a big beautiful mess

One of Those Days

In Moscow, we ate twice at a fast-food blini place called Teremok. The experience reminded me how wonderful and convenient blini are. So, today, when I came across a Blin Haus, or House of Blini, while doing some shopping downtown, I decided to pop in for an afternoon snack.

I stepped inside to find that it was not, in fact, anything comparable to a Teremok. There were tables and waitresses and a full bar with several classic Russian beers on tap. I said “Hello” to the hostess and then forgot all the Russian I ever knew. She said some things to me which I did not understand, and I uttered such phrases as, “Where…” “Simply to eat,” “Several blini,” and “Should I sit?” Finally, she gestured me to a table and handed me a menu.

I examined what looked like specials on the first page of the menu, searching for something warm and inexpensive. Something called “Sbiten’ Yagodnyi” caught my eye. I had not a clue what a sbiten’ was, but it said that it was made with forest berries, honey, and served warm–just what I wanted. I ordered the sbiten’ and a cup of black tea.

A few minutes later, I was presented with the tea, followed by… a warm, sweet drink.

Sitting there alone in the House of Blini, I had to laugh to myself. They must have thought I was crazy! Muttering incomprehensibly about eating blini and then ordering only beverages! I thought about trying to play it off as though I had meant to order two hot drinks, but as I got hungrier and hungrier, I finally caved and ordered something called “Blin Julienne,” which had a photo of food next to it, hoping for better luck the second time around.

This time, I got three blini wrapped up like little pouches and filled with mushrooms, chicken, and onions in a cream sauce. It was delicious! Totally worth the embarrassment.


  1. 19 October 2011    

    that’s about as much russian as i’ve ever known :)

  2. Jefe B Jefe B
    20 October 2011    

    Sounds delicious. I understand they are often made with smoked salmon, thus combining two of my favorite foods.

  3. Birgitta Birgitta
    24 October 2011    

    My first night in St. Petersburg this summer, I forgot all the Russian I ever knew and ordered what I THOUGH was cherry juice.
    It was carrot juice.
    They are NOT the same, and I don’t recommend carrot juice. Particularly not if the waiter offers to put cream in it and you say yes for no discernible reason.
    (This is Birgitta, by the way!)

  4. Birgitta Birgitta
    24 October 2011    

    …also, the first all-caps word should say “thought,” not “though,” but I’ve been thinking in three different languages and apparently forgot about final letters.

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