On 2 January 2014 Estonian President Ilves journeyed to an unassuming Latvian town just south of the border where his aim was to make a purchase using Latvia’s then-new currency – the euro. Media followed him into the local supermarket so that Latvians across the land could see him fork out on a tub of Rūjienas saldējums, the pride of said unassuming town – Rūjiena – which is in fact home to a well-known Latvian ice cream factory.
The significance lies possibly and probably in the fact that saldējums is THE word every Estonian knows in the Latvian language. But I also like to think of the occasion as being significant because it gave a rare glimpse of limelight to what I believe to be a truly underappreciated treasure of Latvian “cuisine”. It’s about time someone sang its praises!
If you have been to Latvia but have not tried Latvian ice cream, you must come back. If you have lived in Latvia for a while but are yet to try any local ice cream, you must get off your seat and get to the nearest supermarket pronto. Where else can you savour ice cream infused with rye bread, Riga Black Balsam or quinces?
Even the simplest of ice creams taste good in Latvia. My completely untrained guesses as to why this can be are 1) the quality of local dairy ingredients 2) the high fat content.
Top 5 Latvian ice creams you should all try this summer
(as voted by Lelde)
Ekselence Double series – Magnum-class goodness in truly luxurious packaging with flavours including caramel and raspberry-pomegranate.
Laima Serenāde – the ice cream version of Laima’s age-old hit, the Serenāde chocolate with a nut and dried apricot filling.
Karlsons – a vintage classic that everyone remembers from their childhood. Chocolate and vanilla ice creams with a layer of jam, completely covered in chocolate.
Mājas rupjmaizes kārtojums – the ice cream version of Latvia’s beloved layered rye bread dessert with cranberries.
(If all that sounds a bit too exotic for your palate, then stick to the classic plombīrs.)
We look forward to seeing more suggestions in the comments section below!