CHEF’S TABLE: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

With James Close, two Michelin star chef at Raby Hunt.
Second floor

Moscow may not be the first place on your list of gourmet go-to spots, and while it isn’t part of the Michelin awards, its restaurants do take their places in the World Top 100 rankings.

Not sure how many football fans will have their thoughts on fine dining as they hit the city for the World Cup, but there’s certainly an inspiring food scene if they’re prepared to leave McDonalds behind.

For me, it was fascinating to go somewhere which genuinely does have ingredients you might never have seen, eaten or cooked with before.

These days, most chefs can access most ingredients, but some of the food we ate in Moscow – notably the amazing Kamchatka king crab – was a first, and blew our minds.

The crab comes from a Russian peninsula on the Bering Sea – and essentially is the king of crabs with beautiful sweet white meat.Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy

It was definitely a highlight of eating in Moscow. We feasted on it at Wine & Crab, owned by a chef I’d met in Italy. They served up ten different varieties of crab. Apart from well-loved Kamchatka king crab and opilio (snow crab), we tried blue king crab, spiny crab and even the bizarrely-named “hairy crab”. As well as the spiny stuff, Wine & Crab offers other kinds of seafood and perfect wines alongside. This was without doubt one of the best meals I’ve eaten.

Another fantastic restaurant was Twins Garden. The twins in question (who also run Wine & Crab) are Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy, who are Russian chefs. They have worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens.

They offer a unique and very naturalistic approach to cooking – they have a 125-acre farm two hours south of Russia. This means they have access to fresher ingredients than ever before. In the restaurant itself, an aeroponic fruit and vegetable system makes Twins Garden completely self-sufficient.

The new restaurant also has the largest wine cellar in Russia and a laboratory on site, where you can actually dine too.

We ate some stunning food here from an outstanding tasting menu. From their farm we ate cheese made just 24 hours before – they have rare breed goats for milk –  served with a pesto made from 100 different herbs. Just one of a raft of stunning dishes from a really creative kitchen.

Moscow is also home to White Rabbit which ranks at 23 in the World’s 50 Best restaurants list.

Chef Vladimir Mukhin uses local, seasonal ingredients and, as for his charisma, Mukhin has hit the headlines on the 2017 series of Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

The restaurant embraces an Alice In Wonderland theme – think lots of rabbits and rococo furniture. But on the table you’re going to find traditional Russian produce like borodinsky black bread with caviar and standouts like rabbit and mini cabbage rolls in foie gras with potato crisps and truffle juice, as well as roast suckling pig and Black Sea oysters. Be sure not to be late for your very important dinner date.

It’s worth a visit for the view alone. The restaurant’s glass dome provides diners with a spectacular 360-degree view of the striking city of Moscow.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, which was as impressive as you’d expect. Very old, traditional and opulent – not unlike the Ritz in London.

It has an impressive rooftop bar overlooking Red Square – which was closed when we were there because of a Victory Day parade – but we were able to watch the trundling tanks and massed troops from this great sky-high vantage point, which was definitely memorable.


See & Do Moscow >>

Danilovsy Market

Showcasing the area’s gentrification – loads of little eating places and delis serving cooked food.

Russian Ballet

A visit to see the Bolshoi ballet will hit the wallet – but the theatre itself is one of the city’s main sights and worth a visit.

The Underground

Moscow’s Metro is so much more than a transport system. It’s a symbol of Russia’s power and history. One of the most visually stunning underground systems in the world.

Shopping

Russia’s main department store, the Moscow GUM is an architectural ‘wow’ and home to a variety of high-end boutiques. Built between 1890 and 1893 and known as the Upper Trading Rows until 1920, the legendary store is now home to over 200 boutiques from Dior to Zara.

En route

We flew to Moscow from Heathrow and on the way stopped off in London to eat at HIDE, the bold new restaurant and bar in Piccadilly.

Billed as one of the biggest new openings in the city, it was opened by Hedonism Wines and Ollie Dabbous; it has an incomparable wine list. Any bottle available in the Mayfair store may be reserved and delivered to the restaurant for you to enjoy alongside your meal. We had a Chablis premier cru Montee
de Tonnerre brought over – the best Chablis in the world. Magnificent.


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