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Chocolate: The ostalgic taste of ersatz chocolate ...
What to buy: Anyone who has read my pages will know that I'm an absolute sucker for ostalgia - probably because I didn't have to live through the bleak reality. So when I read in the excellent 'Tallinn in Your Pocket' guide about an ersatz chocolate developed in Estonia during the cocoa crisis of the 1970s, I just had to track it down!
Kamatahvel was developed to minimise the cocoa content of a 'chocolate' bar at a time when the cocoa price was prohibitive. The challenge was therefore to substitute cheaper ingredients that would still retain some of the 'chocolate' character: a miracle that was achieved with the unlikely addition of 'kama' flour (a typically Estonian ingredient containing rye, barley, wheat and peas)
The resultant product is not exactly unpleasant, but bears only a fleeting resemblance to chocolate (mostly due to the fact that it's brown and comes in bars divided into squares). My somewhat cynical take on the issue is that you would only be in danger of confusing it with chocolate if you'd never tasted the real thing! We opened a bar in Tallinn and had a couple of squares each, but weren't tempted to sample more: furthermore, when we left the remainder of the bar in a room to which our kids had access, they too sampled a piece or two and then left the rest. My husband and kids are die-hard sweet toothivores, so for them to exercise such restraint in the face of temptation is not exactly a glowing endorsement of the product!
Still, it's sweet and innocuous, and has such an iconic status with Estonians that it has been reintroduced since independence to cater for ostalgics!
Definitely something worth trying - look in supermarkets, where it is located next to the real thing!
Chocolate & Cookie Shops: Chocolate and Cookies Galore
On the flight out from Dublin, the in flight magazine taught me that Tallinn is famous for its exquisite hand painted Belgian chocolate. I had no idea quite how pretty these are until I saw them for sale in very quaint looking (dare I say chocolate-box-looking) shops in the Old Town.
I bought some white chocolate slabs painted with views of Tallinn. I also bought some more white chocolate figurines of male and female in National Costume.
I would love to have purchased one of the gingerbread type cottages that I saw on display in a shop opposite the Hell Hunt bar and of which I have posted a pic here.
What to buy: Hand painted chocolate, chocolate houses, heart shaped iced cookies on pretty ribbon, and so on.
What to pay: Surprisingly inexpensive.
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Kalev Chocolate Shop: Estonia's favourite chocolate
With a history dating back to 1806, Kalev chocolate is an excellent idea for gifts for friends back home...and yourself of course. There is a museum shop at Pikk 16 where you can buy marzipan and chocolate. There is also a store in the Viru Keskus shopping centre that sells the full range including marmalade chocolates in flavours such as rum, summer fruits, cherry and blackberry.
What to buy: The Kalev 'Estonia' pralines are a delicious mixture of milk chocolate and cashew nut. Very tasty.
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in all Department stores: Kalev production
What to buy: Latvian’s has Laima chocolate company, Estonian’s – Kalev. They both differ, but as chocolate lover I may say their chocolates are also very delicious. Especially I like those one with marmalade inside, also the chewing ones are very yummy. Taste it!
I don’t know if Kalev produces this one, but recently I tried white chocolate with blueberries which was also Estonian’s production. I haven’t see such thing anywhere.
Kalev: Estonia's famous chocolate brand
If you like Sweets and chocolate, this is the shop for you. Kalev is probably the best-known chocolate brand in Estonia with several stores around the country. One of the newest, their flagship store, is located in the Rotermann Quarter of Tallinn. Here, you will get the whole range of Kalev products, which does not include only chocolate, but other sweets and biscuits as well. Prices are very low compared to Western European standards. Get a bar of good quality chocolate for less than 0,50 EUR. Some chocolates are available to taste, my favourite is the blueberry white chocolate. If you buy the chocolate for yourself, they even sell parts of broken bars in little sachets for even lower prices. Good place to buy some gifts!
If you can't get enough of Kalev, there are two other places to go. Kalev runs the Marzipan Museum Room in the old town (Pikk 16) and the Sweets Mastery (a place where you can create your own sweets), which is located close by in the Rotermann Quarter.
Kalev products can be bought in most supermarkets and food stores as well. For the largest choice and the best offers however, I would recommend you to go to the Kalev shops themselves.
This is the local and biggest chocolate brand of Estonia. It is coming in all sizes, colours, fillings and tastes. I bought many kinds for me, for my kids and for friends.
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