True treasure. Valmiermuiža
There are people who cook and there are people who tell stories. Through food. Chef Dzintars Kristovskis is one of those who tells stories through every plate he brings to your table. Be it compliment from the chef or a dessert, every little thing tells a story.
Although cooking from local ingredients is a common thing all over the world, he is still a pioneer in Latvia. Particularly in the scale he does it. When spring comes, Dzintars is already thinking about fall and winter, trying to pack as many flavors as possible into jars that he delivers to the cellar. Walks through the forest and meadows are part of his and his team’s job because that is where the real and authentic Latvian taste grows. And here we are not talking about common things such as mushrooms, berries, and other obvious stuff. He picks up much more – everything previous generations knew how to cook (or maybe didn't) and we have forgotten. He will serve cream made from hay, oil from spruce shoots, or ice cream from sage or tarragon (because that is the only ingredient in the garden). Local chicken here is not the one that has been brought from other parts of Latvia but the one that grows just over the Estonian border (that is much closer than many other places in Latvia).
A visit to Valmiermuiža restaurant is an experience that takes you to another level. A level where you can see how all the simple things are made simply, but at the same time with an element of surprise. No – do not think that nitrogen will be part of your meal here. NO, no, no! The meal consists of techniques that are well known in Latvian cooking (like smoking), but the taste will be much more refined. The freshly-picked asparagus from a local farm will be smoked but still explode with it's own fresh taste. The trout will be as perfectly smoked and cooked as trout should be – to be able to eat it with just a fork and enjoy how the succulent flesh just separates.
Valmiermuiža has become the one and only place that actually allows you to experience what the taste of Latvia is all about. Without any additions of foreign products, without “just a bit of Italian olive oil or French baguette” just because people like to have it. Without the pretext that people are not ready for such cuisine. No. Dzintars does not know arguments such as “it would be easier to sell”, “ people want that”, or “people do not want all this local stuff” that you can hear so much around Latvia. NO. He is certain that we have everything that we need to enjoy the best gourmet experience with products that are gathered just around the restaurant. And that is a true treasure. And that is something we all should experience.
Text and pictures: Signe Meirane
Photos taken with Sony alpha 7s