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Everything posted by Alinka

  1. Glad you like the blog, Susan. See what you got me into! Simple Pleasure's upstairs patio is very nice. You seat under this nice canopy with a cool breeze flowing through. Their burgers are excellent. Regarding vodka: as I said, Shawn does not drink any alcohol at all. And I don’t drink vodka; I prefer wine or cocktails. Come to think of it, none of our friends actually drink vodka; wine seems to be the beverage of choice. I probably need to point out that unlike Americans, Russians never drink alcoholic drinks without food. So nobody just sips vodka like thee do in the States. You quickly down a shot and follow it with some food; eat and enjoy the conversation. Repeat . And, cocktails are not big in Russia; I've noticed they are becoming more popular, especially in trendy bars, but not at home. You are right about Milky Rivers and Drinks. The word produkty actually means groceries or food. Unfortunately, for some reason I can only see about half of the photos I’ve uploaded. If anyone has the same problem, please tell me. But yes, this is the kiosk that sells mostly dairy. It is 6% milk there. You'll probably notice on packages that dairy comes in all kinds of weird percentages here, like 1.5% or 3.2%. I usually buy yogurt, milk, or kefir in this kiosk. So you guys are sharp! I will post the photos of the day now as I might not have the time to do it tomorrow. Breakfast was whole wheat bread and milk. The bread had just finished baking by the time I woke up (thank goodness for the time-delay cycle!): I put some butter on it and let it melt. My mom bought the butter at the market, so it’s not factory-packed: Here is something interesting. This milk is not plain milk. It’s baked milk. It’s got this rich creamy, buttery flavor. I tried to duplicate it once by “baking” milk in a crock pot overnight, but it wasn’t the same. Shawn, of course, had cereal: For lunch I was meeting some of my co-workers at an Italian restaurant. Since I was running late, I called them and asked to go ahead and order for me. I wanted something sea-food-y. Coming up: Open kitchen inside: Bar: You get to choose the type of pasta you want and the type of sauce. (Here’s a chance to practice more Russian!): The type of pasta the guys ordered for me was not my favorite (I prefer angel hair), but it was fine: One of my companions had quattro formaggio pizza: The other one got prosciutto e fungi: I had some herbal tea after the meal. It is customary in Russian restaurants to put gum in the book with the bill. As we were sitting there chatting, one of us built this nice structure. Everyone decided that since I was out of my mind enough to photograph everything I see, this construction was surely picture-worthy.
  2. Show me, show me the dictionary that translates napitki (drinks) as "poured-out products"! Now throw it away . You kids are very close though. Here's the promised close-up: No need to apologize - Russian was probably shoved down your throats in school . You know more Russian than I know Estonian (which is none). And, Bruce, how could you ask whether I had any Georgian wine if I'm not even allowed to drink coffee! Shawn does not drink any alcohol at all, only takes a sip from my glass every now and then. And anyway, there is some problem between Russia and Georgia so now you cannot buy Georgian wine in Moscow from what I understand.
  3. The morning was very busy, so by the time I could take lunch, I was starving. So I ran down to a nearby store I got some bread, cheese, and vegetables. The sun-dried tomatoes bread was freshly baked, still warm, and I was hungry, so before I knew it by the time I got back to the office a big portion of bread and even a few slices of cheese were gone. To compensate for being naughty, I made a large healthy salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives and a simple vinaigrette of EVOO, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper: Midafternoon snack was coffee with lots of milk (okay, okay, decaf ) and bread with cheese. After work I went to get a pedicure and a haircut (the have the same chain Toni&Guy here I used in Houston) so when dinnertime rolled around I was too hungry to go home. We met with Shawn at a Georgian restaurant called Genatzvale. Georgian cuisine is one of the most popular in Moscow; the dishes here are fresh and spicy, with lots of herbs. The restaurant is located near the Arbat street (a very touristy pedestrian street; busloads of tourists are dropped off at this street every day). Despite its location, the food is really good here. The décor is interesting, too: outside the restaurant looks like a typical old-style Georgian house, and inside it is large and cavernous, with live fish swimming under the transparent floor and a stream of water falling on the mill wheel. The restaurant was dark, so I did not take too many pictures: We ordered lavash which came hot from the oven. Those cute long tails were the first ones to be torn off, of course . Lavash is good to dip into the chicken satzivi (sauce made with walnut paste; I could probably eat a bucket of it, it’s so good): That alone was enough to satisfy hunger, but as we were there, we HAD to order more. I got some kharcho – thick and very spicy soup with tomatoes and a big chunk of meat: We also couldn’t skip ordering out favorite khachapuri – bread baked with salty soft Georgian cheese. This time we decided to try something new and ordered khachapuri Adjarian-style, with an egg. When they brought it, it turned out the egg was almost raw, so I had to eat around . When cut, the cheese oozes out, like this: Full. No room for dessert. On the way out, I snapped a couple more photos. See the samovar – isn’t it cute? These days, they are only used for decoration. I do remember, however, an electric one in my grandparents’ house. I think now even those I are replaced with electric kettles. So, this was my Monday. Thanks for spending it with me!
  4. I've seen this pie in Russian cooking forums, but I've never made one myself. I could try to find the recipe for you if you want. I dread winter, I just hope it never comes . Yes, I am aware of the instructions for pregnant woment not to eat soft cheeses, cold cuts, etc. I go to the American Clinic for my check-ups and I read books in English. Just sometimes I deviate from this strict regime . Breakfast was strawberries with sugar and milk. When I was buying them from a woman on the street the day before I whined a little why they were so small and not very pretty. She said, this being the end of the strawberry season, what did I expect? “Look at you, at eighteen, fresh and pretty, and me, at sixty, are you surprised?" Breakfast was fairly small, but do not fear: I will more than make up for that once I get to the office. It takes a normal person about 20 minutes to walk from our house to my office; it takes me about 30. I’m on a mission: along the road, I collect snacks for the day . First, I stop at this kiosk. I was going to tell you what I get here, but Bruce, aka C. sapidus asked to give you all a chance to translate the signs. So, Bruce, here’s you chance! What is it? If you can't guess, I can show you a close-up of the kiosk window. Then I stop at the fruit/vegetable stand to get some fruit to snack on: Further down the road there are two ladies also selling fruit. But they also have something the stand never does: berries. Whatever is in season. Earlier this summer I used to buy strawberries from them, wild and cultivated, then sweet cherries, raspberries, black currants and blueberries. Now they have sour cherries, crab apples and gooseberries I might be interested in. Not all of them we willing to have their picture taken apparently So by the time I made my way to the office, my loot looked like this: These are tart! Eating fruit alone makes me nauseous, so I supplemented it with some protein: This is kefir, buttermilk-like dairy product that I drink with sugar.
  5. Yes, they are called “Eskimo.” It’s rich vanilla ice cream on a stick, covered in chocolate. There is always time to drink vodka, no matter what the season is . The cherries made it to Moscow!! ← Well, actually, the season for sweet cherries is almost over; these are sour cherries which apparently NEVER made it to the States as in the 10 years I lived there (on different coasts) I never saw them fresh . It’s too bad that you only saw depressing pictures. I can share more photos of Moscow. As I mentioned, we like to go for walks in the city. A very nice change from Houston where there is nowhere to go and no places to walk. One June day I took my camera with me, and here’s what came out of it: http://silverbelle.fotki.com/a_june_day_in_moscow/ Come on, your guys’ surprise is starting to become a little disconcerting. The fact that Russians shop in supermarkets probably is hilarious, but surely you’ve heard that the country has been transitioning to a new economic system over the past 15 years?
  6. Um… No, we were not required to supply our own walls . The apartment came fully furnished, complete with a TV, VCR, kitchen appliances, dishes, etc. I did buy a couple of colorful plates to photographing because all the dishes were white. Well, we’ve been here only slightly over 2 months so we did not have a chance to really explore the restaurant scene. When compared to Houston, it’s a lot richer and more fun. In Houston most restaurants are chains, depressing in its sameness, menu- or interior-wise. Here, it’s much easier to find, say, a small cozy Italian restaurant with fabulous thin-crust pizza just like I had in Rome a few months ago. For example, just recently we walked to a restaurant near our office for lunch, and I got prosciutto with melon. To get a similar thing in Houston, I’d have to get into my car and drive drive drive. Of course, it depends on where you live . I’m sure in Manhattan you can do the same. Overall, Moscow restaurants are more European, I don’t know how to explain. I don’t feel prepared to talk about Moscow restaurants, really. Most of the information I get is by reading Time Out Moscow in the evening because I am too exhausted to go out . I’d say out of the ones I’ve been to, I liked this one the most: http://www.simplepleasures.ru/ (Wait for the page to load, then click on ENGLISH on top.) Their lunch menu in English: http://www.simplepleasures.ru/spring_eng.html
  7. It is comforting, but it’s very simple. It really helps to have a special mix of spices. I’m not sure what’s exactly in it; I usually buy a packet “Spices for Plov” in the Russian store in Houston, or at the market from Uzbeks here. I suppose you can make it without them. PLOV 1 large carrot, julienned or grated 1 medium onion, diced 2 tablespoons oil 2 chicken thighs cut into smaller pieces salt 1 1/2 cups rice 3 garlic cloves Sautee onions in oil until translucent. Add carrots and sauté until soft. Add chicken, 1 cup boiling water and salt; simmer 5-7 minutes, covered. Add rice and 2 cups boiling water, bring to boil. Cover and let simmer on low heat until rice is done and water is absorbed. Stick peeled garlic cloves into rice, cover, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Is that halvah on the upper right corner? ← Yes, it is halvah. That is interesting! Looks good with sake too. Could you tell us the name of the fish? Is it the only fish dried and salted in your country? One more question: Ikura is one of the few Russian words I know. How do you eat ikura (I mean salmon roe) in your country? ← Unfortunately, I don’t know what that fish is called. Maybe I’ll ask next time . No, this is not the only kind of fish that Russians prepare this way. Regarding your question about ikra (caviar or salmon roe), it is eaten with blini or, more often, with bread and butter. Something like this: Yes, those still do exist here, and they are pretty common, too. (Note to self: take a picture of a small store for the blog ) That’s a good one to know!
  8. I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll make sure to look next time I am in the store. Pierogi actually means “pies” in Russian. As in, large pies made with yeast dough and filled with fruit, fish, meat, eggs, rice+liver, etc. The borsch is not sweet; it’s a slightly tart savory dish. The beats are julienned or shredded and sautéed together with the rest of the vegetables. The potatoes are not supposed to be removed from the soup . Hi Wendy! I remember your trip to St. Petersburg. I hear it’s beautiful (never been there). Could you describe what you mean by pirosky? We have pirozhki in Russia, small pastries with different fillings. They are sold all over as this is probably one of the most popular kinds of fast food here. Well, I think I’m getting close to catching up on questions…. I hope you all are not tired of reading yet!
  9. Indeed. Shchav is made from sheep sorrel and sour cream is mixed in. And of course, there's plenty of that wonderful northern European herb, dill. My father likes shchav; I find it very sour but not bad in small sips. Any of several varieties of borsht is more my style. Well, here is a picture of the green borsch just for you: I’ve noticed that Uzbek restaurants are popular in Moscow. I know in my family we cooked plov, manty (somewhat similar to Chinese steamed meat dumplings), lagman (lamb/noodle soup with pickled green garlic, spicy), shurpa (meat/vegetable soup), funchosa (rice noodles with meat sauce). I’ve seen all these items on the menu in Uzbek restaurants, plus their traditional lepeshka (flatbread baked in tandur), samsa (baked meat or potato pastries made form sour cream dough or puff pastry), and other dishes traditional to that region. Yes, the nature there is very beautiful. My dad’s fondest memories are of fishing and hunting there . Thank you. I’m almost at the end of the second trimester. I did not have unusual cravings but the morning sickness was brutal the entire first trimester, and even now I get nauseous if I don’t eat something every couple hours. But generally, my attitude to food has changed a lot since we moved. I think it is a combination of circumstances. I am less particular about food now. In Houston I had plenty of time to read about food, plan, shop and cook. My favorite pastime was shopping at Central Market or Whole Foods and cooking. Most of the stuff in our fridge or freezer was organic, and you couldn’t find anything non-whole grain in our pantry. These days, my job leaves me less time for that. Besides, Moscow is so beautiful and exciting that I’d hate to spend these summer days in the kitchen. Most of our weekends are spent sightseeing or just strolling in the city. I haven’t seen much whole-grain pasta here (just a couple varieties) but I did find whole wheat flour, so I bought a bread machine and try to bake my own bread.
  10. I dread winter, to be honest. I hate the cold. The summer is nice though: warm and with long days. In June, even at 10:30 or 11 pm it’d still be light outside. I checked on weather.com: sunrise today was at 5:45 am, and sunset will be at 9:26 pm. Today I had a craving for an American-style sandwich, with whole wheat bread, sprouts, turkey, avocado, etc. Served with potato chips. I haven’t seen them in cafes but it does not mean they do not exist, or that I cannot make one myself . Also, I couldn't find decaf black tea here – Russians are not big on decaf. Burgers though are easy to find: there are several American diners in town. At home, we mostly eat Russian food these days simply because it’s easier to make here. But there is no reason why I could not make such American standards as meatloaf or spaghetti. Oh, and I miss the beef here. Pork is more popular in Russia, and it’s really flavorful and “porky,” not the lean tasteless stuff that is common in the US stores. But the beef here is usually tougher and does not taste as good. Also, I haven’t seen cottage cheese that I used to buy often in the States. Privet! Thanks for your good wishes. You know, I’ve never liked rye bread, but I’ll take a picture for you of the rye bread and bubliki . The Russian sauna is called banya. Unlike the dry Finnish sauna, for example, the heat here is humid, it’s all steam. There is a stove with hot rocks there on which you sprinkle some water if you want to make the temperature hotter. No bath inside: just basins which you fill with water. There was also a shower in the corner in this one. Banyas are not shared by the members of the opposite sex unless they are married and want some time alone . Good job! It does say Happy Meal.
  11. Moscow is huge, isn’t it? Officially, the number of people living here is 12 million but I am pretty sure there are many people who live here illegally (one is required to have a registration to live in Moscow). Our apartment is located not far from the Garden Ring, in the center of the city. There is probably a million of recipes for shashlik. The main idea here is that the meat has to be marinated. People marinate it in wine, kefir, mayo, lemon/onion/spices, etc. But, like barbeque in the States, shashlik is a man thing so I’d be a wrong person to ask . Regarding Russian fruit-filled pastries – it depends on what you mean. They can be baked or deep-fried; made from yeast dough, puff pastry or the dough simply made with sour cream or kefir…. There are plenty of pastry kiosks everywhere so maybe we will look at them later this week. As to the diminutives: plenty! The Russian language is rich in diminutives . Hi Pille! It would be interesting to learn more about Estonian food. As to the Russian dishes you mention, I’m not sure I will be able to cover them this week. Shawn wanted me to buy ikra and show it in the blog, but it seems too souvenir-matryoshka-style and less like real life. That is not to say that Russians don’t eat caviar. Well, there’s always next time. I never lived in Moscow so it’s hard for me to compare. I guess the main difference is that you can buy almost everything you want these days. I haven’t found some of the American things I wanted (like chocolate chips) but I’m sure that’s because I haven’t had much time to look. And a co-worker got me a bag of chocolate chips from the Embassy store anyway – so I was able to bake chocolate chip cookies for the office. Collective farms do exist, as do privately-owned farms as well. Plus, a lot of produce is imported. What is disappointing is that the produce sections in supermarkets are smaller than those in the States. But there always markets and kiosks that might not offer a huge variety but they sell everything that is in season and is very fresh. At first it took some adjusting to realize that those tomatoes are not going to sit fresh on the counter for days on end the way they do in the States . I'll take a photo of the fridge later. Rachel, you are a poet! I’m afraid troikas and dashes through the snow have gone the way of cowboys and the Wild West . But Russia sure does look pretty in that Doctor Zhivago movie (too bad they shot it in Spain, Finland and Canada ). Thank you for your compliments; I appreciate it. My dream is to get a new camera because I am tired of the old one; it seems it does not do as much as I want it to do.
  12. Ok, and one last thing from Saturday - the bakery that is near our house. The sign says Frantsuzskaya Bulka - "French Baguette" - and "Fresh Bread" below. We got three mini-quiches, an eclair, and a cherry/custard croissant.
  13. Later in the day we went to a mall. I thought you might want to see the food court. Looks just like any in the States. We got stuffed blini, kvas (I talked about it here), and buckwheat with roast pork and horseradish sauce: You can have chocolates for dessert... ...or some gelatto (Cyrillic letters read Mia Dolce Julia).
  14. Now, I have something that I think you will find more interesting. On Saturday we went out for a walk in the city as we always do on weekends. Went to the Red Square (it’s about a half hour walk), then took the metro to the Novodevichy Monastery. I snapped some pictures for you along the way. On weekends there is a small market set up in the park near our house. This time we did not buy anything because we were on our way elsewhere. I thought you guys would get a kick out of this photo: It's dried salted fish. Good with beer . Dried fruit. The stuff in the bags is the dried fruit that does not look very good. They sell that cheaper - people buy it to make compot (sweet drink served cold): I know the issue of prices will come up . The exchange rate is approximately 26 rubles to a dollar. For those who want to know the exact figure: http://www.xe.com/ucc/. Prices on the tags are per kilo.
  15. Thank you all for your interest and your continuing support! I had no idea blogging will be so exciting! I promise I’ll answer all your questions later; right now I want to show more pictures. Some of you asked about supermarkets so I went out last night and took several photos. This is our neighborhood store, not my favorite because it is small and expensive. But we end up shopping there several times a week because the work hours for both of us are pretty long and do not leave us much time for shopping or cooking. I usually come home around 7 pm to collapse in bed 3 hours later. Anyway, here it is. Like I said, nothing special, looks pretty much like any other grocery store.
  16. For some reason, some of the photos do not show on my screen. I hope I am the only one experiencing these problems. It's getting late here so we will have to continue tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone for you kind words - you guys are a great crowd!
  17. Hi Klary! I have heard about the book but I have never seen it. Just recently I read an article about it in one of Moscow’s English language expat magazines, and I thought it was interesting. My impression was though that the recipes are not easy to follow and use the ingredients that no longer exist. The author’s opinion was that nobody heard of the book during the Soviet times because it could remind the population of the times past when there was no shortage of anything. I now want to at least look through the book, I’m sure it can be found in any bookstore. There are lots and lots of restaurants now, virtually on every corner. From cheap to outrageously expensive, from minimalist to lavishly decorated… I can’t think of a cuisine that wouldn’t be represented. We’ll probably talk more about Moscow’s restaurant scene later. As to mushroom and berry picking, we did some of that when we visited our friends’ dacha but I am not a connoisseur, so I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a poisonous mushroom and an edible one. While we are on the subject of dachas ... Dacha is an important part of Moscow and indeed Russian life. It’s a house in the country (ranging from a shack to a huge mansion, depending on the family’s income) where people go on weekends or on vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of the huge megapolis. Many people have vegetable gardens and orchards there which they use to supplement their grocery needs. On Friday nights the traffic on the roads leading out of the city is terrible due to the mass exodus. A couple of weeks ago we spent a weekend at a friends’ dacha which we enjoyed immensely as this was our first chance to get out of the city. We grilled some meat and fish there, had wine and beer (ok, I didn’t ) and picked red and black currants and raspberries from their garden. There is nothing like eating warm berries straight from the bush! Here are some photos from that weekend: http://silverbelle.fotki.com/dacha Susan used some for her teaser photos. By the way, MarketStEl gets the prize for guessing the country correctly .
  18. Blintzes is the word I first heard in the US. In Russia, we call them blini or blinchiki. They look like crepes and can be stuffed with tvorog, meat, liver+rice, etc., or eaten plain, with jam, sour cream, butter, condensed milk, etc. These days, there are blini kiosks all over the city, offering fast, cheap and filling food of blinis stuffed with anything from Nutella to smoked salmon and caviar. For some reason, the type stuffed with cheese and ham is called "Internet" . Regarding your question about the overlap between Eastern European Jewish cuisine and modern Russian cuisine, it's hard to tell. I'm sure there is some, just by the virtue of geographical proximity (Russians also have stuffed cabbage, borsch, compot, and chicken soup) but I think the Western idea of the Russian cuisine was formed by the massive emigration of the Jewish population to the West and does not truly reflect the current situation. Besides, Russian cuisine evolved in a different direction even for the simple reason that Russian housewives had to find ways to adapt to the shortages during the Soviet time and still provide their families with nutritious meals. Again, this is just my subjective view; I am not a food historian. Split pea soup, latkes, pastrami or flank steak are not common in Russian home kitchens, at least as far as I can tell. Shchav is probably the dish we call "green borsch" because the Russian word shchavel means "sorrel." It is really difficult for me to speak for the entire country because Russia is so huge that there are bound to be regional variations. Besides, it's important to remember that ethnic Russians constute only a portion of the population. The Soviet Union consisted of 15 republics not to mention different ethnic groups within Russia. There was (is) a lot of sharing and mingling of traditions and cuisines. You also mentioned vareniki. I did talk about them a little here. There was a quesition of my background. I was born in Kyrgyzstan and lived there for the first 12 years of my life. I graduated from high school in Kamchatka, Russian Far East (across the Bering Strait from Alaska), and went to college in Pyatigorsk, which is located in the south of Russia, Northern Caucasus to be precise. My parents now live in the Krasnodar Region which is not far from the Black Sea. My mom's family comes from Siberia, and my dad's family is from Voronezh which is in central Russia.
  19. Wow, I did not expect such a response! Lots of questions for me to answer now, but I asked for them, didn't I? Thanks for your support and ecouragement. And for your congratulations . Let me tell you quickly about the rest of my day, so that you have some pictures to look at while I am answering questions. My mom and my 7-year-old nephew were visiting us for a week. It was a fun and busy week as we were trying to show them as much of Moscow as we could. This whole week my mom did all the cooking, and she was regretful that my blogging week did not happen last week because she could show us all kinds of Russian home cooking. Today was their last day here, so she cooked a couple of dishes to make sure they last us for a couple of days. For lunch, we had one of my favorites: plov. I was born in Kyrgyzstan where my parents grew up (although mom was born in Siberia). My family moved to Russia when I was 12 but there are still several dishes native to Central Asia that we in my family like. One of them is plov, a rice/carrot/lamb dish that is traditionally cooked in Uzbekistan, in heavy Dutch-oven-like pots. Mom made an easier variation of it, using chicken thighs instead of lamb. My favorite way to eat it is with tomato and onion salad, so that the rice soaks up the juice from the salad: We still had a few hours to kill before my mom's and nephew's train departure (it's a 72-hour train ride) so we went for a walk in the park and did some window shopping. Mom wanted me to take this picture: Then we came across my nephew's favorite dining establishment of which there are unfortunately plenty in this city: McDonald's... Making kids happy worldwide. This one is for MarketStEl (and no, I didn't know you were going to ask!): So... They are gone, and the apartment feels empty. But here's another thing left from their visit: mom's borsch for supper (it's in the title, so we have to see it here at least once, don't we? ) I shared a recipe for borsch once here. This time though mom did use beets.
  20. Thanks Kathy! We'll see if others will not mind me sticking my camera in their plates . I'll try to take pictures inside stores. They look pretty much the same as those elsewhere in Europe. I'm afraid I won't be able to offer a fair comparison just because I never lived in Moscow, and as every Russian knows the capital city is almost a different country. By the way, I see a few Russian names in the list of the members reading this blog. I'd like to invite everyone to participate. Also, a small disclaimer: my view of Moscow and its food is very subjective and is no way meant to offend anyone. Comparison with the US is inevitable. So... Back to our breakfast. This morning I had tvorog - cottage-cheese looking substance that is drier, less creamy and more tart. It is sold in containers like this, for example: They sell it in some stores in the States, too. There it is sometimes labeled "farmer's cheese." I added some sour cream and wild strawberries pureed with sugar: Wild strawberries are much smaller than the garden variety, but they have a lot more flavor. Shawn had his daily cereal of course (today it was Special K): As custom requires, a couple of shots of my kitchen: It looks bare because I do not like clutter on the counters. I'm fortunate to have a full-size dishwasher. Notice a round jar near the water bottle. I had a jar exactly like this one in Houston which I bought in Ikea to store bread. Well, this one was bought in the Moscow Ikea store, and it's used for the exact same purpose! Now, a couple of views from our window. Unfortunately, the weather is kind of rainy today.
  21. Good morning everyone! Time flies incredibly fast: when Susan offered me to keep a blog right after we moved to Moscow in the end of May, I did not want to say no, but I did not feel ready and asked if I could do it sometime at the end of summer, like August. Before I knew it, my blog week is here! So… A week of blogging from Russia, how exciting! Let me tell you how this happened. My American husband and I met in Russia when we were students, and got married 10 years ago. So I moved to States to be with him. Last year Shawn landed a job which eventually took him to Russia. In May he was offered to stay in Moscow long-term, and very fortunately my company was also able to offer me a job in our Moscow office. These two months of adjusting to the new life have been interesting, to say the least. I was expecting what they call a “reverse cultural shock,” which people experience when they move back to their home country. But I would say, to me it almost seems like I have simply moved to a new country, the language and customs of which I happen to know. Believe me, Russia has become a new country in the 10 years I’ve been away (and I have become a different person, too). Additionally, I have never lived in Moscow and am just getting to know the city. My new job is also a lot different from what I used to do before, more demanding and with much longer hours. Just to keep things interesting, life threw in another surprise: a few days after we decided to move to another country, we found out we are going to have a baby! When I think about introducing you to Moscow in a culinary sense, I get overwhelmed: there are so many things to see and do (and eat), and there are so many misconceptions about what’s available here that I don’t know where to begin. But, as they say, one cannot embrace the boundless, so I will not attempt. I will simply invite you to spend my usual week with me, with no weddings, Passovers, visits to wineries, or other special events planned. I think even that should be plenty interesting . And, as good tourists, we will assume we will return: hopefully, in a year or so I will be able to invite you to another blogging week in Moscow which will be completely different as I will be offering the view of a seasoned Moscovite . Well… What a long introduction! And you are probably just waiting for the pictures. Then, we shall begin with… breakfast! Before we do that, a short notice: since English is not my native tongue, I am sure I will make a lot of mistakes, but we’ll just consider them my quaint Eastern European accent, won’t we? And, my name is Alina, but I used the diminutive form of my name because Alina was already taken when I was registering. Either one is fine. Oh, and please ask plenty of questions: we can make this blog whatever we want, and your questions will shape what will be talking about.
  22. Here comes Percy! Eggs are back!!! Welcome, LoriJean. Nice looking scones, and the flower decoration is nice. ChefCrash, that flatbread would be very nice right now, in the middle of the afternoon, with a cup of hot sweet tea...
  23. Alinka

    Goat Heads for Dinner

    Coooool! And gross. Reminded me of picking meat off a boiled cow's head (trying avoid touching teeth and looking in its eyes) when helping mom to make kholodets as a kid. Kholodets is a kind of meat jelly, made from cow's shanks, tails, heads, and other such exquisite stuff .
  24. Ok, am I the only one eating breakfast? Fine, be that way . And I'll have my coffee with banana bread, still warm from the oven, by the way.
  25. I was out and about yesterday, and saw this sign on a coffee place: "Those same ponchiki," meaning, yep, we sell exactly the same ponchiki that you remember from childhood. Ponchiki are Russian doughnuts. So, of course I had to come in! These doughnuts are more dense and chewy than the ones in the States; when you take a bite, the dough almost stretches. You can get them with several kinds of jam on the side, or condensed milk, Nutella, etc. They are never glased. They are sold not by count, but by 100 grams. I ordered one with just a sprinkle of the powedered sugar, and had a cup of tea with lemon to go with my midmorning snack.
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