Friday, July 21, 2006
Once again, I'm back in Edinburgh. I had a lovely weekend in Stockholm - starting with a very sweet surprise, and then spent some wonderful days back home in Estonia in the company of my family and friends. The only downside is that it will be at least another six weeks before I'll go to Estonia again!
I will tell you all about the delicious wedding lunch in Stockholm (and that unexpected surprise from a fellow food blogger) soon, as well as about my first dinner at Stenhus (a restaurant based in the cellar of a 13th century building; voted the Best Gourmet Restaurant in Estonia last year), some lovely dishes that were lovingly prepared for me, as well as about my hunt for cloudberries in Estonian bogs. But I start with some pictures from Paluküla, a sleepy village in Rapla parish in Estonia. My mum was born and raised in Paluküla, and I mentioned that place when sharing my childhood food memories with you almost a year ago. As kids, we (me and my numerous cousins) used to spend several weeks in Paluküla each summer with my grandparents, but I hadn't been back for almost a decade for various reasons (the main one being that the house that I remember from my childhood sadly burned down in early 1990s).
When meeting K. for a glass (or maybe two) of mulled wine in Kehrwieder café around Christmas last year, it emerged that his childhood summers were spent in a nearby village just 5 kilometres from Paluküla, in a farmhouse aquired by his great-grandparents. Quite a coincidence, eh:) In any case, I spent last weekend near Paluküla, re-visiting my old haunts and relatives, and picking wild strawberries in Paluküla once again. Paluküla is a rather tranquil place, yet many Estonians have heard of the place. It is the location of Paluküla Hiiemägi, or the Sacred Hill of Paluküla that is considered a sanctuary place for Estonian pagan/nature believers. The hill is 106 metres from sea level at its highest - not much on a global scale, I know, but it's the highest point of north-west Estonia:) And it is definitely noticeable on the photo:
Picking wild strawberries is a job demanding full attention - as you can see from the picture here. Strawberries are hidden under grass and leaves, so one needs to look hard for them. Yet, the berries are definitely worth it - popping some wild strawberries into your mouth results in the one of the loveliest and sweetest summery taste sensation imaginable!
(My bright red top is to make sure I won't get lost in my childhood forests and to make it more difficult for mosquitos, horse-flies and other annoying biting insects to reach my skin (it almost worked!), though I couldn't avoid being stung by stinging nettles over and over again!)
Between three of us we ended up with almost a litre of wild strawberries, which wasn't bad at all, considering that it had been scorchingly hot and dry in Estonia for weeks, and many of the wild strawberries were, well, dried up.. As for eating, well, then the best way to enjoy wild strawberries on a Sunday morning is obviously simply sprinkled with sugar on some crepe-style pancakes made with super-organic and fresh eggs from the farm across the road:
I also took a small glass of wild strawberries - metsmaasikad - to my mum and one of her sisters. Apparently they smelled exactly like strawberries from their childhood - literally:) - and were much appreciated. It is true - though you can buy wild strawberries from the market, they do taste so much nicer when picked by yourself in a good company in a place that used to play such an important role in your past..
I also managed to find some cloudberries on that very day in a nearby bog, but that is another story:)