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!
Samantha Gianulis says
I am so jealous at the early Thanksgiving celebration up North. Everything looks divine (I love herring).
Debra She Who Seeks says
It all looks so delicious! There’s something very “soul satisfying” about eating the food of your people, isn’t there? It just connects you to your heritage in a very tangible way.
Happy Thanksgiving to you. Hey that torte look delicious. Thanks for sharing your family meal with all of us. It is interesting to see how food says so much about our family heritage.
Hi, Suzie! Glad you’re safely home from Toronto. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I enjoyed learning about your Latvian heritage. Happy Thanksgiving!
The pic of the torte/cake looks and sounds very much like the kind a Minneapolis, MN Latvian woman made back in the 1970s through the early 1990s in her home kitchen for Latvia events and could also be special ordered if you knew an insider. It was an “old country” recipe. Some interesting qualities which set it apart were that the very bottom of the cake (they called it a torte) had a cookie layer which was spread with raspberry jam, similar to Alexander Kuka, but no lemon glaze on the Mocha version of the torte. The buttercream was piped on top with incredible detail of pale stained buttercream to make tiny, delicate colored flowers, and they outlined the entire cake to show where the cut lines should be so that it almost looked like a spider web. Cognac was drizzled on the sponge cake layers as they were assembled. It was magical. She had two versions, one Mocha and the other lemon. Lemon was good, but the Coffee and Cognac flavored were always preferred if I had the choice. I sought out the recipe after she passed. I’ve made twice, but never had the patience to decorate as they did, which is how the torte picture here looks. I’ll have to dig it up and post it somewhere as I’ve not been able to find the original online anywhere.
Suzie the Foodie says
I believe that torte is in the Latvian Cookbook that the Latvian Cultural Centre sells, if you are interested! Yes, there are cakes that are tortes! Oh my goodness that sounds beautiful! And fascinating. Magicla indeed! Coffee and Cognac, how can you go wrong?
Jeanette Tupe says
I am desperately looking for this cake’s recipe. if someone has it or can direct me to it on the web, please do so with my sincere thanks. We have been looking for years. Thank you.
Suzie the Foodie says
Hi Jeanette! My mom always bought her copies at the Latvian Cultural Centre so email them and see if they will sell it to you online: https://latviancentre.org/en/ If you write me directly I will email you a photo of the recipe no problem: email@example.com
Thanks for your enthusiasm!