Wild at Palate: Riga-gauja European Region of Gastronomy 2017



To all my foodie friends, mostly those living so close, in Lithuania and Estonia. If you haven't heard yet (which I refuse to believe), in 2017, the Riga-Gauja region (Riga, Sigulda, Cesis and Valmiera) is bearing the honorary title of European Region of Gastronomy.

For the past three years I had a pleasure to enjoy Riga's culinary scene to the fullest. And boy, do I like it! Local, seasonal, sustainable, from farm to table food is thriving in Latvia's capital no matter where you step in: the best named restaurant in the Baltics or just find a seat in relaxed, hispter and trendy cafe / bar. If you think Latvians eat kind of the same stuff as Lithuanians do, you're mostly right. If you have never heard of Latvian food and think they eat weird stuff, you're also about right. The thing I like the most here is creativity and freedom of new generation chefs that results in bold flavors, astonishing presentation and the feeling of 'here and now'.

The goal of the movement European Region of Gastronomy is to unite various regions of Europe where local dishes are a defining factor and to jointly promote gastronomic tradition and preservation of ethnic foods and their diversity. It is an unprecedented event and a huge achievement to the whole Baltic region, an opportunity to represent our heritage, traditions and the way they are carved into our modern lives.

The slogan – Wild at Palate – has been chosen to remind of the gastronomic variety of the region. With it everyone is invited to learn about various aspects of gastronomy tourism by looking into and enjoying the taste of nature in Latvia and by getting familiar with country, starting from places where the nature treasures grow or live and until these natural goods get processed and delivered to the consumer.

Riga-Gauja region, includes the municipalities of Riga, Sigulda, Cesis and Valmiera. The program of events for the European Region of Gastronomy 2017 in Latvia is organized by the tourism sector professionals, involving the top chefs from the finest restaurants, farmsteads, proprietors and persons affiliated with the arts and entertainment. New happenings are held, new tourist routes are appearing, and the subject of food is placed front and center at well-known events.



The series of Riga-Gauja region events were launched with a unique and unprecedented gourmet event - the first Riga Street Food Festival | edition: Winter | on January 14th. Riga’s top chefs have risen to the challenge to create their own versions of Latvian gastronomic masterpieces in the blistering cold highlighting the wide range of Riga-Gauja region winter produce, encompassing both the primeval and the contemporary. Believe me it was one-of-a-kind experience! That said, I am quite disappointed that this event didn't have a continuity and never occurred again.

As the year unfolds, the region is celebrating its food and cultural distinctiveness in creative and compelling ways. A recent video, just released, captures the exciting and artistically creative concepts unfolding in Riga.

The partners of the Riga-Gauja region have developed a guide and a homepage, where everyone interested can follow up the event schedule to find the most appealing ones for themselves. In the event schedule you will find truly exciting events, such as the gastronomy film festival, the restaurant weeks, various seminars about medical herbs and so on.

I kindly invite and encourage you all to show some respect to our neighbors for being able to hold such a huge and important title (sharing the honor with Denmark's Aarhus and the Lombardy region of Italy, by the way) and organize these awesome events throughout the year. Give a brotherly love and come visit. It is nice and tasty here (and cold, too). And if there's any free minute left besides of eating, maybe we could grab a cup of coffee!

*Pictures: http://www.rigagauja.lv

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