Saturday, May 10, 2008

Up and down Potemkin steps

Lard on bread:

I've been to Odessa once before, but I was probably 8, or maybe 6 and we were passing through to go to a Black Sea resort, so I don't really remember anything.
This time I took pictures. And apparently, I'm now eligible for the Odessa passport, as everyone who will go up and down the Potemkin stairs(192)earns that right :)

The food in Odessa was really really good, both the traditional stuff (they're lard and fat lovers, quite like the Polish) and the modern eats.

First night in town we went to a cafe called Fanconi (8/10, Ekaterininskaya St) and I had some very nice sushi.

The California rolls were with actual crab-meat, not the surimi stuff so often used. And the Miso soup was good as well, although I would have skipped the mushrooms in it.

The second night we were taken to a traditional Ukrainian restaurant called Khutorok, (Lanzheron Beach, Shevchenko park, Tel: 380-487 35-38-73 / 380-487 35-43-28, Open daily: 12 a .m. - 12 p.m.) it's near the Black Sea and basically looks like a farm-house. In the little courtyard they even have some cages for bunnies, chicken and peacocks (!). And inside, on the walls they have photos of various Ukrainian and Russian superstars that have come to visit. Alla Pugacheva, of-course, her ex-boyfriend Filip Kirkorov, the new Russian media-darling Maxim Galkin etc. The night started with the unavoidable shot of honey and pepper vodka that was to be followed up with some fat on rye bread. Then a table full of starters - cold cuts, salads, spiced lard on bread, etc.(after which, let's be honest, it would have been reasonable to stop eating). Apparently Odessan cuisine is influenced a lot by the Jewish cuisine, that’s how things like farshmak (chopped herring, eggs, onions, with mayo or vegetable oil) or baked chicken pate that are now considered traditionally Odessan have found their way on the tables.

The main course was a salmon that was baked in the salt crust and then set in flames right before serving and some shashlyk (beef shish-kebabs, so soft and tender that they almost melt in your mouth) with roasted veggies.
Salmon in salt crust in flames:

And then, for desert, as if a test if you really deserve to be visiting Odessa, were blini (very thin pancakes) with cherry or apple filling an sour-cream (I swear it was at least 30%).
The cherry and apple filled blini:

On our last day we went to a very cool and cozy restaurant called KlaraBara (apparently the owner is a lady called Klara), where I had the comfortably familiar herring with boiled potato and onion, but most of the people at the table went for another Odessa classic - 1/4 of a chicken in a cheese-crust.

We washed this all down with a Soviet-time classic Zhiguly beer :).

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