Tere! Our second globetrot of the spring took us to Estonia, one of the least-populated countries in the European Union and the northernmost of the three Baltic states, which also include Latvia and Lithuania. Today known for its booming tech industry (home to companies such as Skype) Estonia has had a long and delicious history at the cultural crossroads of the Baltics, Scandinavia, and beyond.
For breakfast on Saturday morning, Jess prepared a rich traditional breakfast of ahjusoojad kohupiimasaiad, or cheese curd toast. The recipe came from Nami-Nami, an English-language food blog all about Estonian cuisine.
Later that morning, we watched the Geography Now episode about Estonia:
We also watched a documentary report from Vice News called The Russians are Coming about how Estonia and its NATO allies have responded to the growing belligerence of its eastern neighbor, Russia.
For dinner, I prepared an Estonian version of borscht (seen in the photo at the top of this post) as well as a traditional stew of pork, sauerkraut, and apples made un-traditional with the substitution of some porkless vegetarian cubes.
After dinner, we watched a rather peculiar film called Made in Estonia (2003) about a couple of radio hosts who act out the stories of some comical Estonian stereotypes.
The next morning, Jess prepared another traditional Estonian breakfast: little apple croissants baked with ricotta cheese. They were delicious!
Before lunch, we headed up to the North Park Theater to catch a midday showing of My Neighbor Totoro, the 1988 classic from Studio Ghibli. Though the film was not Estonian, we had a great time and enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant next door to the theater.
Following a warm strolls through Delaware Park, we returned home to watch the Estonia episode of Food Trippers, which showed us everything from Estonia’s meaty, medieval past to its organic, locally-sourced future.
For dinner, we helped ourselves to some more tomato soup, more cabbage and buckwheat, and more borscht. A fitting end to a tasty and educational weekend!
Like our own city of Buffalo, Estonia lies along the eastern shores of a great inland sea (Lake Erie for us, the Baltic Sea for the Estonians). Over the past few decades, both Buffalo and Estonia have bid farewell to significant portions of their populations and continue to shrink today. Seeing how the country has reinvented itself as a hip and thriving innovation hub for Northern Europe gave us the confidence to think that Buffalo’s present renaissance might endure as well.