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Alinka

eG Foodblog: Alinka - Not Just Borsch: Eating in Moscow

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Now I have another question regarding the grocery stores. In Peter the small neighborhood shops were set up where all the grocery items were behind a counter and each counter was run by a different woman- you paid each one seperately. Is that just a step below the larger grocery store? Do you have that set up in Moscow also?

Peter is beautiful Alinka, you and your husband should go for a weekend!

[emphasis added]

Jeez, even the Russian cities are referred to with diminuitives?


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Now I have another question regarding the grocery stores. In Peter the small neighborhood shops were set up where all the grocery items were behind a counter and each counter was run by a different woman- you paid each one seperately. Is that just a step below the larger grocery store? Do you have that set up in Moscow also?

Peter is beautiful Alinka, you and your husband should go for a weekend!

[emphasis added]

Jeez, even the Russian cities are referred to with diminuitives?

I'm sorry, is this rude to do? When we were there the locals referred to the city as Peter so I thought it was common??? I certainly didn't mean to offend.

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As one who is fascinated with all things Russian (I was briefly a Russian Studies/Language major in college, but gave up that idea after only learning how to say "Hello. How are you? I am six." after 3 semesters of study. Although, it's possible that too much partying got in the way of my studies. :hmmm:), I have to say fascinating blog so far, Alina. Thanks!

One question about your kitchen: Your cabinets look very much like the ones I saw in Germany. It seems that in the area I visited, it was common to supply your own kitchen cabinets, counters, and appliances, along with closets and even, in some cases, interior walls, when renting an apartment. Is this the case there? (As a completely off-topic aside, the upstairs landlady absolutely forbade any additional people from taking showers each day, particularly not water-hogging Americans, so my boyfriend and I had to go to the Base gymnasium to bathe each morning!!)

Thanks again! Your photos and the food look fabulous!


Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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Now I have another question regarding the grocery stores. In Peter the small neighborhood shops were set up where all the grocery items were behind a counter and each counter was run by a different woman- you paid each one seperately. Is that just a step below the larger grocery store? Do you have that set up in Moscow also?

Peter is beautiful Alinka, you and your husband should go for a weekend!

[emphasis added]

Jeez, even the Russian cities are referred to with diminuitives?

I'm sorry, is this rude to do? When we were there the locals referred to the city as Peter so I thought it was common??? I certainly didn't mean to offend.

Sorry, I should have added a wink to my post. Alinka was commenting upthread on the widespread use of diminuitives in Russian, and I noticed your use of the word Russians themselves use to refer to the city I grew up calling Leningrad.

Nice of them to give it back its original name.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Now I have another question regarding the grocery stores. In Peter the small neighborhood shops were set up where all the grocery items were behind a counter and each counter was run by a different woman- you paid each one seperately. Is that just a step below the larger grocery store? Do you have that set up in Moscow also?

Peter is beautiful Alinka, you and your husband should go for a weekend!

[emphasis added]

Jeez, even the Russian cities are referred to with diminuitives?

I'm sorry, is this rude to do? When we were there the locals referred to the city as Peter so I thought it was common??? I certainly didn't mean to offend.

Sorry, I should have added a wink to my post. Alinka was commenting upthread on the widespread use of diminuitives in Russian, and I noticed your use of the word Russians themselves use to refer to the city I grew up calling Leningrad.

Nice of them to give it back its original name.

excellent! I thought that is what you were referring to but I wanted to check!

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Wow, Alinka, this is awesome...I cannot wait to watch the week unfold.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Moscow? How does it compare to your favorite restaurant from your time in the States?


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Wow. Moscow is a totally different place than what I remember it being in the late 1980s.

Supermarkets, LOL. I take it that GUM no longer functions as a state department store and the usual Beriozkas no longer exist?


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

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What a fantastic blog already! And I second the request for the plov recipe.

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Holy cow! I was in Moscow in 1993, and I saw nothing, and I do mean nothing, at all like those shops and malls. Incredible what a transformation can happen in such a short time.

In fact, back then when I took the overnight train to Helsinki, I almost fainted on arrival from the amount of food that was available in Finland, as compared to Moscow or even worse, Peterburg, as it was called at that time.

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Could you share the recipe for that plov, please? It looks delicious and comforting.

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.

[Edited to replace wrong photo with right photo. :hmmm:]

Is that halvah on the upper right corner?

Yes, it is halvah.

gallery_28661_3386_55642.jpg

It's dried salted fish. Good with beer :biggrin:.

That is interesting! Looks good with sake too. :biggrin: 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 :smile:. 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:

gallery_34224_2175_28280.jpg

Now I have another question regarding the grocery stores. In Peter the small neighborhood shops were set up where all the grocery items were behind a counter and each counter was run by a different woman- you paid each one seperately. Is that just a step below the larger grocery store? Do you have that set up in Moscow also?

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 :smile:)

The only Russian word I learned was bap!  :raz:

That’s a good one to know!

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Wow, everything looks so surprising! Being Canadian, I also miss the late summer sunshine! The sun goes down at 6:30 where I am now. When I was in University, my roommate was a Russian language major. She spent a lot of time in St. Petersburg, and couldn't stop raving about ice cream bars that she described as "frozen cream cheese covered in chocolate". Which sounds extraordinarily delicious. Have you tried anything like that?

It's very interesting for me to see the MacDonalds and other trappings of modern life in Moscow. I've travelled in China as well, and know how much they love their western chains! But stubborn old Hanoi refuses to join in. (One of the many reasons I love it here). They only recently gave permission to open the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Unlike decadent Ho Chi Minh City, which has many). But all over town, you can still see traces of the Russian (Soviet?) influence. There are still some of the old buses that came from Russia used as military transport buses, and one of the most popular items purchased at my corner store - Hanoi Vodka!

Is vodka popular even in the summer in Moscow, or is it more of a winter drink? :biggrin:

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One question about your kitchen:  Your cabinets look very much like the ones I saw in Germany.  It seems that in the area I visited, it was common to supply your own kitchen cabinets, counters, and appliances, along with closets and even, in some cases, interior walls, when renting an apartment.  Is this the case there? 

Um… No, we were not required to supply our own walls :biggrin:. 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.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Moscow?  How does it compare to your favorite restaurant from your time in the States?

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.

gallery_34224_2175_88293.jpg

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 :smile:. 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 :biggrin:. 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

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When I was in University, my roommate was a Russian language major. She spent a lot of time in St. Petersburg, and couldn't stop raving about ice cream bars that she described as "frozen cream cheese covered in chocolate". Which sounds extraordinarily delicious. Have you tried anything like that?

Yes, they are called “Eskimo.” It’s rich vanilla ice cream on a stick, covered in chocolate.

Is vodka popular even in the summer in Moscow, or is it more of a winter drink? :biggrin:

There is always time to drink vodka, no matter what the season is :biggrin:.

The cherries made it to Moscow!! :laugh:

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 :raz:.

Your photos are so colorful. Seems like most of the pictures I've seen of Moscow are so depressing. I'm glad to see all the color.

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/

Supermarkets, LOL. I take it that GUM no longer functions as a state department store and the usual Beriozkas no longer exist?

In fact, back then when I took the overnight train to Helsinki, I almost fainted on arrival from the amount of food that was available in Finland, as compared to Moscow or even worse, Peterburg, as it was called at that time.

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? :hmmm:

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I went to Russia on an exchange program with university and was hosted by a lovely family in St. Petersburg. The mother made a very nice lemon pie, but I haven't tried making it. She made some sort of short crust pastry and then chopped up lemon, including the peel, added some sugar and covered it with more short pastry. It was delicious.

Are you familiar with this Alinka?

BTW- I was in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the month of February. I had icicles in my hair! :shock: It was really cold. My feet didn't thaw out until I went back to Switzerland.

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Alina, congratulations on your pregnancy and on your terrific blog.

I am curious as to the instuctions that pregnant women are given about what foods should or shouldn't be eaten (whether given by doctors or "old wives tales"). For example in Australia we are warned to avoid soft cheeses, pate, prosciutto, salad ingredients unless prepared at home and deli meats eg. salami, ham etc. Take out is a no no unless it's served really hot. This is all to avoid contracting listeria. It makes for a fairly boring 9 months. Do you have anything similar?

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When I was in University, my roommate was a Russian language major. She spent a lot of time in St. Petersburg, and couldn't stop raving about ice cream bars that she described as "frozen cream cheese covered in chocolate". Which sounds extraordinarily delicious. Have you tried anything like that?

Yes, they are called “Eskimo.” It’s rich vanilla ice cream on a stick, covered in chocolate.

We have these here in Prague, too. They're highly addictive. :biggrin:

Great blog, Alinka! It's fascinating to see Moscow from your perspective. Have fun settling in. :smile:

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I went to Russia on an exchange program with university and was hosted by a lovely family in St. Petersburg. The mother made a very nice lemon pie, but I haven't tried making it. She made some sort of short crust pastry and then chopped up lemon, including the peel, added some sugar and covered it with more short pastry. It was delicious.

Are you familiar with this Alinka?

BTW- I was in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the month of February. I had icicles in my hair! :shock:  It was really cold. My feet didn't thaw out until I went back to Switzerland.

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 :biggrin:.

Alina, congratulations on your pregnancy and on your terrific blog. 

I am curious as to the instuctions that pregnant women are given about what foods should or shouldn't be eaten (whether given by doctors or "old wives tales").  For example in Australia we are warned to avoid soft cheeses, pate, prosciutto, salad ingredients unless prepared at home and deli meats eg. salami, ham etc.  Take out is a no no unless it's served really hot. This is all to avoid contracting listeria.  It makes for a fairly boring 9 months.  Do you have anything similar?

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 :wink:.

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?" :biggrin:

gallery_28661_3386_10896.jpg

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 :smile:. 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?

gallery_28661_3386_121159.jpg

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:

gallery_28661_3386_97828.jpg

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 :biggrin:

gallery_28661_3386_36878.jpg

gallery_28661_3386_113034.jpg

So by the time I made my way to the office, my loot looked like this:

gallery_28661_3386_67321.jpg

These are tart!

gallery_28661_3386_15811.jpg

Eating fruit alone makes me nauseous, so I supplemented it with some protein:

gallery_28661_3386_44521.jpg

This is kefir, buttermilk-like dairy product that I drink with sugar.

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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:

gallery_28661_3386_88702.jpg

gallery_28661_3386_60928.jpg

Midafternoon snack was coffee with lots of milk (okay, okay, decaf :rolleyes::biggrin:) and bread with cheese.

gallery_28661_3386_84740.jpg

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:

gallery_28661_3386_49703.jpg

We ordered lavash which came hot from the oven. Those cute long tails were the first ones to be torn off, of course :smile:.

gallery_28661_3386_57948.jpg

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):

gallery_28661_3386_23383.jpg

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:

gallery_28661_3386_38400.jpg

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 :smile:.

gallery_28661_3386_11602.jpg

When cut, the cheese oozes out, like this:

gallery_28661_3386_39186.jpg

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.

gallery_28661_3386_42849.jpg

gallery_28661_3386_77834.jpg

So, this was my Monday. Thanks for spending it with me!

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My maternal grandparents were from Lithuania and my mother has their beautiful silver samovar. She never used it.

I would love a recipe for that pie.

It is nice to see that there are so many "local" restaurants to choose from instead of chains. And, I am happy to hear that you can find good pizza there. I have a very funny story about "authentic", and I am using that term very loosely, Italian pizza I had in St. Petersburg in 1996. The owner was Sicilian and my fellow Italian students and I decided that he was kicked out of Sicily for being the worst pizza maker in all of Italy. :laugh: I have a feeling his restaurant has not survived.

I really like Georgian food. We have some Georgian restaurants here. I really like to make Georgian chicken which is stuffed with rice, pine nuts and dried cherries. :wub:


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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Such a great blog, Alinka!

couldn't stop raving about ice cream bars that she described as "frozen cream cheese covered in chocolate". Which sounds extraordinarily delicious. Have you tried anything like that?

Yes, they are called “Eskimo.” It’s rich vanilla ice cream on a stick, covered in chocolate.

We have these here in Prague, too. They're highly addictive. :biggrin:

These were one of the very few ice creams available when I grew up - very, very rich & tasty :raz: Haven't seen them in Estonia for ages, though there are many other delicious ice creams available, so I don't get much chance to miss Eskimo-bars :rolleyes:

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 :biggrin:

Crab apples!? Gooseberries? Sulk... I had gooseberries (not too tart, luckily) at home in July, but haven't seen them anywhere in Edinburgh. My last bet is the farmers market this Saturday, but if I cannot find them, I must satisfy my gooseberry pie craving in some other way :sad:

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.

Kefir and buttermilk are wonderful. Sour milk products is one of the things I'm looking forward to when I move back home in a few months. Who needs all those expensive tiny Actimel etc drinks, when you can get all the friendly bacteria by drinking natural sour milk products? :hmmm: During the last few years, Estonian shops have started selling various flavoured sour milk products, e.g. raspberry kefir or blueberry one. Very tasty. Have you got these in Moscow?

Georgian cuisine is one of the most popular in Moscow; the dishes here are fresh and spicy, with lots of herbs.

We ordered lavash which came hot from the oven. Those cute long tails were the first ones to be torn off, of course :smile:.

gallery_28661_3386_57948.jpg

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 :smile:.

gallery_28661_3386_11602.jpg

Aaaah - lavash, kharcho, khachapuri, chakhohbili - all make me drool! Food from the food in general, and Georgian food in particular, is very popular back home in Estonia, too. I used to have a Georgian neighbough who made some great dishes from her homeland, and invited me to eat every now and then. I recently bought Darra Goldstein's "Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia", and I'm looking forward to cooking from it when I go back home. I can't get Sulugun cheese here in Scotland, and khachapuri wouldn't be the same without it!

And you're right about the generous use of herbs in Georgia. I made chicken chakhohbili few months ago, and used coriander/cilantro, tarragon, basil, dill & parsley. The shopkeeper gave me a very weird look, to say the least :biggrin:

Thanks again for the wonderful blog, I'm really enjoying this..

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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?

gallery_28661_3386_121159.jpg

If you can't guess, I can show you a close-up of the kiosk window.

Hmm (consulting trusty Russian-English dictionary), does the kiosk say something like “poured-out products” (drinks) and “milky rivers”? I would guess milk, kefir, etc. and ice cream, maybe (reaching here) ice cream floats (because of the Pepsi)? I’m much better on words that Russian borrowed from English :rolleyes:

I knew kefir, though. No fair giving us the hard ones. :wink:

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Hmm (consulting trusty Russian-English dictionary), does the kiosk say something like “poured-out products” (drinks) and “milky rivers”? I would guess milk, kefir, etc. and ice cream, maybe (reaching here) ice cream floats (because of the Pepsi)? I’m much better on words that Russian borrowed from English :rolleyes:

Don't worry, C. sapidus. I was taught Russian for 11 years (note that "I was taught" and not that "I learned" :rolleyes: ) and although I recognised the 'products' and 'drinks' straight away, the best I could do with the front sign was 'milky rivers' as well. And that doesn't make any sense, does it? :wacko: On the other hand, there's an expression in my native language that translates "milky rivers and porridge mountains" implying the land of plenty and riches - maybe we're not supposed to read the kiosk sign too seriously? :wink:

(Just to apologise for my poor Russian - I was taught it in 1980s, and since 1990s I have lived mostly in places where I have had no contact with Russian (Denmark & Scotland), so my Russian has been pushed to the meagre 5th place on my language repertoire)


Edited by Pille (log)

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Regarding your question about ikra (caviar or salmon roe), it is eaten with blini or, more  often, with bread and butter. Something like this:

gallery_34224_2175_28280.jpg

Ooh, delicious. Your picture immediately conjured memories of a dinner outside Murmansk, where our translator taught us to drink vodka properly (with orange caviar, bread, and butter; first toast to the sailors at sea). We were slow learners, and required much practice :wink: Also, our hotel in Moscow had all-you-can-eat red caviar at breakfast. Mmmmmmm.

The Georgian food looks delicious. We have heard wonderful things about it, but didn’t get a chance to try any during our visits. We have also heard good things about Georgian wines -- have you tried any?

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Hmm (consulting trusty Russian-English dictionary), does the kiosk say something like “poured-out products” (drinks) and “milky rivers”?

Show me, show me the dictionary that translates napitki (drinks) as "poured-out products"! Now throw it away :biggrin:.

You kids are very close though. Here's the promised close-up:

gallery_28661_3386_144990.jpg

(Just to apologise for my poor Russian - I was taught it in 1980s, and since 1990s I have lived mostly in places where I have had no contact with Russian (Denmark & Scotland), so my Russian has been pushed to the meagre 5th place on my language repertoire)

No need to apologize - Russian was probably shoved down your throats in school :smile:. 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! :biggrin: 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.

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I am enjoying this so much, and the way your time zone is ahead of us, it's a real treat to get up in the morning and know there will be really good posts to read! My morning routine this week includes reading your blog while I drink my coffee.

The restaurant has a cool website. Thanks for the links.

Do you and your husband have a favorite brand, or favorite brandS, of vodka? Not now obviously, but do you drink it straight mostly?


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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    • By chefmd
      My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China.   Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí
       
      We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China.  DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us!  We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar.  There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning.  Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it.  I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way.  The original free range meat.
       
      The family met us at the airport.  We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel.  Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM.  We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
       

       
    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
    • By Shelby
      Good morning, everyone and happy Monday!  
       
      It's me again....that girl from Kansas. 
       
       
      This is VERY spur-of-the-moment.  I was sitting here yesterday thinking of all of the canning etc. that I needed to do this week and I thought, well, why not ask you guys if you want to spend the week with me while I do it?  I got the ok from Smithy so away we go!
       
      This will not be nearly as organized as my first blog was.  But, really, when does a sequel ever measure up to the first?     
       
      Most of you know all about me--if you missed my first blog you can read it here.
       
      Nothing much has changed around here.  Same furry babies, same house, same husband  .
       
      Right now we have field corn planted all around the house.  In the outer fields we have soybeans that were planted after the wheat was harvested.  Sorry for the blur....it was so humid the camera kept fogging up.
       

       
      I just came in from the garden.
       
      I snapped a few pictures....for more (and prettier) pictures you can look in the gardening thread.  I always start out saying that I will not let a weed grow in there.  By August I'm like..."Oh what's a few weeds" lol.
       
       
       
      Here's a total list of what I planted this year:
       
      7 cucumbers
      8 basil
      23 okra
      4 rows assorted lettuce
      20 peppers-thai, jalapeño, bell, banana
      4 rows peas
      5 cilantro
      1 tarragon
      2 dill
      many many red and white onions
      7 eggplant
      3 rows spinach
      57 tomatoes
      5 cherry tomatoes
      7 rows silver queen sweet corn
      11 squash
      4 watermelon
      2 cantaloupe
      6 pumpkin
       
      I killed the cantaloupes...and I tried damn hard to kill the squash lol.....sigh...squash bugs came early this year and we sprayed with some kind of stuff.  WOW the plants did not like it, but they've come back and are producing.
       


      I just love okra flowers

      Found some more smut   
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Pille
      Tere õhtust (that’s „Good evening“ in Estonian)!
      I’m very, very, very excited to be doing my first ever eGullet foodblog. Foodblogging as such is not new to me – I’ve been blogging over at Nami-nami since June 2005, and am enjoying it enormously. But this eGullet blog is very different in format, and I hope I can ’deliver’. There have been so many exciting and great food blogs over the years that I've admired, so the standard is intimidatingly high! Also, as I’m the first one ever blogging from Estonia, I feel there’s a certain added responsibility to ’represent’ my tiny country
      A few words about me: my name is Pille, I’m 33, work in academia and live with my boyfriend Kristjan in a house in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was born and schooled in Tallinn until I was 18. Since then I've spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student, four years studing in Tartu (a university town 180 km south), two years working in Tallinn and seven years studying and working in Edinburgh, the bonnie & cosmopolitan capital of Scotland. All this has influenced my food repertoire to a certain degree, I'm sure. I moved back home to Estonia exactly 11 months and 1 day ago, to live with Kristjan, and I haven't regretted that decision once Edinburgh is an amazing place to live, and I've been back to Scotland twice since returning, but I have come to realise that Tallinn is even nicer than Edinburgh
      I won’t be officially starting my foodblog until tomorrow (it’s midnight here and I’m off to bed), but I thought I’ll re-post the teaser photos for those of you who missed them in the 'Upcoming Attractions' section. There were two of them. One was a photo of Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea (well, from across the bay in this case):

      This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view
      The second photo depicted a loaf of our delicious rye bread, rukkileib. As Snowangel already said, it’s naturally leavened sour 100% rye bread, and I’ll be showing you step-by-step instructions for making it later during the week.

      It was fun seeing your replies to Snowangel’s teaser photos. All of you got the continent straight away, and I was pleased to say that most of you got the region right, too (that's Northern Europe then). Peter Green’s guess Moscow was furthest away – the capital of Russia is 865 km south-east from here (unfortunately I've never had a chance to visit that town, but at least I've been to St Petersburgh couple of times). Copenhagen is a wee bit closer with 836 km, Stockholm much closer with 386 km. Dave Hatfield (whose rural French foodblog earlier this year I followed with great interest, and whose rustic apricot tart was a huge hit in our household) was much closer with Helsinki, which is just 82 km across the sea to the north. The ships you can see on the photo are all commuting between Helsinki and Tallinn (there’s an overnight ferry connection to Stockholm, too). Rona Y & Tracey guessed the right answer
      Dave – that house isn’t a sauna, but a granary (now used to 'store' various guests) - good guess, however! Sauna was across the courtyard, and looks pretty much the same, just with a chimney The picture is taken in July on Kassari in Hiiumaa/Dagö, one of the islands on the west coast. Saunas in Estonia are as essential part of our life – and lifestyle – as they are in Finland. Throwing a sauna party would guarantee a good turnout of friends any time
      Finally, a map of Northern Europe, so you’d know exactly where I’m located:

      Head ööd! [Good night!]
      I'm off to bed now, but will be back soon. And of course, if there are any questions, however specific or general, then 'll do my best trying to answer them!
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