Tonight, I dined at the Embassy of Pure Food. The restaurant’s real name is Aed, which translates as ‘garden’, but I much prefer the impressive description on the menu. It was a delightfully weird sort of meal. Really, really good food, but in the most bizarre combinations. My duck (cooked to perfection) came with cauliflower mousse, for example. And the sauce was not only something I’ve never heard of, but also a flavour of ice-cream on the dessert menu. Riho’s fish was served with foam. Honestly, foam. In a jug. It was all a little confusing, but delicious nonetheless.
The restaurant experience itself was, as the name suggests, rather like eating outside. Rustic, I suppose you’d call it, with an odd array of plants in a window box by our table. Riho seemed a bit distracted. “I’m a little frightened by the art,” he confessed in a low voice, looking nervously over my shoulder. I glanced round and saw the paintings on the walls. The were, in fact, plasma screens. And the ‘art’ was moving. Sort of like the photos in the Harry Potter stories.
Feeling a need to return to the Real World, we skipped dessert and stepped out on to the street. I looked at Riho, unable to disguise my alarm at the loud wailing noises that greeted us. “I think the world might be ending,” I said fearfully. “Don’t be silly,” said Riho, “It’s obviously just an air raid.” It really did sound like an air raid siren, and it became louder and scarier the closer we got to the Town Square.
And so it was that, as I walked home tonight from my meal at the Embassy of Pure Food (in a barn), I stumbled upon a concert by Stroj Machine, a group of about 10 dreadlocked drummers with several varieties of airhorn, performing in Tallinn Old Town in an apparent act of celebration of the Slovenian EU Presidency.
Particularly impressive was the spraying of sparks over the audience. “Oh, look,” remarked Riho, taking the whole thing in his stride, “live welding!”
The crowd loved it. The were going mental, and I couldn’t help joining in with a bit of dancing around. I couldn’t compete with the guy in red on the left of my photograph, however. Despite having his foot in plaster, he danced like no one I’ve ever seen before, occasionally waving his crutches in the air. At one point he then had to remove a layer of clothing, clearly over-heating, and his girlfriend held his crutches as he balanced on one foot and de-jumpered. It was at this point that the group did something that clearly entranced him, for he launched into an enthralling dance on one foot, with no crutches, as I watched in awed wonder.
Having grown up in Harryville, I can’t claim that it’s a culture shock to be wandering through the town and find myself in the midst of a large crowd of locals jumping around and cheering as some men blatter away on big drums. You’ll forgive me, though, when I confess to getting a great deal more pleasure from the Baltic version…