Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

24 December 2014. The Shape of Things to Come? Robot Waiters in Chengdu… How Much Do You Tip These Guys?

00 robot waiters in Chengdu PRC. 24.12.14


Who woulda thunk it… robot waiters in Chengdu (Sichuan Province) PRC… now, what’ll happen to tips? Perspirin’ minds wanna know… besides, are they programmed to give out one-liners to one-up customers when they deliver the food? Now, THAT’S in the Old School deli tradition… I guess it all depends on whether you’re in a high-class or in a high-crass establishment.



Thursday, 13 November 2014

Jewish Theatre District Spot “Cafe Edison” Closing… #SaveCafeEdison

00 Save Cafe Edison 01. 13.11.14.


00 Save Cafe Edison 02. 13.11.14


00 Save Cafe Edison. 13.11.14


Another old-school New York Jewish institution is about to fall victim to gentrification. The New York Times reported that the owners of the Hotel Edison asked the Cafe Edison, a modest Theatre District coffee shop long favoured by Broadway cognoscenti, to leave its premises in the hotel. While not kosher, Cafe Edison, founded by Polish-born Holocaust survivors, Harry and Frances Edelstein, served deli sandwiches and traditional Ashkenazi Jewish fare, like blintzes and matzoh ball soup. Known, in a nod to its founders and its no-nonsense manner as the Polish Tea Room… in contradistinction to the swanky Russian Tea Room… it was also the inspiration for the setting in Neil Simon’s play, 45 Seconds From Broadway. Simon reportedly enjoyed frequent meals there with his producer Emanuel Azenberg. Other regular patrons included comedian Jackie Mason, actor Henry Winkler, and the late African-American playwright August Wilson. Mimi Sheraton, a former NY Times restaurant critic who published books about bialys and chicken soup, among other topics, featured Cafe Edison in her forthcoming 1,000 Places to Eat Before You Die.

7 November 2014

Julie Wiener

Jewish Daily Forward


Also read this, this, this, and this on this beloved “Noo Yawk” eatery

Here’s an online link to a petition to save this iconic Midtown beanery


Where will we go for kasha varnishkes and mushroom soup in Midtown if it closes? Kasha varnishkes… real Noo Yawk Soul Food… kasha with bow-tie pasta lubricated with real schmaltz (chicken fat, for them not in the know). Who the hell wants another Disneyfied POS plastic eatery? 😦

Can we save this hole-in-wallsky beanery? We oughta… if not, Big Nick’s (The Burger Joint) on B’way is next…


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Anniversary of the Sandwich


Exactly 250 years ago, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, playing cards, put meat between two slices of bread. That was the birth of the true English sandwich. According to legend, the Earl of Sandwich became very hungry during a card game. As he was an avid player, he sat at the card table for hours, without even taking a break for dinner. That day, the cook prepared meat sauced with brown gravy. To ensure that the gravy wouldn’t drip on the cards, Sandwich asked his servants to place the meat between two slices of bread. Upon seeing this appetising concoction, the other card players shouted, “We want the same as Sandwich!”

That’s how the sandwich first saw the light of day; it was a relative of the German butterbrot {in Russian, we call it a buterbrodik: editor}, but with an extra slice of bread on top of the butter and meat. This story first appeared in French historian, writer, and traveller Pierre-Jean Grosley‘s book A Tour to London; it was contemporary with the Earl of Sandwich. However, since then, there’s been much discussion whether this story is true or if it’s just a pleasant myth. There’s another, more prosaic version. Allegedly, the Earl wasn’t an avid gambler, but he was an amateur strategist who pored over military maps for hours, snacking on meat between slices of bread. No matter what its real origin is, in Britain, nobody calls the butterbrot anything other than a sandwich. In the UK, the sandwich is probably the most popular food. Traditionally, its luncheon fare, as the British eat a light meal at midday. Sandwiches not only have meat fillings, but they can also contain cheese, seafood, and vegetables instead. For example, some of the most popular sandwiches in London cafés and snack bars are shrimp with avocado and turkey with cranberry sauce.

British supermarkets decided to mark the 250th anniversary of a truly British culinary invention. Next week, they’ll stock sandwiches wrapped in the colours of the British flag under the trademark “Best of British” on their shelves. Amongst them will be a sandwich called the “British Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Wrap”, stuffed with topside beef, roast potatoes, and horseradish sauce, and a Scotch Egg-style sandwich with haslet pork, an egg, and pickle. All throughout the anniversary year, vendors promise to offer buyers some interesting sandwich fillings symbolic of traditional British cuisine. Yet, at the same time, they’ll also have on offer some innovative taste treats, as the British do like to try out new things. For example, last summer, sandwiches with strawberries and cream were a special hit with Tesco supermarket customers at the time of the Wimbledon championships, and a year earlier, they test-marketed a sandwich with an Italian lasagne filling.

12 May 2012

Yelena Balayeva

Voice of Russia World Service


Friday, 4 May 2012

4 May 2012. D’oh! Are Doughnuts the Latest Thing in Russia? Pyshki in Murino Outside Piter…



Doughnuts three for a buck… sausage in dough (“pigs in a blanket“) or pirozhki, a buck apiece… chicken legs for four bucks… pork shashlyk for five bucks… a “gamburger” or a “sendvich” for a buck and a half… betcha the bus drivers hang out here...



Got a yen for something sweet and not-so-good-for-you? Yes, Virginia, you CAN find halfway-decent doughnuts in the Rodina. In Moscow, they’re known as ponchiki… in Piter, they’re pyshki… no, I do NOT know why there’s a difference! They’re good eats, whatever you call them… the images are from a pyshki shop near Piter in Murino.

Click here for an audio presentation of the In Between programme from VOR talking about doughnuts and fast food. It can take a minute or two to load… some good stuff (24 minutes) on ordinary life. Doughnuts… not bombs… pastries… not demonstrations. Sit back and enjoy Donna and Julia… it’s in English, guys…


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