“Why did you go to Russia?” you ask. “Because we could”, I would say. And I am Russian on my mother’s side. So the recently returned travelers saw The Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Gums, the highly decorative Metro, The Hermitage, Fabergé, Gorky Park, countless onion domes and literally millions of Matryoshka dolls to name a few of the sights. But, as always, the best attraction was the food.
For most of the trip, we were on a river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg and only occasionally had the opportunity to ditch the mediocre Americanized ship food and eat on our own. We were fortunate enough to eat at The White Rabbit of Chef’s Table Fame https://www.eater.com/2017/2/18/14652250/chefs-table-vladimir-mukhin in Moscow. Named one of the 50 Best Restaurants in The World, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Menu(Chef’s Tasting), called the Russian (R) Evolution:
Lardo
Ryazhenka
Sea Scallops
Uni
Baked Beetroot
Cabbage Soup/Shchi
Cabbage Pie
Gurievskaya Porridge
Honey Wine
Barbeque
Erofeyich
Citrus(es)
Syta

Yup, 13 courses. This chef has made a name for himself by using all locally sourced ingredients in new and different ways. Russian cuisine, yes, but not the stroganoff and goulash you would expect…thus going to this restaurant is a trip “down the rabbit hole”. Thank you Grant and Deb, who gifted us this meal.  Some of the highlights:

Lardo (Coconut, Caviar, Black Bread)

Ryazhenka (Swan Liver)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Cabbage Pie (Cabbage and Caviar)

Barbeque (Lamb, Nettles, Gooseberries)

Syta (Potatoes and Porcini Mushrooms, enrobed with chocolate and gold leaf) Only the top gold ball is edible

In St. Petersburg, we had White Fish Donuts at Cococo. I could have eaten 5 more and called it a meal. Damn they were good.

White Fish Donuts

And our final meal was at Tzar, a traditional fine dining Russian restaurant reminiscent of the Russian Tea Room, a childhood favorite in NYC.

Pelmeni

Pickles

Almond Pavlova and Honey Cake

Of course, we had the many traditional and street foods, such as borscht, goulash, Chicken Kiev, Stroganoff, Golubtsy, pelmeni, pirozhki, blini, khachapuri and tons of pickles-Russians pickle everything. And LOTS of vodka. Especially memorable was a 3-hour vodka tasting and instruction. Beluga, from Siberia, is still my favorite. I think. My memory is a bit fuzzy about this.
Speaking of Siberia…we almost ended up there. And not voluntarily. Or The Gulag. Not sure which, but that’s a story for another blog.