Culinary By Justin Gibson

A Taste of the Baltic Sea's Cuisine

Lining the shores of the Baltic Sea are countries with deep, deep wells of timeless culture and tradition. Here, history hangs in the air like a static charge—innovations of the latest and greatest seem infused with the regal spirits of yesteryear. Cuisine is no different: every country has their own unique balance between paying respects to the classic staples and paving the way for the new and novel. Each city seems to draw inspiration directly from the surrounding countryside and sea, with the school of New Nordic cuisine acting as a culinary mirror to the modern life and times of the Baltic.

Below you’ll find an appetizer of information regarding the foods and flavors of the Baltic’s ports. The best part of all? Any sampling of these delicacies comes accompanied with complimentary shore events and a litany of other exclusive benefits when you book through the SELECT Distinctive Voyages program. If you’re curious as to what to taste while discovering the Baltic’s ports, look no further than below.

St. Petersburg

As storied as the many chapters of Russia’s history have been, be it the Russian aristocracy to the Soviet Union to the current day, the one constant through it all is St. Petersburg’s cuisine. Which makes sense, as the other constant is St. Petersburg being the nexus for Russia’s culture. Russian delicacies are as prominent in the modern day as they have been in the last two centuries. Borscht and Beef Stroganoff can be found on just about every menu, but for a truly authentic delve in the motherland, seek out blini. Russia’s take on pancakes, a traditional blini is made with buckwheat flour and topped with savory staples such as sour cream and caviar. As you stroll the city in between meals of blini, bouncing from art museum to palace, the perfect treat to hit the spot is morozhenoe—Russian ice cream made from pure milk. It’s substantially richer than what you’re used to, which aptly sums up most of St. Petersburg’s cuisine.

Russian cuisine display


New Nordic cuisine is just as prominent on this southern side of the Baltic as it is to the northeast: local produce, the freshest ingredients and seafood that is as ethical in consumption as it is delicious. This new take on ingredients is ever present in Estonia’s capital, but especially so in Tallinn’s Old Town. There’s no wrong venue to peruse, but just like castles, some are more rooted in the essence of the land than others. Kuldse Notsu Korts sports the most thorough Estonian fare, offering a succulent sausage feast to quell even the heartiest of appetites. For a more modern approach to local food, try to find either NoKu or Rataskaevu 16. Both are hidden away from visitors, and both sport menus of Estonian classics enjoyed in modern-day: fried herring fillets, elk roasts and whole selections of local beer make for a meal you’ll remember for years after you leave.

Estonian Cuisine Runeberg torte Grillimakarra


Nestled on the northern shores of the Gulf of Finland is Helsinki—the country’s capital and central hub of culture. It’s here that traditional ingredients find new life in modern dishes with a unique flair to New Nordic cuisine; food halls and markets sprinkle the streets like salt on a perfectly seasoned dish. Reindeer, Baltic herring and Russian blini hold their own as centerpieces of a dish, but more unique Finnish delicacies present themselves if you know what to order. Any visit during the summer season (aka berry-picking season) simply demands a sampling of lingonberry pie to wash down the other summer staple of grillimakkara (grilled sausages)—both of which are easily attained from a market. Other sweets to keep an eye out for include the rum cake known as Runeberg torte (usually only sold at the beginning of the year in anticipation for Runeberg Day in early February), pulla (the Finnish take on a cinnamon roll, perfect with tea), and salmiakki—the ultra-savory salted licorice.

Swedish Fika


Stockholm often seems to fall in the shadow of Copenhagen’s culinary scene: the world-renowned Noma restaurant resides just across the waterway. But, Sweden is a practitioner of the New Nordic cuisine movement in its own right—local produce, fresh ingredients and ecological seafood are the soul of many endeavors, be it traditional stket strömming (pan-fried herring), or something more modern ordered at a backficka restaurant. Backficka translates to “back pocket,” and would sound out of place for a restaurant, except it refers to Michelin-starred chefs creating high quality food in a restaurant that is easily accessible to everyone—no table reservations needed. Throw in the tradition of fika (delectable treats and coffee all throughout the day) and the abundance of Asian-fusion restaurants employing Nordic ingredients, and every meal in Stockholm could be delicious in a completely different way.

These are all sample Exclusive Shore Events that are complimentary on a SELECT Distinctive Voyages departure, which also includes a Distinctive Voyages Host and an Invitation to a Private Cocktail Reception. View all voyages to Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea here.


As stunning and enchanting as every city may be, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking you needed more time in Stockholm to truly savor the flavors. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for most travelers to tack on a few extra days in the city before or after traversing the rest of the Baltic ports—a stay in one of SELECT’s exceptional hotels elevates an already delectable trip to utterly gourmet. Not only can your travel advisor secure a charming abode fit for royalty, but also provide perks and amenities that prove to be the cherry on top to an already luxe experience.

Baltic Sea