July 13, 2024

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United flavours of Moscow will take your taste buds on a culinary voyage- The New Indian Express

7 min read

Express News Service

If there’s a cuisine you can’t find in Moscow, you’re probably not looking hard enough. The variety of dining options available in Russia’s capital reflects an inclusive city of 12 million people with migrants from all corners of the globe adding to its vibrant multicultural tapestry. Azeri, Greek, Serbian, Georgian? You name it, and Moscow has it.

As an ode to the city, kickstart your culinary explorations with hi-tech Russian cuisine at the two-Michelin star Twins Garden. Located high above Moscow’s rooftops, with a breathtaking view of the city, the handsome eatery’s accolades are a testament to its constant innovation. Think highly Gram-worthy food and wine, all smoke and sizzle. Founded in 2017 by twin brothers Ivan and Sergey Berezutsky, the food here has been developed in its own R&D laboratory combining gastronomy with science. While some products are fermented, others are 3D-printed or freeze-dried for effect. Vegetables and fruits are sourced from the eatery’s organic farm with sustainable wines crafted from homegrown vegetables, mushrooms and herbs.

The seven-course tasting menu at the highly recommended Rediscover Russia will take your taste buds on a culinary voyage across the world’s largest country. Each course is based on a particular region. For instance, ‘Kostroma’ is devoted to the eponymous city famous as Russia’s cheese capital. The server wheels in a trolley with five different cheeses—truffle, cheddar, parmesan, raclette and Beaufort—asking you to select the one you’d like your pasta to be flavoured with. Far from the run-of-the-mill floury one, the pasta is crafted from gluten-free trumpet clam meat and served with tomato sauce and macaroni chips.

The ‘Yaroslavi’ is based on the UNESCO heritage city that nestles along the Volga. Famous for its rabbit farming, this course proffers melt-in-the-mouth pan-fried rabbit combined with baked aubergine and cabbage. Stellar accompaniments include cauliflower puree cooked with milk extracted from Siberian cedar nuts, besides a vanilla truffle sauce and pickled cabbage.

Similarly, the ‘Rostov’ course—an ode to Lake Rostov that breeds the delicious rapan fish—includes the fish served with mushrooms, fresh greens and a seaweed pate. But wait. Before it is served, the plate is heated to 60°C, a process (during which it also changes colour and transparency), symbolising that everything in the world is in motion and changeable. The piece de resistance of the exceptional meal is the dessert—Vladimir—that will likely elicit many oohs and aahs for its skillful rendition of red cherries done five different ways.

Haute cuisine is increasingly becoming popular in Moscow, what with nine Michelin-anointed eateries. Check out the one-Michelin star Grand Cru restaurant where you can sample its signature French menu featuring seafood and vegetables complemented by unusual ingredients: Think josper-roasted squid from the Commander Islands with nori chips; seafood raviolo in smoked tomato soup or lamb tongue with pumpkin parmentier. The menu is seasonal and the wine list is revised daily incorporating nearly 2,000 different varietals. The tipples are all sourced from vineyards in the South of France where the terroir produces finely balanced vinos.

Not to be missed is Bagebi, a Georgian restaurant that serves traditional recipes in an inventive way. The artsy eatery’s mural-splashed walls and gigantic enamels and paintings are all the handiwork of legendary artist Zurab Tsereteli. The restaurant is named after a district in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Relish steaming platters of kharcho (beef soup), khachapuri (cheese-filled bread), khinkali (dumplings) and more. It can all be washed down with delicious Georgian wines aged in qvevris (egg-shaped amphorae without handles), the process endorsed by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage. 

The award-winning Kefi in downtown Moscow will also be a worthy stop on your gastronomic trail. The restaurant’s beef cheeks and crème brûlée come highly recommended. Try gems like dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice), Lima Beans baked in an herby tomato sauce and keftedakia (beef meatballs), the protein’s succulence enhanced by the sauce’s umami. Don’t forget the olive oil-infused skordalia (garlicky potatoes) that will likely disappear from the plate sooner than you could utter ‘Rastapopulous’.

The rich waterbodies encircling Russia teem with a variety of exotic seafood that invariably finds its way to restaurant tables. Leveraging this bounty is Xolodok, a seafood bistro, located in downtown Moscow. From its exhaustive menu, order oysters done three ways; a trio of caviars (Beluga, Ossetra, Sevruga) served with blini and a main of capers-anointed salmon steak awash in a lemon-butter sauce.

After days of gluttony, during which you’ll rue not wearing pants with stretchable bands, the verdict will be unanimous: Perhaps there’s no dining scene in Europe as flamboyant, dynamic and exciting as Moscow’s.

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