Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Riga: This Post is All About the Food

The whole Baltics trip started because I wanted to go to Riga.  The reason I wanted to go to Riga is that I read that it had more Art Nouveau buildings than any other city in the world.  (Yes, that's right, the WORLD!)  We spent an extra day in Riga to see these Art Nouveau buildings, and I will write separate posts about all our Art Nouveau trails, once I finish my Baltics trip round-up.  But since Art Nouveau is almost all we saw in Riga (and this will be covered in later blog posts), I will dedicate this post on Riga to food.  While the food was really remarkably good everywhere we went, food in Riga wins the prize.

Our first night in Riga, we went to a restaurant called Melni  Muki  (or Black Monk), which I found on the internet.  We were tired, and we ordered potato pancakes, which came with smoked salmon and sour cream; see above.  It was supposed to be an appetizer, but it completely filled us up.

The next night we ate at a beautiful restaurant called Kolonade, right next to the Freedom Statue and across from the Opera House.  We started with gin and tonic and a martini, then Tony had snails (which came in shells) and I had a fried herring appetizer.

I then had local trout with beet-leek salsa, quinoa, and saffron sauce, and Tony had Aberdeen Angus chopped steak with chicken egg, potato confit, caramelized carrots and spicy plum sauce.    

We were too full for dessert!

Our other big meal was at the Fish Restaurant at the Dome Hotel.  This was our blow-out, and it was a really marvelous meal.

We started with a martini and a glass of Prosecco and an amuse bouche--and for the life of me I can't remember what it was..

Then Tony had Black pudding Benedict with quail eggs, lingonberry jam and rye bread, and I had pickled herring with smoked potatoes, horseradish mousse, pickled shallots and dill.

For mains, Tony had risotto with porcini mushrooms, spinach, parmesan cheese and truffles, and I had catch of the day whole fish, which was flounder, with seasonal vegetables and lemon parsley butter with capers.  We also had a great bottle of Pouilly Fuisse.

For dessert we had special dark rye trifle with cream cheese and berry sauce (dark rye is a very traditional food in Latvia), and more prosecco.

We had other really good but less spectacular meals as well.  But these were probably the best of the trip--from potato pancakes to Baltic seafood.

I will sign off with pictures of us enjoying restaurant-time in Riga.  (And Art Nouveau in Riga will soon follow!)


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tallinn II: Telliskivi and Kalamaja

On our only sunny day of the trip, we visited the area west of the Old Town.  Telliskivi is a section of the city that once housed Soviet factories.  This area has been taken over by restaurants, shops, design centers; it is now called The Creative Area.  The night before we had reservations for a restaurant in Telliskivi called Hoone F.  We had the address, which we found, but couldn't see the restaurant anywhere near it.  Finally, I went into another restaurant seemingly at our restaurant's address and asked if someone could direct me to Hoone F.  The very nice manager said he would show us.  This was really kind of him, because I do not think we would otherwise have located it.  Taking us around this large rambling building where his restaurant was, right in the back (in the dark) was Hoone F.  Hoone F, he explained to us, was the first restaurant to set up in Telliskivi.  It has a kind of Soviet d├ęcor (sort of like Menza if you've read our Budapest eating history) and tasty Estonian food.

Here is a picture of the restaurant taken from our table.  As you can see, it's from above.  Our table was actually on a kind of balcony which you got to by clambering up two large steps.  (I sat down and slid to clamber down.)  It was an adventure.

We started with something called mushroom varenky in sour cream and herbs.  Kind of like ravioli or pierogi.

 Then I had pork chop with cauliflower and melted cheese sauce (as unappetizing as it usually is) but also potato pancakes--the pancakes being the main reason I ordered it).  Tony had pasta with wild mushroom, which I forgot to take a picture of.

The next day we went to Telliskivi andn saw it in the light.  (We were even more convinced that would have never found F Hoone on our own.)  We traversed the wonderful market and some of the design spaces.

Then we walked through Kalamaja, which was a kind of suburb where workers lived in the 1920s and 1930s in this newly industrialized part of Tallinn.  The houses are wooden and symmetrical and were painted in bright colors.  In recent years, this has all been trendy and the houses have been rejuvenated.

Interestingly, we saw the same kind of houses in the outskirts of town, as we took the bus to Riga.

We ended at the Baltic sea, which we were lucky enough to see in sunshine!

It was Restaurant Week in Tallinn when we were there--lots of expensive restaurants serving prix fixe.  We ate at a Spanish restaurant called Alter Ego, and, though we hadn't been looking to eat Spanish food on this trip, really enjoyed it.  Ahi tuna, venison and samosas, and our first version of the ubiquitous Baltic/Russian dessert, a Pavlova.

Here's Tony looking happy at Hoone F and me at Alter Ego.

Next up, we are off to Riga.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Tallinn I: The Old City

Tallinn is a beautiful city with a wonderful Old Town that has architecture ranging from medieval to art nouveau.  Several years ago, I saw a picture of Tallinn when it was named the European Cultural Capital, and I thought how cool it would be to get there.

Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.

(It was here we were first indirectly introduced to the concept of an "authentic medieval restaurant."  I say indirectly, as we never actually ventured into one, despite such incentives as "from the cauldron."  The idea of medieval authenticity just didn't sound that appealing.  (We did eat very well in Tallinn; see next post.)

Tallinn's old  town also has some newer architecture.  One of its most distinct buildings is the Alexander Nevsky church, built when Estonia was part of the Russian empire.

And it even has some art nouveau!  (More whimsical than Budapest art nouveau.  Riga art nouveau will be more different still.)

Next up Tallinn II:  Telliskivi and Kalamaja