There is an outdoor kitchen under the Botik garden tower. It became big and proud. The kitchen is given its appearance by the old metal-framed windows from the adjacent building, which is handled by our passionate in-house chef Mihkel. The master's eyes shine and his hands put together the best tastes. However, you cannot eat in the garden every day. Nice garden brunches take place in nice weather, where you can try something new and seasonal every time. The previous garden kitchen day was attended by many people from our house, as well as curious people from further afield.
Liis, the leader of the Põhjala factory NGO, shares her thoughts.
When I got the opportunity to write about the outdoor kitchen of the Botiku garden, where the house chef Mihkel prepares meals from high-quality seasonal ingredients and even goes to the sea to catch flounder, I thought for a long time about which angle to approach this story. I remembered my last food experiences — the canteen next to the camel market in Al Ain, the lentil soup with an unknown oil in Marrakesh, and the teasing combinations of Arab cuisine that permeated the puffs of hookahs in Bahrain. Can home mushrooms in Estonia surprise you? I walk to Botik on Thursday. Sweltering music, hot air, a white hammock and the play of light on the leaves. It is cool in the rowan and maple "bamboo jungle", the people are there and happily eating. Soon the construction manager of the factory, Kalmer, who stopped by Botik only because of the garden kitchen, pops into my table. He sets one of the beautiful baby mushrooms on his fork and I dutifully take a photo.
There are urban tales in the city.
Midsummer garden lunch
I usually go to Purtse to pick mushrooms. Before going to the forest, you have to go through the Röngu bakery and buy a raisin bread and a coffee in thermos. Is Rõngu baker #local, I think while staring at my compatriots in the queue. Next to the store, my mother and I grab a bag of fresh potatoes for another €2. "I can't sell it all, there are so many people that are interested," complains the seller with the friendliness of a South Estonian.
There are good forests in Purtse. Ozone stuns. Mother teaches that chanterelles can be found in a mixed forest where there are also birch trees. It's a good trick to watch the cars parked on the side of the road: knowledgeable old people never go anywhere with their Moskvich carefully kept in the garage, but always go out to the best spots.
I don't think like Valdur Mikita that Estonians are an eternal forest people. I'm not that romantic. My mother and I accidentally end up in a patterned forest. "A beautiful forest, but there are no mushrooms," she says. Despite the niceness, we will leave soon, but first we will gather some wood from the roadside birches for an evening sauna. We are pragmatic Estonians out on the hunt. A couple of hours in Botik will fly by. I listen half an ear to the story of Roland, the owner of the coffee roaster Kokomo, and Jaanika, an activist of the Põhjala factory. In the middle of still business conversations, I'm slowly tasting Mihkel´s chicken mushroom sauce. The mood is good. I don't even know why, but the vegan sauce has a more memorable taste: dull and creamy.
I read online that raw chanterelles smell like apricots and peaches, but when cooked they have a woody and slightly peppery taste. Inexplicable anyway.
Of course, Botik's sauce can't be this hand-picked moss mushroom, which is semi-randomly arranged on a plate with dill picked from the greenhouse at home. But the point is the same. I feel grateful that there is someone who brings the familiar forest mentality with them to the stone desert of my urban summer in Tallinn.
In the meantime, the first diners in Botiku have already finished, and what remains on the plate is a hint of thyme that is foreign to the diner's taste buds. I didn't even get to talk to Mihkel himself. They are probably already in the woods... The main thing is that they don't become "beautiful, but empty of mushrooms", I think as I walk back to the office.
But in the meantime: there is nothing left but to look forward to new domestic taste journeys in Botik's exclusive garden kitchen.