Cuisine of Nizhny Part II: Main courses, drinks, and more!

Without a doubt, the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient place you can find a lot of Russian food is within a ‘stolovaya’. A столовая (stolovaya) is a Soviet-style cafeteria that serves almost exclusively Russian/Eastern European cuisine. Bread, soup, salad, an entrée with side, dessert, and a beverage can be served as a complete meal and cost you anywhere from 100 to 200 rubles: an absolute steal, considering. The stolovayas we frequented the most were the ones located on our campus, but we’ve also eaten at independent stolovayas as well. Quite a bit of this blog post will focus on what we’ve found at stolovayas. So when you come to Russia, you’re going to expect a lot of what we already have in the states in terms of meat: fish, beef and poultry. There was, however, one time where I’ve encountered liver at a stolovaya located on the way to one of our tour sites. Though the taste was unusual to say the least, I found myself thoroughly enjoying my meal. While eating at a stolovaya, your entrée (should you choose to order one) can come with one of four common sides: rice, buckwheat, potatoes (both mashed and whole), or macaroni. The meat is usually served with some sort of sauce and is garnished with vegetables, cheese, or mayo. One item that could occasionally be found at a stolovaya is пельмени (pel’meni). Pel’meni is an Eastern European take on dumplings and can be served with onions, mushrooms and once again, mayo. For reasons that completely elude me, Russians seem to love mayonnaise on almost everything. We often found an assortment of baked goods in Nizhny and not just in stolovayas either. One of the most delicious of the baked goods we tried was пирожки. Acting as a jack-of-all –trades pie, пирожки (piroshky) are individual-sized fried buns stuff with anything from fruit to mushrooms and hare. It was a unanimous group favorite. Piroshky aside, the undisputed king of baked goods in Nizhny, Russia, and most ofEastern Europe is the famous блины (blini). Blini can be served as breakfast, lunch and dinner and can come stuffed with mushrooms and onions, served with a portion of caviar and a dollop of sour cream, and even packed with chocolate or jam. This dish dates back to pre-Christian times and is often featured in Maslenitsa: a Slavic holiday celebrated during the last week of Great Lent. Russian cuisine wouldn’t be complete without blini. Шашлык (shashlyk), or shish kabob, though not actually Russian, is also quite popular in Nizhny and is often served on a skewer along with vegetables and side dishes to complement. The list of entrees is of course endless and I could spend hours writing about them. You’ll just have to check them out for yourselves! As I had mentioned in a previous post, tea is extremely popular in Nizhny, but other popular, non-alcoholic beverages include juices, both flat and carbonated water, and компот (kompot): a fruit juice often served with whole fruits in the glass. Квас (kvass), essentially fermented bread soda, is also quite popular in Nizhny and is often sold by street vendors. Beer, cocktails, wine, mulled wine, mead, and straight liquor can all be found in Nizhny. Vodka will always remain the national drink of Russia, but has surprisingly fallen into unpopularity as more and more people have either switched to other types of alcoholic beverages or just flat out quit drinking alcohol altogether. Медовуха (medovukha) is similar to mead but is more readily available for casual consumption. What is by far the most popular dessert in Russia is ice cream as it can be found in restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and street vendors that operate almost everywhere. Chocolates, cookies, Turkish delights, and fruits are all regular desserts, but one in particular I enjoyed was the Russian version of gingerbread. Пряник (pryanik) acts as a frosted honey-cake filled with fig-meal and other ingredients and in absolutely delicious. I couldn’t help but take some home with me for friends and family. My next post will focus on street foods and open-air markets.

 

Mead.

Mead.

 

Open-faced ham sandwich smothered with cheese and mayo.

Open-faced ham sandwich smothered with cheese and mayo.

 

The people's ice cream.

The people’s ice cream.

Entrees and sides from the Chaika hotel.

Entrees and sides from the Chaika hotel.

 

Juices, tea, and an assortment of foods from the chaika hotel. Going clockwise from the potatoes: hard-boiled eggs, shnizel, beef and vegetables served on top of buckwheat, salad, and fish.

Juices, tea, and an assortment of foods from the chaika hotel. Going clockwise from the potatoes: hard-boiled eggs, shnizel, beef and vegetables served on top of buckwheat, salad, and fish.

 

Coca- Cola add at the line of the stolovaya. The description says вместе вкуснее- they're tastier together.

Coca- Cola add at the line of the stolovaya. The description says вместе вкуснее- they’re tastier together.

 

Entrees available at the N. I. Lobachevsky State University's stolovaya.

Entrees available at the N. I. Lobachevsky State University’s stolovaya.

 

Kvass.

Kvass.

 

Blini packed with mushrooms and chicken and topped with sour cream.

Blini packed with mushrooms and chicken and topped with sour cream.

 

Cheesecake and mulled wine.

Cheesecake and mulled wine.

 

Absinthe.

Absinthe.

 

Horse sausage. Surprisingly delicious.

Horse sausage. Surprisingly delicious.

 

Tea, piroshki, solyanka, and liver topped with mayo and served with macaroni.

Tea, piroshki, solyanka, and liver topped with mayo and served with macaroni.

 

Much to our shock, instead of using shakers, salt and pepper left out in open containers. As you can tell by the indents, people simply place their hands into said containers and help themselves.

Much to our shock, instead of using shakers, salt and pepper left out in open containers. As you can tell by the indents, people simply place their hands into said containers and help themselves.

 

Half way through my liver: revealing onions in between the meat and the mayo.

Half way through my liver: revealing onions in between the meat and the mayo.

 

Pel'meni in a bowl served at a stolovaya along with apple juice in the foreground.

Pel’meni in a bowl served at a stolovaya along with apple juice in the foreground.

 

33 penguins stand found on the top floor at муравей (muravei): a local mall we frequented.

33 penguins stand found on the top floor at муравей (muravei): a local mall we frequented.

 

Self-prepared pel'meni.

Self-prepared pel’meni.

 

Sushi is extremely popular in Nizhny and can be found just about anywhere.

Sushi is extremely popular in Nizhny and can be found just about anywhere.

 

 

A bottle of Medovukha I had purchased in the neighboring city of Gorodets.

A bottle of Medovukha I had purchased in the neighboring city of Gorodets.

 

Pork topped with tomatoes and mayo served with macaroni served at the stolovaya near our dorm.

Pork topped with tomatoes and mayo served with macaroni served at the stolovaya near our dorm.

A feast we had at Harley Wagler's house. From Closest to the man in the dark blue shirt to farthest: garnished tomato slices, garnished cucumber slices, meat and cheese, grapes, pepper slices, bread, turnips, banana chips, dried orange slices, halava, and a bowl of cookies and chocolates.

A feast we had at Harley Wagler’s house. From Closest to the man in the dark blue shirt to farthest: garnished tomato slices, garnished cucumber slices, meat and cheese, grapes, pepper slices, bread, turnips, banana chips, dried orange slices, halava, and a bowl of cookies and chocolates.

 

Containers of orange and apple juice at the chaika hotel.

Containers of orange and apple juice at the chaika hotel.

 

Students in line at the Lobachevsky university's stolovaya.

Students in line at the Lobachevsky university’s stolovaya.

 

Another feast, this time including pilaff, carrots, and other vegetables.

Another feast, this time including pilaff, carrots, and other vegetables.

 

A blurry picture of a piroshki filled with cheese.

A blurry picture of a piroshki filled with cheese.

 

Plain blini served with a side of caviar and a dollop of whipped cream. Also enjoyed with a beer.

Plain blini served with a side of caviar and a dollop of whipped cream. Also enjoyed with a beer.

 

Чак-чак (chak chak) is a Tartar sweet comprised of unleavened dough.

Чак-чак (chak chak) is a Tartar sweet comprised of unleavened dough.

 

An assortment of water, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol available for purchase at a stolovaya.

An assortment of water, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol available for purchase at a stolovaya.

 

 

Though beverages are often served at room temperature and are generally not accompanied with ice, you can almost always find refrigerators.

Though beverages are often served at room temperature and are generally not accompanied with ice, you can almost always find refrigerators.

 

 

Plumb ice cream.

Plumb ice cream.

 

 

аджарский пирог (adjarskiy pirog) is an Armenian dish we have come to admire in Nizhny. It is essentially a mixture of eggs and cheese cooked in a piece of bread.

аджарский пирог (adjarskiy pirog) is an Armenian dish we have come to admire in Nizhny. It is essentially a mixture of eggs and cheese cooked in a piece of bread.

 

 

–Max Parker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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