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    Thank The Ban: Food Sanctions Make Moscow One Of Europe's Culinary Capitals

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    The Kremlin's ban on the import of certain kinds of food from Europe, the US and Turkey have surprisingly transformed Moscow into one of the most interesting culinary capitals of Europe, leading to the renaissance of true Russian cuisine, according to an American weekly newsmagazine.

    Russian cuisine is enjoying “the strange, delightful renaissance” due to the Kremlin-imposed bans on the import of foodstuffs from Europe, the United States and Turkey, according to Newsweek magazine.

    Under the current circumstances, Moscow’s restaurateurs decided to turn to a movement, popular in many parts of the world — locavore cooking – or consumption of only locally grown foods.

    “It’s a very simple and beautiful idea — the land where you live is the land that feeds you,” the magazine quotes  Jerome Rohmer, a veteran of two of France’s three-star Michelin restaurants, Arpege in Paris and Pic in Valence, who has just completed a three-month-long stint as the guest chef at the newly opened 15 Kitchen and Bar in Moscow’s posh Kropotkinskaya district, as saying.

    “Moscow is such an exciting place to work. The kitchen team are ready to invent everything from scratch.”

    Among the Russian culinary riffs of the French cooker are “imaginative vegetarian rarities”, such as roasted parsnips and roots in carrot sauce and three-ways cauliflower (puree, minced and tempura).

    The ingredients come from all over Russia, including its “far-flung outposts” — scallops and octopus are fished in the Sea of Japan and flown in from Vladivostok, for instance.

    The look of 15 Kitchen though is described by the magazine a “pure Shoreditch or Williamsburg hipster, with full-sleeve tattoos, beards and trilby hats apparently obligatory.”

    “We are trying to source from all over Russia," Maria Zlatopolskaya, a spokeswoman for a farm-to-table cooperative called LavkaLavka, told the outlet. "We are trying to celebrate different areas of Russia, bring the regions to Moscow, to help people know what they have in their own country.”

    The cooperative was founded by chef Boris Akimov by teaming up with farmers across Russia in 2008 and offers such delicacies as a Russian-produced artisanal Gouda cheese and dozens of varieties of dried and marinated mushrooms, as well as Siberian deer dumplings and Arctic berry preserves.

    “Slow food and farm-to-table are hardly home-grown Russian concepts, of course. But the combination of sanctions and a falling ruble have pushed Moscow’s once-marginal locavore chefs and entrepreneurs to the fore,” the magazine notes.

    Due to the sanctions, it says, dozens of the “obnoxiously bling, eye-wateringly expensive restaurants for which the city used to be infamous” have closed.

    “It’s the hipster-inspired places that are still standing. After two decades of slavishly copying every Western trend to wash up on its shores, Russia is busy forging an original aesthetic — not just culinary but artistic too.”

    The outlet therefore invites everyone to try such delicatesses as, among others, honey-roasted duck, Black Sea cuttlefish spaghetti and a “traditional Ukrainian borscht that explodes with beefy beetroot flavor”.


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