New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Monday, May 16, 2005

Product of Latvia

It's Monday morning and I've got the day off work. I'm going into the city in a bit but wanted to post a quick update before I do.

Several interesting things happened over the weekend, including one journalistic research project that you'll have to read about in the September issue of Esquire, but here's something I've been looking forward to writing about.

For our Saturday night dinner, Jenn and I decided to have fine cheese, charcuterie, and fruit, paired with Belgian beers. We really enjoy getting cheese, charcuterie, and beer at places like Spuyten Duyvil in our neighborhood, but we figured we'd get more for our money by going to a cheese shop and our local beer distributor.

We walked from our home to the Bedford Cheese Shop, arriving just as the place was closing. Fortunately, a manager was kind enough to let us in for our quick purchases. We went kind of nuts at the shop, because they have so many wonderful things. We got three kinds of cheeses, an aged gouda, an Applebee cheddar, and a gruyere. I also got some prosciutto, several types of olives, a tin of Norwegian smoked salmon, and, the best part, a tin of Riga Gold Smoked Sprats.

(A sprat is a small herring. And a herring is a fish.)

My family originally came from Latvia, and I lived in Riga (the capital) in 1993 and 1994. Smoked sprats in sunflower seed oil are one of the country's major products. It's a standard thing to bring back to America from a trip to Latvia (that and a bottle of Rigas Melnais Balzams).

I was very happy to see a several stacks of cans of these wonderful Riga Gold Smoked Sprats (Product of Latvia) by the register.

It's one thing to see these things sold at a shop out in Brighton Beach, but another thing entirely to see them prominently displayed at what is arguably the hippest cheese shop in New York City (that might sound funny unless you've read the recent cheese articles in The New Yorker and The New York Times).

Riga Gold Smoked Sprats come in round 5.6 ounce tins with a black and gold label. And they are delicious, if you like smoked fish (and let me tell you, they pair wonderfully with the cheese and the beer). I might add, a tin of Latvian sprats only costs two bucks.

So, if I may please make an endorsement and a recommendation, go at your earliest convenience to the Bedford Cheese Shop in the Hipster Mini-mall in Williamsburg (first stop in Brooklyn on the L train) and buy a tin of Riga Gold Smoked Sprats. Get some cheese while you're at it. And try my favorite charcuterie, beef breseola (thinly sliced, air-dried beef).

To complete our meal, Jenn and I bought some grapes and a loaf of sesame seed bread, and we went home had a great feast. We shared a bottle of Delirium Tremens Belgian beer. Fantastic. It was the kind of meal my parents would enjoy. It was wonderful. We were living well, and on the cheap (sort of).

I'm going out now, to enjoy my day off. I'll post more later, but just wanted to tell you about the latest Latvian invasion. I hope Riga Gold Smoked Sprats catch on around here. I'll do my part to make them the official sprat of New York City.


Blogger Jenn said...

I'll second that endorsement for the Latvian sprats. Delicious. And a bargain at $2 a tin. (It was, by far, the cheapest item we bought at the Bedford Cheese Shop, which I also wholeheartedly endorse). Money well spent.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have been trying to purchase the Riga smoked sprats in the Birmingham, Alabama area, Can you provide me with the name, address and phone number of the distributor. Was able to purchase them when I lived in Florida, but recently moved to the Birminham, Alabama area.
Would like to contact the distributor and find out where the sprats can be bought in this area.
Thank you very much. Morris

8:20 PM  
Blogger SHARON said...

Thanks much for these endorsements ! We just received a tin of sprats (smoked in veg oil--hoping that's like sunflower oil)
Had never heard of them before - since I like sardines I am sure to like these and now I have ideas on what to eat with them !
sharon in minneapolis mn

8:51 PM  

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