In 2014, the Kremlin imposed bans on food items being imported from Europe, meaning that Russia had to start feeding itself. As everything from Italian cheese, Spanish ham and Greek olives disappeared from supermarket shelves, locals began to turn to the farms and fields of Russia, resulting in quite the renaissance in terms of home grown food. This is more than evident in the country’s capital, Moscow, as new restaurants that feature local, seasonal ingredients are now popping up just about everywhere, along with food festivals, street food markets, cooking classes and so much more.
From fresh farm produce to gourmet homemade goods, the food markets around Moscow specialize in so many local delights. Lambada is a sophisticated market that offers up gourmet street food, while Danilovsky Market has some of the best farm-to-table produce in the entire country, with row upon row of freshly baked bread, dried fruits and nuts, and exotic ingredients. This is the preferred market amongst local chefs, and while its neat and tidy displays may stand out from other farmer’s markets around the world, the traditional goods that are up for sale can be turned into the most creative of contemporary dishes.
A Culinary Revival
With the food sanctions in place and local ingredients being the focus of the majority of meals cooked in Russia, the country had to look back to its culinary roots for inspiration. Rather than simply reproducing Soviet-era dishes, talented chefs began to recreate these classic menu items and bring them into modern times, while using traditional ingredients to cook up international dishes. From a Russian paella that features locally grown spelt and wild chanterelle mushrooms, to Japanese-inspired fish marinated with apples instead of miso, there are many innovative dishes to now be found around the capital.
Georgian and Uzbek Cuisine
Every region has their own culinary specialties, and while food from certain countries may have become popular all over the world, this is not the case for Georgia and Uzbekistan. While food from here may not have been embraced internationally, there is an abundance of Georgian and Uzbek eateries to be found in Moscow, serving up everything from Uzbek Plov to Georgian pastries and wine.
Mestnaya Yeda, which means Local Food in English, is a food business incubator that started up in 2012, not only providing a shared kitchen for prospective food businesses to use and lectures from industry professionals, but also a monthly market at which they could showcase their products. With around 30 stalls at the market each month, this is a great opportunity to sample dishes from some of the city’s rising culinary stars, with some of Moscow’s most popular food establishments having made their start here, from the Burger Brothers to The Hummus.
With locavore cooking, which is the movement to eat local food, becoming a necessity all over the country, Moscow’s food scene is now bursting with an exciting energy. From the city’s fine dining restaurants to its street food vendors, locals have embraced these new changes and are producing dishes that the entire country can be really proud of.