Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28 2013: Dutch and Belgian influences in St Petersburg!

The past couple of days have been a blur of getting up between 6:30-8am and going to bed around 2:30am. Olga is relentless when it comes to visiting with the most friends and family in the shortest time, and this trip is one of the shortest in St Petersburg. Some of the highlights for me include sleeping during The Mermaid opera in the beautifully modern and comfortably seated new Mariinsky-2 Theatre, falling asleep on the couch during a lull at a dinner party in the dacha near the Finnish Gulf, and passing out against a wall at Pierogie restaurant near Nevsky Prospekt.

Chef Boyardee of Russia
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Filmed in San Francisco?

Our last day in St Petersburg before heading further east, we checked out two cafes recommended by Olga's brother Kostya, who's sort of the king of the St Petersburg cafe scene. First up was Candies by Coffee Room, where we were treated to a beer cocktail consisting made from Licorne Black темное пиво (dark beer), лайм (lime), and cranberries. I've seen beer cocktails at San Francisco beer week, but haven't tried them until now. It's a refreshing sort of sangria-like drink, like en effervescent fruity party in your mouth! Eating all the beer-soaked fruit at the end was fun too. At Small Double we had a choice of coffee made by Syphon, Chemex, or Aeropress. We took the Chemex as it's similar to the cup-at-a-time filtered 3rd wave coffee we'd grown used to in San Francisco. The syphon looked super interesting too, to try when we return to St Petersburg next week.

Beer Cocktail "Black Keys" and Bird
Cherry Cake at Candies by Coffee Room

New Holland Island - an oasis in St Petersburg

Mid-day we explored Новая Голландия (New Holland Island), which was military warehousing for 200 years, before becoming abandoned for almost 100 years, finally becoming a public park, and soon to be a mall and hotel space. Stay tuned as the old brick buildings get converted into a mall, sort of a luxury version of Arsenal Mall in Watertown MA. In the meantime we have temporary cargo containers housing bookstores, galleries, an "open library" book exchange, ping ping tables, and a biergarten. It's a lovely space!

For dinner we convinced Maria and Leonid to meet us as the Belgian restaurant Cafe Trappist, with its patio, upstairs, and cute cellar. The cellar was perfect for us and, although the portions were small and pricey, food arrived much after promised, they brought some of the wrong dishes, and I might've had an allergic reaction to the mussels, still I enjoyed the place and especially their phenomenal-for-beer-naive-Russia beer menu.

Maria enjoying a Belgian Lager

Food Truck movement making its way to St Petersburg

Next up was the Sapsan high-speed train to Moscow, which sped up the normally 8+ hour trip to a perfect 4 hours. I installed a GPS speedometer app on my phone to track the speed, at one point hitting 200 km/h, but most of the time it hovered around 140 km/h. Other than napping, reading, and gazing out the window, we spent the time listening to four drunken older Russian men hitting on 1 blonde woman who had the luck to be assigned a seat with them. She took it as well as she could, giggling and seeming to enjoy their stories for four hours. At the end, when it came time to ask for her number or take down theirs, somehow nobody could find a pen. :)


Dave V. said...

Hey dude! I went to find you on chat and when you weren't online I thought "I wonder where in the world Dave is off to now?" Now I know! Have fun and keep the blogs coming! Big hugs to you and Olgie!

Karen Wilson said...

That beer cocktail sounds super interesting. I've never heard of anything like that.