Introduction to Estonian cuisine

Source: Mart Vares

Introduction to Estonian cuisine

Written by:

Piret Saar

Estonians like to know where their food comes from. For this reason, many savvy city dwellers take the time to work the fields and enjoy the fruit of their labour throughout the year. This amount of passion has greatly inspired Estonian restaurants to be creative and use local produce.

A spoonful of Nordic with a twist

Similarly to Estonian culture, the local taste palate has been infused with the best of our neighbouring countries. Here you'll find traces of Scandinavian, Russian and German kitchens, not to mention other mainstream international influencers such as the French nouvelle cuisine.

An ode to the pure, fresh and seasonal

Estonian chefs, Estonian restaurants, food establishments and retailers have a similar understanding of the nature and future of Estonian cuisine, manifesting loyalty to healthy ingredients cooked into simple dishes that reflect the mastery of Nordic culinary traditions. 

Estonian bread – black, white and wholemeal

Bread has at least three different names in Estonian – that's how serious we are about the loaf. Black rye bread with a thin crispy crust is a healthy and very original gift to bring back from your trip to Estonia. You'll find a range of different options in all shapes and sizes from your local supermarket or speciality grocery store with many restaurants also serving freshly baked bread rolls using their own secret recipes. With a spread of Estonia's famous full-fat salty butter, the local bread is sure to tingle your taste buds.

Affordable gourmet food

International and fusion gourmet food can be enjoyed very inexpensively in Estonia, making this a desired destination for foodies. A true five course gourmet feast in Tallinn can cost half the price of a dinner you'd get in most European capitals. Oh, and don't forget the medieval food - have you tried roast bear recently, or maybe a wild boar? Herbivores are also in luck, because gourmet vegetarian and vegan joints spring up in Estonia's larger cities like mushrooms after the rain, and while on the topic: have you tried Estonian chanterelles? This woodland mushroom, often considered a delicacy in Western Europe, comes fresh and inexpensive in Estonia's grocery stores and markets.

Estonian superfoods

Estonian cuisine, with its international influences, retains a signature character thanks to pure, local elements. These 'superfoods' are fresh from the forests and fields, bursting with vitamins and rich colours. Savour them harvested during peak season, or preserved in traditional jams and juices throughout the rest of the year.

Served simply or dressed up, learn how to prepare original dishes with these superfoods from Estonia's top chefs.

Buckwheat is a wholesome and versatile grain known for healing properties, used in folk medicine.

Juicy beetroot contains nutrients which boost the immune system and metabolism.

Blackcurrant, one of the country's most popular berries, is an excellent source of vitamin C. Nordic blueberries have a particularly intense, sweet flavour well suited for healthy desserts. Enjoy the full bodied flavours and health benefits of these foods.

Photos by: Lauri Laan, Piret Saar

Last updated : 06.05.2021

In category: Food & Drink & Nightlife