The best Baltic foods are now known!
The Riga Food 2023 Baltic food industry fair, which was held in early September, hosted the Baltics’ first prestigious food quality competition, The Baltic Taste Award 2023, for Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian food manufacturers to submit their best products to a top international jury.
The goals of the Baltic Taste Award are to discover the highest-quality foods made in the Baltic states, to boost the visibility of the best of them on an international scale, to raise the profile of the manufacturers and their products and to foster cooperation among food service professionals and food producers.
In its first year, the competition already enjoyed 102 different food product submissions in 10 categories: bread and pastry products; milk and dairy products; meat and meat products; fish and fish products; honey; berry, fruit and vegetable products, including sweets, chocolate and nuts; non-alcoholic beverages; fermented beverages; spirits; vegan foods.
‘I would like to thank the food manufacturers confident in their products who decided to take part in the competition. Everyone benefits from this, as every participant gets comments and recommendations from an international jury on how to improve their products or ideas on possible combinations with other things. It is great that the fair was a place for setting up new partnerships. A few head chefs expressed their intention to include the products submitted to the competition in their restaurants’ new seasonal menu,’ Rolands Nežborts, Riga Food manager, said.
‘We are proud that in contrast to other competitions in Europe, the jury in our food quality competition consisted exclusively of international and world-renowned professionals. Importantly, European experts have different tastes and can better determine if a product is more exportable. Getting an outside view is always very important! The experts really liked the Baltic fish, meat, and dairy products, some even getting maximum scores,’ Svetlana Riškova, ‘Pavāru klubs’ board member, pointed out.
On 7 September, behind closed door at the Ķīpsala Exhibition Centre, an international jury of Europe’s leading head chefs, bartenders, sommeliers and food process engineers spent four hours blind-tasting and evaluating foods made in the Baltic states. The jury assessed the taste, smell, texture, and appearance of the products, making comments and suggestions for improving them, and for possible pairings with other products. It included such world-renowned chefs as the Worldchefs Central Europe regional manager, Villeroy & Boch – Culinary World Cup organiser, Vatel Club Luxembourg vice-president, Luxembourg Chef Academy Instructor Alain Hostert (Luxembourg), Eiriksson Brasserie owner, Bocuse d’Or Iceland President Fridgeir Ingi Eiriksson (Iceland), Dia 36.line Restaurant Head Chef and Latvian flavour connoisseur Lauris Aleksejevs (Latvia), Akustika Head Chef Artūrs Taškāns (Latvia), Lithuanian Sustainability Academy Ambassador Justinas Kapkovičius, Bocuse d’Or Lithuania President Darius Katinas, Head Chef of the president of Estonia Taigo Lepiks, ‘Jauno pavāru kustība’ Association Co-founder Žanis Raivo Behmanis, and others.
Award winners and top-rated products
On 9 September, the international jury, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian food producers and the media gathered in the Riga Food 2023 living room to determine the winners of the competition in a busy and exciting atmosphere. Thirteen products received the highest award, a gold medal; silver went to 11 products, and bronze medals to 15. Let us discover some of the highest-quality and tastiest foods in the Baltics!
Top marks for 13 products
The international jury praised the foods made by Baltic fish producers: gold medals went to Sudrablīnis for natural trout caviar and to LĪCIS-93 for sprats in olive oil. Another two were awarded to Royal Nordic for its Queen Harbour cold-smoked salmon fillet and Jerki air-dried salmon. The two products are made from superior-class high-quality chilled Norwegian salmon fillets. PŪRE also received the highest award for two of its products: blueberry jam and organic blueberry jam. The recipe for both was created by Dace Ersta. Another gold medal went to SunBears for its ‘Lāču piens – Apelsīns’ liquor, created by Māris Pāvilsons. ‘Smiltenes piens’ received gold for its ‘Smiltenes siers’ cheese (50% fat), created for the centennial of Smiltene. Alda Hāne went home with gold, receiving it for the honey harvested from the lime trees at Pullēni Apiary. Tallegg got a gold medal for its chicken fillet shashlik marinated in grapefruit and mineral water, created by Tiina Stint. The ‘Brūzilu liellops’ aged T-bone steak by Airene was also found to be outstanding, and the company got gold for it. Foxy’s Bake Shop also received praise for its vegan croissant, created by Alexandre Monnot, and so did Mantinga with its CIABATTA dark Italian bread that has a rich sweet and sour rye flavour, made with rye malt flour and plant fibre.
Silver medals for 11 foods
Eleven products received silver medals in the Baltic Taste Award 2023 prestigious food quality competition at Riga Food 2023. One of the medals went to Abavas for its non-alcoholic quince drink Sparkful Kombucha, created by Niklass Barkāns. Soira also got a silver medal for its LĪLAVU hard cheese, which has even been awarded three gold stars as part of the world’s top food rating system, British Great Taste. Lithuanian company MB Maži Mamutai took home a silver medal for its Agrurkai (‘Spicy Cucumber’), created by Vilius Tamošaitis. In the Vegan Products category, Chia Caviar, produced by Nata and developed by Ivars Rutkovskis, intrigued the jury. Silver medals also went to ‘Lības dārzi’ for its ‘Tillas-pastillas’, LIDO for its pork neck steak in lingonberry marinade, and Royal Nordic for its Queen Harbour hot-smoked salmon fillet. UNDA received a silver medal for its sprats with a lemon slice in sunflower oil and olive oil in the Diplomats gift set of the ‘Vēstures mantojums’ (‘Historical Heritage’) series. In the Honey category, the silver medal went to Meds honey by Pūre, harvested in the meadows and forests of Kuldīga Municipality. In Bread and Pastry Products, silver medals were awarded to Fazer Latvija for its Fazer Street Food oat polar bread and its Foxy’s Bake Shop natural sourdough baguette, created by Alexandre Monnot.
Bronze for 15 Baltic products
In the Baltic Taste Award 2023, 15 foods got bronze medals, which also can be used on the label of products that receive them. Bronze went to Fazer Latvija for its Fazer Street Food polar bread with potatoes for a varied meal, to the SOLO bakery for its bran bread and to Gbakery for its ‘Itālijas garša’ bread with hard cheese. In the Meat and Meat Products category, only home-style pork aspic by LIDO received bronze. In Milk and Dairy Products, bronze was awarded to Nõo Lihatööstus for its ‘Cheesy grill’ grill cheese, created by Anne Värä, and to ‘Jaunpils pienotava’ for its 9% whole-milk cottage cheese. Unda received a bronze medal for its sprats with premium cold-pressed sunflower oil and olive oil, and sprats with bay leaves in sunflower and olive oil, all included in the Diplomats gift set of the ‘Vēstures mantojums’ (‘Historical Heritage’) series. The BLUE CIRCLE arctic char product, whose recipe was created by Lauris Apsis, received a bronze medal. In the Honey category, bronze went to Meds multifloral honey by Pūre, harvested in the meadows and forests of Kuldīga Municipality. ‘Skonio linija’ also took home a bronze medal for its chilli soup with chickpeas and quinoa. Both delicious and vegan! Two companies won bronze medals in the Spirits category: SunBears for its premium-quality Apple Sun Bear liquor and Snowflake, for its CRAFT VODKA, distilled from only the finest organic wheat grain. In Vegan Products, there were two bronze medallists: ‘Skrīveru Pārtikas kombināts’ for its delicious Gotiņa vegan milk sweets and LIDO for its vegetable pelmeni.
Organised by: international exhibition company BT 1, ‘Pavāru klubs’, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture.