Eating Eurovision: Part 2 Russia – bring on the blini…..

They say you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper. And today I am trying pretty hard….I’ve breakfasted like King Harald V of Norway on brown cheese and flatbrød and now I’m about to lunch like a Tsar (or Roman Abramovich) on blini and vodka. Its all good stuff and in aid of Eating Eurovision (a rather mad project thought up by journalist and food blogger Andrew Webb) – 25 food bloggers eat 25 cuisines within the M25.

I got Russia out of the lottery pingpong ball bag and also opted for Norway as an extra.

And that is where I came unstuck.


I woefully underestimated how long it would take to track stuff down, get it, eat it, write about it. I did Norway first because I thought it would be really hard to find the foods I wanted but actually it wasn’t so bad, finding Russian contacts and leads has proved much much harder. I thought there were lots of Russians in London and maybe there are but I didn’t find any. I found a possible deli in Queensway (Kalinka) but after buying my Norwegian cheese mountain had no time or strength left to get there to check it out. I’d spotted various restaurant options but time was short and I wanted to do some actual cooking. 

Then I thought of vodka tasting at Potemkin but my friends could not be convinced to leave the grotty surroundings of the pub they had started the evening in to walk less than half a mile, they suggested the nearer Polish bar but that’s Polish so how was that going to help. I bet vodka isn’t just vodka you know, I bet it has hundreds of subtle nuances. Oh and to be fair to my mates by this time it was pouring with rain so we would have got drenched.

So having drawn some blanks and having been pointed at blini by fellow Tweeters – I thought lets make blini (and wash them down with a splash of vodka). I was tempted to go to a Lithuanian deli in Leytonstone I’d spotted during internet research for a (very) vague bit of almost authenticity but having seen @hollowlegs tweets about her Lithuanian restaurant eating I decided maybe not. Anyway I needed a recipe first, now I might have hundreds of cookbooks but curiously not one of them is about Russian food. Surfing the web throws up lots of blini recipes and some earlier surreptitious reading of books in Foyles suggested that actually mini blini are okay but the real deal is to have big huge proper pancake size blini – oh yay lunch sorted: big savoury blin (apparently the singular of blini according to wikipedia…hmmm doubtful) followed by big dessert blin.

Sorted right? Wrong. By this time it’s already past the deadline to post and I’ve only just decided what I’m doing. Oh dearie dearie me. 

And there are only two choices in such circumstances: don’t post and FAIL completely or CHEAT.

So I cheated. Yes I did what we were not supposed to do I went to Waitrose bought the most Russian looking things possible, came home, cooked, ate and made myself listen to the Russian entry on repeat as penance! I could have cheated more by pretending the vodka we already had was Russian but I didn’t, maybe that makes it all ok?

My blini were good, they were rather thick so could perhaps be classed more as oladi (which are well, big fat blini) and very filling. I did a bit of a cheats recipe (what not more cheating) and followed the recipe on the bag of buckwheat flour using baking powder instead of yeast to get the raised texture but it worked fine. The 100% buckwheat flour makes a very brown looking batter. For the savoury topping I had sour cream, Russian (i.e. beetroot) cure salmon and chopped quails eggs and for the sweet more sour cream with warm raspberry compote I quickly made from frozen raspberries. Then I had a splash of Russian vodka to finish it all (and me!) off.

I am very very full now. I’ve had two hearty cuisines only a few of hours apart – perhaps fine if it was snowing and minus something scary outside but a little much for spring day in London. If I’m lucky it’ll mean I sleep through tonight’s competition and don’t have to watch all those crazy acts again. 

I’ve also learnt that if you bite off more than you can chew you’ll get indigestion somewhere along the way but on the other hand, as Tennyson almost said:

‘Tis better to have tried and cheated than to have never tried at all’. 

Yeah right!

12 thoughts on “Eating Eurovision: Part 2 Russia – bring on the blini…..”

  1. Two countries is tough, we struggled and there was two of us. As you said, it’s not just the exploring but the eating of it all!

    Well done though, the blinis look great.

  2. Homemade blinis are fantastic aren’t they? That vodka looks nice too. Yes well done anyway – still a very interesting post.

  3. The blini (or in reality oladi) were really lovely and even though I didn’t follow the rules I did make something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise and learnt more about it – so a new dish in my repetoire.

    According to wikipedia its 1 blin, 2 or more blini no ‘s’ on the end so that must just be Anglicisation

  4. The restaurant I went to for Bosnia (Baltic) had quite a bit of Russian food so if you are interested in eating more blinis it is the place to head (although you may be blini-ed out!)

  5. Excellent post though you should really have tried Potemkin, not for the food but for the vodka!

    And I’d say you improvised, not cheated!

  6. Gourmet Chick: I’m a bit blini-ed out at the moment but I really enjoyed them so definitely will try again. Baltic looked pretty good so will be finding an excuse to visit.

    Danny: I was v disappointed I couldn’t convince my mates to go to Potemkin for vodka (we were only 10 mins walk away max) but hey ho another day I guess.

  7. I get indigestion quite often from biting off more than I can chew! LOL The blini look wonderful!

  8. Well done for cheating. It’s the only way really. And in fairness it is very Russian! The other option would have been to drink some rocket fuel and then eaten some poisonous mushrooms.

  9. Young lady, let me assure you that no real Russian of sound mind would ever dream of curing salmon with beetroot. The precious root vegetable would be wasted on such a common fish. Otherwise, very well done!
    Bob Bob
    PS. You can probably do a better job of serving vodka properly at home than Potemkin. All you need to do is this: get some proper vodka glasses, no bigger than 25cl (half a shot), stemmed, thin glass or crystal, with a nice ching when you tap the rim. Chill the vodka and the glasses at least to -18 (most domestic freezers do around -20). Pour, toast a friend, drink as a shot in one go, follow immediately with Russian food. Repeat as necessary.

    1. Bob Bob
      Thank you for pointing out the errors of my ways when it comes to Russian food. As you have probably guessed I am a complete novice in the cuisine and don’t currently count any real Russians amongst my friends and acquaintances, but I’m open to that changing. Waitrose was probably not the best place to start to learn! I will try your vodka drinking tip, it sounds rather interesting. And I’m sorry but I do really like the beetroot cured salmon :0
      More Russian tips and ideas please!

Comments are closed.