Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Re: Taste of Russia

After reading Gots to get over there, Mr. Mordecai reports:

Professor Django:

Indeed, I have already visited Taste of Russia with Mrs. Mordecai and Little Miss Mordecai. Alas, I was underwhelmed.

I've visited two Russian cities twice each, and have enjoyed a good bit of Russian eats.š Maybe I set the bar a bit high for Tennessee Russian food. Maybe it's because Kvaternyuk is ÕËÒÁÉÎÅÃ (a Ukrainian). Whatever the reason, I found the pelmeni too thick, with bland meat filling (though the pork was slightly more interesting than the beef... ain't that always the case?), and they were served only with sour cream, whereas mayonnaise, spicy mustard,šor melted butter would have been authentic additions.š And if that hole-in-the-wall in Moscow was the standard, there should have been a ratty-lookin' cat roaming around the place.

The piroshki were dry. The "meat" filling was almost grainy it was so dry, and the crust was baked, where fried would have been better (a real shock, I know). They reminded me of the piroshki I picked up at Aleksey's on Thompson Lane (where, incidentally, I once ran into the lead singer from Bering Strait). But the cabbage filing was pretty good. Sweet. Could have been cooked a tad less, but alright. Mrs. Mordecai ordered potato piroshki, and was more pleased than I was, whatever that's worth to you.

The borsch was good; nothing to criticize.š More beef than you'd find in a genuine Russki place in Russia, but that's a good thing. There are lots of versions of borsch, but the kind I had at Taste of Russia was the only kind I've ever had. Tasty... beetalicious. The brown bread served with the borsch was dead-on. Just like Aeroflot serves! That's a bad thing.

Two Russian food stories. In Vladivostok, our driver disappeared. He showed up a little later with beef piroshki and strawberry juice for everyone. I don't mean a strawberry-flavored drink, but little "juice boxes" of pureed/strained strawberries. The piroshki were fried dough stuffed with (what seemed like) minced McDonald's burgers with the onions. We had been warned DON'T EAT STREET FOOD but I did and it was frappin' delicious. No Stalin's Revenge, either.

Same town, different day: Our translator took us to a Chinese place named "KAFE." (Keep in mind this place was about eighty miles from the Chinese border.) She ordered for us. They brought us several mystery items with french fries instead of rice. I guess they figured Americans eat fries with every meal. Anyway, Mrs. Mordecai asked what one dish was, and Svetlana said "It's squash salad." I said, "That ain't squash!" It was squid salad, Korean-style with a nice sesame sauce. Methinks Svetlana confused her "squ-" words.



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