© Lauri Laan

Muhu island: Don't trample on the flavours

Falstaff is in search of the most authentic flavours on the remote island of Muhu.

Estonia stands out in Europe for its abundance of forests and greenery. It's important to know that Estonia has the most edible plants per square metre of land if you're a foodie. They can be used in a variety of dishes and give a special flavour to the local beef and lamb.

If you want to taste the rarest flavours of Estonia, you have to take a trip to the island of Muhu. This is where Pädaste Manor is located. Here, German chef Achim Braich picks plants from the wild that others don't know how to use or simply step on when they pass by. The cellar of the Pädaste Manor restaurant looks like an alchemist's laboratory. This is the birthplace of new flavours that are added to everyday dishes, flavours that only the restaurant's guests and no one else can experience.

The restaurant also values ingredients that others consider unworthy. A dish of garfish, or poor man's eel in local parlance, is on the menu every spring. One of Achim Braitch's most impressive experiments has been with celeriac. Last season's hit was a dried celeriac witch. It tasted like a truffle. This season's sensation is a fermented celeriac with a mushroom flavour.

Garfish aspic.
© Lauri Laan
Garfish aspic.

Although Pädaste Manor is open seasonally, the chef works all year round. When the restaurant is closed, Achim Braitch collects and experiments with plants. The restaurant also has its own greenhouse and garden, in which he again tries to grow what others won't. Like white asparagus, for instance. In Estonia they grow green asparagus, but no one grows white asparagus. In order to make white asparagus more popular, Pädaste organises an Asparagus Week every year. This year it will take place from the 10th to the 16th of June.

Achim Braitch.
© Lauri Laan
Achim Braitch.

The restaurant at Pädaste Manor begins in the manor house and ends in the middle of nature. During the meal, guests can have a look out of the window and see how the food they are eating is growing.

Restaurant at the Pädaste Manor.
© Lauri Laan
Restaurant at the Pädaste Manor.

Besides the flavours you can only enjoy at Pädaste Manor, the island offers much more, earning it a reputation as a gastronomic island. The bread from Muhu is famous all over Estonia and is baked according to the same recipe and technology in many other parts of the country. If you are on the island of Muhu, be sure to try the local lamb and the smoked pike-perch, washed down with Muhu beer.

Muhu Island is also home to a wine farm. It is the northernmost place in Europe where grape wine is made. There is also a small hotel and a summer restaurant at the wine farm.

© Harri Hanson

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Aivar Hanson
Aivar Hanson
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