Taste of Russia

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St. Pete from above & below: A gastronomic odyssey through Russia’s literary haunts - Taste of Russia Ep. 17

Oscar and Glen are in St. Petersburg, Russia’s cultural capital. They immediately find themselves seated at the favourite table of Russia’s most famous poet, Aleksandr Pushkin. While the gastronauts indulge in the writer’s favourite dessert, a waiter tells them how famous Russian literary giants such as Tolstoy and Gogol dined here at the city’s legendary Literary Café in the 19th Century.

St. Petersburg is sometimes called ‘The Venice of the North.’ Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great on the site of a swamp, the city’s vast network of canals serve as a perfect thoroughfare from which to take in its wealth of historical architecture – if you have a kayak, that is! After paddling past palaces, under bridges, and alongside cathedrals, Oscar and Glen catch their breath at a restaurant once frequented by Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky. Here, they learn how to make ‘Shchi’ (cabbage soup), one of Russia’s most popular soups – but this authentic version takes about 18 hours to make.

Then, the friends take to the roofs for a bird’s eye view of St. Petersburg before stopping in at yet another famous eatery where time seems to have stopped. Here, they learn to make ice cream according to a recipe developed in the 19th century, when the frozen treat cost as much as a good bottle of French champagne. Though Frankenstein’s lab seems like a more appropriate place for this process than a restaurant Chekhov used to visit, the creamy phantasmagorical result blows our gastronauts away.

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