Siberian Birch Syrup Pie and Kefir Ice Cream

If you find yourself in Canada, you might try the impossibly sweet yet addictive maple syrup pies. In New York City, Momofuku Milk Bar has the infamous crack pie, which isn’t all that different, except it’s made with cane sugar and a funkier crust. As a birch syrup lover, I wanted to come up with a similar dish for the other side of the Iron Curtain. Siberia being a little to Western Russian what Canada is to the United States, I decided to create a Siberian birch syrup pie.

One may ask: do people really eat custard pies in Siberia? Aren’t Siberians just a bunch of alcoholics who push frozen planes along their airport tarmacs while dodging meteorites? (Tupolev-134, no less.) It’s time to shake off clichés! Let it be known that modern Siberians do eat all kinds of pies. And starting from now, add birch syrup pie with kefir ice cream to the list!

Russian Food - Birch Pie

The Siberian pedigree is reinforced by the presence of pine nuts, which are found all over Siberia — more on this at siberianpinenuts.com. Once toasted, they add a nice bitterness to the dish. Compared to some Canadian recipes, I’m keeping the sugar level in check, and to balance the flavors from the birch syrup, I’m making a tangy kefir ice cream, topped with a piece of crispy bacon to add a salty note.

Continue reading

Kremlin Menu Watch, Part 3

You may not be a man like Putin, but you can try to eat like him. Here are some excerpts from the news on his presidential feasts in the Kremlin and in other parts of the Empire.

Vladimir Putin on a fishing trip in Krasnoyarsk Territory

What does Vladimir Putin eat? – Vladimir Putin on a fishing trip in Krasnoyarsk Territory – Photograph courtesy of Russia’s Presidential Press and Information Office

You may have heard the news of our Man of Action catching a giant 40+ lb pike during his photo op trip to Siberia last month:

The Kremlin insists it was a fair catch, and the fish was turned into pike steaks for Mr President and his Prime Minister. As for those who question the actual weight of the fish, we can do quick check: Putin is 5’7″ (= 67″) tall, the fish is no more than about 2/3 of his height (= 45″), and depending on which northern pike length-to-weight chart or formula you choose, a fish of that size weighs 22 lb to 29 lb. Conclusion: the official weight of 46 lb seems a bit exaggerated!

So what does Vladimir Putin eat these days?

Continue reading