autumn.
If you would like to try any of these delicious dishes, we can help you plan your Tallinn city break. Our team will tailor-make the trip to your needs, factoring in when you would like to go, where you would like to stay and how long you wish to go for. Call us on 0800 988 3369 today.