LATVIA: Title "Siera meistars" ("Cheese Master")
This title is awarded to farms and manufacturing facilities that prove mastery in cheese making, can talk about the process with visitors, and offer samples for tasting or buying. The title is also awarded to rural saloons, restaurants and other venues that offer locally made cheeses on their menus.
Cheese-making is a long-standing tradition in all regions of Latvia. Centuries ago the country has been a farmland, and every family used to have a cow to provide milk as a staple food. Though Latvia would hardly become a cheese capital, nowadays Latvians more and more appreciate a variety of locally made cheeses like fresh cheese, the type of ricotta; Martinella - a Latvian equivalent of Mozzarella, made of cow milk and its taste is excellent; soft cheese, hard cheese, smoked cheese, aged cheese – all these varieties are like hidden treasures that can be found at small family run cheese making farms in the countryside, bought from local farmers and “green” markets, and even in city supermarkets. Cheese is used as an ingredient in many popular meals like salads, pasta, meet dishes.
The Jānu siers (Jāņi cheese) has the longest tradition as it is, together with beer, the main festive treat of the Midsummer celebration, which also received EU Protected Geographical Indication logo Traditional Speciality Guaranteed - TSG: highlights traditional character, either in the composition or means of production.