About Ukmergė city
At Big Stone, our focus is on the revival and continuity of the time-honoured city traditions. In doing so, we have chosen the restaurant interior to feel the spirit of the old Ukmergė, rich in the urban intelligence and culture of the interwar Lithuania. The city of Ukmergė, which was initially called Vilkmergė or Vilkomir, was first mentioned in the 13th century and has gradually developed as the commercial and administrative centre of special importance. From the mid-17th century the Jewish community started to grow, reaching half of the city’s population by the beginning of the World War II. Demonstrating their full community involvement, Ukmergė Jews were actively engaged in commerce and crafts as well as production of food and beverages.
BIG STONE believes that food is one of the best ways to trace the signs of the past and reveal the common threads between the Lithuanian and the Jewish people. Arriving in Lithuania via Austria, Germany and Poland after the expulsions from Spain, the Jews have brought their own food traditions. Finding themselves in the country of long winters and short summers, the Jews have adapted their cuisine to the local environment, taking over a little something from the Lithuanian traditions. Let’s say, the Jewish pastry teiglach most likely was adopted from the Lithuanian ancestors who liked sweet foods and knew the way of making sweets with honey.
It may be hard to believe but cepelinai which are considered absolutely traditional Lithuanian dish actually has Jewish roots. Kugelis (a special dish kugel served on Shabbat), potato pancakes (or latkes) and many other dishes we know well are the part of the traditional Litvak cuisine.
Today, perhaps it would be difficult to convince Lithuanians about the Jewish roots of cepelinai and kugel or persuade the Jews that their beloved teiglach originates from the old Lithuanian cuisine. Nevertheless, all the beauty is that experiences of the nations, living side by side, ultimately are so intertwined that splitting becomes extremely difficult or even unnecessary.
TILAPIA FILLET– the name ‘St. Peter's fish’ comes from the Bible: Jesus, while visiting the town by the Sea of Galilee, was asked if he paid the temple tax. Jesus explained that he, as God’s Son, had no obligation to pay such tax. But in order to avoid stumbling others, he had Peter go to the sea, cast a fishhook, take the first fish coming up, and pay the tax with the coin found in its mouth. And Peter caught the tilapia, a fish with relatively few small bone and extremely tasty. We offer tilapia with cheese-broccoli sauce and steamed vegetables.
HUMMUS – coming from the Arabic word meaning ‘chickpeas‘ is a dish from mashed chickpeas blended with sesame seeds pasta, olive oil, lemon juice, and other ingredients. In Israel, hummus is an appetizer, a dip or spread, or even a separate dish. Hummus is a common part of everyday meals for the Israelis from the early childhood, having trained their taste buds to know the true value from a single piece.
SHAKSHOUKA – being one of the most favourite Israel dishes, with its recipe differing in every family. Brought to Israel from North Africa, shakskouka is served as a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and spices, usually on breakfast menus.
FALAFEL – perhaps the most popular and nutritious dish of the Israel cuisine! It is a deep-fried flatbread made from chickpeas with a crispy crust, juicy inside, topped with fresh vegetables and nutritious Greek yogurt sauce. Perfect for vegetarians and vegans!
FORSHMAK – a chopped herring dish, often served as the festive meal, is one of the traditional plates of the Litvaks. Back then, herring was as the food for the poor, one of the cheapest fishes, while the Lithuanian Jews were among those involved the most in the herring trade to Russia via Lithuania. Taste forshmak served with apples, cinnamon and boiled eggs.
IMBERLACH – taste being the pride of the Litvak cuisine. It’s a delicacy from dried carrot and ginger brittles made by the Litvak families to substitute the sold sweets. Ginger, being an extraordinary spice back then in Lithuania, alters the perception of the other taste dimensions.
Over the years, BIG STONE hotel and restaurant had a vision of reviving and promoting the intelligence of Ukmergė, the city of rich culture and ethnic diversity, with its identity and prosperity dulled by the ruthless swirl of history; the history which is witnessed on the walls of BIG STONE by the images of the interwar Ukmergė. So, if you have not visited this place, it would be a great pleasure to welcome you here for enjoying the exquisite Jewish foods.