Thursday, July 13, 2006

Moscow food blog #1

My arrival in Moscow went like clockwork. Cyrillic signage makes everything seem particularly alien and strangely comic. One of the first things I noticed on the drive into the city from the airport was a huge, indigo warehouse, surrounded by asphalt, and bearing this cryptic sign in enormous letters:

I was surprised at how much learning the alphabet actually helps. My first thought was, "well, all that work struggling through the phonics, and what will I have? A word in Russian." But the word often turns out to be English, or else a word that both English and Russian probably got from French.

Food. With the aid of Lonely Planet, I picked a nearby Bulgarian restaurant for lunch, my first meal on arrival. The staff spoke no English and the menu was in Russian and German. I had a slightly better time with the German, but not quite enough to really know what to expect. I knew they were all small items from the price, one was a soup, and two were touted as typical Bulgarian specialties. As it turned out, I did very well. I got a very tasty sort of hot meat knish, with a slight livery flavor (but not straight liver), a hot dish of thinly sliced potatoes and something else cooked in herbed yogurt or sour cream, and a cold soup with yogurt, dill, cucumber, and ground walnuts. I haven't figured out what the thing mixed with my potatoes was. It had the texture of baked apples, but a very mild flavor that tasted more like a mushroom than an apple. A friend later pointed out that it's more likely that there's a mushroom with the consistency of an apple than an apple with the flavor of a mushroom, which was well taken. Any ideas?

I drank kvas, which is a sort of traditional pumpernickel soda. I heard it's slightly alcoholic, but it must be very slight. I don't know if Bulgarians drink it, but I was eager to try it. Not bad, but Coca Cola doesn't have to worry about a worldwide threat to its market share or anything.

For dinner, I met up with a fellow conferee and we went to a traditional Russian restaurant, also recommended by Lonely Planet. Touristy enough to have English menus. I ordered appetizers of cold-smoked sturgeon (not expensive), marinated mushrooms ("cracked red boletus") and onion, a salad made from herring, beets, and potatoes, and a side order of kasha (just to see if it tasted like the Jewish version -- it did). The waitress seemed to be following me through all the appetizers, but balked and disapproved that I didn't want some kind of meat or fish to go with my kasha (I just didn't have room). Washed blissfully down with one of the most grateful giant draft beers of my life (long hot day touristing).

Breakfast next morning at the hotel was a vast array of choices, not spectacularly fresh, but interesting. The best thing was very simple: sweetened porridge of kasha and milk. This runs circles around oatmeal or any other hot cereal I've had. Easy enough to try at home.


At 1:14 PM, Anonymous google said...

"no known environmental allergen"

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous youknowwho said...

Who is that cutie in the picture?? ;)


Post a Comment

<< Home