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Cuisine from the Baltic States

As well as its culture and beautiful buildings, the cuisine of the Baltic countries has been re-discovered – and found to be a real surprise. Local produce and a modern outlook has combined to produce some of the most exciting cuisine in Europe. It’s a young industry but it’s growing fast.

Dining in the northernmost Baltic State can mean favorite local dishes or very moderately priced international and fusion cuisine, which is why foodies flock to Estonia. Heavily influenced by centuries of German rule, the Estonian is also historically rather limited – the typical ingredients are black bread, pork, fish, cabbage soup, potatoes, vegetables and various dairy products. Try some traditional Estonian dishes, for example, Baltic sprats with bacon and cream, pork with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, blood sausage and barley, boiled pork in aspic jelly, and smoked salmon. What else is on the menu? Wild boar, venison, bear and deer are all widely available roasted, as patés or in salami-style sausages. Kissell, a sweet made of juice or milk sweetened with berries) and rhubarb cake are some of the most popular traditional desserts.

Latvia is a real paradise for gourmands – here you can enjoy a traditional meal as well as modern cuisine. In everyday life a Latvian would indulge in meat croquettes, meat and fish, pork ribs, steamed sauerkraut, baked potatoes with sour cream, vegetable salads, soups, but for the ancient annual festivities – traditional food and old traditions are observed. Then, the dark rye bread, grey peas, baked or stewed pork, variously prepared vegetables, home-made fresh cheese, fish, meat pies, cakes, biscuits and desserts made of local fruits and berries topped with whipped cream are put on the table. In fact, Latvian traditional cuisine corresponds to the modern fusion principle, namely, it is a mixture of different ethnic and national gastronomic traditions, and is clearly seasonal and uses Latvian grown and processed products.

Every region in Lithuania still serves up its traditional dishes. The Aukštaitija cooks are experts at baking and preparing freshwater fish dishes; Žemaitija residents are excellent with potatoes, vegetables and dairy products. People from Suvalkija are unrivalled in smoking meats, and cakes from Dzūkija are renowned. The most savory smoked fish can be tested in Lithuania Minor and on both shores of the Curonian Lagoon, but what they all share in common is deep, dark, luscious black rye-bread.

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