Amber is very popular in all Baltic states, especially in Lithuania. Here it is called «Lithuanian gold». It is the main Lithuanian souvenir. Every Lithuanian city has stores selling amber. Each of such stores might be visited just as a museum were you can admire a variety of amber products made by local craftsmen.
Sour milk cheese with cumin mentioned in the cookbook for 1796 is original dish of Latvian cuisine traditionally prepared for the Ligo (Jani) Holiday celebreting the summer solstice. Latvian cumin cheese named Jani cheese is included in the EU register of national products with place of origin geographical indication.
Dark strong balm (45 % vol.) of the bitters category with a rich and slightly bittersweet taste is one of the world’s most famous brands produced in Latvia. The composition of the balm includes 24 ingredients, its taste is emphasized by the addition of natural extracts of various berries, flowers, and roots. Riga balsam is available in ceramic bottles protecting the contents from sunlight and from sudden temperature changes. Balsam can be consumed in its pure form, as well as with tea, coffee, ice cream or cocktails.
Georgia is one of the main centers of wine-making with autochthonous grape varieties bred. A bottle of famous Georgian wine (Khvanchkara, Saperavi, Mukuzani, Kindzmarauli, Tsinandali, Twishi, Rkatsiteli) purchased in country of its origin will undoubtedly decorate your table.
This sweet made of a mixture of ground almonds and sugar syrup (or powdered sugar) is not only very popular dessert in Tallinn but also a traditional local souvenir. We recommend you to purchase it at the small Marzipan Museum located at cozy cafe in the Old Town. On your request artist working there can add drawings and inscriptions on marzipan chosen by you.
It is good idea to bring from your travel some unusial element of clothes and suddenly appear in front of your freinds in picturesque outfit or present them some exotic thing completing their image. The doppa (this Central Asian traditional cap was very popular in all parts of the USSR in 1940s-1950s when many children came back from evacuation to Cental Asia diring WW II) and traditional Oriental khalat from Uzbekistan, traditional women’s tank top kurdu from Azerbaijanian, straw wide-brimmed hat or vyshyvanka (traditional national shirt or chemise with embroidery) from Ukraine and Belarus would be good souvenir for you and your familiars.
In Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia carpet weaving is a real folk art with centuries- old traditions. Hand-made carpet would be great souvenir from these countries but if you are not ready to bring with you such large article as a carpet you can just purchase a carpet bag, tablecloth or small cutlery stand. We recommend you to visit colorful local bazaar (market) and certainly your chances to purchase authentic hand-made good will be better, for-example, in Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva than in Tashkent.
This Ukrainian decorative and ornamental folk painting originating from village of Petrykivka not far from Ekaterinoslav (oficially city of Dniepr now) is known since late XIX – early XX centuries. The Petrykivka painting is characterized by a floral pattern associated with the Ukrainian Baroque traditions. You can find authentic hand-made samples of the Petrykivka painting in art salons, souvenir shops, at festivals and fairs.
Belarus is one of the few countries in the world where the art of straw weaving is still preserved and developed. This ancient art began with making of the primitive ritual figures, gradually grew into a real folk decorative and applied art, experienced a deep decline in period of industrialization and urbanization of the mid-XIX – first half XX centuries, and was revived again by enthusiasts in the mid-XX century.
Cloisonne enamel from Tbilisi (minankari) is known since XIX centtury. These unique hand-made goods with numerous small details and original color solutions always were very popular with people visiting Georgia.
All countries offered by us for your visiting have old traditions of ceramic and metal tableware production. We recommend you armudu (type of national glasses for black tea in Azerbaijan and Iran), very popular in Central Asia piyāla (a small hemispherical or truncated-conical upward-expanding cup without handles for food or drinks), famous Uzbek jugs with a curved neck painted with glaze, plates and beverage bowls that have their own unique charm in Georgia, Armenia, the Baltic countries, Belarus and Ukraine.
Please check attentively customer regulations and regulations of food products import to your country if you decide to purchase gastronomic or antiquarian souvenirs. Please try to buy antiques at specialized shops providing their customers with special certificates for presenting at the Custom-office. Smoked fish is to be vacuum-packed. Your local guide will recommend you places where you can purchase original authentic souvenirs and safe food products available for transport to your country.
We kindly pay your attention that a lot of architectural monuments are also functioning religious buildings so we kindly ask you to observe regulations and traditions of this structure visiting such objects. Visiting of religious building in shorts and t-shirt is strictly forbidden. Please check with you local guide or with your hotel (hostel) staff all necessary details before visiting religious houses.
Visiting other countries always gives us the opportunity to get acquainted with local cuisine. Each nationality has its own unique cuisine. However, you will be surprised seeing that absolutely different nationes have a lot of common culinary traditions. Occupying vast territories the Holden Orde, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire were giant melting pots where different peoples came into contact with each other and had the opportunity to get acquainted with each other’s everyday life and enrich their culinary traditions.
In countries of the Caucasian region (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) spicy meat and vegetable dishes often served with lavash (thin flatbread made of wheat flour) are very polular. We recommend you to taste some local dishes. Almost all of them are well-known not only in the Caucasus but also in the Near and the Middle East, among the Turkic and Iranian peoples (for-example, traditional for different Asian countries pilaf is very popular in Azerbaijan where about 50 kinds of this dish is known) but local cuisine has a lot of of original dishes too. The most popular dishes are: ajapsandali (kind of vegetable stew), kuku (Persian kind of omelette of eggs folded in various ingredients ), pastirma (dried meat), dolma (stuffed vegetables or rolls in grape leaves), sujuk (traditional sausages), sulguni (Georgian brined cheese; served in natural form or fried), lobio (traditional Georgian dish of beans), kharcho (very spicy thick Georgian soup with beef, rice, walnuts, plum, garlic and coriander), dovga (Azerbaijanian vegetarian soup based on yogurt and herbs; served cold or hot), khash (traditional Caucasian soup, one of the mostr ancient Armenian dishes), chorba (soup with large chunks of fat meat and large chunks of vegetables), joshpara (soup with small dumplings) and its original Azerbaijanian variation gürzə (snake) with dumplings beautifully twisted into a plait or string shape, bozbash (boiled lamb with peas and herbs), chanakhi (dish of Georgian cuisine consisting of lamb stewed in a clay pot with vegetables), kofta (lamb meatballs), shashlik or shish kebab (pieces of meat fried on skewers or on wooden sticks) and its popular in Armenia and Azerbaijan kind lyulya kebab (minced meat cooked on skewers), chicken tabaka popular in Georgia (chicken fried with garlic, pepper and spices), khinkali (traditional Georgian meat dumplings), qutab (traditional Azerbaijanian thin pie in the shape of a Crescent), churchkhela (peeled nuts on a string in flour-thickened grape, pomegranate or other juices). We suggest you the tasting of the cognac-style Armenian brandy, famous Georgian wines: Khvanchkara, Saperavi, Mukuzani, Kindzmarauli (red), Tsinandali, Twishi, Rkatsiteli (white), mineral waters Borjomi (Georgia) and Jermuk (Armenia).
In Ukraine first of all we recommend you local borscht (beetroot soup with distinctive red color). It is traditional dish of Eastern Slavs, it is very popular in Russia, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Moldova (travelling through countries of the former USSR and some other countries of East Europe you have chance to compare different kinds of borscht) but in Ukrain it is actualy the main dish of local cuisine. Local dumplings with different fillings (vareniki or pierogi) and halushki (boiled dough pieces served both as a separate dish improved with butter or sour cream and as soup with halushki) are also very popular in Ukraine. It is very difficult to exaggerate the popularity of lard in Ukraine. “Lard in Chocolate” is not a joke, it is a real dessert presented, for-example, during the Days of Ukraine in France in 2014 and very popular among tourists arriving in Ukraine. We don’t insist that you must taste it. Just a slice of lard with garlic on a piece of rye bread would be quite enough to get acquainted with this side of Ukrainian culture. Speaking about famous Chicken Kiev (also known as côtelette de volaille or suprême de volaille à la Kiev), it is not Ukrainian dish. It was invented by St. Petersburg restaurateurs in early XX century. But if you would stay in Kiev you can taste local “original” version of this very popular in all countries of former USSR dish.
A distinctive feature of Belarusian cuisine is the wide spread of potato dishes often improved with sour cream. Different kinds of these dishes are known also in Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. Staying in Belarus don’t miss the opportunity to taste at least some of them, for-example: kalduny (kind of dumplings), draniki (potato pancakes sometimes cooked with meat), zrazy (cutlet or meatloaf with different filling), potato babka (dish of grated potatoes seasoned with fried bacon, meat and onions and baked in the oven), dracena (potato casserole made with flour, eggs, potatoes, milk).
Estonian cuisine as a cuisine of the Finno-Ugric people is close to Finnish cuisine with a significant role of sea fish (especially the Baltic herring) dishes and considerable influence of Swedish cuisine. Taditional Estonian «cold table» usually includes pickled herring with sour cream, meat jelly, whipped liver pate, potato salad, rosolli salad similar to Swedish herring salad based on beets, potatoes and herring, pickled cucumbers and pumpkin, ham rolls with filling, meatballs with mayonnaise and stuffed eggs.
Latvian cuisine is very Germanized in cities but in the country especially in Latgale and Kurzeme regions it has preserved ancient original features. Typical dishes of contemporary Latvia cuisine are: Jāņi cheese (sour milk cheese with cumin; this product is one of the symbols of Latvian culture), boiled grey peas with smoked bacon, local version of the Konigsberger Klopse where meatballs are changed for portioned meat chunks, blood sausage which is very popular also in Poland, Czech Rep., Lithuania, Germany, Belarus and Ukraine, sklandrausis (open pie with vegetable filling), Carnikava lamprey (lamprey roasted on the coals), Rucava white butter prepared from thick homemade cream with the addition of yogurt and salt and traditionally served with boiled potatoes or eaten with rye bread.
Lithuanian cuisine is more closely related to Slavic cuisines than to German ones and has more «forest» basis than “sea” one because of Lithuania geographical location. That’s why there is a lot of dishes of feathered and especially red game (boar and moose meat), as well as the widespread use of honey and berries in Lithuanian cuisine. Potatoes is very popular in Lithuania. It is boiled and served with sour cream, cottage cheese and milk, as well as used for potato pancakes and popular pancakes of Žemaitija (potato pancakes with meat filling), potato kluski including its gigantic version Zeppelins, used also as a filling for vedarai (stuffed and baked animal intestines), kugelis (kind of casserole) etc. Other very popular local dishes are: meat soups with cabbage, red (beet) borscht and Lithuanian cold beet borscht (saltibarsciai) prepared on the basis of kefir with pickled beets, blood sausage, zrazy (cutlet or meatloaf with different filling), skilandis (raw smoked pork meat in a pig’s stomach), kibinai (pies with minced meat filling), dumplings, sea fish smoked or baked in the dough.
Uzbek cuisine has largely formed on base of common Asian traditions and recipes. Some of local dishes were mentioned in the writings of Avicenna. One of the most popular and well-known dishes of the Uzbek cuisine is pilaf very popular in all countries of the Near and Middle East. Pilaf in Uzbek and Tajik cuisine is characterized by joint cooking of meat and rice. In contrast, for-example, to Azerbaijan tradition where meat and rice are prepared separately. Other popular local dishes are dimlama (stewed cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions and other vegetables with meat and tail fat), dolma (stuffed vegetables or rolls in grape leaves), kuurdak (roasted meat with vegetable garnish), soup on base of qatiq (fermented milk product popular among the Turkic peoples and in Bulgaria), laghman (local kind of noodles), manti (large steamed dumplings wide-spread in Central Asia), oromo (steamed roll the dough with a meat or potato filling with onions and pumpkin), samsa (three — or four-sided pies with meat, chicken, pumpkin, potatoes, greens), joshpara (soup with small dumplings), qazı (horse meat sausage), boiled sausages cooked of minced meat with rice. Please note that drinking greasy food down with cold water is not recommended. This is very harmful to health. The locals prefer hot tea even in the heat.