© Lauri Laan

"Good to have you here" - Estonia's gastronomy scene welcomed Falstaff

Falstaff honored Estonia's best chefs for the first time in two acts in Tallinn. However, the tenor in the "Kultuurikatel" was the same both times: Cheers about the new guide and the Europe-wide attention of all "foodies".

The "Stalker" hall was filled to capacity when Harri and Aivar Hanson presented the first edition of the Falstaff Nordic Guide. The relevance of Gastroguides and the voting system were highlighted in a small panel discussion before the plans for 2024 were unveiled.

There are enough excellent establishments to award not only restaurants, but also bars and casual dining addresses such as pizzerias in the future.

As local partners for the Gourmet Guide, the Hansons have many years of experience as food critics in Estonia. "Our intimate knowledge of regional gastronomy and Falstaff's reputation and large readership offer a new perspective. It's a win-win situation for the entire Estonian culinary world," was the Hansons' motto. The country's best addresses would thus not only receive the attention they deserve locally; the Baltic States and Scandinavia would benefit from the circulation of the largest magazine for culinary lifestyle in the German-speaking world.

Holiday of Estonian taste

The presentation to 155 guests could not have been framed more appropriately; in the impressive former power station "Kultuurikatel", the "Maitsev Eesti" trade fair celebrated the taste of Estonia for two days. Specialities such as the fruit wines from Allikukivi, the "sauna beer" with spruce tops from "Tanker" or the sensationally stocked oyster bar from Anti Lepik ("Austerium") were there to be discovered. The special closeness of Estonian cuisine to nature was also demonstrated by the "Taste Region of the Year" Mulgimaa, whose products - including mushroom-based energy drinks (!) and fermented pollen - offered modern options based on ancient botanicals. At the Estonian Culinary Association and Sommelier Association's evening gala, the products were then presented by different chefs, including Helena Vallimäe ("La Spa Wicca") as Best Chef 2022, who was responsible for the desserts. Before that, Aivar Hanson presented the certificates to the first Falstaff winners from Estonia - it was the ceremonial start to a future full of enjoyment!

The joy of the best chefs 2024

The positive spirit of optimism surrounding the new guide permeated every conversation among the 250 gala dinner guests. The honorary president of the Sommelier Association (and this year's "Lifetime Achievement" award winner) Rein Kasela referred to the recognition this provides for young talent, which is just as important in service as in the kitchen. "It's good for the scene that you're here," summarized Matthias Diether from "180 Degrees", Estonia's most awarded chef (97 Falstaff points). For him, the award was further recognition of his line after the two Michelin stars - "I probably need some time out to really realise it all".

Martin Breuer, a pioneer of fine dining on the Baltic Sea island of Muhu for 25 years, once brought him to Estonia. Breuer also congratulated the owner of the small luxury hotel "Pedaste Manor" to the Baltic Falstaff extension: "A very pleasing step," says the current number 3 in the restaurant ranking (94 points). "We have no means of advertising other than our work", formulated Daanius Aas from the restaurant "SOO" (94 Falstaff points), "as our restaurant is located 50 kilometres from Tallinn in the middle of nature. The fact that Falstaff found us and gave us so much praise makes us happy!"

High expectations of the tourist country

In addition to the personal pleasure, there are also clear hopes for the Estonian gastronomy scene: "We hope that we can also attract more foodies thanks to the Falstaff rating," emphasised Kristjan Saar as General Manager of the "Nunne" Hotel in Tallinn. With his restaurant "Âme", the boutique hotel immediately entered the guide with 90 points. And it won't be the last discovery from the Baltic gourmet republic; that's a promise from Falstaff and Harri and Aivar Hanson.

Roland Graf
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