Something really cool recently happened to The Fidgety Foodie.
It all started with my first Fidgety Foodie post, back in October 2014, about Tallinn Airport. I was so taken by my experience there that I felt compelled to write about it. At that stage I had roughly two followers (thanks mum and dad) so the post came and went without much of a ripple.
Until a few weeks ago when Tallinn Airport itself picked up on the post and shared it through their social media channels. Next thing I knew Estonia Tourism was promoting it. Then the Estonian Embassy joined the party. Before long my web traffic increased by 3000%. That’s pretty extraordinary for a neophyte like me. Not only was half of Estonia reading my post, but I was getting lovely comments and feedback about the blog. This welcoming reception is what compelled me to write about Tallinn in the first place.
I only wish I’d spent more time in Estonia to have experienced more of this beguiling hospitality. I had a mere 24 hours while travelling between Helsinki and Paris with my stoic Swedish friend Joakim.
Estonia is a bit of a quiet achiever. Nestled by fellow Baltic neighbours Latvia and Lithuania, it was the birthplace of Kazaa and Skype, is home to world champion wife-carriers (yes it’s a real sport) and was the first country to win Eurovision with a black singer in 2001.
So what do you do with just 24 hours in one city? It wasn’t long enough to scope out the city like a foodie in my usual depth so I had to prioritise; food markets, supermarket and a wander through the old town were on the agenda once we stepped off the ferry from Helsinki.
We headed to one of the food markets tucked away outside the walls of Tallinn old town. It was a mash up of fresh produce, antiques, Soviet war memorabilia and quite randomly, personalised granite gravestones.
Being summer, the berries were in top form and I especially loved the freshly picked wild strawberries. Don’t be fooled by the size; each specimen offered a perfectly concentrated ball of intense strawberry goodness.
I really wanted to buy a carton of these gorgeous pastel coloured eggs but knew that wasn’t the most practical decision while on the road.
My favourite find was this barrel of pickles. I love pickles at the best of times but being able to scoop them out of salty brine at my leisure was strangely thrilling.
It was recommended we try a pancake place called Kompressor, famous for giant €5 pancakes. Not exactly traditional Estonian fare but who can fight the idea of giant pancakes for just €5? We shared a perfectly cooked salmon pancake with a side of creamy sauce and garlic sauce. Rationale for the choice – we were by the sea!
Ever wondered where you can buy a decent bowl of elk soup? And for just €2 no less?
Well we weren’t left wondering for too long. Il Draakon in the main square proffers this medieval dish as its specialty and delivers the whole thing in a realistic dark ages setting. Except for the credit card machine on the counter of course.
The elk soup was rich and gamey, the perfect accompaniment to crisp elk pie and air-dried elk. To my delight, pickles made an appearance again and we were encouraged to spear as many as we liked out of a barrel. I think I ate a year’s worth of pickles that day.
The supermarket didn’t let us down either. Amongst an impressive chocolate collection and delicious looking baked goods we picked up a few unusual finds. I found a beetroot and herring salad which I earmarked for the next day’s travel meal but was trumped by Joakim’s cabbage juice. I’ll usually try anything but the pungent smell coming from the bottle (that’s before it was even opened) sent me to the other side of the street so he enjoyed that on his own.
We finished the day with a refreshing beer (if you consider peach beer a beer, which I do). First thing the next morning it was off to the airport, which of course turned out to be a highlight for me.
My 24 hour stint gave me a taste of what Estonia has to offer, I’ll definitely be back for more.