Thursday, May 31, 2007

Festive Menus: the Emperor of Japan in Tallinn

Photo courtesy of Office of the President of Estonia

I'm always curious to know what some high-ranking foreign dignitaries get to eat in Estonia. How does Estonia want to represent itself to visitors through the food? Is it Estonian, international, fusion, simple, rustic, fussy, modern, traditional? The choice is endless. Therefore I've shared with you what President Bush had for lunch back in November, and what Queen Elizabeth II had for dinner in October.

The Emperor of Japan, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito, and his wife, Empress Michiko of Japan, visited Tallinn last week, and they had an official lunch at our new art museum, KUMU.

According to the PR of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the festive lunch consisted of the following:

Pike-Perch & Snow Crab Tortellini with Pureed Black Salsify and Wood Sorrel Salad
Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, 2005 (France)

Main course:
Fillet of Veal with Porcini Sauce, Young Asparagus and Beetroot
Irancy, 2005 (Burgundy, France)

Rhubarb Carpaccio, Strawberry Bavaroise, Mascarpone Ice Cream
Põltsamaa Kuldne, 1992 (Estonia)

Food by Roman Zashtsherinski (the winner of 2006 best chef award, and the chef who was in charge of the menu for this year's SilverSpoon Gala Dinner), catering by Carmen Catering.

Sounds pretty good to me, especially as pike-perch (Sander lucioperca, also known as Zander) recently _almost_ won the title of our national fish (yep, we've got one - I'll tell you more soon), so that's quite representative of our cuisine. Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella, known as jänesekapsas or rabbit's cabbage in Estonian) is a typical wild salad leaf (and apparently foraged by Roman, the Chef, himself), and beetroot a popular root vegetable, so assuming the rhubarb and asparagus were local, I'm happy with the menu. The only 'outsider' is the snow crab, which was caught in Kamtchatka. Notice that they serve a local dessert wine, too.

The Emperor began his tour in Sweden (where they had a luncheon with the Swedish government hosted by PM Reinfeldt), then visited Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and ended their tour in the United Kingdom.

I wonder what they were served on official occasions in these countries?


K and S said...

I thought of you when they mentioned that the Emperor and Empress were visiting Estonia :)

Katie Zeller said...

If we mere mortals can eat like that we're coming to Estonia! The menu sounds delicious. Besides, I've always wanted to visit I have a good reason!
I hadn't known that 'dubya' had paid you all a vist...

Anonymous said...

I'm on my way to bed and this post made me very hungry!!! :-)

I just tried to find about the meals served when they visited Sweden but I wasn't able to find any information on that.

Karin W. said...

According to a Swedish newspaper the emperor likes fast food, beef curries and rice. The empress likes noodles.

I don¨t have the menu in English. It is difficult to translate some Swedish specialties.
The Banquet at Uppsala Castle

Aperitif: Graham Beck Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut från Sydafrika.

Side dish: "Gravad röding (a fish) with dill- and mustard-crème fraîche, upplandskubb(a kind of bread) and Västerbotten Cheese. To drink: Mariestad´s Beer and Linnésnaps samt mineral water Linné.

The main course was a reindeer fillet, fried in herbs, with cinnamon and honey sauce, Gotland´s asparagus with potato pastry. Wine to drink: Fairview Pinotage 2006.

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Cake with Wild Strawberries and Vanilla Sauce. Wine: Madeira Finest Medium Dry 5 Years.

Finally Coffee with avec.

Anonymous said...

[I copy Karin's follow-up email here, explaining the dishes and ingredients in more detail. Thanks, Karin!]

Hi Pille,

I would say it was both a modern and a traditional menu, and very Swedish. Food from different regions of Sweden.

Reindeer fillets from Lappland (very expensive).

Upplandskubb is a traditional bread from Uppland. It isn´t baked in the oven. It is boiled. The tradition of boiling bread is unknown elsewhere in Sweden.

Wild strawberries (smultron) are rare. They must have been frozen because they ripen in July - August.

Västerbotten cheese (Västerbottenost) is a cheese from the Västerbotten region of Sweden. It is a hard cow's milk cheese with tiny eyes or holes .The village of Burträsk claims Västerbotten cheese was invented there in the 1870s, supposedly by a dairy maid, Eleonora Lindström. According to legend, she was left alone to stir the curd of a traditional cheese but was interrupted, either by other chores or an assignation with her lover. This resulted in alternating periods of heating and stirring of the curdling milk.

Mariestad´s beer originates from the city of Mariestad, located on the east coast of lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden.

Linnésnaps with birch leaves from Öland (the famous Carl von Linné once invented the spirit)

Asparagus from Gotland ....

You can read Uppsala Castle´s ordinare menu suggestions in English here

Hugs from Sweden


Karin W. said...

Pille: I forgot to mention something about "gravad röding" (char) which was a side dish.

Have you heard about "gravad"(cured) salmon? Then you know how "gravad char" may be prepared.

Raw char is marinated with equal parts of salt, sugar, pepper and dill for 1-2 days. Swedish Sushi you might call it.
(If fish is fresh (never frozen), freeze at least 7 days before curing to destroy any dangerous parasites).

Pille said...

K & S - how nice of you:)

Katiez - well, if you come to Estonia and warn us well in advance, we might be able to recreate the menu, either at home or at one of the restaurants. By the way, the chef who cooked for the Queen (Tõnis Siigur of Stenhus) served the whole menu for the mere mortals in his restaurants afterwards for a while..

Dagmar - no worries, luckily Karin helped us:)

Karin - thank you so much for sharing this information, and all the background details with us. It's really interesting to compare the two menus, and learn about new Swedish dishes. I'm really intrigued by Upplandskubb, the boiled bread, and hope to read about it more on one of the Swedish foodblogs one day:)
Wild strawberries are not so rare here, if you know where to look, but yes, they must have been frozen, as they're definitely not in season yet.
Again, a huge thank you for your comment!

thepassionatecook said...

I'd happily have this (but doubt I'm important enough to have anyone cook this for me ;-)) if I can leave out the beetroot!
Pike-perch is also very widely used in Austria, but virtually unknown here, which is a real shame.
and yes, i'd kill to get my hands on some wild strawberries...