Tartu & Impressions of Estonia

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

globalizing friendships

jumper c/o BODEN jeans c/o JOULES flats JOSEFINAS

* * *

Growing up in America, such a young country, you are often overcome by the history of some of its neighbors. Moving to the UK, I knew I was in for a treat as a history enthusiast, but little did I know that my education in International Relations would fail to introduce me to countries like Estonia.

Picture this: moving to London without a soul that you could trust, a passport, a few thousand pounds in hand and parents on the other side of an ocean cheering you on. I was in a very controlled situation a 21st century young woman could be in. After a few very tough initial months, I moved to my first flat and made a friend named Gerda. She looked tough and very different from me, but a very thin thread brought us together. We had something in common, but I couldn’t put a needle on it. Our friendship grew in the time I needed a friend most and her time in London was coming to an end. And since that day, I have had the hardest time making trusting friends in London because she set the bar so high, but our friendship grew much stronger.

Based on mine and Gerda’s upbringings, we were able to relate on a cultural level. Hospitality and relationships were part of the equation that made memories. So fast forward 2.5 years and find me in the small Tallinn International airport walking past the baggage claim and into the warm hug from one of my best friends.
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs {tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

historical context

She enthusiastically took me around Estonia and specifically Tartu-where she grew up. As a big surprise to me, I saw that there was so much this country had to offer. Tartu is considered the intellectual center of the country as it houses the renowned and rather gorgeous University of Tartu along with the Ministry of Education and Research. After its medieval reigns, the Swedish and Poles ruled. Walking the streets, you see wooden homes influenced by the Swedes and the pastels adapted from the Polish. In the early 1700s with the Treaty of Nystad, the Russian Empire ruled-but with the Great Fire in Tartu much of the city-centre had to be rebuilt, which brought on neoclassical architecture to the city surrounded by those wonderfully wooden houses.

It was after World War I, the Estonian War of Independence called for a peace treaty between the Bolsheviks and Estonia. But World War II period and the in-betweens still meant that Estonia was a battleground and was unfortunately a closed city for foreigners to explore. The demise of the Soviet Union did gift Estonia full independence and a population influx.

With that history, you can gather that much of the population is mixed and identities were conflicted-yet they were resilient through it all. Tartu being the educational and artistic centre of the country celebrated its people and their achievements.
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs {tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

restaurant feature // la dolce vita

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Kompanii 10
Tartu, Estonia
+372 740 7545
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs {tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs {tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

the significance

One of my interests coming into the country was understanding how much of Soviet influence still remains and if we do see an “Estonian” identity at all—since the latter half of my Masters degree covered Russia’s aggression over its satellite states, especially those in Central Asia. Estonia, however, has kept up a strong sense of identity with its language being first. The second is through its gastronomic culture, though adaptations have made waves it has upheld the true essence of what the country’s soil can offer. The final is its hospitable people. Each day I came across passionate Estonians that were keen to introduce me to new layers, nuances and meanings of what being “Estonian” meant.

And so one thread, looped through each hole of a button, that fastens two pieces together-Gerda’s friendship is a symbol of what this country has to treasure for the future and plans to build upon-symbolized as a place with a irrepressible identity and a place for growth.
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs {tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs
{tartu & impressions of Estonia} via chevrons & éclairs

fine dining in Otepää

{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

through the slender trees-laced road

I wasn’t quite sure how to start the run down of my beautiful trip to Estonia, a country once under the rule of the Soviet Union and though it still retained its own charm and culture. But more on that just a little later. I decided to breakdown my trip by the four cities I visited, all in different parts of the country, and thus a very different experience in each.

My first stop on this trip was Otepää, about a 4-hour trip by car from Tallinn through what seemed like trees ready to peak for the spring season. With its close proximity to Finland and just a few longitudinal degrees north of Moscow, spring seemed like a tease away. With this in mind, I wasn’t hoping for very much when I initially planned a fine dining experience in the south of Estonia, I didn’t expect very much-to be quite frank. Estonia, formerly under the Soviet Union (and this time was quite possibly was during our greater pre-teen years-not too long ago for us to remember, but far enough for us not to car). Under the Soviets, availability of goods and services was limited and thus it was tough to develop and explore the gastronomic community. With that, chefs have not adapted, but kept with their roots to share what they remember and curated a cuisine that was so culturally pure-bringing out the flavors of what they knew.

what I wore

shirt H&M trousers c/o JOULES shoes c/o BODEN bag FIORELLI via ASOS belt H&M sunglasses H&M jacket c/o JOULES scarf ZARA
 

{Tammuri Talu} via chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

 
 
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{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

Tammuri Talu

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As we drove closer and closer to Otepää the trees became more dense and lush. My friend, Gerda, almost taking the blame that there was no hint of spring-kept mentioning that the bare branches allows me to look further and beyond. But the density of the tree branches did nothing, but impress me with their ever so magnificent sways and greets into the the little cabins parked next to vast lakes that seemed like enjoyable spots for summer barbecues.

Upon entering through a set of wooden gates and a very humble sign that read Tammuri Talu, we drove up to a grass-space between two homes it seems. Getting out I could only smell the faint salt from the water just down the road and felt a chill before hearing the barks of a welcoming dog to inform the chef that we have indeed arrived. On the right, I saw windows of a red barn-like home that had faded lace curtains. It felt warm and trusting and on the left was the restaurant. So simple with just tables and chairs enough to seat 25 and light from randomly cut out windows-the lines weren’t even and I realized only when trying to align my camera. It was just us in the restaurant and when we sat down with the chef who gave us a bit of a history of the farm did I realize we were sitting in what was once a grain storage facility that supplied and fed 4-generations. The walls adorned with family photos, out the window was the view of just miles of land.
 

{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

the menu

Much more humble than previous fine dining experiences though it felt the most authentic and comfortable. We started with an Austrian white wine, that was fruity and subtle and with that came the first course of an assortment of locally and garden-picked fare with the fish cake with smoked shrimp as its main act. We worked through the arugula salad and realizing it was only the leaves lightly dressed-but packed so much flavor. Hand-picked mushrooms and some their truffled grass dried enough to hear a crisp. It was the simplest features-and just a step away from the traditional cuisine you would expect.

We then were greeted with lamb in a lingonberry sauce with a celery puree and lightly buttered carrots. Slowly working through each tender slice of the lamb, I placed my knife down as it seemed like an unnecessary tool. You could taste the actual flavors of each ingredient he used and he was precise in informing us the very limited ingredient list. Then the finale included a raspberry cheesecake with homemade cottage cheese-just a bit salty yet sweetened with the fresh raspberries on top. The sweet and tartness twinned with the freshly picked premature apples that were caramelized and then topped with crystalized of the local berries on top. To flirt with the tart and sweetness, there was a biscuit with dense cardamom flavors that allowed everything to work a palatable magic that brought me so close to tears-but to top everything off were the homemade liquors celebrating the farm-to-table dynamic and it was at that moment that I knew we live, and should live, in a world where each nation is independent.
 

{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

Mr Jakob

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Just a bit further and we reached a golf course. We walked along the course to see players teeing off and following their ball in the air-playing wincing and encouraging the wrinkles on the corner of their eyes to meet their temples. And as we were walking up a hill we saw a completely different setup. One that is modern, glass encased and seemed to have view for days. Walking around, each corner provided a different view of the endless land.

We sat down as the sun started to set and were greeted with a carpaccio with edible flowers, macadamia nuts and seeds that played your interests in textures. From soft, tender to a slight nutty crunch that graced the beef. Moving onto the second course of the duck served atop a lentil mash and a side of sweet potato puree. It was a dish that I have made before, but brought to life using some of the local berries’ best nectar as they played the role of the chutney for any poultry dish. Then finally a crumble of the seasonal fruits.
 

{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs {fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

 
 
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{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

gastronomical clarity

Hats off to the chefs that didn’t want to flow with the waves, but go against the grain. They worked with what Estonia had to offer and provided lighter, more modernized and slightly more streamlined takes on their cuisine they were brought up with. Being so far from the city’s eagerness, they were content with what they were doing and little did they know that they were going over and beyond.

chevrons & éclairs was a guest at Tammuri Talu and Mr Jakob, but all opinions are my own.
 

{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs
{fine dining in otepää} chevrons & éclairs

favorite chelsea spots with Bloom & Wild

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

with warmer weather ahead

photo assistance ZAHRA BESWICK in collaboration with BLOOM & WILD

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London with its teenage mood swings-like weather patterns has made getting ready for the warmer seasons that much more difficult. One thing that this city is not short of are the events planned throughout the warmer season. West London starts to hype itself for summer by ‘petal-ing’ into Chelsea in Bloom! Chelsea is the bit of London that houses art, culture and a lot of lovely designer boutique shopping. Just West of Mayfair and Westminster, the borough is the perfect place to explore.

I tend to frequent Chelsea often for dinner and drinks or a weekend peruse. I’ve partnered with Bloom & Wild, my favorite flower delivery service, to share some of my favorite spots in Chelsea.
 

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

Duke of York Square & Garden

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Just a little walk down from Sloane Square, you unexpectedly hit this vast square that has a few benches, little green hubs and a weekend market that you don’t want to miss. From doughnuts, oysters & champagne, and some international fare-it’s a must. The market sits in front of this green space that in the summer is the place to be. To relax, enjoy the sun, and enjoy a few drinks {or in my case, a few doughnuts will do} from the market.

Saatchi Gallery

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And from the green space, looking East, you find yourself gazing up at a gorgeous Georgian building. Through the inviting pillars, you are free to enter the world of contemporary art—the Saatchi Gallery.
 

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs {favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

John Sandoe bookstore

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Once you’ve had a bit of a peruse through the museum, you cross the street and find yourself in front of the most handsome bookstore. Its glossy black exterior with tall windows allows you to take just a little peek in and you can find that not a single wall, shelf or table is without a book. This is by far one of my favorite bookstores in London if I’m looking for a shiny new page-turner as it has significant political history and historical fiction collections. The owner, as well, will give you the right literary advice based off of what you’ve previously read, enjoyed and loved.

Neighborly Spaces

bywater streetcarlyle square
One thing that makes Chelsea so charming are the little side streets off of King’s Road. If you’re not careful, your architectural high will get you lost among the winding streets. My two favorite streets are Bywater Street and Carlyle Square. Bywater has a street of insta-worthy colorful houses! Carlyle Square is a cul-de-sac that you can easily miss, but when you go through a little gate you will find yourself in front of absolutely stunning mansions. Each doors with its glossy black door, the original Victorian tiles at the entrance. Oftentimes, there’s also a rose garden in the front.
 

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs {favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs {favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

Chelsea Quarter Café

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In need of a cheeky treat, a little energy or feeling slightly puckish? The Chelsea Quarter café is a quaint, little neighborhood place that gets you all those things especially if you’re casually perusing through the shops up and down King’s Road.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

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You may have caught a glimpse or two on my Instagram, but The Ivy is one of my favorite places to go when I have friends visiting London. Serving up British brasserie fare in a luxe and sophisticated setting. The Chelsea location offers an organic and garden-like space making it the perfect place to enjoy Chelsea in Bloom!
 

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
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{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
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{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs
{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs {favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

what I wore

dress AVOCA denim jacket c/o ANTHROPOLOGIE shoes c/o BODEN jewelry c/o J.LAUREN
dress MICHAEL KORS trench c/o BODEN shoes c/o BODEN jewelry c/o J.LAUREN

There’s no perfect way to celebrate the start of summer than to partake in Chelsea’s annual flower show. This year Bloom & Wild will be adorning Club Monaco Sloane Square’s store with a unique flower installation. So be sure to check it out starting 22 May.
 

{favorite chelsea spots} via Chevrons & Éclairs

doing it all

{doing it all} via chevrons & éclairs

what I wore

blouse c/o BODEN trousers ASOS shoes c/o BODEN denim jacket c/o ANTHROPOLOGIE sunnies c/o BODEN
purse c/o COACH jewelry c/o J.LAUREN

* * *

Since my trip to Paris and my mum’s last few days in London, things have been moving at warp speed ahead. With deadlines coming ever so closer, and admin building up, blog work being neglected, it seemed I was finding very little time to do what I was supposed to be working on-that is my client work. My mistake was simple and that was I was trying to do it all. All with the help of some people.

One thing I noticed about our entitled millennial world is that we’re very careless with our time. To contextualize sort of the idea I’m talking about-after having a long rant session with Sade one Saturday evening, it was apparent to us that so many of the people we deem as ‘successful’ were actually in this trap of emotional instability. To be a blogger, you have to be quite resilient since much of your life is available for the world to see. We are open to criticism and at times, it may not be the most constructive. With this in mind, Sade and I spoke about the nature of how many bloggers that we know of spend endless hours comparing themselves to others, taking comments to heart and lamenting over the opportunities they may not receive even though they are fully aware that not all collaborations are made the same. That nature tends to suppress productivity and in turn bring the industry down, and worse, bring your peers down. This is just a single example of a greater picture.
 

{doing it all} via chevrons & éclairs
{doing it all} via chevrons & éclairs

just a disclaimer

In my opinion, I think being a millennial is someone who can ‘do it all’. I have friends who are mothers that can run a household, hold up a beautiful marriage and grow a business. I have a brother who has had a corporate job whilst being at university full time and paving the way for his very own business. We are expected to wear many hats, work hard and compartmentalize-we work for ourselves, our well-being and to build our integrity because this globalized world has a lot of expectations from us. The simplest of jobs won’t get you to the places you want to be, but you will have to build the path for it.

I understand that not everyone is the same. My response to that is that the single world has a lot of expectations from its inhabitants. People have different priorities and efficiencies, so it’s best to communicate regularly and associate with people with similar ethics. And just a disclaimer, this is what I’ve gained from my experiences as a daughter, sister, blogger, business owner and a working human (note: did not say ‘woman’) of the 21st century.
 

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to top it off

As you may have gathered from my passive aggressive comments over the last few weeks over on social media and now this blog, I’ve been quite unimpressed with many people I’ve deemed as strong and forerunners. The lack of responsibility and pure laziness I’ve noted in my peers’ work ethic has been embarrassing and in turn builds a weak generation. No matter the age, we represent a community of people that are multidimensional and irrepressible. It’s important to realize the you’re not alone, every person around you is also ‘doing it all’. So, don’t let them down.
 

afternoon tea at the rosebery lounge

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moments from childhood

Growing up my parents took us to travel as much as they could and afford. We visited India often so we could visit family, took beach holidays on the coast of Florida {where I grew up} and visited various American landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Status of Liberty and even Stone Mountain in Georgia… don’t ask!

I cherished those holidays not because of what I saw was historically or culturally profound, but because we spent so much time together as a family. When I was younger, I did not have the slightest idea that I would move a country away from my family and looking back at those moments would be ever so profound to me.

One thing my parents and I did together would spend some one-on-one time. I may spend the day with daddy on the golf course and then the evening with mummy at the theatre. It seems like eventually my mom and I would rather spend the afternoon together… having afternoon tea! No matter where we are in the world, we make afternoon tea a priority.
 

{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs
{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs
{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs {afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs

treating momma

So it only seemed fitting to organize an afternoon tea whilst she was in London recently. It was rather chilly, yet sunny one afternoon and we went for a little shop in Knightsbridge. We admired the dresses in the designer showrooms in Harrods and then made our way to where the handbags were. My mom is a handbag fiend and I treated her to the one she fell in love with first—because why not spoil the woman that has always spoilt you?

After a quick peruse in the sweets and confectionaries section grabbing presents for daddy, we headed across the street to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Walking in the concierge escorted us straight to The Rosebery Lounge. Walking up the grand staircase, opened up to a brightly lit room that boasted a minimalistic glamour and we were greeted by a host that stood in front tea bar. The most elegant tea bar I ever did see.
 

{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs
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{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs

The Rosebery Lounge

book your afternoon tea • all opinions are my own

We walked through the salon and then entered the lounge and were chauffeured to the back corner where delicate china was placed and a very impressive list of teas. As we felt a bit lost for words by the ambiance and the the list of teas placed in front of us, we had a tea connoisseur approach our table and ask us a bit about what we liked and disliked in terms of flavors and aromas and sure enough he put together one of the most beautiful set of teas for us. We started with very light teas to accompany our sandwiches and worked out way up to stronger, bolder flavors as we went from cake to pastries and then scones. It was a pairing experience I have never had!

We arrived a little under famished {being an American, I tend to exaggerate} and so we enjoyed the sandwiches enthusiastically. Funny enough, the vegetarian one was one of our favorites. It was fresh, earthy and very refreshing made with cucumber. What caught me by surprise was the ability to take the most simplest of flavors and pair them with luxury ingredients like the egg and cress with a touch of black truffle.

With the pastries right in front of us, we were eying them aggressively as we munched on the sandwiches. Soon enough, we moved onto the pastries that we absolutely adored! Each pastry had multiple flavor components and varying textures that entertained each other making the perfect little bite with balanced flavors of sweet, tart and utterly lovely.

And through it all, we laughed and giggled, people watched and wandered, and fell in love with The Rosebery Lounge.
 

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{afternoon tea with the rosebery lounge} via chevrons & éclairs