Riga, the cultural capital of the Baltics is offering up lighter, more refined versions of Latvian staples. Written by Ishay Govender-Ypma (@IshayGovender) written for Fine Dining Lovers.
Often referred to as the pearl of Latvia in Central Eastern Europe, capital city Riga lies at the mouth of the Daugava River and along the glittering Gulf of Riga. It’s home to almost 700 000 residents and widely considered the cultural capital of the Baltics. The striking Gothic churches, Art Nouveau buildings and the medieval structures in the Old Town, lend the city a special charm. If it’s opera or a day at one of the nearby beaches you’re after, Riga seems to offer it all. And while Latvian food, like most from the region, is known to be on the hearty and sometimes greasy side, there are plenty of young chefs reviving the cuisine with a lighter touch.
Latvian staples include pork that’s grilled, stewed and fried (many vegetables are prepared in bacon fat too). Cabbage is usually boiled or fermented like sauerkraut (that would be due to seven centuries of German rule), but is darker and much sweeter in flavour. Potatoes are served boiled, mashed and in stews. Dark loaves of bread made from wheat and rye and slathered in butter are central to many meals and legumes like grey peas (also known as brown peas) and beans are standard fare. Latvians are fond of dairy products – think kefir, sour cream, butter and the daily glass of milk. Robust soups featuring lentils, sausage and potatoes point to Latvia’s humble roots and are still enjoyed year round, often with chunks of fall-off-the-bone meat. Pig head, ears and feet can be found on the menus of more traditional restaurants. Game like deer, elk and wild boar and duck, geese and horsemeat have been eaten since ancient times. While the country enjoys a bountiful coastline, the fresh water fish like pike, vimba, sturgeon and trout are prized.
For traditional food served beautifully try 1221 Restorans, located in a pleasant blue medieval building:
Address: Jauniela 16,
Phone:+371 67 220 171