Friday, 21 August 2009

Fermented Bread Soup

To mark my husband's 100th Russian lesson, and as a small reward her for her immense patience in the face of incredible repetition rates, we decided to treat our Russian teacher to dinner. 

Her favourite Russian restaurant in Almaty is called Namedin (I will try to add the Russian script later) and it is at 44 Furmanova Street, on the corner with Makataeva Street (tel: 8 727 273 8494 - no website). 

Despite the huge investment in lessons, neither husband nor I are exactly fantastic at Russian, but we had all agreed in advance that we would do the meal without using English. This could have been a recipe for one of the dullest evenings on record, but in fact, we were all able to entertain each other with lots of stories and had a really good time. 

The food was Russki, and the most notable dish was a course of chilled summer soup.  The base of the soup is a liquid of water in which bread has fermented, which gives the soup a tangy flavour and makes it distinctly fizzy. Within the whiteish, watery stock, there float hundreds of minutely chopped sticks of cucumber and a good smattering of dill, small pieces of cooked beef into which you add a couple of dollops of sour cream. 

We tried it, husband almost gagged but was able to cover this up! I didn't mind the strange fizziness, and the tangy chilliness was quite refreshing, but it definitely goes against the grain as someone from food-sell-by-date-obsessed England to eat anything apart from blue cheese that has a hint of change-through-time about it.

We ordered a huge meal: 
potato breads with beetroot and aubergine salads
a plate of assorted cold meats (tongue, roast beef, chicken, pork sausage)
the cold soup (say no more)
main course: Pork cutlets with a rich sauce of sour cream and smoked sausage, noodles and pancakes stuffed with potatoes and onions
fruit platter, chilled melon and an apple stuffed pancake baked in custard. 

This is what we ate based on our original conversation that it would be a good idea to order some nice, light, summery dishes!  Going back for some winter food may take a certain amount of building up to... like a 10 day fast.

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