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.