Tallinn’s tastiest pastry – the “Savory Little Basket” (soolane korvike) – really needs a better name. Even the staff at Røst – Tallinn’s finest bakery – seem to realize this.
While korvike – the diminutive for “basket” – might sound better in Estonian than “little basket” sounds in English, the word soolane means “salty” thereby making the entire construction seem a little suspect. But if you should happen to try a “Savory Little Basket,” you’ll be hard-pressed to think of any Tallinn pastry that tastes better. I’ve made my friends instant converts by getting them to try just one.
The “Savory Little Basket” is a perfect combination of tastes and flavors guaranteed to make your mouth happy. The bakers start off with a delectable little cup made from Røst’s finest pastry dough. (Remember these are the same bakers who make Tallinn’s best sourdough bread and Tallinn’s best cinnamon buns.) Their baked pastry dough is always crispy, crunchy, and a little bit savory. Then comes the Serrano ham which crisps up nicely as it bakes, becoming even better than bacon in the process. Next, the bakers add a small but delicious spoonful of apricot jam – nicely sweet and tart. The jam melts as it cooks, turning into a lovely and tasty honeyed fruit syrup. (Just be careful not to drip any on your shirt as you eat!) On top of the jam, they add a choice dollop of smooth and creamy goat cheese. While I’m usually not wild about such things, Røst’s local cheese is so mellow that it works just right for this luscious pastry. The bakers then top everything off with some aromatic thyme. After their ovens work their magic, Røst’s mouthwatering “Savory Little Baskets” are ready to eat. You see what I mean? The name doesn’t even begin to give justice to these rich, culinary creations.
These pastries work so well because they deliver that exact balance of savory and sweet – with just the right salty notes and a touch of tang. They have that perfect “mouthfeel” as you experience multiple textures at once – soft and creamy (goat cheese); crispy (ham); liquid-sticky (jam); and slightly chewy (pastry). Each bite hits all your taste buds at once creating an instant flavor sensation. This is no simple “Savory Little Basket” – this pastry is a party-in-your-mouth, a round-trip ticket to Flavortown, and a little taste of Heaven. This is how you imagine that ambrosia, manna, nectar, or all those other divine foods must taste like. The words “little basket” – no matter how “savory” the contents might be – just can’t hold the sheer wealth of taste contained in these small flavor bombs.
What should they be called then? My answer is Bliss. Now “bliss” in Estonian is õndsus. If you swap out the “d” for an “n” and an extra “u” then you end up with Ōnnsuus – a nice play on words that translates back into English as “Happiness in Your Mouth.” Seems like a pretty blissful new name to me ….