Where?? When I mention Estonia people say, where? is that a country? Oh yes and a darling country it is. A shuttle bus took me from the ship about a mile to the little center of town where I immediately browsed many booths with women selling hand knitted socks, hats and sweaters. Oh, too heavy and hot for sunny San Diego!
I was on a mission to find the old chocolate store and marzipan shop in the center of town square but was soon diverted with fabric shops selling gorgeous linen and wool fabric. Bolts of beautiful fabric were hung on long rolls and displayed in a meticulous fashion, if only I sewed! I did fall for a kimono style linen robe and was told when I washed it the fabric would soften and that it did.
On to Kalev chocolate and marzipan store and walked up the worn steps where many before have gone before me. There I met a European gentleman, Mr. Otto Kubo who has been a chemist and diplomat for the company for 56 years. He generously gave his time and explained the process of making marzipan with California almonds and the history of marzipan. From Persia to Estonia, marzipan has travelled great distances to keep the traditional candy alive for many generations.
I tasted chocolates with marzipan filling which gave me a new appreciation for fresh marzipan instead of the stuff from a tube. It finishes the chocolate just fine and not overly sweet.
I watched as a woman sitting at a desk and behind a partition hand painted little chicks made of marzipan and each line was painted perfectly. So talented.
Mr. Kubo invited me to join him with a cup of coffee and a sweet dessert next door at the company’s bakery. We shared a cream filled individual cake and a latte and he told me the store has had the same medallion ceiling since 1907. As we finished our treats, he walked me to one of the oldest medieval restaurants in town, Olde Hansa.
The nightly speciality meal is brown bear caught from local forest! Everything served in the restaurant is from medieval times, meaning no tomatoes, cucumber or tofu.
I shopped in the medieval store and bought handmade candles made of beeswax and thought better about the long dress and bonnet.
Mr. Kubo is a distinguished man who freely shared his years of knowledge and very proud of his long Estonian heritage in many ways. A very special person and the town is magical. I want to return soon.