Tag Archives: Russia

The hidden history of Hong Kong Borscht

One of the most interesting articles we have read recently was about the prevalence of Russian Borscht in Hong Kong [via Metafilter]. The presence of a Russian soup in China (though it is made without beets there) starts to make a bit of sense when you think about the actually proximity of the two countries, but even more sense when you learn of all of the post-revolution White Russian émigrés who found their way to China and Hong Kong. These immigrants then started restaurants, and many of the Hong Kong’s top restaurants were owned by Russians by Mid-Century. Even though this wave of Russian immigration has ended, you can still find Borscht (called “loh sung tong” / “lor sung tong”) in Hong Kong. Cooking with Alison and Mrs. P’s Kitchen (seen below) have two classic Hong Kong Borscht recipes.

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A Tour of Hidden Russian and Georgian Devon Ave.

  Chicagoans associate Devon Avenue almost singularly with a vibrant Indian community, and vibrant Indian food. But travel a bit further west on Devon, and it morphs into a Russian community, home to some of the city’s best stores for Russian and eastern European fare. We set out with one of our good friends, a Russian-born New Yorker from Brighton Beach no less, to see just what Devon had to offer. We figured it was perfect timing to inspire you to get some Russian goodies in honor of the winter Olympics in Sochi!

Our first stop on Devon was Argo Georgian Bakery (2812 W. Devon Ave.), a place we had been meaning to try for quite a while. Right in the center of the store was an amazing Georgian oven. There were an assortment of delicious baked goods for sale, and we especially enjoyed the Hachapuri (Georgian bread stuffed with cheese). You can also get a variety of breads (lavash and shoti), and bean-filled breads (lobianai) and also frozen foods to bring home. We are carb lovers, and absolutely adored the freshness and artistry of these breads.

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We were not lucky enough to see bread being removed from the huge beehive-shaped oven, the toné. But we have  learned how the bread is made: it operates similar to a tandoori oven, where the bread is stuck to the side walls as it cooks.

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After filling up on bread at Argo, we headed over to Three Sisters Delicatessen (2854 W. Devon Ave.). Three Sisters is a nice, but small, specialty store absolutely jam-packed with treats from Russia. One one side there is a large meat case, and a selection of some pretty appealing looking cakes. You are also in luck if you are in the market for caviar, salted fish, or Russian cookies and chocolates.

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At first sight the blandly-named City Fresh Market (3201 W. Devon Ave.) looked like  a typical neighborhood grocery store. But once we got inside, our friend got so excited: the market has a strong Eastern European flavor, with a huge array of Eastern European canned goods and deli items. Her personal favorite, and ours, was the huge pickle bar, packed with unusual things like pickled tomatoes (as seen below). This was a real standout, and unlike anything else we had seen in Chicago!

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Russian menu ideas for the Sochi Olympics

RussiaWhat did you think of the Opening Ceremony? With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics officially under way, we are in full Russian food mode. We are not experts in Russian food, but we have trying to learn more about the country’s different regional and local specialties. We’ve done a little research in preparation for a Russian dinner party in honor of the Sochi Olympics, to get a little beyond Borscht (Beet soup) and vodka (though of course, those are great, too). Here are some recipes to get your Russian dinner party started. Do you have any favorites you would recommend?

Russian dinner

Russian dinner by Vincen-t

Appetizers and Sides:

Mains:

Dessert:

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Getting ready for the Sochi Olympics

Sochi Olympics Logo

RussiaThe 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia start February 6th, which means even more inspiration for exploring international cuisines. The setting in Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea, also provides a great springboard for learning more about Russian cuisine. Sochi, in particular, is known for its idiosyncratic cuisine that is a result of the cultural interchange along trade routes. The Russia and India report has a list of unique Sochi-specific dishes to try.

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Russian Ice Cream, Morozhenoe, for all seasons

RussiaSo as any fair-weather reader of this blog knows, we love ice cream, whether in hot or cold weather. This attitude is shared, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Russians, who enjoy ice cream year round. A recent Culture article on Russian ice cream, or morozhenoe, clued us in to this international ice cream we knew next to nothing about! Apparently Morozhenoe is served slightly soft, and has a creamier texture than US ice cream. If this piques your interest, you can try your hand at making your own Russian-style ice cream.

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Global Easter Recipe Roundup

Easter may be over, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make holiday-themed food (and we aren’t going to be retiring our Peeps-shaped muffin pan). In that spirit, we have a roundup of some international carb-heavy Easter recipes for your enjoyment.

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A trip back in time at Russian Tea Time

Russia
77 E Adams St
Chicago, IL

My friend Anne and I [L] ended up at the Russian Tea Time on the snowiest day of the year (Yes, in Chicago the blizzards extend well into Spring…). After having walked by this restaurant for years upon years on my way to the Art Institute, I was happy to actually go inside. We entered the cozy restaurant at about 2 PM to find it absolutely packed to the brim with a bus tour of senior citizens. Luckily, we managed to find space at the bar. Looking around the restaurant, it did begin to feel a little bit like brunch with a grandma, with throwback decor and porcelain dolls everywhere, including on top of huge samovars. But also like grandma’s it’s a cozy and inviting space.

The menu was full of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian specialties (one of the owners is originally from Uzbekistan). Anne ordered latkes ($8.95), which came with sour cream and applesauce. I ordered the the varineky- Ukrainian potato dumplings ($8.95) with carrot salad, sour cream and yogurt sauce. Both dishes were tasty and stick-to-your-ribs good. Perfect for a cold day. The service was pleasant but a bit slow, mostly on account of the tourbus crowd. I would definitely return to Russian Tea Time later to try some of their more exotic specialties like the Uzbek chick pea stew or the Azerbaijani mushroom caps. Appropriately, they also have a nice afternoon tea.

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