Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Season 2 Episode 3

St. Petersburg

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Mar 18, 2008 on Travel Channel

Episode Recap

Andrew is this time in Russia, mostly in the area if St. Petersburg. The area has been a Mecca for cuisine open to modern conveniences and making royal food available to the masses. Although not tourist friendly, it is often open to traveling businessmen. At the Kuanechy Market, Andrew meets with local guide, Nicolai Devyatkin, who shows him how Russia has changed for the millennium. Butchers now have a variety of as many as twelve hams and two-dozen sausage, quite a far cry to the former food shortage in the country. Andrew samples terine, mixed pig parts ground up and gelled in its own juice. He discovers that the Russians pickled a lot of food to keep it preserved; whose displays of pickled foods are available. He discovers bull's heart tomato, three types of pickled garlic ranging from regular, wild and mixed with beet juice, sauerkraut made from vodka, Russian pickles preserved in salt and vinegar, and fresh forest honey, said to be healthy for the body. Andrew also samples exotic cheeses and sour cream richer than the American version. He discovers exotic cucumbers, melons and a variety of caviar from sturgeon and salmon. He also samples vobla, dried and salted herring with the egg sac still attached.
Even with the incredible landmarks, architecture and museums, Andrew reveals that the Russians respect fast food. Many open restaurants sell food to be eaten while walking. He steps into a cafeteria to get salad, cow tongue, fried fish and cold borscht, made from beets. Afterward, he passes a street side beer garden selling hyans, a beer made from water and fermented wine tame enough for kids to drink it. Andrew also stops at a blini stand for blitnzes. The stands are very popular for their flat sandwiches stuffed with a variety of ham, chicken, fish or pork rolled in bread shell pancakes. Andrew is briefly invited inside to try the cooking process before continuing his tour.
After the palace of Catherine the great, Andrew is on to an isba, a traditional log home, containing a podvorie restaurant with live entertainment of Russian folk songs. Joining a table of French tourists, Andrew is present to sample solo, cured pig fat which is spread on bread, along with a dish of pickled lamprey, a jawless eel-like bottom-feeding fish that sucks the blood from other fish. It was a peasant's dish when food was scarce, and to Andrew, it tastes tough and ammoniated even though it's salted. He has no takers trying to share it. He also gets to try meat of a brown bear, fried into a burger-shaped meatloaf and served with mushrooms and lingenberry sauce. It is much more tasty and appreciable compared to the lamprey.
Through the Pavlosk district of St, Petersburg, Andrew shows off the bridges and canals of the city that compare it to Venice. At the Grand Hotel of Europe, a national landmark, Andrew meets up with hotel manager Thomas Noll for a tour. The hotel has the best in handmade chocolate, expensive Vodka and signature cigars. Andrew samples egg-in-egg, a dish of cream, pepper, cheese and caviar within a clean egg shell. Noll shows off the hotel's famous caviar storage area, the freshest in the country. At the caviar bar, Andrew gets to try samples of sevruga caviar, osetra caviar and beluga caviar which is much more expensive since the beluga is now endangered. He completes it with a dish of beef stroganoff, a very old dish prepared with sour cream.
Andrew meets up with an old friend, Andre Terebenin to join him at his dache, a Russian country house for rest and relaxation outside of the city. During their car ride, they stop at a stand for zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and local mushrooms for their meal of shashlik, made from marinated meat of fish, pork and rabbit skewered on a stick at the dache. They also get dried birch branches for the banya, a sauna hut at the location. They are joined by Andre's mother, Natasha, who gives Andrew a tour of her fruit and vegetable garden at the dache, and his friends, Yevgheni and Nayda. Andrew helps in the meal by creating zakusi, bite-size appetizers of cold vegetables with pickles. Andre is grilling the shashlik as Andrew muses on the rain coming in to ruin the meal.
Fortunately, the rain lets up after everyone races into the house. The meal includes wild radishes, onions, mushrooms and lake trout served with vodka. It is afterward off to the banya, the sauna hut to burn off the meal, but for Andrew, since it is his first experience, it is only for five minutes. The dried birch branches are used for flagellation, a part of the banya experience before a jump into the lake, an ordeal even Andrew has to take pause, but he joins in and has a great time, encapsulating his Russian experience with a good time.
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