Russia’s Maslenitsa Festival in London’s Trafalgar Square

This weekend, should one have a rabid appetite for sampling some Russian culture, we at Charlotte’s VVeb recommend taking a trip to the annual Russian Maslenitsa Festival taking place on Sunday 6th March in London’s Trafalgar Square.  The annual festival is set to be bigger and better than ever before and will feature a Russian Standard Vodka bar and traditional Russian delicacies to taste.

Trafalgar Square

Maslenitsa is also known as Butter Week and blinis are traditionally eaten during this period.  The celebration is held just before Lent, however, its roots are pagan as it heralds the coming of spring.  As Russia’s national drink is vodka we can expect that lots of lovely blinis will be washed down with a chilled tipple or two at the festival!

Plus for music lovers there will be fabulous performances by Moral Codex, Bayan Mix, Ludmila Rumina and Anastasia Stostkaya.  We can’t wait!

Russian Maslenitsa Festival in London’s Trafalgar Square

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross

12.30pm – 7pm

Entry is free

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Last-minute Easter Egg Shopping – Visit Maison Blanc

Last weekend I was in Hampstead in London and went for lunch with a friend at Maison Blanc, Raymond Blanc’s popular patisserie/boulangerie.  The cafe also boasts a charming little shop and this time of year is filled with charming Easter products including Russian decorative eggs filled with praline chocolates.  The decorative eggs make a charming decoration, regardless of the chocolate, although it’s a wonderful bonus!

Priced at just £6.99 I thought these would make a perfect last-minute easter gift.

To locate your nearest stockist visit www.maisonblanc.co.uk

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Czech Cities Come to Life with Easter Markets

Znojmo City
Znojmo City

The Czech Republic is one of the most popular places visited by European and American Westerners alike.  If you are taking a trip this Easter check out some of the beautiful Easter Markets – they are simply not to be missed!  An Easter Market is held every year in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in Prague. Stalls with souvenirs and Easter products lure locals and visitors alike from 20 March to 11 April. In addition to shopping, an interesting cultural programme awaits. Spectators will enjoy folklore, folk music and dance in Old Town Square. There will also be a workshop for children, providing the youngest ones the possibility to braid switches into so-called “pomlázky” (birch rods) and to dye eggs.

Market places will of course sprout up in a variety of places in the Czech Republic. The South Moravian city of Znojmo, for instance, will celebrate the spring holidays from 29 March to 4 April. Easter markets filled with artisans, culture and attractions for children are being prepared. Children also can look forward to tours of Znojmo underground designed specially for them. www.znojmocity.cz

In Ceský Krumlov, Easter markets are held from 1 to 5 April and the attractive programme will be complemented this year by passion plays in the monastery garden. www.ckrumlov.info

People can also celebrate Easter at castles and chateaus. From 3 to 5 April, the event titled Princely Easter at Krivoklát will take place. You can expect to see an Easter market and concerts as well as masses and theatre performances. www.krivoklat.cz

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Beethoven Easter Festival, Warsaw, Poland

Beethoven Festival Warsaw PolandThe Polish capital of Warsaw will host the 14th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival later this month.  The ever-popular two-week event gets underway on Sunday 21st March, running until Saturday 3rd April.  Fourteen days will be dedicated to Beethoven and the wealth of classical music in the two centuries since his heyday, as Warsaw welcomes performers and artists from around the world.  Every year the festival is built around a central theme, and this year organisers are celebrating the phenomenon of the piano alongside the genius of Poland’s favourite son, Fryderyk Chopin, and his contemporary Robert Schumann.  The Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival has been a part of Warsaw’s cultural calendar since 2004 after starting life in Krakow in 1997.

Tickets for performances are available now and you can find out more at www.beethoven.org.pl/en

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Hungarian Easter Ham Meal: Part 1

Over the Easter break I decided to try a new recipe.  I broke from British traditions and went in search of Hungarian Easter fare.  For the Hungarian celebration of Easter, the table is richly laden, like most East European countries!  Alongside slices of fragrant ham, sits a braided Easter loaf, eggs, grated horseradish, lamb dishes and poppy-seed cake.  I have always been rather partial of gammon so I thought I would give that a go.

Ingredients:

Uncooked ham

Water

Although the Hungarians appear to cook their ham quite simply, I chose to also add the following in order to make a delicious stock which I could use immediately or freeze:

Parsley

Carrot

Celery

Parsnip

Black Pepper Corns

Instructions:

Soak the uncooked ham in cold water for several hours to extract the excess salt.

Soaking

If the ham is smoked, soak overnight.

Rinse, then place the ham in a large saucepan with plenty of water.

(At this point I chose to add carrot, celery, peppercorns, and parsnip)

Bring to the boil, and simmer slowly.

The ham is tender when a fork easily pierces the rind and the bone can be turned easily.

Leave the ham to cool in the cooking liquid.

Slice

Ready to serve

Just plate it up in portions for your guests…

Serve

The Hungarians would then boil eggs in the cooking liquid, peel them, cut into halves or quarters, and serve with the Easter meal.  However, I opted to serve the ham hot with a Creamy Mushrooms and Aubergines, the recipe of which will be posted in Part 2.  I have retained the stock to use to make soup the same way my Grandmother taught my Mother to.

Another Hungarian Easter tradition is the annual water fight.  The originated when young men would sprinkle girls with cologne.  The tradition evolved so young farmhands could throw a bucket of cold water over girls of marriageable age.  Although the girls scream and resist, they are said to be secretly delights (though if someone threw a bucket of cold water over me, I think I would be less than happy to put it mildly).  This tradition is not solely acted out in Hungary, it is also popular in Poland and many British Poles even take part in the ritual.

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Russian Blini Easter Offer at M&S!

Done!

Marks & Spencer are doing a special offer on Russian blinis this Easter. Although the taste of the blinis is quite far from traditional, this is a quick way of creating a canapé or starter over the holiday for your family and friends.

For just £5.99 M&S are offering a large packet of their Scottish Lochmuir Oak Smoked Salmon.

The packets of sixteen small blinis are priced at just £1.99.

The West Country Half-fat, Crème Fraiche is reduced to £1.14.

While, loose lemons are reduced to just 35p.

To serve:

Arrange the blinis on a platter.

Dab a small amount of crème fraiche onto each blini.

Cut the smoked salmon into small pieces.

Place the small pieces of salmon onto blinis.

Squeeze lemon juice over the blinis.

For added effect, zest the lemon and sprinkle over the blinis.

Grind black pepper over the blinis or for a more authentic Russian taste, add a little dill.

For more menus suggestions from M&S go to www.marksandspencer.com

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