Writer Thom Wheeler, author of One Steppe Beyond: Across Russia in a VW Campervan, tells us where to find a taste of Estonia in our World in London challenge:
My first introduction to Estonia was working in a timber yard in PÃ¤rnu. Since then I have watched this alluring Baltic country blossom into a tourist favourite, emerging with purpose from beneath the Soviet shadows.
Estonia is one of Europe’s smaller countries, with a population of 1.34 million people. It’s therefore no surprise that the nation will only be represented in a handful of events at the Olympics later this year (the men’s Discus and the women’s 50m rifle shooting to name a couple).
It’s also not surprising that there’s only one top-class Estonian chef practising his art in London: Andrei Lesment opened Verru restaurant in the heart of Marylebone village early last year. Until that time, gastronomy was just another discipline in which Estonia was under-represented in the capital.
The menu at Verru reflects Lesment’s Estonian roots, offering dishes that fuse Baltic and Scandinavian flavours. As he explained to me:
“Estonia throughout history has been influenced by many countriesâ€¦ we have been invaded… a lot. It was these influences, so strong in shaping my homeland, that I wanted to bring together when defining Estonian cuisine and the restaurant in London.”
For me, you can’t beat the rustic delights and fairytale charm of Tallinn’s old town, however, if you want to sample the flavours of the Baltics without going anywhere near a budget airline, Verru is a good choice.
Thom continues to travel, write and teach in the former Soviet countries. Find out more at www.thomwheeler.net
It might be a struggle, but does anyone know any other examples of Estonian culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.