Khachapuri: More First of May adventures in Moscow

This afternoon, we left the hotel and decided to wander toward Pushkin CafĂ©, with its hot chocolate and Nathalie fame. We never made it. We wandered into some sort of children’s shopping center with kids’ activities and just started walking.

We walked the park around the Kremlin, toured the World War II monument (and even watched an Asian tourist hog the monument as we tried to take pictures and my favorite, watched the soldier on guard whistle at folks who sat on the walls), and went for coffee.

In one of the pedestrian tunnels that connects to the underground/metro, I did some shopping. I bought water, a plastic bangle bracelet in leopard for a work colleague, and a small piece of bread with sauce and cheese that tasted a lot like Elios pizza.

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In our travels, we saw some Lenin and Stalin impersonators in full military dress and a tsar. There were also opportunities to wave the Soviet flag.

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But, by far, the real excitement happened in the evening. M had some trouble decided what he wanted for dinner. He had his guidebook (a French tour book on Moscow) and I had mine (a DK book on all of Russia). We read back and forth until he asked about Georgian cuisine and I had a place listed in mine called Khachapuri. He was all over it.

But for some reason, the listing didn’t have a map coordinate under the name. So, we entered the address into google maps. And the directions came up in Russian. And no matter what we did, we couldn’t get the anglicized names to read the map in the guidebook. So M read the names out loud and I marked the map. But some of the streets were too small to be on the map in the guidebook. I copied those (Yes, in cyrillic letters) into my notebook. And off we went.

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With M sounding out the street names and my notes, we found the place with no problem. I have linked to their web site: http://www.hacha.ru/en/menu/6/

I had an incredible pumpkin soup with smoked cheese on it.
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M ordered an herb khachapuri, but didn’t get the traditional one with raw egg on top. So that saddened him a tad, but I think his mandarin lemonade may have compensated. They made lemonade and put large pieces of orange in it. Very delightful.

This man came in and played accordion in front of us, including “Yesterday,” yes, as in the Beatles tune.

Then my dinner came. On that web site, it’s the third row down. First item. Baturi-style beef cooked in Georgian candori spice. Now I had told M that the soup was so good I wanted to eat a bowl every day for the rest of my life. The beef came out in this delicate paper wrapped, and the spices were both exotic and familiar. The beef was perfectly cooked and I cut it with a butter knife. There was roasted garlic and roasted onion on the side. I devoured the garlic. The food was so good I also tried the onion. AND I HATE ONION. It was fairly edible. But I just don’t like onions.

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M and I both knew we wanted to eat here again. So we made a reservation for tomorrow night. I actually mourned the end of my meal, because despite the fact that I was happy and satiated I didn’t want it to end.

We couldn’t believe our bill. Less than 1600 rubles. Or about $30.

There was a downpour on the way home. I ended up hanging my shoes and jeans on the heated towel rack. I can’t stop thinking about that meal.

Rainy First of May in Moscow

So, M was quite distraught last night that Red Square was closed in preparation for First of May today. We woke late. I rose at 8 and studied Russian until 9 when M roused. We headed to the hotel breakfast, which was a strange assortment of items. You could see the hotel’s efforts to serve multi-national fare. We are staying at Hotel Peter I.

I had Russian pancakes, meatballs, yogurt, pastry, cranberry mors, and the best coffee I’ve had in days. Three cups. Water is scarce, which is a tad annoying. Small markets are closed for the holiday, also annoying but bearable. We purchased water at an upscale grocery store in the fancy mall.

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We came back to the room so M could shower. The weather is low 40s, breezy and sporadically raining. M googled the status of Red Square and discovered the worker’s rights parade was going on right now. We hustled a bit and arrived in time to see the end: people dispersing, flags, flowers, red first of May t-shirts (I want one) and the military band playing. (See my Instagram account if you want video: angelackerman.)

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I loved watching these women dismantle their signs.
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We had an amazing time looking at the military folk wandering around and old Soviet pins. We meandered the city, covering five miles. There were many, many people out. I saw blocks upon blocks of portable toilets.
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There’s some beautifully wrapped chocolate, but I’m told it’s not tasty so I took a photo:
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Now we’re relaxing and drying off from the rain, so let me leave you with a shot of Moscow on the river.

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