I read the decision to open Kanape was motivated partly by nostalgia for Latvia. Have any Latvian dishes been hard to re-create in Seattle?
Not really, though dairy products are different here—Latvian sour cream is much thicker and richer.
Which menu items are Latvian diners most excited about?
The Latvian salad and the crepes, especially the beef crepe.
Your Balsam liqueur, made with vodka strong enough to function as gasoline, sounds more likely to inspire saucy text messages than cure colds. Is it as good a cold remedy as it's rumored to be?
Yes, I think Catherine the Great drank it as a remedy. [Laughs] Personally, I drink vodka for everything. Balsam is also popular on ice cream and in coffee.
Who's the naked girl with a cello in that painting by the window? Is it the same one with the wine bottle on the logo?
Yep, that's my sister's art—we came up with the logo together. Originally, the girl on the logo was holding a canapé.
Speaking of nudity, open-faced sandwiches look so exposed. What advantages do canapés have over their bread-fortified counterparts?
They're much prettier! In Europe, we don't have closed-up sandwiches. My parents used to wrap the entire sandwich in baloney.
The literal translation of "canapé" is "couch." Have you ever sat on one?
[Laughs] No. Well... no. It also means "small bites." In Greek, it means "mosquito netting."