After nearly a month in Estonia, I canâ€™t help but notice that there are some beverages and foods Iâ€™m missing.
Organic skim milk comes to mind immediately. Iâ€™m of the opinion that milk is right up there with wine in the â€œgreat beveragesâ€ category, but Iâ€™m not adjusting well to the taste of Estonian milk. Another beverage I miss is iced tea. There are a few places that serve an okay iced tea, but the majority of restaurants here donâ€™t understand the cold drink concept. Even the soft drinks arenâ€™t served cold (a bit chilled, maybe). Water is usually served room temperature. In the States, unsweetened iced tea (I add my own sugar) is my regular beverage at restaurants, so here I just order water or wine. Wines is actually quite inexpensive here. A bottle that would cost $30 in the U.S. costs around $12 here. Iâ€™ve been sampling some wines I canâ€™t usually afford. I donâ€™t usually drink soft drinks, which is fortunate because the Coke here tastes like Pepsi (and they donâ€™t sell Pepsi here). Most of the hard ciders here are grossly sweet, too. And the beer is as bad as typical American beer. Finding beer other than that produced by Saku or A. Le Coq has been quite a challenge.
Back in the States there is a fabulous French cafÃ© that I usually frequent once a week because I am addicted to their onion soup. A week and a half ago, I began my quest for authentic French onion soup in Tallinn. The closest so far is offered by le Bonaparte. But, they donâ€™t bake the baguette in the soup, so itâ€™s not up to real French standards. This could be because they fired their French chefs and now have Finns cooking the food.
Itâ€™s also impossible to find a good burger here. Just about every place serves these flat, frozen patties on bad bread with a mayo sauce. They claim itâ€™s beef, but I wonder what part of the cow that meatâ€™s coming from. The grocery stores sell ground beef, but itâ€™s mostly fat and doesnâ€™t make a tasty burger. It also leaves a disgusting layer of white fat on the hands after molding the patties, and even three hand washings donâ€™t take it all off. I donâ€™t make burgers that much back in the States, but it was very odd celebrating the 4th of July without them.
There are, however, several foods I really love that I canâ€™t find back home. The ice cream here is made from real cream, and itâ€™s so delicious. There are also some excellent Estonian cheeses. Iâ€™ll most likely bring some back with me in August.
There are lots of delicious foods that Iâ€™ve been eating here that arenâ€™t necessarily specific to this region, so I wonâ€™t bother mentioning those. Oddly enough, I went to a great Tex Mex restaurant in PÃ¤rnu a few weeks ago, and Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll eat there again when I next visit there. I never eat Tex Mex when in the States.