Take a Ski Trip — To Siberia

Siberia is not generally known as a holiday resort.  In tsarist and Soviet times, Siberia was where criminals and political convicts were sent, and it was also a region of rich natural resources. In 1912 the Sheregeshev brothers discovered iron ore in the mountainous region of Gornaya Shoriya to the south of present-day Kemerovo. At…

Medovik: Russia’s Favorite Cake

I suffer intense performance pressure when I contemplate making Medovik, Russia’s beloved multi-layer honey cake. I’m cognizant that this is, hands down, every Russian’s absolutely favorite cake, ever since Alexander I’s wife, Empress Elizabeth, a confirmed honey hater, fell in love with a Medovik made by a new chef in the palace kitchen blissfully unaware…

Huzzah for Hussar-Style Beef!

Defenders of the Fatherland Day is upon us, that most masculine of all holidays. Feb. 23 nominally celebrates the foundation of the Red Army in 1918, during a hastily organized rout of Kaiser Wilhelm’s forces in the waning months of World War I. No sooner was the Red Army founded than it locked horns with…

When Andy Warhol Came to Moscow

In 2020 and 2021, Moscow held its first truly comprehensive exhibition of works by Andy Warhol, the king of American pop-art. Paradoxically, the most comprehensive exhibition of the most famous 20th century, tradition-challenging American artist was held in Moscow at the time of the greatest decline in Russian-American relations. The exhibition, entitled “I, Andy Warhol”…

Valentine’s Day at the Hyatt Regency

The romantic months of February and March begin with Valentine’s Day this coming Sunday (Feb. 14). Even though Russians traditionally celebrate men on Feb. 23 (Defender of the Homeland Day) and women on March 8 (International Women’s Day), they have happily joined their foreign friends and added this celebration of couples in honor of St.…

North Meets South in Mini Golubtsy

Since antiquity cooks have tucked meat and grains in vegetable leaves: wrapping food in pickled fig leaves was common in both Greece and Rome. The Byzantines used vine leaves as their primary wrapper, and this mania in Asia Minor for stuffing one food into another led to the ubiquitous dolmas, small vine leaf logs stuffed…

Copycat IKEA Meatballs

In 1703, Tsar Peter I captured in the Swedish fortress of Nyen, which guarded access to the River Neva. It was one of the ambitious Russian tsar’s early successes in the Great Northern War (1702 – 1721) in which Russia ultimately smashed Swedish hegemony. On the banks of the Neva, Peter began construction of a…

Russian Movie Night: History on Screen

From the Vikings through the first year of Soviet power, these seven films or series will keep you entertained as you are immersed in the pre-Russian, Russian and Soviet past. Start with Alexander Sokurov’s “Russian Ark” that takes you through several centuries of Russian history inside the ark of the Hermitage Museum. You can watch…

‘Journeys Through the Russian Empire’

A Tale of Two Photographers Photography, since its inception, has provided an invaluable window into Russia’s turbulent past. The revolutions of 1917 irrevocably altered the course of Russia’s history with seismic political change, but also rendered an entire way of life not only obsolete but also taboo. Historians were left to pour over sepia-toned photos…

Russia’s National Treasure: Cabbage Soup

I’ve just finished celebrating what the Russians call “Catholic Christmas” with the usual cornucopia of rich foods: triple cream cheese, fresh oysters, beef, potatoes swimming in cream, chocolate sauce, ham, and more Christmas cookies than I care to count.  With Russian New Year and all its high cholesterol mayonnaise-based salads looming on the horizon, it…

Russian Movie Night: 7 Great Features

It’s a holiday! Finally! In the absence of friends and relatives, what better way to finally relax than to get cozy in front of the TV for some serious binge-watching? Here are seven fictional series or feature films about Russia and their neighbors that got the thumbs up from a highly opinionated, extremely demanding, multi-generational,…

Russian Dance Highlights of 2020

The pandemic of 2020 may go down in history as one of the most devastating events for world ballet. In March, Russian theaters closed for what everyone thought would be a short quarantine, and most returned to work in the rehearsal studios only during the summer months (the Bolshoi in July and the Mariinsky in…

Russian Film Highlights of 2020

2020 was a difficult year for the Russian film industry. Many long-anticipated premieres were postponed when in-theater showings were halted. Other filmы skipped the theater and went straight to online platforms. Another problem, which will have a longer effect on the industry, was filming — or not filming — under various Covid-19 restrictions. Most of…

Russian Film ‘Beanpole’ Awarded Top Prize by U.S. Film Critics

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) has named the Russian movie “Beanpole” as the best foreign language film. “Beanpole,” which was directed by Kantemir Balagov, also won second place for best production design.  The film is set in the Soviet city of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) right after WWII. The narration focuses on the tragic relationship between two young women veterans, Iya…

Moscow Holiday Feasts

As the year 2020 comes to an end, many expats are staying in Moscow, some for the first time, as the coronavirus makes travel abroad impossible or impractical.  Without the usual holiday fairs, parties and activities — and without widespread celebrations on Dec. 25 — it’s easy to put off planning. And now Christmas is…

U.S. Film Industry Losses are Russia’s Gains

HOLLYWOOD–Theaters in the U.S. are closed. Studios are on hiatus. The film industry is in freefall. But in Russia, movie fans will be the beneficiaries of Hollywood’s troubles. Theatrical blockbusters like the James Bond franchise, Disney-branded films and “Star Wars” remakes will skip the movie houses and will be available on streaming platforms in Russia…

Kaliningrad Named Top Emerging Tourist Destination – Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor has ranked Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad as the No. 1 emerging tourism destination in the world for 2020.  Sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, the Kaliningrad region’s German heritage and influence make it unique from Russia’s mainland and its Baltic coastline draws surfers, swimmers and sunbathers in the summer.  The region’s capital, also named…

Cecil Beaton Comes ‘Home’ to Russia

‘Cecil Beaton: Celebrating Celebrity,’ the first major show of one the greatest photographers of the 20th century in the Hermitage’s General Staff building brings together about 100 photographs and sketches by, highlighting his role as a herald of celebrity culture and its dedicated advocate. The display is a collaboration with Cecil Beaton’s Studio Archive and…

The Arctic Open Film Festival Goes Online

Held amid the Arkhangelsk region’s harsh Nordic landscapes, the annual Arctic Open is one of Russia’s least glamorous film festivals. It is also one of the few cinema events in the world dedicated to the unique culture of the Arctic peoples and intended to foster closer cooperation within the region’s artistic community.   The open air…