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So this is the outermost EU and NATO frontier: a small pine wood with a low wire fence that we could easily scale.
There are benches on the Estonian side, but what could there be to see here? The bus runs four times a day, but only if you call in first.
The couple have plenty of stories to tell, and the table is piled high with books, photos and recipes.
In between courses, they serve us home-brewed spirits. It’s like Wales, or Swabia.” He refills our glasses, always from the right, always clockwise.
Seto culture is a happy mix of orthodox Christianity and natural religion, and the Seto are proud of their independence. He doesn’t join us at the table but instead sits beside it, in Seto tradition.
“We have learned to live outside borders,” says Aare. We are unaware that the polite way to refuse more drink is to say: “It looks like water! ” By the end of the evening we are quite tipsy, whereas our host is not. A bus stocked with groceries crosses our path, and Rita, the driver, flashes us a smile. We pass Valka, a border town, and the road turns into a track.
We almost miss our next appointment, a tour of the Soviet bunker in Līgatne, from where the Russians intended to rule the Baltic states in the event of a nuclear war.
Our first stop: a garlic festival in Jõgeva with music and dancing, a competition for the biggest bulb, shashlik and garlic beer. Crowds have gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of the small town’s independence.
That’s the only way to survive the long Baltic winters when people prefer to stay indoors.
The lunch prepared by the chefs of 3Pavaru-restaurant in Helsinki earlier this year was what got interested in Latvia.
The restaurant, opened in 2011, was one of the restaurants behind the revolution in Riga restaurant scene. We kicked off asparagus season with this beauty, the star of which was beautifully set yolk (you know, 20 minutes in sous vide and so forth...)In addition to asparagus season we cracked open rhubarb season - another long-awaited favourite of mine. for digestives we had black currant version of Riga Black Balsam, a local liqueur legend.
It's known for its modern take on Latvian culinary traditions, exquisite presentation and quality ingredients, many of which are sourced locally. The dessert was quite possiböymy favourite all evening and tasted exactly as superb as it looks like. The first and last ones for us, though the locals swear by this.