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Our favorite dishes and places to eat in Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg!
Good morning crew!
Do you know that in Russia you eat really well? I can assure you, because I was there last year, both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, and… I couldn’t wait to have an opportunity to tell you about it!
Moscow is unique in the world, one of my favorite cities, while I found fascinating St. Petersburg, but similar to other imperial cities such as Wien. Although, from what I’ve heard around, many appreciate more the latter than the first!
Yes, okay, but what can you eat?
Almost everything. I ranged from Georgian to French, from Greek to Lebanese! Well, you may say… but there’s nothing typically russian? The truth is that the Russian restaurants are a fairly recent invention, especially in Moscow. The real Russian cuisine has always eaten for the most part in the home and restaurants that existed, and that for the most part still exist today, were opened by immigrants from all over the world for other immigrants like them who wanted to eat foods of their lands. Except for rare, high exceptions (such as the Café Pushkin Moscow), it’s only just few years that you can enjoy Russian cuisine even outside home.
The beauty is that now there’s a great attention at km 0, organic, vegetarian, then Russia will surely satisfy any taste! Restaurants are often cared in design, among hipster, retro and industrial, in cozy and informal atmosphere.
So if you want to try traditional dishes, here there’re a short list of the most famous dishes from Russian cuisine, and the places where I’ve eaten them.
Borscht: Beet soup and meat. Usually served with smetana, a kind of sour cream. The best I’ve eaten it’s by Gosti, in St. Petersburg. A two-floor restaurant, very delicious, decorated like a real home, and offering dishes of Russian cuisine with a gourmet touch.
Pelmeni: ravioli originating in Siberia halfway between Italian tortellini and Asian dumplings. They are usually filled with meat, but you can also find in vegetarian version. They can be served in soup or dry, accompanied by sour cream. Try them at Pelmenya in St. Petersburg: find any kind of ravioli, with any type of filling, then it’s the place to experience them in all their forms!
Medovik cake: imagine 8 layers (at least!) of very thin pastry interspersed with a honey-based cream, smetana and yogurt. It’s the medovik cake, or miod cake, Russian honey cake. The one I ate at Babetta in Moscow, with the inevitable local hipster bicycle in the window and a variety of cocktails and milk shakes, it melted in mouth.
Donuts and Caffelatte: Strange? Yet in St. Petersburg you can have breakfast with donuts and latte in the atmosphere (and prices!) of the Soviet era. You find them in Pyshenchnaya, such a démodé place so as it can be considered almost trendy. Almost, because when you find it, you will not be very sure to go in. But it’s so worth it!
Vodka: well, come on! If you are in Russia, you must drink vodka at least once a day! The best selection I found it to farmers restaurant Lavkalavka in Moscow. A really nice place, in a courtyard, philosophy km 0. There is even a small shop of local products, the same they use in their kitchen, typical and attention to every detail. The vodka selection covers different types of vodka and spirits (the best!) and the barman will be happy to find the one that can meet your tastes.
Caviar: put on your heart at peace: it will not be so trivial to find caviar in Russian restaurants and certainly the price will be prohibitive. If you love it, better buy and take it home as a souvenir. Please choose carefully your dealer. In the center of Moscow, you found a great food and wine department at Tsum shopping center, not to be confused with the imposing Gum on Red Square. Caviar resists more than 24 out of the refrigerator and a serious store will provide you with a small special thermal bag. For your purchases, or for a picnic lunch, I recommend you to visit Eliseevskiy Grocery, the oldest in the capital: its interiors will leave you speechless!
Khachapuri or Hachapuri: in this case, we move in Georgia, but it’s a very popular dish in Russia too. Literally means “cheese bread”, although you can find it with different fillings, including eggs, vegetables and meat. If you miss pizza, well, it’s what does for you. The best you can find is at Hachapuri (at last!) in Moscow, a small chain of Georgian restaurants scattered around half the city, and where you can also enjoy many other typical dishes of this land.
Beef Stroganoff: you happen to find this dish on many menus. The origin of the name is pretty close, but it comes to beef into pieces, cooked in a sour cream sauce, mushrooms and onions. I have eaten it at Yat, in St. Petersburg: a funny story restaurant decorated in a very original way, where it’s also possible to feed cute little bunnies. Here, you’ll also find caviar.
If traveling in a group, it’s often difficult to agree on where to go. This will not happen in the most cosmopolitan St. Petersburg, where the contamination of different cultures are the masters at the table. As an extra tip I mark Marketplace: a buffet restaurants (where you can compensate in a glance the low English knowledge in Russia), open almost 24 hours. Great food and tending to infinity selection, from breakfast to dinner. Do not be fooled by the idea of a buffet restaurant: chefs and bakers prepare almost all the dishes at the moment before your very eyes and, as the name suggests, it seems to be in a market. Atmosphere very accurate. A delicious local else is the Zoom Cafe: between a coffee shop and a restaurant, you will certainly find something you like from the menu. And while you wait for your order, you can color the paper placemats, seated on comfortable chairs. A beautiful place with fusion cuisine and a bit grunge atmosphere (the entrance is a housed in a container and the old tiles are amazing) is Jack & Chan: here you will find kebabs, wok and good beer.
What you waiting for to fly there?! A tip: move a little in advance for your visa application!
Enjoy your meal!
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