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Posts Tagged ‘sausage’

I’m sure all 20-something of you who read this blog have been waiting for me to finally write about the third restaurant we visited during Tallinn Restaurant Week (over two months ago…), Neh. The restaurant’s focus is on the cuisine of the islands in the Baltic Sea, like Gotland, the Åland Islands, and Estonia’s own Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Also, their head chef is kinda hot.

This was the two-course lunch menu, taken from the Restaurant Week site (although edited by me because some of their translations sucked):

Pan-baked bread

traditional Saaremaa dish, pan-baked bread, made with Koplimäe farm barley and smoked sauna ham served with lingonberry-apple chutney and caraway tea

Neh´s wild boar sausage

lightly smoked artisanal sausages, caramelized onion & vegetable mash

I loved the first course, pictured above. The pan bread was chewy from the barley and contained chunks of the most delicious smoked ham. The rustic bread was nicely complimented by the tart fresh lingonberries and and the creamy sauce on top (unfortunately I can’t remember what was in it, but I think maybe fresh dill?). My only negative comment is that the lingonberry puree flourish on the plate looks like a blood spatter from a crime scene.

The sausage was fresh, rich and perfectly meaty, no unappealing chewy bits. The accompanying roasted beets, vegetable mash, and mustard added variety but the star was definitely the sausage. It was very good-quality but also rich and fatty, so this portion was honestly a bit much for me.

The restaurant itself is extremely cozy and charming. It’s in an old renovated house near the harbor, but the decor is simple and modern. Where we were sitting on the first floor there was a total of only 4-5 tables in the room, so it almost felt like we were guests at somebody’s house. I also love their focus on “local” cuisine and ingredients (not just focused on Estonia, but on the surrounding Baltic Sea area as well). The “eat locally” movement hasn’t become a trend here in Estonia yet, but I’m glad at least one restaurant is drawing attention to it. And in case you’re wondering, I was too shy to ask whether the head chef was in that day (typical!) so that means I just may have to go back another time :).

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On our second day in Luxembourg, we took a field trip. Luxembourg has a wine country running along its southeastern edge, and I was dying to go to a vineyard, since that’s definitely something we don’t have up north. But before we headed out of town, I had this cappuccino covered with a mountain of whipped cream. I actually had 2 cappuccinos like that during my time in Luxembourg. At the first place they called it “italiana,” but I don’t recall ever having a cappuccino in Italy with a massive amount of whipped cream.

So, the field trip! The only way to get to the wine country was to take a bus by ourselves (no tour or anything). The girl at the bus station was very helpful, so we felt we knew what we were doing. We knew we got on the correct bus, but then it got confusing as hell because the names of the stops didn’t exactly correspond to the names on the schedule we had. Huh? But soon we were taking the road down the side of a hill, with a view overlooking vast green vineyards, and we knew we’d made it to Bech-Kleinmacher. After we got off the bus, on a quiet road in the village, we noticed some tents set up behind a building and heard voices. We decided to check it out and discovered something wonderful.

It was a small community cook-out going on, a grillfescht (I’m guessing that’s in Luxembourgish). We hadn’t been on the lookout for food that was uniquely Luxembourgish, and now here we were, in the countryside, with a bunch of locals, eating and having a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Fabulous!

The first thing I did was get a few glasses of local wine from the drink stand– the sparkling wine Cremant and a rose’. We noticed they were serving a sausage mysteriously named ping-pongs wupp, so of course we had to try it (I’m not sure how I ordered it without cracking up).

Here’s our sausage with our glasses of wine. Classy, no? It was a pork sausage and I seem to remember it was good, seasoned but not spicy. Since the sign also says Thüringer, I guess it was this.

J also got a massive pork cutlet with fries. I only had a few bites of it, but the crispy pork was yummy.

Our bellies full, we walked across the village to the Wellenstein vineyard and wine cellars. It was a pretty typical wine tour. Our tour guide reminded J of Walter Mathau and made a lot of corny jokes. The tour was, of course, followed by a tasting.

The specialty of this area is the sparkling wine Cremant. The Cremant Brut we tasted at the very end was really nice. A few of the wines we had were too sweet, but the Cremant was dry, with a slightly rubbery smell and a medium amount of bubbles. We bought quite a few bottles before catching the bus back to Luxembourg City and after that, the train back to Brussels.

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London Food, part I

I haven’t posted in over three weeks. I’m the worst blogger ever. Oh well, I can deal.

Two weeks ago I was in England for spring break. As a working person, of course, I don’t actually get a spring break, but my college-age sister does, so I applied for the days off and we, along with my mother, planned a trip to London. I love the Estonian word for holiday or vacation—puhkus—because it’s derived from the word puhkama, to rest. Not that anyone gets much rest when they’re on vacation, but it’s a nice thought :-). Our original destination was Iceland—we were looking for something conveniently located between the East Coast of the USA and Estonia—but when flying to Reykjavik proved too complicated and expensive, we decided London was a reasonable substitute.

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Despite the fact that England isn’t exactly known for its food, I was excited to try not only local specialties, but also things that aren’t available in Estonia. For example, Starbucks coffee drinks. For some reason, my favorite Starbucks indulgence is a white chocolate mocha. I recognize that it’s too sweet, but I like it anyway, every once in a while. And we were given actual mugs! Do Starbucks in the States do that anymore?

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Another everyday American item that I occasionally miss is a toasted bagel with cream cheese. There’s cream cheese in Estonia, but no bagels. That craving was satiated in the sandwich shop we refueled in after being jostled by the crowds in the British Museum.

And now for some Brit food! The tavern next to our hotel specialized in local sausages, with a wide variety of different ones available each day. I chose the pork & Guinness sausage, my sister’s was Scottish venison, and my mother took… um… ok, I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a beef sausage. We each got three sausages on a large pile of mashed potatoes with red onion gravy. Mine were nicely spiced, and the red onion gravy with more crispy onions sprinkled on top was wonderful. I also poured a little HP sauce on my plate, because I liked that vinegar-y bite. My sister’s venison sausage had juniper berries in it, the sweetness contrasting with the red meat-y flavor of venison. It was perfect comfort food after the busy day we’d had, which included a tourist bus, the British Museum, Harrod’s, and rush hour traffic.

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Of course the meal was accompanied by some English ale. I had Timothy Taylor, a favorite of mine during the trip—it was sweet, but had enough bitterness in the aftertaste to make it serious.

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For dessert, we split a sticky toffee pudding. I know the notion of “pudding” is different in British English than in American English, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The dessert that came out looked like a hamburger covered in mayonnaise and perhaps gravy. But the “mayonnaise” was rich custard, the “gravy” extremely sweet caramel (toffee, I suppose) sauce, and the burger was a dense, moist cake that reminded me a lot of American pancakes soaked in fake syrup (as opposed to maple).

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That’s all I have time for today. But there is more London food to come, such as enigmatic clotted cream and some very old food. Till next time!

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