What do you know about Estonian food? For most people, the answer is not a lot.
Estonian cuisine, long overlooked, is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the boldness and creativity of young chefs and restaurateurs.
Blending tradition and innovation, these culinary talents are showcasing local specialities and redefining the Estonian dining experience.
In this episode of Discover Estonia, we will introduce you to this unique cuisine, full of surprises!
A complex culinary identity
Estonian cuisine, steeped in a complex history, reflects the many influences that have left their mark on the country. Fresh, local produce, such as fish, meat and vegetables from the garden, form the basis of this gastronomy.
However, the German imprint and the Soviet heritage can also be felt, as a result of the different periods in Estonia’s history. According to Estonian food writer Kadri Kroon, Estonian cuisine is constantly evolving and creating something unique for the country.
Tallinn: a culinary destination not to be missed
The Estonian capital, Tallinn, is home to a new wave of restaurateurs who are experimenting with and reinventing local specialities. In 2022, the country joined the prestigious Michelin Guide, highlighting the excellence of its gastronomic scene.
One of the restaurants that stands out is Lee Restoran, located in Tallinn’s Old Town, which offers a new take on the traditional Estonian experience. Kristjan Peäske, one of the owners, explains that the restaurant takes its name from the Estonian word “Lee”, which used to refer to a fireplace where people gathered to share their meals and their joy.
Estonian cuisine meets international cuisine
With the help of Canadian chef Hiro Takeda, Lee Restoran adds an international touch to its dishes using local Estonian ingredients. Hiro Takeda, an avid traveller, draws on his experience and discovery of Estonia to create surprising and innovative combinations.
The chef’s latest creations include a seasonal asparagus tart, sashimi made with local trout, and a creative interpretation of a classic Estonian snack called ‘Kohuke’. The cuisine at Lee Restoran reflects the constant change and evolution of the Estonian culinary sector.
Discovering culinary roots
To understand the essence of his passion for Estonian cuisine, Kristjan Peäske takes us to his picturesque village of Väike-Lähtru, around a hundred kilometres from Tallinn. It’s here that his parents run a small cottage, surrounded by forests and nature.
Kristjan’s family, like many others under the Soviet occupation, used to grow their own food. Even today, they still cook their own food. Today, they grow tomatoes and fresh herbs in their greenhouse.
Beyond its incredible nature and unique culture, it’s the warm welcome of the Estonians that makes this destination truly unforgettable.
Estonia, with its delicious cuisine and emerging culinary talents, is well worth exploring and savouring. Offering a culinary experience that is both familiar and innovative, this Baltic country is sure to surprise and delight even the most demanding palates.
Source: Euro News