Foods of Moscow
I’ve been living in Moscow for about two months at this point. Along with all the other changes, there’s been a whole new realm of food to get used to. As a vegetarian, traditional Russia food isn’t super friendly, however I’ve found a fair few things I have enjoyed. Here are ten foods I’ve tried...
1. Cherry Strudel- One of the things I couldn’t help noticing is that there are so many cherry products in Moscow. Frozen cherries, cherry jams, cherry dumplings and this delicious cherry strudel. Bonus: this is one of the products I can buy at the local supermarket.
2. Cherry Juice- I know I’ve already mentioned cherries, but this juice is something special. It has actual whole cherries floating in it. Stones and all though, so be warned. It tastes very fresh, completely un-artificial, and did I mention there are whole cherries in it? There are a couple of brands that make similar products and you can pick them up in most standard supermarkets.
3. Black Bread- One of my first tastes of Russian food was black bread. And I’ve found that I really like it! I’ve found it to have a very slightly saltier taste and to be a bit thicker than white bread, although it isn’t dense. It makes an excellent addition to the homemade veggie chilli my boyfriend makes.
4. Pelmeni- These are Russian dumplings often filled with minced meat, fish or potato. A similar dish is also verenyky, which is another kind of dumpling. The dough of a verneyky is usually thinner and they sometimes have sweet fillings, like cherries. So far I’ve enjoyed potato and mushroom pelmeni as well as cherry verenyky.
5. Scrambled- I realise this one is a bit of a cheat since it’s a restaurant and not just one food. Since arriving here, Scrambled has been my favourite food location. It’s a small, hipster restaurant that caters for breakfast, brunch and cake. There isn’t a great vegetarian selection, but honestly I think the avocado toast makes up for the lack of choice. The avocados are great, the bread is lovely, and the whole thing is served with pumpkin seeds and chilli flakes. I’m already yearning for more. I’ve also tried their blueberry waffles, served with a rich, vanilla sauce. The portions are very generous, arrive hungry.
6. Blinis- These are traditional Russian pancakes. But they’re more like the thin European-style pancakes rather than the thick, fluffy, American kind. You won’t struggle to find these and they’re well worth trying... And for a more wacky take on blinis, you can try Scrambled’s Crazy Blueberry Cake. It’s layers of blinis, packed with blueberry mousse and, as if it weren’t decadent enough, topped with chunks of brownie.
7. Mango Chimichanga- Okay, so this isn’t a Russian dish. It’s from The Starlite Diner, Moscow’s first diner. It mostly serves burgers and Mexican food and when I was there, they had a TV showing ice-hockey. Winner! I hadn’t seen anything like this dessert before and it was incredible! It’s exactly what it sounds like, a hot chimichanga with mango inside, dusted with sugar. This diner isn’t very vegetarian-friendly, so be warned that your options may be limited.
8. Russian Jam- This is another thing I’ve loved about Moscow. The sheer array of jams. To me, it feels very French, to have such a wide selection. So far I’ve enjoyed plum jam, pear jam, blackberry jam, raspberry and pomegranate jam... There’s a whole new world ahead of you when it comes to jams.
9. Lenten Menus- Again, a bit of a cheat. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, Lent may be your best time to visit Moscow. A number of Orthodox Christians, in varying degrees, abstain from animal products during Lent, so a lot of restaurants have a special Lenten menu for the duration. It makes eating out a whole lot easier.
10. And now for a food I didn’t like... Grechka. It’s a kind of buckwheat porridge and I was really excited to try it. I associate buckwheat with gallettes, a kind of French savoury pancake made with buckwheat, so I was keen to try grechka. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. Perhaps I was making it wrong, but I found it a bit too soggy for me, with not quite enough taste. Then again, it may well be that my method wasn’t right.
Those were my food highlights (and one lowlight) since I’ve been living in Moscow. Bring on the next ten!