August 7, 2008

"NEW" The Samovar Cafe

We first heard of the Samovar Cafe while on a tour boat to Otter Cove. Our guide told us one of the most fun things to do in the area was to go have an authentic Russian meal at the cafe - complete with an authentic atmosphere.

I made a call that afternoon for reservations. I could barely understand the lady who answered the phone in a thick Russian accent. That's when I knew we were in for a good time.

The cafe sits on the edge of an old Russian believers village north of Homer, AK. The Russian village Nikolaevsk was founded in 1968. The old believers left Russia in the days of Stalin to escape communism. You can get a more complete story on this group of people at this website:

Arriving at the cafe's doorstep, we were greeted by the owner Nina Fefelov in full Russian costume. We were ushered inside where immediately Mrs. Fefelov began offering her complete selections of meal types in her broken english. Basically, we were given the choice of the full blown version with costume, pictures, music and the ability to ask questions or just the food. I figured since I will probably never get to Russia, I wanted to experience the full blown version.

Before we could be seated at the counter surrounding the kitchen, we had to dress for dinner! I was given a skirt, shirt, scarf and shawl while Sam was given a Russian tunic and hat! Now that we looked the part - pictures had to be taken.

The next part involved choosing a lacquered spoon from which we were to eat our Borsch. The soup is thick with cabbage, beets, potatoes, tomatoes and celery. A spiral of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill floating on its surface. Mmmm - delicious!

Nina lovingly described ingredients in each dish. In spite of the resulting wide range of flavors, all the selections share one common ingredient - "Love", she says.

Next came the main course. Piroshoks are dumplings that can be filled with meat or made to fit a vegetarian diet by stuffing them with rice, mushroom and vegetable mixture. Pelimeny are Siberian dumplings filled with beef and boiled in chicken broth ''until they float.'' As with the borsch, sour cream and dill make a perfect topping.

As satisfying as all that may be, Nina then brings out dessert - cream puffs topped with cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream. My mouth waters thinking about it many months later!

After dinner, cups of Russian tea, a mild mixture of raspberry, strawberry, mint and fireweed blossoms, prove a perfect finale.

By the end of the evening, my mouth hurt from smiling. I have to admit that even though I felt silly part of the evening, I had a very enjoyable time. The food was absolutely delicious. If I were to pay a visit to this fine establishement again, it would be just for the food. I highly recommend the full blown version for those visiting for the first time.

One thing I've failed to mention is that when you choose the full blown version of your meal - you are the solitary devotion of her attention. No one else was even in the cafe while we were there.

Afterwards we were told to go visit the church in town. I was told I would need a skirt. Nina graciously lent me one to wear while I was there. She told me just the place to leave it when we were finished. Don't miss it when you're in town.

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