As a kick-off to spring, City Paper asked famous chef and Baltic health food enthusiast, Signe Meirāne, about her favorite spots in the area for the perfect local picnic, as well as some fresh and healthy cuisine suggestions to pull it all together for a delightful day outdoors.
What places in Latvia and the Baltics would you recommend as the best places to spend a sunny spring day, and where would be the ideal spots for a perfect picnic?
The ideal spot for a picnic is for sure always going to be by the sea, but then one must choose the quietest seaside. A beautiful and calmer spot would be Jūrkalne and Pāvilosta. On your drive there, you can always take along some sklandu rauši (carrot pastries) and, if anything, stop in Kuldīga on the way back for pizzas. Also, stop in Tūja, since it’s always more peaceful there. If looking at other spots, then certainly Cēsis Castle Park is absolutely a top pick—there are so many places to have a picnic that one could picnic all throughout the summer, choosing a new spot every time. For a more chic picnic, Rūmene Manor is the perfect spot (but one must coordinate beforehand with Hotel Bergs, which will prepare a picnic basket for you designed for a delightful outing) with a fabulous park.
What recipe ideas would you recommend to readers for a picnic and/or the perfect springtime meal to inspire them to prepare healthy and delicious foods, as well as enjoy nature and springtime outdoors?
Always the best idea for a picnic is going to be a sandwich. But don’t think that a sandwich is always unhealthy. One must prepare a sprouted pesto with almonds or cashews with a mild olive oil, and combine it with what you please. As a base, one can use flat bread, or a type of seeded toast, or homemade bread. On the inside, put sun-dried tomatoes and lettuce, dried meat, cheese—starting from fresh goat cheese up to hard parmesan. In addition, one must also add greens and avocado. The last bit is required. Healthy and delicious. The same sandwich ingredients can be taken along in containers and put on various crackers, as well.
Also fitting for a delicious and healthy picnic are various smoothies and slow-pressed juices. A smoothie of frozen strawberries, avocado, almond or other nut milk, nut butter, and vanilla would be ideal. Creamy and sweet. If you want it sweeter, add some rice or maple syrup, or honey.
For the picnic, prepare some healthy apple and seed muffins, sweetened only with a bit of brown sugar, but with dates for added sweetness.
And then, of course, there are various types of dessert options—homemade Snickers, dried fruit truffles, various slices of fruit, and cookies. They won’t go bad in the sun and will be healthy. And always as an option, take along some dried fruits, fresh fruit, water, and tea. Oh, and yes, one can also prepare hummus—for the classic version all that’s needed is tahini and chick peas, or also chick peas and avocado, or even chick peas with beets. And it can be used as a dip for anything—vegetables, crackers, rye bread, and maybe some bio chips ;)
Signe Meirāne, as well as being an inventive chef and editor of the culinary magazine, Četras sezonas (Four Seasons), is the author of four cookbooks, Wine and Food Harmony, Cook and Enjoy, Seasons in the Kitchen and, most recently, Time to Cook! See her beautiful photos and healthy recipe ideas on Instagram @signemeirane
Photos courtesy of Signe Meirāne’s Instagram