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An Estonian feast: breaking bread with bakers in Tallinn

It’s a frigid -11C morning within the Estonian capital and the town has frosted over. Fats, fluffy snowflakes are cascading from the sky, blanketing the streets in inches of sentimental, sugary powder. It’s the right climate for curling up by the hearth, however as an alternative I’m out and about on an Estonian meals path. 

I’m spending the day with Kenneth Karjane and Eva Kõrvas, the affable younger duo behind Tallinn’s immensely standard Karjase Sai bakery. We’re trundling alongside an icy highway in a bus headed south for the village of Rahula, in Harju County, the place Eva’s household owns a little bit farm. Regardless of being locals, they’re enchanted by the snow. “I haven’t seen this sort of climate in a very long time,” says Eva, peering out the window. 

It may be one of many coldest days of the yr however the welcome I’m about to obtain is as heat as I might have hoped for. As we open the gate to the farm, two huge canines, Hagu and Gusta, come bounding throughout the snow to greet us, tails wagging frantically. Shut behind is Eva’s youthful mom, Egle Kõrvas, a large smile etched on her face. 

We’ve made the 15-mile journey from Tallinn to style a few of Egle’s well-known apple juice, which she makes yearly from her crop of 20 or so apple bushes, a lot of which bear heirloom varieties. “It’s a interest for me,” says Egle, who, because it seems, has many pastimes: in addition to working as a bodily schooling instructor, she additionally dabbles in furnishings restoration and enjoys dancing. 

Learn extra: Easy methods to spend a weekend in Tallinn

In actual fact, she’s taking part in a conventional dance efficiency in a close-by village this very afternoon, which explains her distinctive outfit: a striped skirt that’s a part of the rahvariided, a vibrant folks costume, hand-stitched utilizing a mix of linen and wool. 

Este explains that she normally harvests her apples round August/September, extracting the juice utilizing an old-school fruit press and bottling it in glass jars. “It’s 100% apples, no sugar or water,” she declares proudly. This season, Este has managed to make round 400 litres of juice — a “medium yr”, she reckons. 

“This apple juice is one thing that we get pleasure from all year long,” says Eva. “We at all times drink it each time now we have lunch collectively as a household. We additionally promote it in our bakery. It’s actually liked by our prospects, who say it’s one of the best they’ve ever had.” 

This, I’m about to find, isn’t any exaggeration. After laughing on the excitable canines, who’ve mischievously chased Egle’s goats and sheep into hiding, we retreat into the home — a comfortable, picket construction decked out with delightfully mismatched chairs and a number of four-legged residents. Along with Hagu and Gusta, there’s Marta, a geriatric dachshund; Jussi, a plump, sleepy-eyed cat; Totu, a feisty, blue-eyed feline; and Misha, one other cat that apparently has an id disaster. “Misha thinks he’s a canine. He at all times greets us on the door, and prefers canines as an alternative of cats for firm,” Egle says affectionately. 

She wastes no time making ready some refreshments: bowls of gingerbread biscuits, some scented with orange peel; steaming mugs of sage tea, brewed with leaves Egle picked from her vegetable backyard simply minutes earlier; and, in fact, a big jug of apple juice. This batch, she tells us, is made purely from completely ripened summer season apples, that are “sweeter and extra intensive”. Catching a whiff of the unfold, Gusta pads over and shortly makes his presence felt, pawing at me insistently for desk scraps. 

I take a gulp of the cloudy golden liquid and instantly perceive why it’s so particular. It’s a medley of splendidly advanced flavours: mellow but full-bodied, candy but refreshing — a tantalising trace of summer season on a chilly winter’s day. Eva’s prospects are proper, I feel.

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