Alexander del Pädaste Manor
Isola di Muhu
You can't call it New Nordic Cuisine, because we're not in Sweden or Denmark. We're in Estonia, an independent republic only for the past twenty years. Is it the New Estonian cuisine, then? Not even that, as we're on Muhu, an island that historically has more to share with its kins in Gotland in Sweden, Rügen in Germany, Åland in Finland than with the hinterland of the young nation it belongs to, with Tallinn as its capital. Then perhaps Nordic Islands’ Cuisine would do, for this fresh current that has in Sareema's Peeter Pihel its most explicit prophet.
Facing the sea, in a beautiful country house – which over the centuries saw great ostentation and tinkling crowns until the half-century-long Soviet blackout – this young man, born in 1980, carefully follows the decalogue of René Redzepi and Claus Meyer: use of local produce only, sacred respect for seasonality, over the top sustainability and a symbiotic relationship with the various organic producers on the islands - though breeders, fishermen and farmers are all “his”, in exclusive. Pihel loves to disarrange their products following crushing and mimic exercises suggested by the New North. Transfigurations of Aberdeen angus meat, of deer, elks and lambs that are free to nibble peacefully in prairies so vast we thought there were none left. Plaices, eels and herrings that free themselves in waters that remind of freshwaters rather than sea. Cheese, beer, mustard obtained from the plant of juniper, truffle from Gotland (we had already tasted this at Magnus Ek's), the fragrant rye bread.
And the fantastic tomatoes (yes indeed, tomatoes) with an edible cycle of scarcely two months, much shorter than in the Mediterranean but with a taste, boosted by the 17 hour summer daylight, that those in our supermarkets' green houses can only dream of. Raw materials that in the darkness of winter, because of the lower-than-in-a-freezer temperatures, are put under salt, dehydrated, smoked, marinated. Techniques that have remained intact also "thanks" to the Soviet censorship. Secrets that make of Pihel a pioneer, at the borders of Europe's signature cuisine. A lighthouse, perhaps, ready to enlighten the gastronomic darkness of the Slavish world?
born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.
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A moment of relax for the Italian participants in Fontegro, the first fine dining congress taking place yesterday and today at Kiev’s Olympic stadium. Left to right, co-organiser Ekaterina Avdeyeva, Christian Milone, Viviana Varese, co-organiser Anna Zelenokhat, Lorenzo Cogo, Eugenio Roncoroni and, kissed by the sun, Errico Recanati (photo credits Federico Cicogna, Loveresto)
The homepage of Fontegro, the first edition of the Ukrainian fine dining congress, taking place tomorrow and on the day after tomorrow in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, with many Italian chefs in the programme. Today we present an interview with the two curators Anna Zelenokhat and Ekaterina Avdeeva; in the next days the live report from Kiev
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