“We are going to start with dessert,” declares Anda, placing two slices of cake in front of me. The first is a Napoleon cake, a Russian derivative of the French mille-feuille, with multiple layers of buttery pastry and decadent whipped cream. The second is a honey cake, a traditional Latvian dessert made using honey, sour cream and sugar. Both are deliciously rich but eye-wateringly sweet. After three bites, I have to admit defeat. Anda laughs: “We Latvians have a very sweet tooth.”
To reach this bakery, we’ve walked away from Riga’s World Heritage-listed centre (“locals never go out in the Old Town,” says Anda) and are heading instead towards one of the creative neighbourhoods that have sprung up in the last 10 years. Conveniently, the street we’re on provides a potted summary of Latvia’s history. Originally called Alexander (when Latvia was part of the Russian Empire), it changed to Adolf Hitler (during Nazi occupation), then Lenin (when the Soviets retook power after World War II) and is now called Brivibas, meaning freedom.