Words by Sindy Chan
Images Courtesy of Troy Nam
Travelling gourmand Sindy Chan recently spent time in Estonia, where she discovered just how much Estonians love mushrooms.
While visiting Estonia, the Baltic state, I stayed at Kadrina Sport Hostel and was fortunate to join Margus Martin, then Manager of Kadrina Sports Complex, and his friends, for a mushroom and berry picking adventure in Viitna, where the sapphire-blue lake and creamy-white waterlilies reminded me of a scene from a Monet.
We had so much fun strolling lush green hills, peeking in fox caves and rabbit holes, and picking blueberries and petite strawberries. One of our group, Villu Kask, was working hard to fill his cap with Chanterelle mushrooms, and was the only one in our group who could tell the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
A perfect Estonian dish is born
Back to the sport hostel, Chef Kersti was waiting to cook a perfect Estonian dish using the freshly-picked wild Chanterelle mushrooms, in an Italian pasta with a combo of sliced vegetables. Photographer Troy Nam’s improvisation in using Chinese soy sauce in the stir-frying process, highlighted the natural flavour of each ingredient.
Kadrina is a barley-growing region. Rich in fibre and good for digestion, barley is popular in local recipes such as Scrambled egg, mashed potato & barley, beetroot, lettuce & pickle; Barley and hazelnut, beetroot, lettuce, pickle with fried egg. Barley and milk is also used to create nutritious drinks and desserts, which are rather delicious.
Tristvere Maja cafe and guesthouse offers down-to-earth Estonian dishes, using simple ingredients to create healthy, beautifully presented dishes, full of flavour.
Owner of Tristvere Maja, young entrepreneur, Anna-Margarita Nukk, comes from the large, local Nukk family.
Kadrina was a hassle-free destination. In terms of food – I only needed to choose between meat or vegetable dishes, then await the Estonian savoury experience.
Connie Lambeth – The Australia Times News
Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events
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Read on for further information on the food, the place and the people, as well as more pics…
First harvesting of the year
We were invited by Anna-Margarita’s uncle, 600-hectare farm owner, Taavi Nukk, to the first harvesting of the year in Kadrina. What a unique experience to see harvesting of local food from our tractor seat!
The Historic Sauna Club plays host to celebrities and political leaders, and opens to members and the public to preserve the ritual of the Estonian sauna. Kadrina has quite a number of breweries, with a beer and barbeque going down well after a sauna!
The people of Kadrina
On the ELRON train to Kadrina I met Riho Remmelgas. His father, Peep, picked him up at the station and we were offered a lift…what great ambassadors for Kadrina.
Kadrina Church is the spiritual home of Kadrina town /parish named after St. Katariina. Pastor Meelis-Lauri Erikson, in a T-shirt printed with witty version of Mona Lisa, played a beautiful tune on the historic church organ, recently restored to its original sound quality. An ancient church in step with contemporary times.
Kadrina Fire Services Brigade is made up of seven members and one fire truck. Chief, Lembit Liiv, is the only full-time employee of the ‘Magnificent Seven’, serving in the same role for the past twenty five years.
Sport has long been the highlight of Kadrina life. It was great to meet dedicated table tennis coach, Pekka Laidinen, and to learn that Estonia national footballer, Teet Allas, dedicates his early retirement years to a football summer camp youth project. Teet Allas, Martti Pukk and Rauno Tutk, are the key people involved in the project, organised by the Estonia Football Association, and we also met Rauno’s father, Head Referee Uno Tutk, while visiting Tallinn A. Le Coq Stadium.
My friend Margus Martin, as well as his sport complex manager role, is a certified judge for track and field sports.
I also met three “Distinguished Person of the Year” in Kadrina – Ene Heide, Head Librarian of Kadrina Library, Heli Preismann, artist and crafter, and Valeri Pormann, wrestling trainer and former Kadrina Sport Complex Manager.
Tristvere Maja dishes