Editor’s Note: While most of the world debates the likely medalists at the Sochi Games, we foodies will be asking an equally important question. Tell us, tell us PLEASE, what in the heck is everyone eating over there and how can we replicate it at home? Our Ketchum colleagues graciously obliged our tantrums and now you, too, can be in-the-know if someone asks you to bring some “Herring Under a Fur Coat” to their Opening Ceremony party. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Russian cuisine today and in the weeks to come. Amy
2013 was a remarkable year in the world of food and dining in Moscow and people are still talking about food trend predictions for 2014. We are no astrologists, so instead spent the past days examining the current top 10 trends in Russian food and dining. Who knows? With a little help from the Sochi Olympics, some predictions might become the next global hits!
1. The big comeback of traditional Russian cuisine. More and more restaurants in Moscow are offering traditional Russian dishes as part of their mixed European menus or as the main thing. Thanks to the trend, more visitors to the Russian capital, and even locals, have a chance to rediscover real Russian food and learn that there’s more to it than kasha and blini (the famous borsch is, in fact, a Ukrainian special). Some places stick to the classic recipes and offer authentic botvinia (green vegetable soup with fish), pastille (prune-coconut-honey confections) – not to be confused with zefir (meringue-style confections) and sbiten (a honey-based traditional drink), while others get creative and serve common dishes in very experimental ways – think of a classic Selyodka Pod Shuboi salad (commonly known as “Herring Under a Fur Coat”) made to look like the ever popular sushi (photo above).
2. Farmers’ produce and culinary start-ups. The farm-to-table trend has reached Russia, too. Leading chefs and restaurateurs turn to “boutique” food suppliers and proudly announce the partnerships.
3. More conscious diet choices. Slowly but steadily Russians are becoming more conscious about their food habits. Therefore, many are switching to more healthy and balanced dietary choices, which sometimes even include vegetarian/vegan/raw diets as well as fasting as a cleanse and not just for ethical and religious reasons.
4. Culinary businesses. Culinary schools (such as the food academy Accademia del Gusto), culinary workshops, events, TV shows and blogs are all “in” and on the rise.
5. Culinary tourism. As increasing numbers of Russians become more interested in food culture, they are exploring different cooking traditions by traveling throughout our multicultural country and around the world.
6. European-style cafes. A traditional Russian restaurant is grand and spacious and offers plenty of personal space, but the current trend favors tighter quarters. In fact, most new cafés are housed in small spaces packed with tables, literally bringing people closer together.
7. Outside seating for cafes that can’t afford outside seating. Following the trend of the European-style cafes, more places with limited sitting space offer unusual or ultra-casual outside seating options that are now considered cool. Think steps, cushions and window sills.
8. The new minimalistic menu. More restaurants opt for shorter themed menus instead of offering everything at once.
9. Bakeries and dessert shops. The infamous cronut still hasn’t made its way to Russia, but some of the local dessert delicacies (paskha or syrniki with pine cone jam, anyone?) being currently popularized and reintroduced to the market might as well conquer the confectionary world sometime soon.
10. The new kind of street food. New quality street food vendors and outdoor food festivals have proved to be extra popular in summertime and it certainly looks like they are here to stay.