Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Za Vas! Eating and Drinking My Way Through the Russian Festival

Because why wouldn't you put a creepy big-eyed baby head on your bite-sized chocolate??
The gravity-defying moves of the Ukrainian Dance Troupe
Anyone who reads this blog knows just how much I love a good festival. I get ridiculously worked up about them, really. Latino, Korean, Greek - just put a fork in my hand and point me towards all that  food.   So you can only imagine how excited Poppa Trix and I were for the Russian Festival. Just think: Vareniki!  Babka! Blinis! Vodka.  And even though the festival took place in a relatively small space - under a tent and an  adjoining room, part of a Russian Orthodox church - there was no shortage of goodies and fun.

The first order of business was finding a place to sit in the crowded food tent. Poppa Trix and I took turns going on food reconnaissance missions. He was so excited, he could barely wait to get our first round of food!

Spinach blinis with - what else? sour cream:

This was quickly followed by a plate of cheese dumplings (vareniki) and Poppa's favorite, sauerkraut:

 While it is true that a colorful plate is generally the most appetizing, this beige pile of goodness is the exception that proves the rule.

Next it was time for a little borscht break:

Was it good, you ask?  Hmmm ... let's ask these two guys:

Yep. Pretty good. 

Ah, but I mentioned vodka earlier, didn't I? I definitely indulged in a rather large shot with my borscht:

While Poppa had a lovely and surprisingly crisp Russian beer:

After a short break to enjoy the entertainment ...

 ... it was time for sweets and tea in the adjoining room, which housed a world of wonders: all of the aforementioned sweets, plus a bevy of breads. A small room had even been turned into a makeshift Russian Tea Room!

There was only one problem: a stern woman swathed head-to-toe in terrifying black robes. You see, in elementary school, I thought Sister Alvita, who once beat me, was one scary nun, but she had nothing on this one:
Please, sister, don't hit me!
Forget about a ruler - I expected her to take out a yardstick and box my ears with it. I would much rather have bought sweets from this woman, wouldn't you?:

Thankfully, I emerged unscathed and managed to assemble this plate, with a lemon tart, Russian tea ball, and date confection:

Before we left, Poppa Trix had his heart set on buying some chocolate babka to take home, but sadly, it had all sold out by the time we got there. This tragic turn of events was entirely erased upon his discovery of some homemade poppy seed bread, something that the Austrian in him simply cannot resist. But, when we found out that the poppy seed bread cost a whopping $15, our hopes were dashed!

Well, the sweet older woman who was manning the bread counter saw Poppa's disappointment and told us, in a conspiratorial whisper, " You can have it for $5. Just don't tell her." And with that, she made a jabbing motion with her finger towards the woman working the crafts counter. Score! The behind-the-scenes drama among the church ladies - combined, I am sure, with Poppa Trix's sweet demeanor  - landed us some delicious bread for 1/3 the asking price.

Happy Russian Fest indeed!


  1. What kindness from the bread lady! I would have been all over the dessert plate.

  2. wow what a cool festival love it I want to go ;-) sending to Russian friends

  3. How nice of the lady and looks like a grand time you both had.

  4. You must be living in a very happenin' area, aren't you? I love all your food fair/festivals posts. I can feel the atmosphere through your photos. The Russian Tea Room. LOL! So did Poppa enjoy the bread? :)

  5. I love your excitement for all things food. This post is wonderful not only because of the deliciousness it brings but all the awesome people shots!
    ~ Mary

  6. What FUN! I'm comin' next time.

    And I would be the weirdo trying to sweet-talk the intimidating nun!

  7. This definitely sounds interesting. All of those foods and styles are new to me so I don't really know what to make of it. I guess I would pick up a fork and go with you!


  8. Wow, Trix. You seem to have access to the best fun in Baltimore. I've never been to a Russian Festival-it looks like a lot of fun too. Especially since I really love Russian food. I know a lot of people don't, but I think it's so healthy and wonderful. Ooh, and too bad about the Babka. Maybe you guys could make some;)

  9. did not know you were reared by the knuckles of the nuns,,,, great entertaining nite for the two of you and so much good eats... now, as for that entertainment - was that a man or women, oh wait, a mustache ... must have been a women...

  10. Oh, look at those Russian grandpas eating their borscht LOL! This looks like fun! I wonder if my parents went to this festival, I think they were going to look for a specific Russian cartoon character doll for my daughter there.

  11. WHY would I ever need to go to ANY festival when I can rely on living through them vicariously through your wonderful play-by-plays?! I laughed so hard at the "woman/nun in black"--seriously, is that a nun? OMG? Those are serious looking people, sister! The beige plate is my favorite!

  12. Oh, give me some Russian bread and pastry! Geez Trix.... you just seem to have a nose for great food fun!!

  13. Hilarious! I was laughing throughout this post and feeling like I was there as well, hearing all these Russian accents, what a hoot! Lucky you guys got the babka after all!

  14. haha, this is awesome! you know i love my festivals, too, and just got done with the local Greek Festival. i stuffed myself silly with gyros and Kourambedes. i'll let you know if i find a local Russian festival and we'll compare the bounty! ;)