Foodie revolution brings bacon ice cream to Moscow

Whether it's learning to make bacon ice cream, sampling lamb from the Kalmyk steppes, or rustling up paella a la russe, Muscovites have embraced all things foodie in a gastronomic revolution.

Hard to find just a few years ago as Russia remained burdened by the Soviet Union's gastronomic legacy, medium-priced restaurants that use locally sourced, seasonal ingredients have now become the hot new trend.

Magazines aimed at the upwardly mobile publish cooking columns, and the middle-classes are discovering the joys of the dinner party.

The monthly Afisha Food magazine has spearheaded the trend, and last weekend it packed crowds into a central Moscow park for a food festival that was the first of its kind in Russia.

Around 10,000 people flocked to the historic riverside Gorky Park, not dissuaded by a 600 ruble ($21) ticket price, as 40 restaurants presented special menus, chefs held master-classes and farmers sold home-grown produce.

Young couples with children in pushchairs and groups of friends happily queued for two hours to buy pork cooked sous-vide (sealed in a vacuum) and charcoal smoked, or chicken ragout with cherries and coriander.

"There has been an evolution in the way the middle classes see food. After 70 years in a gastronomic ghetto, we all tried out exotic dishes. And now we are looking for a happy medium," said Alexei Zimin, the editor of Afisha Food, a food columnist for Kommersant daily and the co-owner of Ragout restaurant.

"Cooking has become a big topic in the media. A huge amount of information has appeared on the subject," he told AFP.

On stage, in front of several hundred spectators, he reveals some tricks of the trade: for example, prawns with rosemary need to be sauted three times to ensure they are cooked through and juicy.

Ragout chef Ilya Shalev demonstrates how to make some unusual desserts, turning bacon into ice cream - as in the famed dish by British celebrity molecular chef Heston Blumenthal - and making salty caramel sauce as an accompaniment.

- 'Only started 20 years ago' -

New Yorker Isaac Correa came to Moscow in 2003 and owns numerous restaurants serving innovative American-style food. He serves his ice cream in a cocktail with Pepsi and mozzarella with watermelon.

"People have become more knowledgeable. People read, people see, people travel," Correa said.

"Now they want to go to the restaurant not just to get a meal. They want to share different experiences."

The chef of Delicatessen restaurant, Ivan Shishkin, shows how to make a paella, Russian style, with spelt - a kind of ancient wheat increasingly back in vogue and only grown in a few Russian regions - and wild chanterelle mushrooms.

He says that he is on a mission to create the savoury flavour of umami, the fifth basic taste identified by the Japanese, using local produce.

"I am looking forward to the time for pickling apples so I can use them to season fish instead of miso," a highly salty Japanese seasoning, he says.

While Shishkin says he tries to use locally grown produce as much as possible, such as the spelt in the paella, he acknowledges that it would be impossible to rely on them entirely.

"That would make the menu too expensive and I want to stay within reasonable limits so that ordinary people like us can come to my restaurant."

The farmers' market displays lamb from the southern Kalmykia region, yellow cherry jam from Dagestan in the Caucasus and natural yoghurt from the Moscow region, at high prices that put off some visitors.

Yulia Fateyeva, a mother of three, stocks up on cheese, saying that she does not even look at the price and "adores farm produce".

But Marina Davydova complains that "everything is unaffordable".

"I would be happy to buy farm produce if it was at the price you see at markets in Paris or Nice," she said.

The founder of Lavkalavka, an Internet store that sells fresh farm produce, Boris Akimov, argues that such high prices are unavoidable.

"I would also like this to cost less, but it's not so simple.

"In France, this culture has been around for 500 years. In our country, we only started 20 years ago," he said. "During the Soviet era, farmers were eliminated (in collectivisation) and their land was ravaged with chemicals."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map