I decided to break this post up into 2 parts, 6-10 and 1-5. The things I enjoyed eating (and drinking) this summer were not necessarily culinary masterpieces or totally unique dishes. They were things I had missed, foods that defined the places we visited, and things that reminded me of my childhood. Having been away from the United States for almost a year and knowing that I only had three weeks there made those little nibbles all the more resonant. So, here are the first five of my top ten things I ate on vacation (which included a weekend in Helsinki, before flying to the States):
10. Countless iced coffees—such a summer staple, but Estonia doesn’t really do iced coffee yet (probably because they don’t have a very warm summer). So while in the States, whenever possible, my coffee was frosty. J usually stuck to hot coffee– he doesn’t really understand why somebody would voluntarily drink cold coffee :-).
9. Philly cheese steak egg roll at Continental—ordering this was my Philly friend’s call, as it’s her favorite thing on the menu there, as well as a twist on the local classic. The satisfying chopped steak and cheese wrapped in a crispy Chinese egg roll, dipped in ketchup, was indeed obsession-worthy.
8. A few scoops of salmiakki ice cream by the harbor in Helsinki—I really wish I had a picture of this, because it was the wackiest-colored ice cream I’ve ever seen—dark, stormy gray. I already knew I liked salmiakki (Finnish salt licorice, which can be found in various textures and degrees of saltiness/spiciness). The ice cream was fun, and had crunchy little salmiakki bits in it to mix up the texture, which I always like.
7. Calamari with mango salsa at Continental—it was really nice and well-prepared. Not terribly crispy, but the texture of the meat itself was good, not rubbery, and the sweet-hot mango salsa made the whole thing more exciting. You really can’t get calamari like that in Estonia.
6. Melted caramel with apples and pretzels at laager (camp)—part of my “vacation” was spent helping to run an annual Estonian children’s camp in New Jersey. It was an exhausting but rewarding week, and at the Friday night party, the stellar kitchen staff surprised all of us with melted chocolate and caramel and treats to dip (the chocolate was in a fountain, but the caramel fountain broke, so it was actually just in a crock pot). It was good, high-quality, buttery caramel, and combined with salty, crunchy pretzel rods… mmm.