While initially the idea of paying a visit to Epp Maria Gallery did not seem that exciting, our stay there lasted much longer than planned: the place captivated with its friendliness, warmth and charm. The fact that you are actually visiting an art gallery seems almost irrelevant, the genuine homey feel being so much more powerful - it really does feel like home!
The two-storey building in the Estonian port city of Haapsalu serves as an exhibition space for the works by the painter Epp Maria Kokamägi, her husband, painter and woodcarver Jaak Arro and their daughter, the ceramic artist Liisu Arro. Somewhere among the masterpieces conjured up by the artistic family's creative spirit - the decorative ceramic plates, paintings and carved tables displayed in the rooms of the Gallery - the visitor detects a whiff of delicious home-cooked meal... Indeed, the source of the mouth-watering aromas is the kitchen activities of the couple's second daughter Anni Arro - not only a chef but also one of the most demanded Estonian fashion models. The Gallery offers an opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at your leisure - or plump for a hearty meal, prepared in the tradition of Estonian cuisine. There is no actual menu to speak of, just delicious home-made fare, prepared with love and from quality ingredients. You are served whatever the hostess has felt like cooking on that particular day, which makes it feel even more like visiting a proper family home. On this occasion, it just happened to be salmon pie, borscht, salad and a selection of fabulous little buns and pies. Incidentally, Anni Arro's recipes have been compiled in a couple of beautiful cookbooks, last year's national bestsellers.
Such is the story of this family and their Gallery. It is definitely a place worth paying a visit, if only to sample their food, the main ingredient and added value of which is human warmth.
Keywords: Estonia, Haapsalu, Gallery, Estonian cuisine