Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fun with food!

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down some of the fun that we are having with food here in Russia.

On our first night in Moscow we had dinner at the restaurant at the Marriott. We split a bowl of Meat Solyanka - a traditional Russian soup. The base was reddish brown and it had green and black olives, pickles, onions, and a sausage that looked like our hot dogs. It was touted at "sour and spicy". Stranger LOVED it. I liked it and am glad I tried it - but I wouldn't order it again. We also chicken fajitas (you come all the way to Russia and have Mexican food???) and an order of salmon. Guess who picked which entree? hee hee

The next morning we had the breakfast buffet - also at the hotel. I'd seen reviews that the buffet was expensive and not that great. Yeah, that's true. There were three levels to the buffet - a cereal and pastry bar for $15, add in the fruit bar for another $10, add in hot foods for another $20 or something like that. The full buffet was called the "American" - the irony of that wasn't lost on us! I got the cereal bar, Stranger got the American bar.

In Tyumen, our hotel touts that it has the "Best breakfast buffet in Western Siberia" - and it truly does! For breakfast there is a cold cut bar (with sliced cheeses and salami and tomato and a few other things that I don't recognize) and a cereal bar (Stranger is getting his granola fix - although today they had run out of spoons (?) by the time we got there so he didn't get any today and he is pretty cranky now), yogurt, fresh fruit (it looks SOOO good but we aren't supposed to eat it b/c we aren't used to the local water) and hot foods. Today we had things that looked like egg rolls but with just sauteed vegetables inside - no cabbage, boiled potatoes, baked fish, eggs, and sausages with cheese in the middle. Yesterday it was eggs, the sausages, french fries (!!) and fish sticks (!!!) and pancakes. The pancakes are huge - about the size of a dinner plate and folded into fourths. They sit in syrup so you don't put any butter or syrup on them once they are on your plate. Can't wait to see what we have tomorrow. And the buffet is included in the room. Yay!

For lunch, we have been going to a place down the street called Pizza Express. The pizzas only come in one size - big - and have eight pieces. The prices are good - 140 rubles (about 3 dollars) to 210 rubles (about 7 dollars) and they have menus in English. Yesterday we had a pizza with ground beef and onions. Today we opted for a calzone - they come with cheese, ham, and mushrooms. We ordered two (mine with no mushrooms) and the waitress gave us a funny look but said ok (she didn't speak English). It wasn't until she left that we realized that they were going to be huge. And, they were! They took a pizza - remember - big - and folded it in half! hee hee hee Needless to say, one of us had leftovers!

The most fun that we've had has been with dinner.
Last night we went to a restaurant that our guidebook suggested and was supposed to have menus in English. Well, there were no English menus and no one that worked there spoke English. Awesome! We had our dictionary and we were trying the ask the waitress what she recommended - we were all laughing but not getting very far - when she found a customer that spoke German and a little English. We told him that we'd have "some Chicken" and "some Fish". He and the waitress spoke in Russian and decided what we would have and then he asked what we wanted to drink. We said "Pepsi" and he said "Oh, you are American?" And we all laughed again.

It was by far - the most fun that Stranger and I have had in a long time. Everytime our waitress came to our table, she would speak Russian, laugh at our confused looks, and pantomine what she was saying.

We ended up with fried chicken wings (with no breading) that came with a brown sauce with herbs in it and a bowl of water to wash your hands. It was hilarious pantomining "What is the bowl for?" heee hee hee Our second dish was the best fish I have ever had! It was a white fish with a very thin red sauce (though not marinara) and sauteed zucchini (juileened) and red peppers (also juileened). It was so good!

Tonight we were going to try another local restaurant that is decorated and serves food like traditional communist Russia. It was recommended by our translator and is supposed to be very good. Unfortunately, we were walking through the city park on our way to the restaurant and we caught the eye of some weird guy. I think he heard us speaking English and must have thought we looked like easy targets. He kept riding past us and then waiting for us to pass him and then riding past us again and eyeing my purse. So we ducked into here:

And had this for dinner:

And walked straight back to the hotel. It was getting late (dark) and we didn't know how long it would take to eat in the restaurant - with our awesome Russian skills and all! And we didn't want to risk walking home at twilight - since our Russian skills are so awesome and we couldn't easily call for help if we needed it.

I have to say that this was the first time in all of the walking around that we have done that we felt uncomfortable. Maybe he was just a weird guy and meant us no harm. But, our heebie jeebies won and we are in the hotel for the rest of the night.
The food has been good, but I can't wait for a salad and some fresh fruit when we get home. And a nice big glass of cold water!

Tomorrow morning we meet with the regional MOE to sign some papers to begin the finalization process (is that an oxy-moron - papers to begin the end? hee hee) and then we get to see EasternStar one more time. And then we start the long journey home tomorrow night.
Hopefully we'll get to post more tomorrow.
Poka (pah-kah) {aka Good bye} from Russia!

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