Source: Renee Altrov, Visit Estonia
Estonian food stems from ancient traditions and pure nature. Even though we have been affected by numerous cultures, our food has maintained its authentic Estonian taste. Estonian cuisine is attractive and distinctive, the Estonians’ love for pure and local food is well-known.
What makes a dish a national dish and what makes a dish an Estonian dish? The common feature is the fact that food must be fresh, tasty, made from local ingredients and produced locally. Many companies hold local and Estonian ingredients in high regard throughout the year, although the seasons and specificities of the local area are taken into account as well, all of which reflect in the quality of what is offered. The most traditional produce in Estonian kitchens are rye bread, meat, milk, vegetables, fish and various forest goods. The interest towards organic food and awareness thereof is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Traditional cuisine is not adhered to on a daily basis, however, people are sure to do so on folk holidays, the most significant of which are Christmas and New Year. Meat jelly, roast pork or goose, roasted potatoes, sauerkraut, lingonberry jam and blood sausages are without a doubt the staples of the dinner table on these days.
Nowadays, we are increasingly more interested in where our food comes from, who has produced it and how it has been made. Many head chefs of noted restaurants who have introduced delicacies produced from high-quality and authentic-tasting local ingredients into their menus consider Estonian cuisine close to their heart. They challenge themselves to find increasingly more exciting ingredients to make their dishes even tastier, more natural and more appetising.
There are many different and distinctive eateries across Estonia that offer characteristic ingredients of the area and dishes inherent to our national cuisine, which have been modernised in an exciting manner. This is done by companies that offer simple traditional farm food as well as distinguished and internationally recognised restaurants that present high-quality culinary sensations.
Hiiumaa, the second largest island in Estonia, has been making its own steady mark in the Estonian gourmet scene.