On 2 January, 2014 Estonia’s then-president Ilves journeyed to an unassuming Latvian town just south of the border. His goal? To buy something in euros! We’d just adopted the currency.
Media followed Ilves 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 think it’s significant because it gave a rare glimpse of limelight to what I believe is a truly underappreciated treasure of Latvian “cuisine”. It’s about time someone said it out loud – Latvian ice cream is amazing!
If you’ve been to Latvia but haven’t tried Latvian ice cream, you must come back. If you’ve 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 quince?
Even the simplest of ice creams taste good in Latvia. I would guess that this is because of 1) the quality of local dairy 2) the high fat content.
Top Latvian ice creams you should all try this summer
(as voted by Lelde)
Skrīveru mājas saldējums – small-batch multi-flavour gourmet ice cream from a family-run company. Find them at farmers’ markets Latvia-wide! In Riga – Kalnciema Kvartāls market on Saturday mornings.
Grasbergs – ice cream by the litre from a family-owned dairy in North Latvia. Quality plombīrs (plain ice cream) from real milk and heavy cream. This isn’t made from a powder, for sure.
Rāmkalni – flavours include the very Latvian rye bread, rhubarb and seabuckthorn. For the less adventurous – chocolate and strawberry.
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.
Avenei – vegan-friendly fruit and nut lollies. Melt-in-your mouth flavours like salted caramel & walnut, coconut & berry, and avocado & pineapple. Pick up at organic shops in Riga and gourmet markets.
(If all that sounds a bit too exotic for your palate, then stick to the classic plombīrs.)
Enjoyed our post on Latvian ice cream? Continue with What To Eat In Riga!