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Russian Blini

October 19, 2012

We’ve now reached Day 5 of our cruise and today’s port stop is St. Petersburg, Russia.  To many, this is the highlight of the cruise.  In fact, my husband and I were talking with a gentleman who said that he remembers being a young child during the Cold War and thinking about incidents such as the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as Communism in general, and he couldn’t believe that now after everything that has gone on between the US and the Soviet Union, here we were about to step foot on Russian soil.  For me, Russia was one of those places I always said I wanted to go to when I grew up.  I always thought that places like Red Square and St. Basel’s Cathedral in Moscow seemed so fascinating, and yet, forbidden.  And perhaps, it was that sense of feeling like it was forbidden that really intrigued me.  However, this trip to Russian wasn’t actually my first taste of Russia.  5 years previously, I had visited St. Petersburg for 2 days on a different cruise. For my husband, this would be his first experience with Russia.  It’s funny to think that before I went to Russia the first time, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go.  Then when I made it to Russia in 2007, I looked at it as a “once in a lifetime” experience.  I guess I’m lucky enough that once-in-a-lifetime actually turned in to twice-in-a-lifetime to me.  Since I had been to St. Petersburg previously, I felt like I was returning to a place that I was somewhat familiar with.  We were visiting many places that I had visited during my first trip to Russia, and just looking at the buildings, and the museums, and the Neva River, everything looked and felt familiar to me.  Even typing this out, it seems so odd to me that I could actually say that Russia felt familiar.

On this trip, we only had one day in St. Petersburg, so we had to make the most of it.  We booked an all day tour with a local tour company, and joined with a couple of other families to see the highlights of St. Petersburg.  To make the most of our time, we had all decided in advance that we wouldn’t take a long break for lunch, but rather we’d have a quick snack break to enjoy some Russian blini.

Shortly after we were done with our tour of the Grand Palace and magnificent grounds, including the amazing fountains of Peterhof Palace, constructed under the orders of Peter The Great on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, we stopped for our quick lunch break.  We were all eager to try a Russian blin and also to rest our weary feet! Blin (singular) or blini (plural) are a traditional Russian pancake.  Blinis are more similar to crepes than they are to American-style pancakes.  However, a true blini is even thinner than a crepe, although they are made in the same style.  Traditionally, Russians enjoy blini served with jam or honey, and well-t0-do Russians enjoy their blini with caviar, smoked salmon and sour cream.  As we walked up to the blini stand everything looked and smelled wonderful.  But we were presented with menus in cyrillic, which none of us could read!  Though, I don’t know how much you really need to be able to read when you can just look at the pictures and look at what everyone else had ordered!  The stand served sweet blini, pictured in the menu above.  The toppings included a variety of fruits, and jams, and sweet sauces.

There was also a selection of savory blini, served with chicken and yes, even caviar!  As you can see from the menu, everything is charged in Russian roubles, which we had all obtained from an ATM earlier in the day.  This was my first experience using Russian roubles.  I even have an extra 5 rouble coin which we brought back  home with us.

But, if you weren’t interested in blini, there were also a variety of salads on the menu as well.

Luckily, as there are many tourists that visit Peterhof, the stand did have a simple English menu for guests to order from!  Thank goodness!

Our tour guide had suggested that a filling meal for lunch would be 2 blini per person.  Since none of us knew any better, we ordered based on her suggestion, which turned out to be spot on.  Looking through the menu, my husband and I each chose 2 blini which we wanted to order.  It turns out that there was one blini both wanted, so we both ordered it.  Here’s our order.

Not being able to resist sweets, I ordered 2 sweet blini.  My first blin was with strawberries.  Now, I had thought that it would come with some fresh strawberries, or at least a strawberry compote.  However, it really was just strawberry sauce.  I was a bit disappointed at first when I saw it, but after I ate it, I wasn’t disappointed any longer.  The flavor of the blin and the addition of the sweet strawberry sauce were perfect.  And though this small dish doesn’t look that filling, it actually is quite filling.

The blin that both my husband and I each ordered was a blin filled with bananas (this time, fresh banana slices) and chocolate.  The filling was stuffed in the middle of the blin, so that when you cut it open the chocolate oozed out of the blini.  It was sweet, and delicious.  I could it again, and again, and again.

My husband, for his second blin decided to go the more savory route.  As soon as he saw a three cheese blin on the menu, he knew he had to have one.  Though, I will say he was a little disappointed in it.  The cheese inside wasn’t completely melted, and the parts of the blin where there was no cheese, he felt were a bit bland and too doughy.

One of our travel partners had ordered a peaches and cream blin that looked fantastic.  Later, she stated that it was fantastic.  Someone else in the group had ordered a blin with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and she indicated that was fantastic as well.

At the end of our lunch break, we all walked away extremely satisfied with our meal.  It was filling, and delicious and we were happy that we were able to try a traditional Russian snack.  And our weary feet thanked us for resting them for a bit.  Our day in St. Petersburg was a bombardment to the senses, especially the eyes with all of the amazing stuff we saw.  It was an experience we will never forget.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2012 6:27 am

    Oh, my wife makes Blinis. They are a tradition in our family!

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