It is often said that Estonia is a small country with a big heart. When looking at the diversity of Estonia's regional cuisines, there's no doubt about it.
Mulgimaa cuisine in Southern Estonia presents its famous signature dish “mulgikapsad”, sauerkraut braised with barley groats and pork. For the dessert choose mulgi korp, a sweet cottage cheese Danish, a must-have and not-so-guilty pleasure.
When heading to the far corner of southeastern Estonia to the home of Setos, you'll have the chance to dish up some delicious sõir (fortified cheese), flavoured with poppy seeds and a side of honey and jam. Located nearby the Lake Peipsi, you will find it difficult to pass up on the smoked freshwater fish. If that didn't get your juices flowing, then think of the warm potato pastries straight out of the oven to be enjoyed in the midst of old-fashioned cottages and green fields.
If you're looking to try something even more exotic and have a taste for onions, visit the Russian Old Believers by the shore of Lake Peipsi. This orthodox community serves up some very original dishes, both hearty and healthy. Driving through the scenic lakeside village packed with colourful houses and allotments, you'll find Kolkja fish and onion restaurant that specialises in traditional Russian Old Believers cuisine.
Gourmet restaurants in the countryside
In addition to village markets, cafes and taverns, Estonia's forests and villages also hide some of the best gourmet restaurants in Estonia.
Just off Estonia's main highway you'll find Põhjaka restaurant that holds an honourable place among the top three Estonian restaurants (Flavours of Estonia 2013). Located in a rustic mansion, the restaurant grows most of its food at the premise and serves up dishes cooked on open fire.
For barn-turned-restaurants and other fine dining spots in the countryside, look up Tammuri and Ööbiku cottages, Kaheksa Jalga at Kõue mansion and Alexander at Pädaste Mõis (Best Estonian Restaurant 2013 by Flavours of Estonia).