It is hard for me to believe that just over a week ago I was in Toronto having a Latvian brunch with my mom at The Latvian Centre in Toronto. It was the first of the fall season and is something I have wanted to do for a long, long time. When my mom suggested we go with her and a friend, I was super excited! My mom came from Latvia to Canada as a young girl during World War II and I grew up listening to her speak to Grandma in Latvian so it was a joy to be surrounded by the language for a beautiful meal.
The centre is decorated in Latvian art, from this scene of Riga to intricate wooden art sculptures to the Latvian tradition of weaving. No where else have I been able to see so much of the beauty of Latvian self-expression.
We started off the brunch with a salad plate, from chicken to marinated mushrooms, finished off with homemade pickles, bread and I even went back to my early childhood memories and had some herring with sour cream. This must be where I get my complicate palette from!
This was one of the best homemade chicken soups I have ever had. Brewed with parsley and turnip, the flavour was deep and complex even though it appeared to be a simple dish. Soup is an art form and this was a masterpiece.
For the main meal you could choose between a pork chop or fish so I chose the fish with a sour cream and dill relish, served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Meat is a big part of the Latvian diet, at least in our house it was, so there was an additional dish to try so my mom and I split a sausage with some sauerkraut. Delicious! So tasty, it was one of my favourite parts of the meal.
This mocha cake was the true star of the entire brunch. I could not help but laugh though since this was the dessert my mom originally wanted me to make when she came to visit. She thought that the Latvian Hazelnut Torte we spent an entire day making was this dessert but no, we got it wrong. The dessert she wanted was a three layer cake made with meringues and slathered with mocha icing. Now that I know just how divine this recipe is, I will invest in buying the three springform cake pans required to make it. Absolutely worth it, this cake was one of the best things I have ever tasted in my entire life!
As we were leaving our server explained to us that normally there would be more people at the brunch but there were competing events happening since it was the Latvian Thanksgiving. My mom and I were shocked! We had no idea that we were doing anything traditional in a Latvian way at all other than getting together to eat!
Considering it is Canadian Thanksgiving and I live in Canada I felt it appropriate to share my Latvian Thanksgiving with you today. Wherever you are, whatever cultural traditions you follow, at some point during the year we have an autumn harvest celebration. I hope that yours has been and will be as beautiful as mine with my mom. Labu apetīti!