Ah, Latvia. My eyes widen and my stomach sits up and pays attention every time I think of it. The cultural aspects of Riga and beyond fascinated me. But it was the food I fell in love with.
Now, typically, food in Latvia has not set the stars alight. Poets have not whispered verses into the heavens and foodies have not filled their suitcases with Latvian produce to haul past smugglers on the way home.
While I expected hearty cabbage-based cauldrons of, hm, nothing very much, instead I uncovered a foodie extravaganza. I can’t tell you whether or not my experience was typical.
But I CAN tell you what it was like. And where you can go to taste the same.
Ready to rock and roll?
Let’s get to it then!
Sitting at the table at Tam labam būs augt was an exercise in creativity. As I sat chatting to my friend, the waiter reached over my shoulder and squirted passionfruit syrup all across my placemat. Then mango, a sprinkling of nuts, and some oil infused with herbs.
I was hooked. Now this was the way to nibble on bread while waiting for the meal to begin!
If cocktails could be called an art form (and let’s face it, why couldn’t they be?) then the black velvet hideaway box of Bar XIII would rival the golden triangle in Madrid. It’s a place whose owners have clearly fallen in love with their craft, preparing vanilla and lavender syrups by hand and serving canapes that would make many a restaurant blush. I opted for a “Lavanda Collins” with Beefeater gin, homemade lavender syrup and earl grey soda.
Riga Central Market (which translates to the delicious phrase Rīgas Centrāltirgus) lays claim to being Europe’s largest market. A stroll inside reveals plenty of insight as to what’s popular in these parts: fish. Fish, fish, fish, fish, fish and more fish. Small fish, large fish, smoked fish and vacuum-packed fish.
Yet, what kept catching my eye was the selection of bouncy, perky, orange pumpkins. Sliced and diced or hanging on a string, they were a cheery introduction to the tastes of food in Latvia.
And, of course, the best food in Latvia wasn’t just in Riga, despite the examples I’ve chosen here. Check out the gourmet fish and chips on string and aristocratic soup I found out in the Latvian countryside…
My travel to Latvia came about as part of a collaboration between iAmbassador and Latvian Tourism Development Agency with the support of the European Union Regional Development Fund. As ever, as always, I keep the right to write what I like. Otherwise, it’s just no fun! And when you get the chance to sip lavender cocktails, it really ought to be fun :-)