Friday, October 23, 2015

More on Russian and Georgian Food

The picture above is of the outside of a budget Russian restaurant chain called My-My (pronounced
moo moo) near the Tretyakov Gallery on the south side of the Moscow River. This place serves home-style Russian food in a cafeteria setting, and their restaurants sport the cow statue outside.

When I had lunch there last month, a salad, a beer and some bread came to only about $3. Everything was tasty, but the place was crowded and somewhat chaotic. Anyway, crowded in restaurants is usually a good sign, and I certainly ccouldn't complain about the price.

Russian food tends to be quite bland and it used to be that salt was the only spice you were likely to find. Now, however, I noticed a nefarious trend toward using quite a lot of garlic. Garlic is OK in small quantities, but overdone it can be overpowering.

Traditionally in Russia, perhaps because of the blandness of their own cuisine, Russians used to seek out the spicy cuisine of Georgia and the other Caucuses republics. Most of these places are independent now, but Georgian restaurants particularly continue to be very popular. They come in different price ranges, from budget to luxury.

In St. Petersburg I dined with a group at a restaurant on Zagorodny ulitsa called Gruzia, where a meal of the yummy Georgian cheese bread, shashlik, salad and wine came to just about $5 per person. We were there too early to catch the singer who was performing a little later.

At a more upscale Georgian restaurant in Korolev called something like "As at Home" a soulful singer was performing, and the food was similar but more sophisticated. A meal for two with cheese bread, salad, grilled shrimp and three glasses of wine cost about $45. Even the Russians in our group had to ask the name of the restaurant, since it was written in the Georgian language.

Perhaps the prevalence of his local cuisine is Stalin's revenge from beyond the grave? In any case, Georgian restaurants are usually a good choice in Russia.

Back in Peter, I ate at the restaurant of my hotel, the Kristoff. There a meal of beef stroganoff served with mashed potatoes, bread and a glass of wine cost about $10. I didn't get a chance to sample much street food on this trip, but before I have enjoyed the meat or cheese pies sold at outdoor stands, and always the ice cream which Russians consume year round. It's a good pick-me-up during a long day of touring, or sometimes a substitute lunch.


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