Zaubes Savvalas Kulinarais Banner
Another highlight of our visit to Amatciens was a visit to nearby Zaubes to take in the annual Savvalas Kulinarais Festivals, or Wild Food Festival, which takes place every year in the  middle of July. The festival exhibits local foods, wines, crafts, and entertainment. It is a nice way for visitors to get a glimpse of local culture. It was a short drive from our host's house, and we all braved the intermittent rain to sample the food and fun of the festival. As shown in the map to the left, the festival itself is divided into three basic areas. The entrance from the road and the walk in the the Manor Park is devoted to locally produced foods and wines, and also featured an archery area. In the adjacent Manor Park exhibits were centered around a stage and featured local cooking, crafts, and entertainment. Following the road at the western edge of the Manor Park brought us to Manor's Gate, where we were able to view local produce, crafts and well as cooking exhibitions centered on Latvian cuisine. Each of these areas is covered in order on this webpage.

Zaubes Savalas Kulinarais Festivals Promotion Video

The Entrance: Local Food and Wines.
The entrance is from the street, and fronts a large meadow and a smaller wooded area. Next to the Welcome booth are a series of displays that all featured locally produced herbs and foods, many of which were available to sample. Just past the displays and to the left was a wooded area in front of a small pond which offered archery for young and old alike. Since Tracy and Sergey had already proven their archery prowess at the Turaida Castle, we turned inward toward the Manor Park Area. In this more wooded area local foods were on display, but many of these were more geared toward immediate consumption, as shown in the photos of the pastries (left) and ice cream (right). We
also purchased some delicious caramel sauce, and did stop by to sample the local wines. Fortified by wine and chocolate, we ventured into the Manor Park area, located in the more wooded section of the festival, which provided some shelter from the impending rain.

Manor Park:
Music, Food, and Fun
Manor Park is comprised of the wooded interior of the festival area, and it was at the heart of most of entertainment. It featured a stage (photo to the right) where there was a constant hub of activity, ranging from culinary contests and handicrafts exhibitions  (photo to the left) to live music. Ringing the stage area were cooking exhibits serving Latvian cuisine and a play area for children that featured the Latvian version of Legos (or Lincoln Logs for those viewers of a certain age.) These photos are shown below to the left and right repectively. From here we headed out to the main road, and walked west to visit the exhibits at the third and most interactive area of the festival, Manor's Gate.

Manor's Gate: Handicrafts and Hands-on Cooking
Manor's Gate is an open meadow to the west of the forested Manor's Park, on the banks of Lake Lejas. Exiting Manor's Park along a main road, we turned left and walked down a small path leading to the meadow. This pathway was dedicated to "Latvian Museum of Nature," and featured the flora and fauna of the region. Prominently displayed were two tents exhibiting the abundance of local mushrooms, and the uses to which they may be put. Further down were exhibits of herbal (medicinal) mandalas, oak acorn coffee, and a vegan cafe.

The northern edge (the side nearest the road) was dotted with small booths that sold handicrafts as well as that staple of life everywhere, beer. The photo to the left shows one of the handicrafts booths. While we were there, Tracy picked up some wooden spoons for our kitchen and for gifts. Shown in the photo to the right is one of the numerous tents touting beer and beer-making ingredients.

Crossing over to the shore of Lake Lejas, we entered the most interactive area of the festival. A row of tents hugging the shoreline were given over to a international cook's festival featuring game and local foods. After chatting with some of the chefs and learning what they were preparing, we left Iron Chef Latvia and ventured a bit further down the lake shore to the Priekuli Cooking School's exhibit, which featured a unique way of cooking. Logs had been cut up into sections of about 3/4's of a meter, and then a chain saw was used to cut a series of slots extending midway down the log section. At the intersection of the slots embers were placed and log begain to burn, with its top serving a cooking surface. This can be seen in the photo to the left.  Local produce was placed on a long bench (photo to the right) and visitors could load up a frying pan and cook over the improvised stove. This was way more fun than Boy Scouts!

A bit further down was local cooking exhibit featuring wild game . The photo to the left shows venison with rosemary awaiting the cook's attention, while the photo to the left show a whole deer being roasted on a spit. With this, our visit came to an end and we wound our way back to the entrance. The food, the crafts, and the entertainment provided a wonderful day-long trip, and the Zaubes Savvala Kulinarais Festivals is an experience not to be missed if you are visiting Latvia in the summer.

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