Tag Archives: 1001 foods

Good Eatin’ – Titaura from Nepal

On the final day of a four day stint assisting a training event I got the following text: Got a package for you from Nepal.

This text was the best news I had received all week. I know it’s a bit pathetic, but I was so excited to come home and open it. I mean, how often does a package arrive from Nepal?

A few weeks earlier I had ordered myself some packs of titaura from Titaura.biz. This is a type of sweet that can only be found in Nepal and thanks to many a fruitless Google search for a British vendor I just buckled and imported some. I somehow cannot see me visiting Nepal (this could change) so if I am to complete this food list I had to import it.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die Food item: Titaura

To make the most out of the import price I made sure to buy three different types of titaura. Going clockwise from the top you have ‘Round’, ‘Lamo’ and ‘Lapsi Chatpat’ – there are flavour differences between them and I will get to those in a second.

In order to keep with the description in the book I made sure to go for titaura made from lapsi fruit. It’s a fruit that grows well in the cold mountainous areas and, if Wikipedia is anything to go by, look like green potatoes. Although that could just be the picture.

To make the titaura the lapsi fruit pulp is mixed with sugar, salt and spices before being dried and made into the candy pieces. As a European it is the addition of spices that made this a food item to be sought out and it is worth noting that the amount and types of spice depends on the candy.

Starting off with the flat ‘Lamo’ variety – this is the least flavoured of the three varieties I bought, therefore gives me the best taste of the lapsi fruit. There is a sourness and sweetness to the fruit that makes this piece of candy taste like dried apricot. There is a hint of salt and an afterburn of added chilli.

Next is the cubed ‘Lapsi Chatpat’. The heat of the chilli is kicked up a notch with there being an immediate burn that is complimented by spices that are both earthy and aniseedy. The sourness of the fruit is still there but it takes a bit of a backseat. Of the three this has the most satifying chew.

Finally is the ‘Round’ candy which looks like a narrow fruit rollup. This is the one with the most complex spice profile and I would not be surprised if panch phoron spice mix (especially nigella and cumin) had been added to this. It is the driest, least sour and least salty of the three. This probably has the same amount of heat as the lapsi chatpat.

Of the three I think the ‘Lamo’ was my favourite because it’s the fruitiest, but the others are still interesting. Now excuse me as I get a glass of milk because eating all this titaura has turned my mouth into a furnace. I never thought of candy as spicy… turns out I was wrong.

Progress: 663/751


Good Eatin’ – Oh Goose Eggs

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood item: Goose Egg

Two things come to mind when I hear the phrase ‘goose egg’: the harpsichord line from Joanna Newsom’s song ‘Goose Eggs’ and whether Spongebob would say ‘goose eggs’ as a swear word if the TV show was based on a farm. Together they’re quite satisfying to say when something’s not quite gone your way.

Back on topic – goose eggs are one of three eggs on the 1001 food list that are seasonal. The window is a few months long around about the time spring turns into summer, which about the same time as pheasant eggs (also on the list) and a lot more forgiving than gull eggs (whose window is about 1-2 weeks long).

Luckily the eating of goose eggs has become mainstream enough that you can find them at some of the more upscale supermarkets – such as the one I got from Waitrose. However, it is worth noting that a goose only lays ~40 eggs a year so the supply is limited (ergo the price of about £7 per egg).

I had one shot at cooking this egg, so I went for the classic method of soft-boiling it with soldiers and celery salt.

Of course I hadn’t thought about an egg cup for this massive egg. The only suitable vessel that I had was a measuring cup (1/3 cup to be precise) in my Joseph Joseph nesting bowls. Did the trick beautifully, although that didn’t stop me from repeatedly burning myself as I cut the top off.

Thanks to a mix of nerves and a LOT of conflicting advice on how to soft-boil a goose egg this came out more solid than I had first hoped. I still had some yolk to dip the soldiers in, but I was probably only one minute away from having a hard-boiled goose egg.

The first thing I noticed when taking the top off was just how much smoother the shell had become, then I took a look in my pan. It appears that as the egg was boiled, the rougher outer part of the shell had come away and left a chalky residue in the pan. Not too hard to wash off, but just a bit weird.

Another thing of note is the ratio of yolk to white in the goose egg when compared to the chicken egg. People talk online about how much richer a sauce or a cake is when using goose eggs – something that can be understood when you see just how much yolk is inside, and just how yellow the yolk is!

Tastewise, the yolk doesn’t taste too different to a good hens egg like the Burford Brown. When you eat both the yolk and the white at the same time, however, you can taste the difference. The white has a stronger taste and the whole thing feels just that bit more luxurious.

If it wasn’t for the price I would be interested to see what a goose egg omelette would taste like. Might give this a go once I successfully buy a gull egg within that ridiculously tiny window (that I missed this year because I was in Tallinn). A goose egg omelette feels like an appropriate way to celebrate.

Progress: 662/751

Good Eatin’ – Double Dates and Wild Strawberries

I have been on the hunt for pheasant eggs in the past week. With it currently being June I know that pheasant eggs are coming to the end of their season. I will cover the search when I actually eat the blasted things, but for today’s post I would like to thank Harrod’s for having food that I didn’t think I would find so easily.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood items: Khalasah Dates and Barhi Dates

Starting with the Khalasah dates on the left – these are dates that I had resigned myself to never finding. The book made it sound like these were rarely exported from the Middle East, so finding them at Qatari-owned Harrods actually makes a lot of sense.

When eating the Khalasah dates I followed the advice from the book by letting the date slowly melt away in my mouth rather than just chewing it up. I can really see why you would want to do this. These dates really taste like a dark, spiced honey. There are hints of toffee to it as well.

These hints are nothing compared the taste of the Barhi dates.  For a date this tasted surprisingly like caramel. If it wasn’t for the soft fibrous texture it would be very easy to mistake what I was eating as melted muscovado sugar. I think I prefer these ones over the Khalasah dates… which is good for me as the Barhi dates are cheaper.

My main issues with dates has historically been that I find them too sweet and sticky, this has not been the case with either of the dates. The Barhi dates were sweeter than the Khalasah dates, but neither were as sweet as those you tend to find in the supermarkets. I would be included to eat more dates if they were like this.

Food item: Alpine Strawberry

Oh my God I spent £14 on 100g of strawberries. I swear you can buy street drugs for less than this. Right? You know what I have no idea. But at least I can understand the high price for these. These fruit that are incredibly perishable and, by the looks of the box,  foraged.

So I think you can get how I would jump at the chance at some alpine strawberries. These have other names such as wild strawberries or fraises des bois (literally strawberries of the woods) and was one of the earliest cultivated strawberries. However, with the rise of the garden strawberry.

Considering the difference in size and  ease of cultivation I can see how these fell out of use, but it’s a real shame. Think of the flavour of a strawberry. Magnify it, make it slightly more sour and that’s what you have with the alpine strawberry. In terms of texture these are ridiculously soft with the many seeds adding a nice crunch.

Were they worth the £14 when the two bags of dates came to £7? Probably not, but at least I can say I am getting that much closer to the next landmark number.

Progress: 661/751

Good Eatin’ – Paasiaisleipa and Cleaning Out The Cupboards

I have a whiteboard in my kitchen above the bin. It’s a useful thing for keeping track for future grocery shops and to remind me of the list foods that I have lying in weight in the cupboards.

With this post I have been able to clear my list for the first time in over a year. I guess this means that I am going to have to up my hunting game if I am to continue ticking things off. That, or win the lottery so I can afford to buy myself some beluga caviar or fly out to Hong Kong for the sake of seasonal Yellow Oil Crab.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood item: Paasiaisleipa

Before I get into the last items from the cupboard let’s take a moment to appreciate the beautiful spiral of this loaf of Finnish Easter bread. I wasn’t able to find any of this on my jaunt to Helsinki (mainly because it wasn’t Easter) so I resorted to making it on my own.

There are a lot of recipes for paasiaisleipa out there on the internet. As with all things Easter bread there are a number of different ways that this can be made. I ended up opting for a recipe by The Schizo Chef which helped to create a very rich fruit loaf with the spicing of a British fruitcake and the richness of brioche.

One of the hazards of baking these things myself is that I know it will probably be inferior to one made by a proper baker. For example, my one definitely turned out a bit more doughy than the one in the recipe, but it was still a good loaf. If it wasn’t for the fact that it took most of a morning to make I’d give it another shot.

Still, given the success of this and the Torta Di Castagne I think there are a few more baked items from this food list that I could homebrew. So if anyone has a recipe for Irish potato apple cake…

Food items: Sheto and Hemp Oil

Right so here are the last two things from the cupboard. The sheto comes from the box of Afro-Caribbean foodstuffs that I bought just before Christmas (which is a weird word to type when I am watching an episode of Fringe where that is a codeword) and the hemp oil is from a new grocery store that recently opened up around the corner.

Sheto is very much on the same level of flavour as fish sauce and terasi – as in it’s made as the result of fermenting seafood. The point of difference with sheto is the addition of chile pepper. It creates a heat that is rather remarkable, even with the smallest amount. So that’s heat and the taste of fermented prawns. Went well with a spot of mayonnaise and a mushroom burger.

The hemp oil was used to dress a salad to go with the mushroom burgers. The oil itself gave a flavour to the salad leaves which was somewhere between nutty and grassy. I know this can be used in stir-fries and such so this might be an oil worth experimenting with. Unlike the red palm oil. That was disgusting.

Progress: 658/751

Good Eatin’ – Cardoon Risotto

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood item: Cardoon

Barcelona was amazing. Not only was it amazing as a city, but it also allowed me to take home a bunch of foods and have follow-up blog posts about sausages and cheeses. With this jar of cardoon (or cardo in Spanish) I have used all the foods that I brought back with me.

From the look of the cardoon as it sits there in the jar I was expecting it to smell and taste like celery. Nope, that hypothesis was immediately disproved by the unscrewing of the lid. Since the cardoon in this jar came pre-prepared it had the taste of a cross between artichoke and palm heart.

I could imagine these pieces of cardoon being good on a pizza or in a pasta dish. However, since I discovered bags of unused risotto rice as part of a cupboard clear out, there was an obvious cooking choice that came to mind.

Thanks to Honest Food for this recipe for cardoon risotto. The artichoke flavour of the cardoon in the risotto was very subtle. You could only really taste it as an aftertaste once the initial flavours of garlic and parmesan cheese subsided.

It’s at a point like this where I wish cardoon could be found in the UK as I can think of so many other uses for this vegetable. Yes it made for an interesting base for the risotto, but I really wish I had another jar of this to stick on a pizza with some rocket and goat cheese. That should be delicious, right?

Progress: 655/751

Good Eatin’ – Sweet Lotus Bean Soup

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood items: Lotus Seeds and Muscovado Sugar

A big thanks to my friend Rachel for buying me this bag of lotus seeds. It’s so great to have friends who are supporting me on my way to complete this list. Granted it has taken me months to get around to making something with the lotus seeds… but that’s what the May Bank Holiday is for right?

Also in this blog entry is me finally getting around to crossing off muscovado sugar. I think that, with the exception of kaffir lime leaves, this is the last food list item that is readily available in the supermarket. It’s just that muscovado is such a rich and treacly dark sugar that I haven’t had something to make with it… until now.

Of all the possible used for lotus seeds, of which Google has demonstrated there are many, I opted for a recipe from the KitchenTigress blog for a sweet soup.

So this is what a sweet soup looks like. It’s piping hot, smells like caramel and I would totally make this again. Like with most other recipes I had to make some alterations because I don’t exactly live in a town with a lot of East Asian supermarkets or places where I can buy pandan leaves. So I substituted in a few dollops of vanilla extract – it was delicious. Also, I used a 2:1 mix muscovado and regular granulated sugar, which gave the soup a rich caramel flavour.

The lotus seeds themselves didn’t have too much of a flavour. They were nutty and that’s about it, but that was more than enough to compliment the muscovado sugar. Honestly, i would happily make this again, probably closer to Christmas because I can imagine adding some festive spices to this soup to make it even better.

Progress: 654/751

Good Eatin’ – Stir-Fried Gingko Nuts

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You DieFood item: Ginkgo Nuts

Mission ‘clean out the cupboards’ is starting up once again as a bunch of things are nearing their expiry date. This vacuum-sealed pack of ginkgo nuts is no exception. It is because of this and the toxic nature of the ginkgo nut (that is removed before packaging… but you can never be too careful) which put this right at the top of my list.

Unlike other nuts, I wasn’t sure about just eating them out of the packet (just felt like a bad idea considering that they can be toxic) so I went for a recipe that I found on the blog Food As Medicine.

I know that this is more to do with the recipe that I found than the ginkgo nuts themselves, but the sauce of garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and rice wine was gorgeous. It has been way too long since I last used oyster sauce and got that real punch of umami. So yes, this is a recipe that would work without the ginkgo nuts and still be good.

The taste of the ginkgo nuts wasn’t quite what I had expected for such a pretty looking tree. On first taste they were a bit like chestnuts, but just that little bit less chalky. After this came a hint of bitterness that actually went well with the sweetness of the prawns.

I can imagine these going well with something sweet and spicy, however I read somewhere that ginkgo nuts, chilli, garlic and ginger can all thin the blood… so that would be a dish where I need to be super careful when cutting up the ingredients.

Progress: 652/751

Good Eatin’ – Pan-Fried Halibut

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Food item: Halibut

I know that I should be wary of fish that is being reduced to clear, but I have been waiting a while to find cheap halibut. I know I’m being a bit cheap here feeling that £5 is an awful lot for 250 grams of flatfish (which, to be honest, it is). Then again I’ve paid more for things on this list by this point. I drew the line at £20 for two gull eggs (which I now regret) so let’s just get this underway.

I have to apologise for the onion rings. I figured that the plate would be a bit bare with just the fish and samphire… also I love onion rings. It just feels a little off to have halibut with onion rings.

So I fried the halibut steaks in butter for 3 minutes a side, adding a splash of white wine after I’d turned the fish over. I went for a simple way as I figured it would be hard to screw that up. Luckily I didn’t.

The halibut had delicate and slightly sweet flavour, quite a bit like turbot. The pieces of this fish really just melted in the mouth as I ate them so I think I actually liked this a bit more than the turbot. Which is good. Halibut is cheaper.

What you don’t see in the picture is the lemon butter sauce that I had with the fish. A flavour that worked perfectly with the halibut and samphire.

At this point I now have 100 to go until I can mark this as complete… again. I just wonder how long it will take for me to get there.

Progress: 651/751

The Great EU Quest: Estonia – Happy Museum Day

Last full day in Estonia – just how I got to this position so quickly is beyond me, but that’s always the way when you are on holiday.

I think the best way to off this post would to wish you all a belated Happy International Museum Day. Yes, that is a thing and this year it was on May 18th. In Tallinn this meant that every museum we came across waived the entrance fee for a day. Just to be upfront about this, all the savings that we made today (which amounted to over 40€) happened by sheer fluke. I had no idea about any of this and really cannot believe my luck about any of this.

The day started out with us making the 3km walk from our hotel near the Old Town to Kadriorg Park. Our first destination of the day was the park’s namesake (Kadriorg Palace) but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t take out chance to look around before getting to the first museum of the day.

So this was the point where we learned about this day being International Museum Day and that museums across Tallinn were doing free entry for the day. We still had to visit the ticket office to get a sticker and check our bags, but apart from that we could pretty much stroll in.

As someone who has been feeling in a bit of a Russian history mood after finishing Anna Karenina I looked forward to the chance to stroll around this palace. It was built by Tsar Peter the Great for his wife Catherine (which explains the name) as a small Baroque style palace that would be used as a summer retreat.

As a building this has changed hands a few times (as has country of Estonia) and is now part of the The Art Museum of Estonia where it houses their foreign art collection. The fact that this was an art museum was of lesser concern to us since we were mainly there to have a nose around an imperial summer palace.

If you are to come to this palace there is one room in particular that will grab you and is referred to as the Baltic Pearl of the North. It functioned as a stateroom and, according to the information plaque, is the only room of this type in a Northern Europe to have been preserved as it was back then.

It’s a beautiful room. If it wasn’t for Helsinki’s Rock Church this would be the most impressive single room that I’d seen. Just the ornateness and the extreme whiteness of  the fixtures keep you looking around and finding new things to focus on. For me, it was interesting to note that this was actually quite a small room for its function when you consider the larger residential palaces of royal families. I guess that’s down to this being a ‘summer home’.

Seeing how it was an Estonian May, the garden wasn’t exactly ready for tourist season. It’s a shame as I can imagine it being rather beautiful once everything is in bloom. Hey ho, at least these flowerbeds see the light of day, unlike the statues that this palace has in a storage room next to the toilets. That was weird.

Continuing the theme of Peter the Great: the next stop was a few buildings down the road. It’s the cottage of Peter the Great which he stayed in as the palace was being completed. The idea that a Tsar would stay I’m a small building like this rather than just retiring to one of his other palaces is a bit of an odd thought. I guess it just speaks for the pull of Tallinn.

The museum itself is rather small since the cottage itself was rather small. It made for a more intimate insight into how one of the richest men in the world lived back then. Seeing all these things has really made me realise that I really should try to learn more about European history. After all, knowing about the past can help you know the future.

Before I get too philosophical lets move onto the next museum: the Kumu Museum. Essentially this is the main art museum in Tallinn with a collection split across 3 floors. The main focus of the art in this museum is Art by Estonian artists, but there are pieces by others in here too… even if I hadn’t heard of any of these.

If you start from the top and work down you are pretty much going back in time; something that I would really recommend. The more modern section was focused on art by women and was curated around an Estonian artist of recent years Anu Põder. The work varied from bizarre images of blow-up dolls with parts of their bodies being crushed to a rather sad installation centred around a Polish artist and her cancer diagnosis.

The art of the remaining two floors really helped to fill in a number of gaps surrounding Estonian history and the psyche of the people. For the first thing I didn’t realise just how important music is to this country, I know that they hold a song festival and that this is a major event in the Estonian calendar, but having this out into the context of the rise of Estonian national identity in the early 1900s really helped to cement the importance. I know that Finland went through similar with Sibelius’s work ‘Finlandia’ being an example this.

Also, it was interesting to see a lot of the art that was being created during the Soviet occupation. I mean, it hasn’t even occurred to me that there would be hippies in the Soviet Union during the 1960s, I figured that the cultural wall was so airtight that things like the counter-culture of the USA would have struggled to make it through.

Another thing that this forced me to appreciate is just how hard the job of curating a gallery of Estonian art must be. As a language and as a culture the Estonian people have been around for ages, but as a nation it has only been 100 years. To try and work out if an artist is Estonian or an occupying population (German, Swedish, Russian etc) must be onerous at times. So, full credit where it is due there.

3 km and a sea buckthorn juice later from one of the many shopping centres in Tallinn, we were back in the Old Town for the final museum of the day at St Nicholas Church. This is another example of a building in Tallinn that has been repurposed into an art museum, but at least the work in the church stays on message.

Whilst the interior of the church itself is very beautiful, the thing that has stayed with me  the most as I write at gone midnight (I really need to start these earlier, I blame the latest Trump scandal on CNN) was the depiction of the Danse Macabre. Essentially, this is a long painting depicting members high up in the social hierarchy (e.g. The Pope, an emperor and a king) being led by dancing skeletons. Essentially this a symbol of the plague and about how no one can escape death, no matter their status. I had to take my time to appreciate this one because it was so large and quite unusual. Regrettably the sister piece to this artwork was housed in a church in Lübeck, Germany that was bombed in World War Two.

The rest of the church/museum exhibited pieces from the church and, in what I believe is a temporary exhibition, silver work from one of the old guilds in Tallinn (or Reval as it was known back then).

After some final pieces of souvenir shopping it was time for an early dinner where we returned to Olde Hansa. It made for a nice way to bookmark the trip and allowed us to see inside this surprisingly good touristy medieval themed restaurant.

As a main course I went for the game sausages which is meant to be made from a mixture of wild boar, elk and (you guessed it) bear. I have no idea how much, if any, bear meat there was in these sausages, but they were absolutely gorgeous. As was the sauerkraut and turnips that it was served with. I know that my mum recoiled at the idea of eating bear meat, but I feel that if you are in a country with properly regulated hunting (as is the case with Estonia) then give it a go; else, maybe not.

For dessert it was a rose pudding with edible rose petals that was out of this world. Usually the tourist themed restaurants have something that lets them down such as the quality of food or service, but Olde Hansa really did knock it out of the park both times.

So yes, after a final walk around the Old Town it was packing in the hotel room and getting ready for the…oh wait there’s something else.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Food item: Boysenberry
Progress: 650/751

We bought a jar of boysenberry jam when we were in Helsinki and it only occurred to me as we were packing that I wouldn’t be able to bring this back because of the rules around liquids in carry on bags. I guess this is a downside of not paying to check in a bag. But hey midnight jam is midnight jam and I’ve reached another food list landmark!

Botanically boysenberry is a hybrid of a number of berries including European raspberry and blackberry. You get that from the taste. Usually I am not that much of a jam fan as I find the traditional strawberry and raspberry jams too sweet and blackcurrant jams as a bit too tart. This Finnish boysenberry jam is right on that sweet-spot between sweet and tart, therefore it is gorgeous and there is no way that I will be able to buy this in the UK.

So I’m needing to wind this down because it’s a travel day tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Estonia (and the day trip to Finland). It makes me sad that it is over and it is back to the daily grind. Seeing as how I have now seen Estonia and Lithuania one of the next countries on my list needs to be Latvia so I can complete the set. Maybe the same time next year as I have enjoyed being in Tallinn just before the tourist season hits.

So until then, goodbye Baltics. I’ll miss you.

The Great EU Quest: Estonia – Lahemaa Park

There’s no better way to start the day than coming across a food list item when you are going for breakfast. Especially when it can form part of a hotel buffet breakfast that will need to fuel a nice long bog walk.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Food item: Tallinn Kilud
Progress: 649/751

When I was doing my pre-planning for this trip to Estonia, Tallinn Kilud was the only ‘must find’ food item because of the extreme regional availability. So, colour me pleased when I saw this bowl of the little guys.

Having had rollmops before I kind of knew what to expect with these little fish. In essence these are sprats from the Baltic Sea that have been deboned and and marinated/pickled to the point that these become melt in the mouth.

At this point, where I have tried a number of picked fish like these, I am not sure what makes these little fish distinctive enough to warrant their place on the list. Maybe it’s down to the size, the region or because you can find tins of Tallinn Kilud in many shops as a food souvenir. Still, these with dark rye bread and soured cream made for a nice change of pace for breakfast.

So, the order of the day was a guided tour through the Lahemaa National Park by the company EstAdventures. I’m not one for paying for a guided tour, but since there was no other way for us to get to the park an exception was made. Just going to say this now in advance: I am glad we did as the tour was excellent and the guide was funny and super knowledgeable. If I find myself back in Tallinn I will look them up again.

The first stop was at the Rebala Bronze Age Graves. These were uncovered by the Soviets as they were building a road from Tallinn to St Petersburg – and since these graves were in the way each one was moved a few metre away piece by piece. To look at them now you would have no idea, but it’s an interesting fact.

What was also interesting to see is how the family dog received their own little section, right next to the circle of the master of the family. It goes to show how some things never really change in thousands of years.

From here we hopped into the car and went to Kiiu Tower – which I have seen as being described as Estonia’s smallest castle. Nope, it’s literally just a tower that the local rich family (of German origin as all these rich families seemed to be) used to help to defend their home from the Estonian peasants. We were able to go inside to the top floor (up yet more steep stairs) to find that it now contained a bed and some drawings to make it feel like Rapunzel’s bedroom in Tangled. It was very cute.

Now, for the event I was looking forward to – the Viru Bog Trail. A very large amount of Estonia is formed from mire and bogland, and at the Lahemaa park you are able to walk through it via a specially constructed boardwalk. It’s nothing as glamorous as the name would sound. We are talking about s continuous trail made of perpendicular pairs of planks. For the most part they are absolutely perfect, but despite the fact that these were fairly new a few had already started to break because of the wetness of the bog and the weight of people walking over them.

Truly, walking through this bog was the highlight of the day. Sure the ability to drive through a seemingly endless sea of dead straight trees was one thing, but these bogs really was something else.

At the beginning it was interesting because of how so much plantlife survives in such an acidic and hostile environment. Then you get to the parts of the big where ponds and lakes can develop because the ground is so saturated. It’s like the Dead Marshes from Lord of the Rings in the way that it is so eerily beautiful and int hat you can imagine long dead people just laying there in the big just waiting to be uncovered.

We turned around at an observation tower that allowed for some spectacular aerial views of the bog land and give an indicator of just far we had been walking. I think I must have taken a ludicrous number of panorama photographs on my iPhone and still I don’t think I have grabbed as much as I could have. It was standing up here that also made me thankful that it wasn’t a sunny day. With it being slightly overcast none of us were getting too warm during the track and, at least for me, that made the whole walk all the better.

After lunch we went to the Palmse Manor Estate for a tour around one of the 4 manors within the park. Apparently the owners of this manor was so powerful that he actually was a key fight in the assassination of a Russian Tzar and got off nearly punishment free. It must be awesome to be so powerful.

As part of this section we took a look around the house, the grounds and the orangery where I learned that people would rent watermelons so they could be displayed as status symbols… I mean in the world we live in right now this is a weird idea. To rent fruit to show off to people. I guess watermelons were the fancy watches of their day?

The house itself was nice enough, but all memories of it have faded compared to the sound of this ridiculous wind up musical cabinet that could be found in the music room. It made such a clamour that it could be heard throughout the manor. I loved it.

Between the manor and the final stop we made visits to small coastal villages at Altja and Käsmu. The sea was so calm in these bays that, at the latter place, you could see swans bobbing up and down in the middle of the sea. To be fair to our guide, he gave us so much information about these areas it is just that A lot of it is slipping my mind at midnight on the same day.

It was nice to spend some time by the sea and not seeing your stereotypical sandy beach. The scatterings of rocks, the abundance of grasses and the rather ramshackle fishing shacks just added to the character of the whole place .

Our final stop before heading back to Tallinn was the Jägala Waterfall – Estonia’s tallest waterfall at a mighty 8 metres high. To be fair, Estonia is a flat country so it would make sense that the waterfall wouldn’t be too tall.

The extraordinary thing about these waterfalls is the yellow colour of the water coming over the falls. It looks like industrial runoff, but the colour is actually because the water is coming from the bogs that we visited earlier in the day. Also of note is that this waterfall is retreating fairly quickly for a waterfall, which can be seen by the big piles of rocks at the bottom of the falls.

So yes that’s the tour and after two full excursion days I was definitely in the mood for food. Thanks to TripAdvisor I found a nice little place near Toompea that served, what felt like, Estonian food. You can tell it’s a good food because it was filled with Estonian people, who were surprisingly quiet. I swear that if you got a group of 12 Brits around a table having dinner together there would bite a lot of noise, but not Estonians. I think I am really growing to like these people.

Since I missed the chance to do so in Helsinki – I knew that I had to try some elk stew. Honestly this elk meat tasted a lot like a mix of beef and ostrich rather than venison that I have had before. It was lovely with the sauce (that contained beer) and the vegetables. It just furthers shows to me that it’s important to try local things even if they sound a bit outlandish when compared to what you are used to at home.

For dessert I finally got a chance to sample kama. From the sound of it this is a very Estonian food that can be had for breakfast or as a dessert. It’s made when different grains are ground up until they are very fine and are mixed with soured cream and some sweetener. It sounds a bit weird, but it was a nice mild way to round off a meal. So I would recommend at least trying it when making the journey to Estonia.

So tomorrow is the last full day. I know I say this every time but I can’t believe that the end is coming so soon. Still. One more day to see more of Tallinn and soak up as much of Estonia as possible.