For gourmets in search of new tastes, Lithuania has much to offer. So, if you find yourself with guests seeking out new culinary experiences, here’s a rundown of 10 of the taste sensations that the country has in store.
TOP 10 gourmet experiences in Lithuania
Lithuania is one the few countries where you can experience the Old Town of the capital city from above by hot-air balloon. And along with the breathtaking views, during your flight you can also enjoy dishes prepared by a professional chef. The Baltics’ only “flying restaurant” soars over Vilnius in the biggest and most modern hot-air balloon in Lithuania, and will give you a unique gastronomic experience of the very highest standard (in every possible sense).
Pažaislis Monastery on the outskirts of Kaunas is considered to be a masterpiece of European baroque. And while it is still an active monastery inhabited by nuns who can give you a tour of its stunning lakeside setting, you can also find a luxury hotel and one of the best restaurants in the country nestled in amongst the 17th century masonry. The restaurant serves only top-quality dishes, all lovingly prepared by a chef whose creations are guided by seasonality. The tasting menu is like a small performance, as the old culinary secrets of the monastery’s founders are supplemented by bold and unexpected revelations from the present.
The historic cuisine of noble families has been experiencing a renaissance in Lithuania of late, with creative chefs breathing new life into the recipes and gourmet traditions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For instance, at Zypliai Manor in the southwest of Lithuania, diners receive one stunning dish after another – the waiters have to make four servings in total. On the menu you’ll find herring pâté, dove roasted on a roaring open fire, game, beer soup, sweets made from dark bread, and other exclusive delicacies that aristocrats of any era will savour.
The undisputed queen of the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda is the sailing boat Meridianas. After a few decades of service on the high seas, the ship is now moored on the gentle River Danė, where an elegant restaurant serves up delicacies under its striking white sails. Visitors are attracted not only by the menu, which of course includes fish and seafood delicacies, but also by the ship’s exclusive interior design. For example, the main hall of the restaurant features a glass floor which reveals the original wooden structures of the ship as well as numerous other intriguing nautical details.
For the perfect marriage of good food and beautiful views, why not take a picnic cruise down the Neris River through the the beautiful Neris Regional Park? You can choose from several different itineraries – there’s the Vilnius city cruise (9 km) or the trip from Stirniai hillfort to the midst of Kernavė, Lithuania’s historical capital, which has also been called the Lithuanian Pompei (40 km).
It’s one thing to be able to sample the rich velvety local Lithuanian beer on tap. But being able to bathe in it – that’s a whole different level of experience. And at some of the country’s spas, you’ll find you can do just that. And while soaking in a bath of beer, why not take the time to sip one of the many local ales on offer.
Taking inspiration from the Parisian social event (le diner en blanc), which has since gone global, Vilnius has a new yearly gastronomic tradition. On a balmy summer evening, people from the city gather around tables set up in the city streets, enjoying food that they have prepared themselves. But it’s the colour white that makes this event so memorable. Everything is white, you see: the tablecloths are white, everyone participating in the event is dressed in white, even the food is predominantly white. A guaranteed Instagram moment for all.
In the atmospheric riverside town of Rusnė, you’ll discover a whole new approach to the “tasting menu”. To guarantee that your experience of the food is as pure as it can get, a colourful cloth is placed over your head. And for the more discerning palettes, there is a traditional noble’s menu available, which includes such delicacies as Blood of Deer brandy and bacon in chocolate. And once the dinner is over, you can experience the delights of butterfly or dragonfly watching.
In Vilnius, next to the atmospheric residential area of Užupis, at the curve of the River Vilnelė, you will find the heart of the city’s global food scene. Open kitchen is a carefully curated selection of the city’s best food providers and it offers some of the greatest tastes the city has to offer. From stalls and food wagons you’ll find everything your tastes could wish for: burgers and waffles, Mexican and Asian dishes, and much more. And that’s not all. As you enjoy your food, there’s the atmosphere to soak up, with live music, craft workshops, educational activities, circus performances and other events running regularly. Open Kitchen takes place every Friday and Saturday, from May to September.
For first time visitors to Vilnius who are eager to experience some real Lithuanian cuisine, this is a great place to start. feelZcity runs regular Lithuanian food tasting events in the heart of Vilnius. While you experience such culinary local treats as potato balls with meat filling, cold beetroot soup, and a drink made of dark bread called gira (kvas in Russian), you’ll be accompanied by rousing renditions of traditional Lithuanian folk music.
Information: “Lithuania Travel”
Photo: Alfas Ivanauskas / VMG