Lublyou: Russian/American Life & Cuisine

life and cuisine

Fri, March 27 2015

A windy day survival guide, plus a slo-mo


There is now a New York City phenomena that I call “windy icon on iPhone weather app.” I’m still getting used to it, and failing miserably to adjust every time. I’ve been familiar with thunderstorms, sleet, ice, freezing rain and even the smoke icon, but until moving here I didn’t know what to expect from the cute curly symbol for “wind.”

Apparently, in New York, wind means serious business. I’m still learning, but I’ve figured out a few things for sure:

  • Avoid skirts and dresses. Some people say they sew small bits of metal into the hems of their skirts! That would mean accepting the wind as a serious enemy and showing my fear. Never!
  • Avoid headbands, floppy hats and light scarves. They will try to leave you and you will not be able to stop them. Especially if you’re busy holding the skirt down.
  • Say no to lip gloss. Wind + lip gloss + your hair… you get it. Bright lipstick is also a bad idea if you’re wearing a scarf that you don’t want to stain with kisses while it’s being blown into your face.
  • Keep your hands free. You’ll need them to preserve everything you wear along with your dignity, and they come in handy (ha!) if you need to grab a tree or a pole.
  • Don’t get too close to the water. Living in Manhattan and being surrounded by so many buildings makes me forget sometimes that we’re on an island. When you see the curly wind icon it’s better to stay away from the “edges” – the wind is the strongest at the riverfront.

Last week I was walking home with two giant bags of goodies from Trader Joe’s, in a lightweight dress with a full skirt, of course, and a group of elementary school kids behind me, when the wind appeared out of nowhere. What fun! I wondered what happened to the kids, because half way through the gust their laughter faded out. Then I realized that not only was I not making any progress moving forward, I was on the verge of fall backwards! I’m still not sure if the bags full of marshmallows, quinoa and blackberries wasted my energy or prevented me from flying away.

Here’s a slo-mo Benjamin took of me on a very windy date recently:

Оказывается, в приложении “Погода” у меня в телефоне есть иконка “сильный ветер” в виде волнистых линий. До переезда в Нью-Йорк я с ней не сталкивалась. Были грозы, лёд, град, даже дымка, но я не знала, чего ожидать от ветра. Здесь ветер имеет какое-то абсолютно новое для меня значение, он здесь является таким же погодным условием, как и дождь или снегопад. Я всегда думала, что ветер – это как бы дополнение, бонус к остальным неприятным погодным проявлениям. В Нью-Йорке же ветер может быть сам по себе!

Значит, должны быть и правила, что делать и в чём выходить на улицу, когда прогнозируют ветер, так? Вот об этом никто почему-то не говорит. Когда идёт дождь, нужно брать с собой зонтик и желательно найти резиновые сапоги. Снег? Выйди из дома по-раньше, нужно будет машину почистить или идти медленнее до метро, чтобы не поскользнуться. Ветер. Ветер меня поставил в тупик.

Но после полугода в Нью-Йорке я знаю, что платья и юбки лучше оставить дома. Там же можно забыть ободки для волос, шляпы, шарфы, которые при каждом порыве стремятся вас покинуть. А так же блески для губ, липнущие к волосам, и яркие помады, целующие шарфы и шали. Лучше обойтись без пакетов и сумок, чтобы руки были свободны для спасения взлетающей юбки или объятий с деревьями и столбами, если ветер не сдаётся.

В один из не самых суровых дней ветер застал нас на прогулке, и мы записали небольшой ролик в режиме замедленной съёмки. Результаты можно посмотреть выше.

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Mon, March 23 2015

The best chai latte in NYC

This winter I’ve been tasting chai all over the city, and even though there are always more places to explore, I already have my favorites.

Birch Coffee NYCBirch coffee sandwiches

The number one position on my Chai List is currently held by Birch Coffee. My favorite thing about their chai is the foam: thick, white and spoonable. I never go there in a rush or grab a cup to take away, I always plan to have enough time to sit next to the window and enjoy the drink. There is no point in ordering it to-go: the clouds of foam would just spread all over the paper cup! No, it shouldn’t be wasted. I eat it one spoon at a time, alternating with sips of perfectly sweet and creamy chai underneath.

Birch Coffee Chai

I’ve been on this chai latte kick for awhile now, and recently my obsession started to get a bit contagious! Benjamin and Emma surprised me quite a few times lately by ordering chai instead of coffee. Wow, I’m suddenly influential!

Birch coffee shop

I just realized Birch’s name and logo might also have something to do with the cozy and homey vibe I get at this place – birch trees remind me of Russia! The birch tree is a symbol of Russian nature and Russian beauty – so I’m not only influential, but also very easily influenced.

Birch coffee Manhattan

The ceiling details of the Upper West Side Birch location.

Birch coffee shop NYC

This is what I call the “happy chai faces” of my fellow city explorers at the Flatiron Birch last Saturday evening.

Birch coffee New York

Here’s me very intensely pressuring Emma to appreciate the amazing foam and ignore the obvious paparazzo outside of the window.

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Thu, March 19 2015

Russian meat dumplings “Pelmeni” // Пельмени

You know how many bloggers start their posts with something along the lines of “…if you’ve been following my blog or Instagram recently you should know…”, and then they link to their Instagram account? Well, it’s my turn today! So, if you have been, you’ll already know that this winter, one of my biggest food cravings has been for dumplings.

Here’s my insta-proof: one, two, three, four, five… and I ate many more. It’s a serious obsession! // Russian dumplings recipe

From time to time, I make Russian dumplings called “pelmeni” at home, and when I do, I always make sure to prepare extra and freeze them for the future. The other day I decided I had to have pelmeni for dinner, so I made 97 pieces! Ben doesn’t know yet that we have two more bags in the freezer, it’s a delicious secret. Or, it was a secret. It won’t be a secret once he reads this! // Russian dumplings

Commercial pelmeni often come with only one kind of meat, but I like to combine 2 or 3 kinds of ground meat, like: beef, pork and veal. // Cooking Russian dumplings

I prefer making pelmeni by hand, but there are also some time-saving gadgets. My mama gave me one of these, and I use it from time to time when I want to have rounder and smaller dumplings. All I need in that case is roll out two thin sheets of dough, place one on the press, add meat on top and press the second layer onto it. // Russian dumplings pelmeni recipe

Russian meat dumplings: "pelmeni"

  • 1 onion, minced
  • pepper, paprika, garlic, salt for meat
  • 1 cup icy cold water
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 lb. ground meat (pork+beef+veal)
  • 4 cups flour

1. Sift 2 cups of flour onto the table, make a well, add salt and oil, then slowly add icy water with one hand and mix it in with the other. When the dough is consistent and soft, leave it to rest under a towel for 30 minutes.

2. Add 1 more cup of flour and knead again for 10 minutes, then leave under a towel for 30 minutes.

3. Add the rest of the flour and knead the dough until it stops sticking to your hands. Keep it under a towel for 30 more minutes.

4. Meanwhile, mix meat with onion, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic.

5. Take small pieces of dough and roll them into thin sheets and cut into circles with a round cookie cutter or a cup. Fill each with 1 tsp. of meat mix and pinch the edges together tightly.

6. Boil a large pot of water, salt it, drop in pelmeni and stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Cook for 8-10 minutes after the second boiling. Add a few bay leaves before turning the heat off.

7. Use a strainer spoon to remove the cooked pelmeni from the pot without too much broth. Serve hot with sour cream.

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Tue, March 17 2015

Idaho comes to New York City

Ben’s family visited New York last week, and for a few days we got to enjoy the touristy side of the city again. Ben’s dad was born in New York, but he hasn’t been here for more than 30 years. I’ve only been calling this city home for the past 6 months, yet I couldn’t help but feel proud when I heard that Ben’s parents really liked it here despite some pre-trip worries. I know, the beauty of The Ansonia and The Dorilton, the spell of the evening walks through Central Park, the endless museum collections, and the charm of the Kosher Deli waitress have absolutely nothing to do with me. Nevertheless, I feel a little bit involved in the magic created by New York City.

Central Park sledding

Ben’s parents spent most of their days here at The Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Natural History. Sometimes we joined them for a leisurely waltz through the galleries, other days we had to work and only met them later for dinner. Ben and I have already been to every corner of The Met by now, but we love returning there as often as possible. This time, Ben’s brother came along and we took the experience to a whole new level searching for the “ugliest” art. Among the winners were The Children’s Meal by Pierre Bonnard for the best children faces, and a creepy cat with Emma Homan by John Bradley.

Lublyou Central // Upper West Side

I’m not as familiar with The American Museum of Natural History. This time we mostly gazed at their gem and mineral collection. The dramatic lighting brings out some amazing colors, texture and beauty. My English vocabulary got replenished with the names of new gems, and so did my list of “This is gorgeous, I want!”

Rubies, topazes and sapphires are really great, and so is food. We wanted to take the family to all of the delicious places we’ve discovered in the past half year, which is unfortunately impossible. But we managed to squeeze in quite a few new spots in the itinerary.

Central Park Lublyou

A delicious and unusually quiet (even at dinnertime!) Upper West Side Jewish Deli we stumbled upon is Fine & Schapiro. Their staff makes you feel right at home, and I’ve never tasted a better coleslaw! Their hot pastrami and tongue cuts are mouthwatering, and unlike Katz’s, there are no crowds, and credit cards are welcome. Fine & Schapiro is on my “New-to-me and Super Hot” list right now. We’ve already been there twice!

hot pastrami UWSKorean Chinese NYC

I mentioned Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles before, it’s a real gem hidden deep in Chinatown. Ben’s family had to experience the roasted duck soup with the famous noodles and various dumplings. I don’t really need an excuse for more dumplings.

Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles

We also ventured to Harlem Shake (their Harlem Jerk burger is a must-have!), Bibble&Sip (wrote about them recently here), Tenzan Sushi (great lunch location near the museum on UWS), BCD Tofu House (our Korean favorite), Mee Noodle Shop (very cheap, large lunch portions, but there isn’t much more to it), Mille-feuille (there was one across from the hotel and we couldn’t wish for a better sweet breakfast choice), and Osteria Morini (we meant to go to Jack’s Wife Freda next door again, but it’s too crowded anytime after 10 a.m.)

Bibble and Sip Mille feuille

На прошлой неделе к нам в гости приезжали родители и младший брат Бена, и мы вновь ненадолго превратились в туристов. Мы старались избегать толпы и в основном гуляли по музеям (Метрополитен и Естественной Истории), всё ещё заснеженному Центральному Парку, спокойному Верхнему Вест-Сайду, однажды даже пробежались через Сохо и Чайнатаун, а также заехали в Гарлем.

Бенин папа родился в Нью-Йорке, но очень давно уехал и с тех пор здесь ни разу не бывал. За более чем 30 лет, конечно, всё сильно изменилось, и мне было по-особому приятно услышать, что родителям Бена город очень понравился. Моей заслуги в преображении Нью-Йорка абсолютно нет, но я всё равно почувствовала гордость за этот город и приятное впечатление, которое он произвёл на людей из милейшего горного городка, боязненно относящихся к мегаполисам. Мама Бена даже планирует вернуться ещё разок летом – и это очень хороший признак, ведь правда?

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