Close
Conde Nast Traveler Concierge.com

« Trend Spotting in Red Square | Main | Crossing the Black Sea to a Disco Beat »

April 19, 2007

Vodka and Caviar ('natch)

Thecaviar_80days

Day 39: At dinner I did a stupid thing. I ordered caviar. I had just finished reading a book about caviar called Caviar, by Inga Saffron, which was mainly about how terribly and alarmingly abused sturgeon stocks in Russia have become since the fall of communism and that this ancient and fascinating creature with the most delicious roe of any fish in the world may soon become extinct in the Caspian Sea. It is a sad and painful subject to read about, but the descriptions of all that caviar left me in quite a state.

My plan was to eat at Cafe Pushkin, a good but by no means cheap restaurant not far from the hotel. After paying the hotel a hundred dollars to do what I would describe as a fairly meager load of laundry--I wasn't going to spend what few hours I had here in a Laundromat--I decided to go downmarket. The concierge recommended another spot that was cheaper than Cafe Pushkin, and that's where I found myself that night for dinner.

The place had an "Old Russia" theme to it. Wood beams spanning the ceiling, wood chairs, wood tables, and wait staff running around in peasant-style white burlap. As themes go, it would really be something, I thought, if every hour or so a Cossack or Tatar burst in, sacked the place, got drunk, and left with all the money. This never happened.

I am no caviar connoisseur, but I don't think I was served very good caviar. For one thing, it was served with a metal spoon, which is said to oxidize caviar. (Bone, toroise shell and mother of pearl are said to be preferable.) It was mushy and had a slightly sour, rancid finish and the eggs themselves had little in the way of pop or individual texture. I felt like an idiot after the first mouthful. So I followed with a shot of vodka, another wonderful substance that thankfully, is not endangered. The vodka was ice-cold, peppery and massively cockle-warming. It made me feel better, but only a little.

I learned two lessons that night. The first was: If you're going to eat caviar, don't skimp on price and do your best to eat farmed American caviar. The second was: If you do something stupid and feel stupid about having done it, drinking vodka helps.

Comments

A hundred bucks for laundry? That's outrageous!

Will you be publishing a rough cost estimate of your total expenses? Thought that might be useful for others looking to make a similar voyage.

Keep up the great work!

I agree. A final rundown of the expenses you incurred on this trip would be great. Your writing is so inspiring, that I am tempted to make a similar trip myself, and I would like to know how much I need to save! :)
Your writing is wonderful, and I really enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
RSS: RSS Feed
Email: Daily updates

WEEKLY TOPICS
RECENT COMMENTS


UPDATES ON TWITTER

TRAVEL BLOGS
Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.

http://www.cntpromo.com/ex.asp
Traveler Magazine

My Concierge.com

Advertisement

Advertisement

I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

 
iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions