Kalinka Shop (Калинка магазин), Queensway

Kalinka Shop, 35 Queensway

Kalinka Shop, 35 Queensway

Five years ago, when I first moved to London, I was rather fortunate to move Bayswater, which, although traditionally famed for boasting fantastic Middle Eastern shops and restaurants, is also home to a small Russian shop, located just ten minutes from my front door.

This was before the days when, as a result of a dramatic increase in migration to the UK from the  countries accepted into the EU in 2004, Tesco stocked a vast variety of Polish food and various East European shops had sprung up across the country.

Kalinka Shop (Калинка магазин) can be found at 35, Queensway, London, W2.  It is open from 11 AM to 8 PM Monday to Saturday and 12 to 6 PM on Sunday.  The shop stocks everything you could ever imagine of Russian (and some other East European countries) origin.

When I first came to London, I happened across the shop because I used to walk to and from Queensway Tube Station every day.  My interest in Russian history was growing and I entered out of curiosity.  On entering I was faced with products from floor to ceiling labelled in Russian.  This is partly why I love London, particularly Bayswater.  For me, when you are here, it never really feels like you are in the UK, it always feels like you are on holiday, exploring some foreign land and their produce.

I was just about to leave, somewhat perplexed by the sheer volume of food and drink stuffs, when a small blue packet caught my eye.  This was the only thing in the shop which was recognisable to me at that time.  Vegeta is food seasoning which I had come across during my stay in Slovenia with our family friends, the Detelas.  Have you ever been on holiday, really enjoyed a meal and on your return, attempted to recreate it but somehow, the meal you have produced is not quite right.  If you have ever been to Eastern Europe, particularly Central Europe or the Balkan regions, Vegeta may well be what you are missing.

Vegeta 500 g

Vegeta 500 g

Vegeta contains salt, carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, parsley leaves, sugar and spices.  You can use it to simply season food prior to cooking.  One teaspoon is sufficient for 250 ml of soups or sauces, and 250 g of salads and vegetables, or pasta, rice and potato dishes.  One can sprinkle meat and fish liberally with it, to add to flavour.  A bag of 500g is the equivalent of 166 servings and it only requires to be kept at room temperature.  For more on Vegeta go to www.vegeta.com or their parent company, www.podravka.com.

A 500 g bag of Vegeta can be bought in Kalinka for just £4.60 and it will last you for absolutely ages.  Thankfully, I now do not have to bring this back in my luggage from Croatia, adding extra weigh to already overcrowded suitcases!

Vegeta is an essential for many East European dishes, particularly those from the Dalmatian coast, such as ŠŠŠkampi na buzaru, the most simple, yet delicious giant prawn/crustacea/shellfish dish on which I will post in the future.

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About Charlotte J

Graduate, journalist, blogger and follower of all things media.