The uniqueness of Tallinn’s doors
As I scurried my way around narrow streets, I noticed decorated hand-carved wooden doors in front of houses and businesses. Colorful and individually-designed doors allowed entrance and protected the town’s people from foreign invaders, yet signified their sense of harmony within the village. Finally reaching the town square on this sunny afternoon, tourists and locals alike were enjoying the inexpensive beer and tastes of the town filling every table and chair. With so much activity before me, I anxiously glanced around the store fronts hoping to spot the chocolate shop. A kind local pointed out the shop to me and my senses were heightened when I walked up the worn marbled steps and through the wooden framed glass doors.
Kalev Chocolates has been making sweets for over two hundred years and the display of old fashioned candy molds and pictures of their history gives a glimpse of the confectionery past. I was introduced to the company’s diplomat, Otto Kubo, who has been with the company over 55 years. He proudly showed me the display case arranged with many varieties of delicious looking chocolate pieces filled with marzipan and some with praline and chocolate truffle centers. Mr. Kubo hand selected several chocolates and carefully arranged them on a small silver tray and offered them to me to sample. Each bite was divine as I savored the white and dark chocolate with the various fillings. He detailed the history of marzipan, first made in Persia; over many years the usage spread across the European continent and North Africa. Spain had been a major supplier of almonds needed to make the marzipan, but now the shelled almonds come from California. Immediately, I thought back to being a child and driving past the almond groves in California’s Central Valley, and now I was 6,000 miles away, eating a bit of our state’s top crop.
My attention was then drawn to the marzipan decorating area; with steady hands; the woman dipped her brush into the palette with an array of colors and hand painted marzipan chick figurines. She lined up the colorful yellow chicks with freshly-painted orange eyes and noses, expecting them to completely dry. There were packaged hand painted fruits, vegetables and animals for purchase, and these nice gifts would be easy to pack for the long trip home.
Mr. Kubo, wanted to share the traditions of his homeland with me and suggested I try Olde Hansa Restaurant, a true medieval restaurant in the center of town. Only foods from medieval times are served, including brown bear from their forests. I looked at my watch and bade him farewell to return to the ship, and devoured another piece of chocolate — saving the bear for another time.
© 2012, M’Liss Hinshaw — Posted August 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm