Last week I went for a quick visit to Riga, in Latvia.
Rain and clouds and temperature around zero. The locals were complaining that they should by now have snow and subzero temperatures!
The main square at ten o’clock in the morning was quiet, although the Christmas market stalls were open.
The crisis is quite severe in the country. A young girl stops me in the middle of the street, asking for help, in perfect English. An old man tries to sell to me some pictures of Riga.
This bakery gave some warmth to the otherwise cold and empty urban space.
This view of the old buildings with the unpaved ground in the front is quite unique. Had the cars not been parked there, we could be back in the 19th century.
The city is impecably clean, you do not even see a cigarette butt on the street.
Lets not forget the communist past. The cold, impersonal totalitarian buildings that nullify the individual human being.
This nice girl was preparing her two horses for a ride in town. They live in a farm out of town and come in Riga for the holiday season, offering to tourists a nice horse ride. The two horses pull a two wheel carriage.
Back in the square with the Christmas market, where I met this nice lady who proudly displays a box with marinated eels.
In her stall I discovered the elongated brown golden smoked eels, but I could not buy them as I would certainly be stopped by customs. The smell was extremely strong!
But then it was not only the marinated and smoked eel that atracted me. What can I say about the abundance of the smoked fishes around the market?
In a nearby stall, two ladies were oferring blood suasage and smoked bacon.
Time to move on, or I will eat the whole bloody (literally) lot!
All around the old town you can see a mix of architectural styles that reminds us of the vitality and the power of the baltic state centuries ago.
I stayed in the old town, at the “Grand Palace Hotel”, and was quite happy there, even though I stayed for only one night. The building is beautiful maintained, and has the features of a mansion. The reception area is the entry hall of the mansion.
I had dinner at the Hotel’s Restaurant, and am happy to say this was a very good choice! Exc ellent service, and way above average food. Here is the amuse boouche, a slice of jamon rolled around grapefruit eith a touch of balsamico on the side.
My first dish was salmon tartar, which was excellent. I especially liked the layer of avocado cubes, and the red fish roe. Perfect company for the samon, which was trully raw.
For the main dish I got the breast of duck, medium – rare, and again, hit the pot! The meat was juicy, with firm texture and gamey taste, the thin layer of fat crunchy and tasty.
Back to the Christmas Market, where the cheese and carrot tarts are perfect for desert, with sweet hot wine served in a glass.
Some tasty rolls for breakfast.
Au revoir Riga!