I spent the past two weeks traveling around the Balkans and Russia and was not expecting much in the food department - heavy meat dishes, rye bread and pickled vegetables just aren't my thing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of food we sampled. Here's a few snippets of my favourite dishes.
I think this was the best thing I had on the trip! It was so flavourful and fresh, with beautiful chunks of salmon and a nice variety of vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, sorrel...) After trying one spoonful, my sister decided to get a bowl of her own - it was that good. The perfect meal for a chilly day.
|haloumi cheese melt|
I was surprised to discover that Latvian bread is among the softest, fluffiest I've ever had - the different breads I tried have all been on par with BO-LO'GNE's in terms of pillowy goodness. While the bread looks slightly burnt on top, it was actually grilled just right and was my favourite part of the melt.
Not particularly Latvian but they sure do it well! Too bad I'm so clumsy with my fork and tongs that I lost most of the delicious garlic butter sauce before I managed to get the snails out...
|salt crusted baked sea bass|
Our waitress expertly de-crusting and filleting our fish tableside. It looked soo good I couldn't wait to dig in.
Probably the most important thing for a good salt crusted sea bass is the quality of the fish and this fish was extremely fresh. The salt crust sealed in all the yummy juices leaving us with a delightfully moist fish without being overly salty.
|baked cauliflower with creamed spinach|
|duck breast with caramelised pear and mash|
One night in Tallin we decided to eat at a medieval restaurant. While our choice of restaurant was more for the gimmicky sword fight our guide book promised, the food was actually quite delicious, especially this duck breast which was really tender and came with a beautiful black current sauce.
|ratatouille with wild rice|
The rice was very flavourful, tasting slightly like bismati. The ratatouille was loaded with fresh vegetables with the juicy carrots being my favourite. I've discovered that the Balkan countries actually do French pretty well!
The chicken was real tender but they went a bit overboard on the spices. Would've been perfect if it were a souvlaki-pita though.
St. Petersburg / Moscow:
To celebrate my sister's birthday, we headed to miX by Alain Ducasse, his first restaurant in Russia. Part of the menu consists of Alain Ducasse's siganture dishes while the rest is a fusion of French / Russian cuisine.
|freshly baked bread, Scottish, French and Russian|
|parisian style cold salmon|
|pigeon cooked in coquette|
|cookpot of seasonal vegetables and fruit|
|salmon and spinach pie with white butter sauce|
The food was all quite decent. The salmon was slightly on the salty side (as I found true of all the salmon I had on the trip) and the cookpot was a bit monotonous after a few bites but the fish pie and suckling pig were both delicious!
Finally, some local food at the GUM department store by the Kremlin:
Some Russian dumplings. Tasted pretty similar to Beijing soup dumplings but with a thinner wrap and no chives. Okay la.
|some fish.. very salty|
|pork - very tender|
Okay, so I didn't try very much "local" cuisine but I enjoyed most of my meals which is more than most can say about Russia! :)