Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tallinn Cuisine

A mere two days later, I’m back on the boat to Helsinki. Again, too windy for Deck 9, so I’m down in the snack bar with wireless Internet and girl’s basketball on TV. They’re good! Last night I finished my last class for two and half weeks, to resume that thread in Barcelona in early July.

I’m sure I have nothing new to say about Estonia except that I’m happy I came here again. My gracious host went out of her way to choose three extraordinary restaurants, giving me an impression of Tallinn cuisine as up there with Beijing as the best I’ve ever sampled. There is a dark bread with crunchy hemp seeds in it that is unlike any I’ve ever had— in a good way! I had the best Caesar salad of my life presented most artistically, grilled vegetables that seemed as if each were attended with loving care by a master chef, prawns who gave their life for a good cause and a cherry beer that would earn Trader Joe’s my lifetime loyalty if only they would carry it. All in beautiful settings with attentive staff who didn’t tell you their name. The bills came in a little wooden box. And, icing on the delicious dessert cake, were always paid for by my host!

My hotel room was simple, sparse, filled with beautiful wood and had a view of a forest instead of parking lot. There were two pillows instead of the American 30, one telephone instead of five, working reading lights, free wireless and more hangars than I needed. There were glass glasses in the bathroom and not a single atom of Styrofoam or plastic in the breakfast room.

After a walk in a lovely park (which I wished had been three hours long— see last entry), my host took me to a family concert outside of the city on the edge of the sea. We passed a procession of some 50 American cars from the 50’s and 60’s, mostly the kind with fins, like the Cadillacs, Buicks and the Chrysler of my own childhood. How I regretted not having my camera handy! Down we drove along the inviting forested shoreline and stepped out into the blustery wind. (Ah, the familiar weather of San Francisco!) We stopped at a charming outdoor Farmer’s Market and then on to the concert site.

After yesterday’s workshops, some 10 girls from the Music School where I taught performed a folk song that took my breath away, both the song and the performance. The same girls were on stage now, but to my small disappointment, mostly as back-up vocals for some pop singers performing for the kids. There were two clowns and one funny singer, two pop-starrish ones giving autographs to 6-year olds after the concert. Not my preferred venue and I don’t love getting the young ones into the pop-star mentality, but some of it was cute and the back-up band was versatile and talented.

I met the girls backstage after the concert and asked them to sing the folk song again, this time with camera ready and it was as lovely as I remembered it, enhanced by some gestures and choreography the girls had invented. The old meeting the new.

Though around in bits and pieces for a while (I first gave a workshop in 2002), the Orff wildflower hasn’t yet firmly taken root in Estonia. But I met some promising teachers and tried to lure them to our course in the Carmel Valley. We shall see. Like Finland—and indeed, much of the world— there is a marked absence of men in these courses. In fact, I realized that when I met my host’s husband, he was one of the few Estonian men I’ve met!

Helsinki approaching, one more night out on the town and then the long flight home. I had hopes of trying to finish one of my book projects in the next two weeks at home, but now am leaning toward cleaning my front room. Fun, fun, fun. But I do have one fun little project in mind.

Find out how to bake Estonian dark bread with hemp seeds. Anyone got a recipe?

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