Riga proudly displays its culinary culture – and its shipbuilding history, By James Brewer
The Baltic port city of Riga is again cooking up special treats for visitors. A collaboration between Riga Tourism Development Bureau and the Chefs Club is renewing for 2014 the successful project themed asDelightfully Delicious Destination – Riga, in which city restaurants offer menus based on selected seasonal products.
Other tourist attractions in the city currently include a centenary exhibition about Riga Shipyard, which continues to be active in repair and other services.
Highlights of the foodie extravaganza will be two Riga Restaurant Weeks. Riga Spring Restaurant Week will take place from May 5-11, while the autumn event will be from October 13-19, just in time for the harvest. Chefs will offer specially designed three-course meals consisting of an appetiser, a main course and a dessert – all for what is described as one attractive price.
During April and May, menus will provide the opportunity to taste contemporary Latvian cuisine with a focus on locally-produced goat’s cheese, wood sorrel and lorchels which are large fungi. Summer menus (June- August) will feature peas, crayfish and gooseberries. In autumn (September-November), restaurants will offer chokeberries, honey and Baltic flounder, while meals including legumes, parsley and veal liver will warm the winter months (December-February).
Ms Vita Jermolovica, a board member of the tourist bureau, said: “Last year, the idea of Riga as the Baltic capital of gastronomy was a total success – during the restaurant weeks, more than 10, 000 special offers were served. This means that tourists show a lot of interest in our restaurant culture.”
The aim of the project is to promote Riga as the Baltic capital of gastronomy and, at the same time develop the restaurant culture of the capital. In 2013, a total of 30 restaurants and cafés took part in the project, and this year even more may participate.
Restaurant staff members are encouraged to educate visitors not only about their special offers, but also about the Latvian products from which the dishes are prepared.
Information about the Delicious Destination participants and menus is at the following links:
Meanwhile, at the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation until the end of April 2014, the exhibitionRiga Shipyard — 100 will unfold the history of Rīgas kuģu būvētava (Riga Shipyard), one of the largest and oldest shipbuilding businesses of the Baltic region.
The company, privatised in 1995, repairs every year more than 130 ships from mainly European and Scandinavian clients.
More than 70 ships have been built in Riga Shipyard during the last 35 years. The yard was founded in 1913, and had to be revived after being destroyed in World War II. A full reconstruction of the yard was launched in 1963. During Soviet times Riga Ship Repair Factory was the largest shipyard in the Baltic region, repairing ships including scientific research vessels, and building ferries and tankers.
The museum website is www.rigamuz.lv
At Latvian ports, turnover dipped 6.3% to 70.5m tonnes at Latvian ports in 2013, but with two new terminals beginning operation, the Freeport of Riga expects an increase in volumes in 2014. Cargo throughput had a good start in January 2014, showing an increase of 13.2% on January a year earlier, a period which had been impacted by global market weakness, and this was a better performance than some other Baltic ports which with the exception of Tallinn had cargo declines.
At the end of 2013 the Euro60m construction of a mineral fertiliser handling and temporary storage terminal was completed at Riga, and began operation on December 18. Fertiliser exports are heading via Riga to South America, China, India, Europe, Australia and many other countries. It is hoped that the terminal will handle 1.5m to 2m tonnes a year. A new bulk cargo handling terminal is set to be commissioned in 2014.