Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Years Day Shopping in Russia

It gets dark early in Moscow right now. By 3:30 it is dusk and by 4:30 it is pitch black outside. The weather all week has been gray and gloomy but surprisingly it fits the season. We got our first really big snow last night and since we were all in the Christmas shopping mood, we decided to head to GUM, the former State shopping mall (you remember, the store where when Russia was the Soviet Union all the babuskas would queue for hours just for the opportunity to buy a pair of shoes or cans of food). The store is decorated in white lights on every nook and cranny and there is an Olympic size ice skating rink outside filled with people zipping by at high rates of speed. You definitely don't see too many Moscovites clinging to the edge of the rink like you do at Rockefeller Center. Today, GUM is a western style shopping arcade complete with all the high end stores and a food court up on the third level and during this season is decorated for the holidays and filled with shoppers looking for New Years gifts.

For Russians, Christmas isn't the big holiday even though they decorate Christmas trees and there are santas and reindeer all over the place.

Instead, the big gift giving day here is New Years. Every place I look there are ads for the perfect New Years party to attend and best gifts to give someone. Kitchen appliances like indoor electric grills, juicers, and rotisseries seem to be the hot items to give and receive. The electronic billboard outside my hotel window is advertising kitchen gadgets every other ad While we searched GUM for a place to have dinner I walked by the Russian equivalent of Williams and Sonoma and Crate and Barrel and noticed a window full of lively coloured rotisseries (think Kitchen Aid stand mixer colours).

After walking around and discovering no place special to eat dinner, we headed to the Le Meridien National to have dinner in their restaurant. I would like to tell you I have nice food pictures of a really spectacular Russian meal but the lighting was awful and the only picture I have is a really bad picture of my wonderfully presented chicken Kiev.

The best part of the meal was my appetizer of pelimeni, a meat filled dumpling served with a sour cream sauce and sprinkled with dill. Mine were filled with beef, pork and lamb were super tasty. I like them so much, that I've looking forward to heading back to the Le Meridien National before I leave just to have them again.

Don't forget, Menu for Hope 4 is happening right now! I'm offering four great prizes for raffle and you can see what all the other food bloggers around the world are offering by visiting Chez Pim's site. To make a donation, please visit the Menu for Hope First Giving page. Just think, you can celebrate Christmas and New Years, just like the Russians do by making a donation and winning a raffle!