10 Baltic Restaurants to Follow on Instagram

It goes without saying that we start eating with our eyes. And I believe food should be appealing, eye pleasing and tell us stories. As a photographer and content creator I could die for great, solid and sustainable visuals. For me it is one of the most important key components of building a great and consistent brand. Mom may have told you not to judge a book by it's cover, but the restaurant that takes care of it's social media, will take care of you and your food.

Starting a few years back, the love of #foodporn has taken the world of visual social media by storm.  Increasingly, customers were researching restaurants on social media before making a reservation or dining decision. They were (and still are, more than ever) craving mouthwatering images of delicious plates, scoping out the scene to determine the dress code, and scrolling through content to create an opinion about the place — all before even picking up a fork.

Maybe Baltic countries aren't the food capital of the world but following the worldwide trend many restaurants have taken the initiative to create Instagram accounts of their own, frequently posting their gloriously tempting and delicious looking food creations.

That being said, they are doing a remarkable job. Some restaurants just know how to post food pics on Instagram, so I wanted to highlight the best. I did some digging and found what I believe are the 10 best restaurant Instagram accounts in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that you should follow right now.



SWEET ROOT

This is easily Lithuania's most beautiful and carefully crafted restaurant's Instagram account. Seasons inspired local cuisine reflects in beautiful pictures mostly made by my dear friend (and one of my favourite photographers) Šarunė Zurba. Natural, local and seasonal are not only food but also visuals defining keywords. Slow down, take your time and experience true seasonality of Lithuanian nature.


NÜMAN

>> We like it clean and warm. There is a form of sophistication that we value the most – it‘s attention to detail. We focus on extreme quality and tasteful aesthetics. But the king in our house is the Balance of the Whole – the food, the vibe, the interior, the staff, and the right ratio of intimate and social << says an excerpt from Nüman's ABOUT page on Facebook and I couldn't add anything more. Follow the link and see it yourselves. From the first Nüman's post on Instagram I was hooked as a professional and followed all their accounts. There is no any other restaurant in the Baltics that does social media as good as Nüman. [More on that coming soon.]


GASTRONOMIKA

A brainchild of Cordon Bleu trained chef Liutauras Čeprackas, Gastronomika is not your ordinary restaurant. Recently named The Best Restaurant of 2017 by 30 Best Restaurants of Lithuania, Gastronomika is a unique place that seeks to reveal the connection between food and culture. It also clearly reflects in restaurant's Instagram account – clean, minimal, dark pictures by Martyna Jovaišaitė–Paukštė gleams the mysterious and fine- dining essence of restaurant.



FERMA

Opened just last summer, Ferma is one of the trendiest and most talked about restaurant of Riga. Ferma means ‘farm’ in Latvian, and this restaurant aims to bring nature to the city on the plate. (Just in a more prosperous and chic manner than previously mentioned Sweet Root from Vilnius). An ode to the age of modernism is sung not only in the kitchen and dining room but also on their Instagram account which is full of vibrant, juicy food pictures.

RESTAURANT 3

Named the Best New Restaurant of 2015, Restaurant 3 is the ambassador and defining pioneer of modern Latvian cuisine. Led by the trinity of local top chefs Martins Sirmais, Juris Dukalskis and Eriks Dreibants, Restaurant 3 is a classy establishment with a menu made up of the best things Latvian countryside has to offer. Peek to their Instagram account to ascertain how beautiful contemporary Latvian food can be.

MUUSU TERASE

Opened just a few months ago, Muusu Terase is the younger sister of local favourite Muusu restaurant. Bright, dreamy and spunky, it found its place in a just as dreamy spot – the right bank of Daugava, which delights with the city's beautiful sunsets. What I love the most about their Instagram account – the consistency and great storytelling that follows restaurant's journey from it's first steps painting walls and setting up the cosy place to enjoy.



RESTORAN Ö

>> We get our inspiration from the Nordic nature. Unpredictable seasons. The cold and grey Baltic Sea. Dark forests and their magical gifts. Farmers and small businesses. Hunters and fishermen. Clean air and black soil. Forgotten preservation and preparation methods. We always add a bit of island humour to our dishes. We have the coolest team on the planet! << And the most scrumptious Instagram account between a fair share of Estonian restaurants, I would add. The equally fashionable menu, prepared by chefs Martin Meikas and Ranno Paukson, is inventive and modern with emphasis on the use of local ingredients beautifully reflecting in . 


KAKS KOKKA

Kaks Kokka (Two Chefs) is a little brother of restaurant Ö, which is managed by the team of same two chefs Ranno Paukson and Martin Meikas and is totally worth to keep an eye on it! As well as their Instagram page full of perfectly centered and meticulous shots of alluring food and ambience. Restaurant that is constantly changing and is never exactly the same maintains to keep their visuals pretty consistent: colourful, vibrant and catchy at the same time.

ART PRIORI

From the moment you follow the link to Art Priori's Instagram account you're in for a treat. Scroll down for beautiful curated pictures of copious amounts of home-made bread (with spiced butter), complimentary pate, the unique presentation of all menu items. Dark but pure colours, focus on fresh Estonian seasonal products and restaurant life makes you want to fly out to Tallinn and give this place a try. 



The Zen Art of Cooking

Every season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table is a true masterpiece of visual storytelling. It is like Christmas in our house (OK, it’s more like Christmas for me but it seems that we both tend to enjoy carefully crafted stories). Last week David Gelb’s mesmerising documentary series Chef’s Table returned to Netflix for Season 3, and since all the previous seasons were outstanding and astonishing in their own way, being a one-of-a-kind meditation on creativity, in exploring the identity and artistic process of each chef, the series transcends the genre of the cooking show.

Moved by previous seasons and incredible personalities of chefs like Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Magnus Nilsson and Dominique Crenn, I personally believe that our conception of food is deeply rooted in identity; this is what drives much of its cultural hype. And in Chef’s Table, the influence of personal history is overwhelming. That said, after we watched the first episode of this season focused on Jeong Kwan, the Buddhist monk, who prepares vegan temple food from scratch, I felt like "OK, that’s it. Season is done. What else can be more exciting and yet so simple, nonetheless, so moving?” And I was right, it was of all the episodes, the most touching and stunning. Paradoxically, though, if it was supposed to be centred on food, this episode was not about food at all.

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[Jeff Gordinier] We’re at the time now when restaurants have their Instagram accounts. They have Facebook. They have Twitter. The chefs are promoting themselves. The chefs have cookbooks.The chefs have celebrity TV shows. We live in a culture that wants to worship these chefs, and that would run counter to everything that Jeong Kwan stands for. If people take away, like, “oh, Jeong Kwan is a new star chef,” that’s the wrong lesson. This is not ego food.

[Eric Ripert] Very often, in the restaurant community, we are tempted to cook with the ego. We are distracted by the stars and by the rewards, and by, “Are we going to get the ratings?” and so on. In temple food, it’s not about competing with another monastery. There’s no such a thing as, “Okay, let’s have a competition of the best soup today, and let’s have all the nuns coming together, and we have a judge, and you have a winner.” It’s not about that at all. Jeong Kwan has no ego.

[Jeong Kwan] Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from the fountain, creativity springs from every moment. You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. That is my belief.

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I think I woke up the next morning being more buddhist than I was the day before.
A great article on Jeaong Kwan’s food by Jeff Gordinier for NYtimes.com: goo.gl/qY4pu8


The Joys of Whipped Butter

If you should know one single thing about native Balts, it would be this – butter is in our blood. It is no secret that Baltic people are big on dairy and there are heaps of sweet and sour dairy products to choose from, but butter is the essence of our cuisine.

I  clearly remember the first time and first taste of whipped butter. It was a sweet summer day somewhere five years ago, when me and friend headed for a business lunch to the first brainchild of (now famous) Deivydas Praspaliauskas, restaurant Lauro lapas. The chef himself brought unforgettable bread and butter to the table. Bread cut in thick squares, on a narrow black and thick marble board. Our homemade bread with a smooth and silky whipped miso butter, enjoy. With a little butter knife I smeared the butter considerably thicker than my conscience allowed, sprinkled a few fat, gritty pinches of the flecked salt on top and tucked in. It was my buttery moment and I couldn't get this butter out of my mind ever since.

Because whipped butter tastes like nothing else. It is rich and creamy, sweet and silky and it gently melts in your mouth, leaving a velvety trace of sweet cream that keeps you coming back for another bite. Being as creamy and delicious with every bit.

I picked up this trick and technique from several restaurant chefs that I had luck to work with. It is so quick and easy that I consider it being the biggest sin to not give it a try. At least that. Let it be your pure and simple daily joy. I do. And don't forget to sprinkle some flakes of salt. Because it is the whipped butter that makes everything on our plates more interesting to eat. 

Whipped Pumpkin Butter

180 g butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk or water
3 teaspoons toasted pumpkin oil

After butter has softened to room temperature, put it in small mixing bowl. Add either milk or water. Whip with a mixer on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Then add pumpkin seed oil (2 to 3 teaspoons, according to your liking) and mix on high speed for 2-4 minutes until the butter is light and creamy.

Store in the refrigerator when not in use.
Use daily, smear generously.