I have some Latvian friends who are pretty amazing. To be invited over to their house is a guarantee of an incredible meal that will span several hours and be accompanied by many glasses of wine, maybe a snifter or two of something harder, and some of the best food you'll ever eat.
These guys live in Madison, but drive to an Amish Market in Baraboo every few weeks for meat, they drive to Chicago to get fresh seafood. They are the foodies this city deserves.
Every meal is a long affair starting with appetizers like these.
Smoked salmon on crispy pitas with cream cheese and peppery arugula.
See how there are two different colors of Salmon, that's because they have both wild caught and farm raised salmon. They make it themselves. And it's some of the best smoked salmon I've ever tasted. It takes 3 days to prepare, dry rubbed, brined, soaked and dried with brown sugar and rum all before it's cold smoked.
Salmon caviar in little pastry cups with creamy cheese. just... just... yeah. Yum.
Can't forget some charcuterie, they smoked some of this themselves and some of it was bought somewhere fancy. There is Coppa, procuitto, mortadella, Lomo, and probably more buried in there. They are Eastern European and have a great appreciation for the smoked arts. As do I.
Why not add a little home made pate! Of course we need some home made pate! Why doesn't everyone just have a bowl of this stuff around 24/7? I am a huge fan of pate, and this was a really good one. The trick is not too eat too much of it. (Good luck with that)
Grind and pack your own sausage? Yeah that sounds like a great idea!
Smoke it and serve it for dinner! I'm in!
Well of course you make your own headcheese; I'll just have a few little bites! These were not actually made with the head; apparently they had trouble sourcing a whole head, so it's actually just bits of pork butt, belly, and trotter boiled until it was thick and tasty. And so so tasty it was.
Oh I couldn't possibly have any more!
Well a little pickled fish on black bread that your brother flew in from Latvia with? Well that just needs to get eaten. The pickled herring was just on the edge of a being pickled it was about 1000x better then any pickled herring I have ever tried, it tasted more like fish and less like brine! Oh so tasty. The fish was just as delicious it's actually picked rainbow trout!
These were a items from two different parties but it really just spans a typical meal at their house. A million little bites, some tasty smoked things, and pickled things. It's always amazing, always the best XYZ I've ever tasted and almost always there are things I've never tried before.
They make most of it at home, from scratch... This... this is why you need foodie friends. And if you looked at any of that food any said to yourself "Eww, I wouldn't eat that!" It's mostly because you haven't tried enough of the best stuff on earth. But hey... more for me!