Seld Pod Shuboi

Stroganoff 5 ways at Cafe Pushkin

When you think Russian food what comes to mind? Borscht, pirozhki, stroganoff, vodka. Yes in the Russian Federation vodka does seem to have some nutritional content, judging  by the way it’s knocked back. As with every country I visit, I was keen to try out the local cuisine, and er, local beverages…

I was there for a reason though, and we needed to earn our keep first, by cooking an ostrich-meat based lunch (for the SA Ostrich Board) for 150 people. In the kitchen where we prepped for our function, the staff were preparing an interesting-looking salad, as well as doling out large scoops of it to eager-looking wait-staff. It being early in the day after a rather heavy night sampling some Russian Standard vodka, I expertly dodged the bright pink and white layered creation, and told the staff Pete would certainly appreciate some, being an inquisite chef and all. The look on his face will entertain me for years to come – the cold, chopped herring, potato and beetroot salad really relies on freshness and to say the least this sample was not made that morning…

Later at GQ Bar Moscow  I unknowingly ordered the same – Seld Pod Shuboi (Russian herring, potato and beetroot salad), inducing Pete into a laughing fit. Fortunately, here the chef put his own stamp on the dish, using crab along with the traditional, and thankfully fresh herring, sour cream, potatoes and beetroot. The herring was chopped but not mushy, and the potatoes layered on top with sour cream were perfectly cooked, as was finely grated beetroot, lending that special earthiness to the dish. Crab added a luxurious touch to what would otherwise have been a very ordinary creation. I love herring, but was struck by the dish’s overall understatement, something it had in common with much of the traditional Russian food I tasted. We found this dish, which is undoubtedly popular in Russia, on several more Moscow menus – hopefully those chefs took their traditional, rather old-school cuisine, and made it ther own  as well. I’ve added some photos of the food we had at the very old and ornate Cafe Pushkin, where ye olde school certainly still rules…

Seld Pod Shuboi at GQ Bar
Chicken with a hat at Cafe PushkinSeabass and sour cherries at Bar KalinaVeal chop and frites at Bar Kalina