European City Earns First Michelin Stars, Celebrates Quirky Food Festival

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 15, 2024 11:00 AMNews
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Bird’s eye view of Vilnius on sunset
Bird’s eye view of Vilnius on sunset. Source: Image by Sebastian from Pixabay

Vilnius, the charming capital of Lithuania, has just been awarded its first-ever Michelin stars, highlighting its emerging status as a culinary hotspot. This milestone comes amidst the city’s vibrant celebration of its unique Pink Soup Festival, making it a dream destination for food enthusiasts.

At the beginning of summer, Vilnius transforms into a pink-hued wonderland to celebrate Šaltibarščiai, a traditional cold beetroot and kefir soup. While the dish’s origin is disputed among neighboring countries, Lithuania proudly claims it as its own. The Pink Soup Festival, held on the first weekend of June, saw over 42,000 attendees in 2024, setting records for the longest table of cold pink soup and the most people eating it simultaneously.

This quirky festival features a variety of activities, including a 50-meter-long pink slide down Bastion Hill, a children’s slide into an inflatable bowl of pink soup, a costume competition inspired by the dish, and hot air balloon rides. Over 15 food trucks offered pink soup-based dishes, ranging from ice cream to cocktails, providing a delightful experience for all visitors.

In addition to the festival, Vilnius has also gained international culinary recognition with the awarding of Michelin stars to several of its restaurants. Michelin stars are prestigious accolades given to restaurants that deliver exceptional dining experiences based on five criteria: quality of ingredients, harmony of flavors, mastery of cooking techniques, the chef’s unique expression, and consistency over time.

  1. Demo: This stylishly decorated venue operates as a café during the day and transforms into a restaurant later in the week. Michelin inspectors praised its imaginative menu and well-paired wine selections, making every course an exciting experience.
  2. Nineteen18: Located in the old town, this laid-back restaurant features industrial-style decor and is helmed by Chef Andrius. His mother’s recipe for dumplings with mushrooms received special mention from the Michelin inspectors for its exceptional flavor.
  3. Džiaugsmas: Also situated in central Vilnius, this restaurant boasts several modern, industrial-style dining rooms. Its dishes, noted for their simplicity and emphasis on core ingredients, offer a truly memorable culinary experience.
  4. Pas mus: Translating to "our house," this homely restaurant features wooden tables and candlelight, creating a cozy atmosphere. Chef-Owner Vita uses produce from her mother’s garden, further enhancing the restaurant's warm and inviting vibe.

Vilnius’s new Michelin stars, coupled with its unique Pink Soup Festival, make it an ideal destination for food lovers seeking both gourmet experiences and quirky cultural events. Whether you're savoring inventive dishes at Michelin-starred restaurants or participating in the lively festivities of the Pink Soup Festival, Vilnius promises an unforgettable culinary journey.

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