Sep 7, 2009


(menu + recipes at bottom)

Grigori's Bar(n)
The Barn


Meal Three was held in an old barn near MoKs and was structured as a formal dinner that referenced traditional “special occasion” customs. Everyone was asked to dress in white. Tables and chairs were fashioned out of tree stumps and fallen doors, and candles and handmade stringed instruments were installed directly into the surface of the table. Evelyn decorated with beautiful white flowers and fabric. A local band played Estonian and Russian music on accordians, karmoshkas and harmonicas. We dined family style from large platters and bowls in three courses. We sang, danced and drank too much.
chain gang

THE MUSIC >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Harmonicas and reeds were left on the table without any instructions, to occasional adhoc use. The band, 3 accordion/karmoshka players from the village community (Siim, Mörgus, and their mother Ene), as well as Henrik on his harmonica, played traditional songs and led a series of sound actions to organize the evening‘s activities:

1. Silence (environmental listening)
2. Stork Exercise
3. Background and Participatory music
4. Table Chain-Reaction
5. Dance Music

We started with a round of silence to take in the rain that had completely altered our original location setup and complicated our preparations. Inspired by the magical local winged creatures, after the first course everyone was asked to stand up and was guided through a 'stork exercise' - lifting the arms and raising the pitch and volume of their voices accordingly and shaking their bottoms as if settling into a nest. Stimulating the range of the body, using the voice expressively, lightly undoing some inhibitions, breaking ice.

Stork Wing Song Dance
Whoops, and the Flapping of Wings
Helvi stork spirit
Helvi and Stork Spirit

After the second course Siim led a series of table-chain performances, where everyone at the table was asked to make a sound – either with an instrument that had been left on or installed in the table, or with any other sound-making object – in a chain or circle, thereby producing a small impromptu piece.
Throughout the meal the musicians played traditional Estonian and Russian folk songs, which all the local participants seemed to know and sing along with, whether with genuine appreciation or a cheerful and nostalgic rolling of eyes. The music entertained everyone so beautifully that the musicians continued playing songs for several hours.
IMG_4426                         IMG_4424                             IMG_4425
1. Musician scenario             2. Stork Exercise                   3. Chain-Reaction Exercise
+ singing
The musicians, Mörgus, Ene, Siim.
THE TABLE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
THE FOOD >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The meal was structured in three-courses. What we served had been largely determined by what produce was in season, like radishes, mushrooms and potatoes, and what we foraged in the village, like rhubarb, nettles and dandelion greens. We referenced traditional foods, like herring and organ meats, and presented them in a new light as "special occasion" foods. Certain ingredients, like quail eggs, we were surprised and delighted to see in so many Estonian recipes and in abundance at the market, and had to find a way to use them. The centerpiece of the meal was a wild boar stew made from meat supplied by a local hunter (see previous post) and garnished with locally foraged chanterelles. All the vegetables and herbs were local, either foraged, from Evelyn’s garden or purchased at the Tartu farmer‘s market. The menu is listed below. Any item with an asterik has the recipe listed at the very end of the post, all others should be self-explanatory.

meal 3 menu
The Menu

prep station
The Prep Station (Originally conceived as a bar.)

Bitter Corsaro w/ Soda + Orange

NV Corbieres Reserve

*Rhubarb or Caraway Infused Vodkas

THE PEOPLE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

karmoshka! sandy!

emmatt meal 3

Ülle + Ena in barn glow

Jään + Helvi

THE AFTERMATH >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The day after our event folks in the community began re-landscaping the ground directly around the barn. Not sure what is becoming of it. Prior to our project the barn had been abandoned and was one of the main hangouts for local motor-biking teenagers.

Days later, they reconstruct the Bar(n)

Since we‘ve left Mooste, Moks has procured a nice big refrigerator and have begun a garden project to help feed their residents.

RECIPES >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


pickled herring+rye bread+quail egg+dill
Pickled herring on rye bread with quail egg and dill.

Clean herring fillets and cut into strips. Note if they have been preserved in salt or not – if so you will want to lower or eliminate altogether the salt you use to cure the herring. Bring to a boil enough white vinegar (or part vinegar, part water) to cover the herring in a jar. Simmer the liquid and add black peppercorns, a few tablespoons of sugar, caraway, juniper berries, and slices of garlic. Take off the heat after about a minute. Put the fillets in a jar with lots of dill, and cover with the liquid. Marinate in the fridge for at least a day.

To make the crostini, cut small triangles of black bread and spread with butter. Put a piece of marinated herring, half a hard boiled quail egg and a sprig of dill to garnish, and stick the whole thing together with a toothpick.


em's chicken liver paté+white bread
chicken liver paté + white bread

Clean and cut the sinews from chicken livers. Sautee garlic and onions with butter, add the chicken livers and brown on both sides. Season with salt and black pepper, then cover half way with good brandy. While the liquid reduces, mince parsley and sprinkle over the pan. Use an immersion blender to blend everything smooth, and add more parsley, seasoning and brandy to taste. Serve chilled with toast – and if you are fancy, put clarified butter over the top of the pate in its serving bowl.


1. Cube the meat. Combine in large pot with carrots, yellow onions, parsley, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Cover with red wine and let marinate for 24 hours to tenderize. Remove meat from pot and reserve all the liquid.

2. Chop bacon and crisp. Use the bacon grease to brown the boar meat (it may take several batches depending on the amount of meat you are using). Cover the meat with a couple tablespoons of flour and return the bacon to the pot.

3. Add marinade back to the pot, simmer then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until tender.

4. While the meat is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a bowl. Add peeled, chopped small onions and sugar. Simmer until onions are tender, about thirty minutes. Drain.

5. Chop chanterelles and sautee in butter.

6. When meat is cooked, drain from its liquid. Reheat the liquid to medium high and whisk in cognac and butter. Return venison to sauce, add onions and mushrooms. Mix, and serve with parsley on top.


Pick dandelion greens. Wash and boil in salted water with a little bit of vinegar. Drain. Make a béchamel sauce and covers several layers of cooked greens with béchamel in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and pour heavy whipping cream over the dish. Bake.


Pick and clean nettles. Steam to cook and pulverize with an immersion blender. Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan and mix the nettles in. Pour into a jar. While the mixture cools, mix to keep the nettles evenly dispersed. Sprinkle sea salt on top.


emma making sauerkraut chocolate cake + matt's must leib dough in foreground
Emma Baking Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake

I found the base for this recipe on Nami-Nami, which credited David Leibowitz for the invention. I was seduced by the recipe obviously because of the sauerkraut, which I had in abundance as leftovers from Meal 2. I made two key changes. First of all, I had wanted a dessert with flax as an ingredient, because a key industry in Mooste is the production of flax and linen. Unfortunately, I found very little on the internet to tempt me in this department, as most recipes simply use flax as an egg replacer. I too used flax in this way, but I used original amount of egg whites to keep the cake light plus a little extra flax to get a nuttier flavor. I also abandoned the more complicated ganache called for in the other recipes and made mine from old fashioned butter with chocolate melted in. This is a fairly easy cake to make, in fact the most challenging part of this recipe was finding a cake pan, which I ended up finding in a thrift store in Tartu. The sauerkraut lends moistness the way carrot does in carrot cake – except you don’t even taste it OR see it. And let’s just say: it was delicious. The recipe to follow is in metrics, sorry Americans!

1. Preheat over to 160 C . Rinse 100 g. sauerkraut, drain, chop finely.

2. Measure 280 g. flour, 50 g. unsweetened cocoa, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp. salt into a bowl.

3. Separately, beat 150 g. butter with 300 g. sugar until light and creamy. Add 1 egg and beat into the mixture. Add 1 more egg and beat into the mixture. Add 1 more egg white and beat in. Mix 2 tbsp. flax seed with 6 tbsp of water separately, then mix into bowl. Beat smooth.

4. Into another bowl, add 1/3 dry stuff, 125 ml milk, another 1/3 of the dry stuff, another 125 ml of milk, the rest of the dry stuff, the sauerkraut, and 1 tbsp. of brandy (the original called for vanilla – you choose). Mix smooth, and pour into a greased baking pan. Bake for 45 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. For the ganache, use the double boiler method to melt copious amounts of butter and chocolate together. Mix smooth, and use a rubber spatula to cover your cake when it is cool.


rhubarb vodka

Infusing is as easy as cutting up some rhubarb and putting it into a thing of vodka, or putting some caraway seeds into some vodka. And it’s so exciting!

Aug 18, 2009


It was a dark and stormy night when the Hunter pulled up to the Mooste manor house. He approached our door in his black rubber boots, a plastic shopping bag in his hand, a suspicious looking leg hinting from the top, its hoof gracefully articulated en pointe. What ended up costing only about $15 for at least ten pounds of rich, succulent wild boar surprised us that evening after an arduous request for fresh game. Our Hunter had been unlucky so far that month, and had kept us in suspense for some weeks about what he could bring us. After seeing my fair share of deer and rabbits I had gingerly asked Evelyn if we should try a different hunter, but was informed that our man was the head of all county hunters and it would be an insufferable slight to ask elsewhere. He ended up bringing us something from his pantry to compensate for his failure in the wood. No matter, it was delicious! However, we only had a mini-fridge... Luckily the walls in a stone house keep a dark closet cool. Necessity in indeed the mother of invention!

Jul 27, 2009

Jun 30, 2009


Participants: Ülle, Helen, Hana, Pärja, Evelyn, John, Tero, Karolina

Duration: Approximately 45 minutes

red+purple in the hay womb

Upon arriving, participants are asked to close their eyes and walk one-by-one through a tunnel. They open their eyes to find themselves in a room full of hay, lit by red and purple lights with red and blue fabric covering the windows. There are blankets and pillows scattered to get cozy in the lay. Music* begins to play.

Emma walks into the room wearing a white apron and holding a large mixing bowl. She walks around misting everyone with homemade lavender spray, then crouches next to a participant in the hay with a cup that she has filled with mixture from the bowl and a spoon. She asks them, "Kama?" When they say 'yes', she spoon feeds them from the cup - a traditional kama mixture topped with sea buckthorn syrup - until they indicate they are finished or until they eat it all. She repeats the process with every participant, then exits. Participants are left in the room for an additional ten minutes before Matt enters to guide them out.

feeding sveta kama

feeding hana kama

*The music was composed of previously recorded material, Mooste field recordings, and re-compositions of the music used in Meal One. Little rhythm was employed in the music, but slow frequencies (à la brain waves) were emphasized to induce a relaxed state. Higher frequencies were filtered out to simulate the auditory experience of the infant within the womb.


Mix 500 mL kefir with a heaping scoop of kama. Add honey until it tastes delicious. To make the syrup, cover sea buckthorn berries with water, heat and simmer until they have rid themselves of their seeds and reduced to your desired consistency. Strain. To serve, drizzle the syrup over a bowl of the kama mixture.

Estonia's only marketed national food product

Kama is one of the only foods advertised as being a 'true' Estonian product. Many Estonians will tell you it is their national food. It is a toasted grain flour or meal of peas, rye, oats and barley. Kefir, or fermented milk, is a staple of the Estonian diet and is as ubiquitous in the fridge as milk.

sea buckthorn
Sea buckthorn is a small, tart orange berry that grows on a bush in late summer in the Baltic region.



Meal 2: Emma servin it up

Matt enters the Hay Womb and leads each participant, one-by-one, to a seat in the dining room. The space has a dirt floor with windows opened to outdoor daylight (darkening into evening as the meal progresses). A low central table is against one wall, strewn with bird's nests, homemade glass glitter, apple wood branches, egg shells, onions skins, peonies, and books used by the artists during food preparation.

the gathering of courses

offering table

Chairs and small tables made from materials found in the village or MoKS (an oven, tree stumps, Soviet tractor parts, etc) are positioned in a crescent form around the central table, with two or three chairs arranged around each smaller table. Every time someone is seated, they are given a glass of lemon water. Once everyone is seated, Emma enters the room and asks a random participant to come with her to the kitchen, where they are given a paper mask and a dish. The masked participant returns and serves a course to everyone.

emma and john

For each course Emma chooses someone in this way. As a piece of flatware or utensil is needed for the course (plate, fork, etc) Emma herself enters to distrubte. Gradually everyone is masked and all food is served. With each course Matt is serving as a DJ.

Meal 2: DJ Kray-Z Marbz

Matt reads aloud his own textual collages based on (historical, mythical, agricultural, medical) research of the foods served (examples provided below with the recipes). Via microphone and mixer he mediates the meal and facilitates conversation. Prepared sounds and music were also used for similar purposes. The music included: clustered animal voices to accentuate rye bread 'lycanthropy'; field recordings from around Mooste (a grain silo, birds, Mooste lake, a rainstorm, frogs, cats, etc); a song composed in the rhythm of a slightly uptempo heartbeat (to persuade participants nervous systems away from the more relaxed fluid state of the hay room into a more awake and motor-oriented state); and a piece for organ reeds composed to reference the use of these reeds in the previous meal.

Once dessert is brought out, people are given a break before the projector is setup for viewing the TV commercials (many pertaining to food) of Estonian cinematographer Harry Egipt.



menu from meal 2

nettle dumplings


For water that is perfectly safe to drink, but has a detectable (and not delectable) metallic or mineral taste, add lemon! Cucumber and mint are also great for this...

DEVILED EGGS (Tåidetud Munad)

Use the absolute best quality eggs you can find (even if they are exorbitantly expensive), preferably from a farm. Hard boil, peel, cut in half and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Grate more cold butter than you can believe, a dollop of mayo and a small dollop of mustard onto the yolks. Salt and pepper to taste. Use two small spoons to refill the mixture into the eggs. Serve with a sprig of dill on each egg.

Peter carl fabergé making 24 eggs presented to Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia. 69 total surviving (of 105). made of precious metals, stones, enamel, and gem stones. Ulu Sooster's model.


This pig skin was boiled for several hours until soft in pork stock, when it was possible to separate it from the remaining fat that clung to it. Cut into small pieces and saute (with a little oil) in a very hot pan so it cracks around like popcorn, carmelizing and crisping. Cover the pan to make this happen. Add diced onions, and season with salt. Serve on toasts with fresh parsley.

Artificial insemination of pigs has been practiced in Estonia since the 60's. with the first intrafarm AI unit being built on the Rakke Collective Farm. Norway, Finland, and Austria import the semen of the following breeds: landrace, large white, duroc, hampshire, pietrain.


RYE BREAD (Magushapu Rukkileib)

This sweet-and-our rye bread recipe is from Estonian Tastes and Traditions by Karin Annus Kårner and takes several days to make! Plan ahead! First you ferment rye flour to make a starter and then feed it extra flour to create a base for your bread. In the end you have several loaves of hearty, flavorful rye bread plus starter to expedite the process for the next time. I am not going to write the whole recipe here because it is quite long, so if anyone would like it I can scan it and send it to you. The one thing I purposely did differently than the recipe was in baking: I used Ülle's trick of baking for the first half hour at 250 degrees C, the second at 200, then at 150 - this gets a nice crispy crust. Serve with butter!

emma's first rye bread is... WONDERFUL!

The delusional belief that one has turned into an animal, especially a werewolf. In Europe during the Middle Ages, lycanthropy was commonly believed to occur due to witchcraft or magic. One modern theory is that the rye bread of the poor was often contaminated with the fungus ergot, which caused hallucinations and delusions about werewolves.



Buy high quality wild salmon fillets. Rinse and dry. Cut the fillets so that for every piece there is another corresponding in size - effectively you are going to be making salmon sandwiches. For instance, if you buy one fillet, cut it into two pieces that are about equal in size. Rub the salmon with vodka or a combination of vodka and aqua vit. Make a mixture of coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, sugar and a flavoring spice like caraway or juniper berries. You will need quite a bit of this mixture, which you will rub over both sides of the salmon fillets. Cover completely, then sandwich the fillets together (skin side out) with copious amounts of fresh dill in between them. Wrap tightly in plastic, put on a plate, then weigh down with a brick or heavy weight in the fridge. Turn the salmon approximately every 12 hours, and let cure for three days. When you are ready to serve, unwrap and rub off the excess salt rub. Cut thin pieces with a sharp knife, moving with the grain of the fish. For the sauce, thin a cup of sour cream with a tiny bit of milk. Add a teaspoon of vinegar (white wine or sherry perhaps), salt and sugar to taste and lots of fresh dill.

grav- (scandinavian): hole in the ground; grave
-lax [aka 'laks']: salmon

Gravlox was originated by fishermen in the middle ages who would bury salmon in the sand of the ocean shore, where it would ferment favorably.


"With proper vodka snack a person always remains the mister of position, can always completely control himself and receive only stimulating aesthetic effect from vodka drinking, instead of rough intoxication."



I made a rich a flavorful broth from the bones and remains and squirrelly bits of Mr. Piggy and assorted aromatics that found themselves in the pot. I stewed the pig skin for several hours in the broth as well (that was removed before serving and made into the above mentioned crostini) and cabbage. This cabbage was an impulse move, a last minute inspiration in the kitchen, and became the little star of Meal 2 for me, although among the flashier menu items was hardly noticed by anyone else. So flavorful and tender! The lacy cabbage tendrils nestled between the succulent dumplings and velvety broth was just heartwarming for me, a surprise success. The dumpling dough, in typical Estonian fashion, was made in a 3-1 ratio of flour to potato start, with cold water added by the tablespoon to form the dough and a little salt. Chill, then roll out to about 1/4 inch thick - you want it to be thick enough to be "toothsome" and to hold the filling in adequately when you cook - and cut into circles with the rim of a glass. This round was filled with a mixture of gathered nettles that were steamed and pureed, fresh ricotta cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Pinch closed and seal with cold water on your fingertips. Boil in the broth right before serving, or do them ahead of time in plain water and add to the broth when serving. They will rise to the top when ready.

nettle dumpling remains

stinging nettles: urtica urens

ta sai nõgeste käest kõrvetada (literally 'he was stung from the hand of nettles').
the powers of nature in ancient estonian culture and in the language are represented as a single hand. a pair of hands is one hand (as with all the symmetries of the body). to speak of a single hand (right, left) is to speak of half a hand. the hand of the nettle stings.

Milarepa, the great Tibetan ascetic saint survived for decades of meditation only eating nettles. his hair and skin turned green. he lived to age of 83. That's just wonderful. Nettles in the pocket protect one from lightening. Fortunately. Enhance fertility in men. What doesn't. Native americans used nettles to make fishing nets and ropes; while the Germans during WWI, due to textile shortages; their uniforms 85% nettle fiber



Matt beautifully butchered this roast from Mr. Piggy, which sort of looks like a cylindrical meat log that you cut from under the ribs (ish). You want to leave the layer of fat it has on top, as it insulates the meat when roasting. I salt and peppered the roast, then marinated it with a mixture of local honey, mustard and mustard seeds. Roast at 250 degrees C for 30 min, then reduce to 200 for another 30, then 180 until it's done. This was my first roast so I'm no expert source, and although they say 35 min. per pound + another 30 I had no idea the weight of our roast so I just winged it and Evelyn's mom poked at it to test the juice level. This one ended up a little overdone for my taste but not a bad first effort. Let rest before you serve.

skinning aint easy


In Mooste there is a local farm with its own factory kitchen that makes sauerkraut and pickles for the village shops and restaurants in the region. We were lucky enough to visit this farm and kitchen, but more on that later. We used their sauerkraut for this meal, and braised it in beer with caraway seeds and apples to pair nicely with the roast. We used a local dark beer, covered the sauerkraut just barely in a saucepan and let simmer along with the caraway seeds for about an hour, adding the apples towards the end.

Mooste sauerkraut

Dr. Lejla Kazinic Kreho (croatian nutritionist) says: "I can only suggest all men try it. Eat cabbage twice daily and observe how your sexual power increases."


Broad beans are very popular in Estonia, and the markets are flooded with fresh ones in their pods during summer that are boiled, salted and served whole. We were too early for this phenomenon, but purchased last season's, dried and quite cheap, from a market vendor. Soak overnight, drain, bring to a boil in fresh water and simmer until tender (like any dried bean) with aromatics. Turn off the heat and salt the water. Leave for twenty minutes then drain. Warm to serve in a pan with butter and top with fresh parsley.


New potatoes were parboiled, chopped and sauteed with butter, salt and dill. Simple and delicious!

Estonia has an institute, Jogeva Sordiaretuse Instituut, for warding off the late blight that set upon the Irish to create their potato famine in the late 1800s. the US had potato blight listed as one of their 17 agents for its suspended biological warfare program.

The written menu was constructed from pages from an English-Estonian dictionary as a document of single words, and pasted on the wall opposite the central table inside an old door frame.
Plate + Menu + Cup
Rye + Bread + Butter




Prepare compote in advance by peeling and chopping rhubarb and simmer in water with sugar to your desired consistency and sweetness. As a topping I prefer a looser, less reduced compote. Chill and serve cold on top of the rice pudding, which I made by covering short-grain white rice with milk and simmering with a cardamom pod until cooked. I whisked together sugar and an egg and incorporated this into the mixture over low heat to thicken. Add brandy at the end to flavor.

emma and matt's rice pudding with rhubarb compote


Meal 2: John, Sveta, Tero, Karolina


meal 2, room 2 coming together

Meal 2: Hanna lovin it

Parja eating Pork broth+stewed cabbage+nettle dumplings