Rossiya Airlines London Gatwick to St. Petersburg Route

Yet more airline route news! This April Rossiya Airlines is launching a new route between St. Petersburg and London Gatwick. Flights will be operated on Wednesday and Sundays but by May the number of flights is expected to increase to five a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. Departures from St. Petersburg fly at 11.30am and return at 12.50pm.

For more information on flights visit www.rossiya-airlines.ru

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The Soviet Dream – Lev Danilkin, Francis Spufford & Orlando Figes

I’m personally quite excited about this… This April Southbank Centre in London will mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight with a talk exploring the Soviet Union of the 1950s and 1960s featuring three writers – Lev Danilkin, Francis Spufford and Orlando Figes (a personal favourite).

The Soviet Dream will look into how the Soviet Union attempted to implement a planned economy that would outstrip capitalism, making communism the economic model of the future. Lev Danilkin is Yuri Gagarin’s official biographer, and has edited several key reviews of contemporary Russian literature. Francis Spufford’s book Red Plenty is part novel, part historical investigation of the communist dream and the key characters within it. While Orlando Figes, one of the most distinguished historians of 20th-century Russia and author of Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, will chair the event.

The Soviet Dream, London’s Southbank Centre, 13 April 2011, 7:45pm

Click here to buy tickets and find out more

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Practice for Everyday Life – Young Artists from Russia

In association with the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) Moscow, Calvert 22 will present new work from a selection of emerging artists from Russia including, Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Olga Bozhko, Alexander Ditmarov, Yulia Ivashkina, Sergey Ogurtsov, Taus Makhacheva, Anya Titova, Arseniy Zhilyaev between 23rd March and 29th May.  The unique presentation, conceived as an annual event, aims to convey a vivid sense of current artistic practice in Russia and introduce a new generation of artists and perspectives to the UK.

The participating artists have been co-selected by Joseph Backstein (Director of ICA, Moscow and Commissioner of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art) and David Thorp (Calvert 22 Associate Artistic Director) and drawn from the ICA, Moscow and the prestigious START programme, established by the Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art in order to promote and develop young artists from across Russia.

The title for this exhibition is loosely derived from the seminal text by theorist, Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, in which he combined his various academic, psychoanalytic and spiritual interests to develop a theory of the productive and consumptive activity inherent in everyday life and to show how people will ultimately always individualise mass culture, appropriating and altering all range and types of everyday ephemera to make them their own. Certeau’s proposals are neither definitively the study of “popular culture”, nor necessarily the study of everyday resistances to regimes of power. Instead, Certeau attempts to show that everyday life works by a process of poaching on the territory of others, using the rules and products that already exist in culture in a way that is influenced, but never wholly determined, by those rules and products.

22 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP
Open: Wednesday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm; Sunday 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7613 2141
Nearest Tube: Shoreditch High St/ Old St / Liverpool St

For more information visit www.calvert22.org

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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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Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Tomatoes Stuffed with Mushrooms

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

There are many Russian zakuski dishes (small, introductory dishes usually part of a welcome board serves to guests on arrival) that also double as impressive, party-piece starters.  These tomatoes are no exception.  The large tomatoes are stuffed with a mushroom and sour cream sauce which can all be prepared before baking for just 30 minutes before serving.  Ideal!  Should you have any mixture leftover it can be frozen for up to one month and used as a pasta sauce or sauce for a grilled chicken breast.

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

500g mushrooms, chopped (I use a mixture, wild are best but shitake and chestnut will do if availability is limited)

125ml sour cream

25g butter

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

4 large beef tomatoes

100g grated Gouda cheese

Instructions

Gently fry the onion, when softened add in the mushrooms

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

When sauteed add in the sour cream and parsley

Allow the mixture to cool

Cut the lids off the large tomatoes and hollow out the middle

When the mixture is cool, fill the tomatoes

Russian Zakuski / закуски mushroom stuffed tomatoes

Sprinkle the tomatoes with cheese and bake in an oven at 180°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top

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Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Meatballs Braised in Sour Cream

The Russians are not commonly famed for their cuisine yet the nation boasts some fantastic dishes.  In my opinion, the simple are always the best and I love these Russian beef meatballs braised in sour cream which would make up a zakuski board for guests upon arrival.  They are very easy to make, though they do require some time as it is best to chill them thoroughly before cooking to prevent them breaking up.

Russian Beef Meatballs in Sour Cream

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

500g minced beef

50g breadcrumbs

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 small white onion, grated

20g plain flour

25g butter

3 tbsp sunflower oil

700ml sour cream

Instructions

Mix the beef, two tbps of parsley, breadcrumbs and onion

Form the mixture into small balls

Roll the balls in the flour

Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes

Fry each ball in oil and butter

Russian Beef Meatballs in Sour Cream

Rest the meatballs until just before serving

When you want to serve them, heat sour cream in a saucepan and add the meatballs

When everything is thoroughly heated serve and sprinkle with remaining parsley

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It’s Time to Think About Tallinn

The annual European Capital of Culture Award has done wonders for tourism in cities across Europe including Istanbul which received the award last year.  This year’s winner, Tallinn, is particularly special, as Estonia celebrates its 20th anniversary of Soviet independence.  To celebrate both the award and the country’s independence Tallinn will be hosting daily art, music, literal and cultural exhibitions throughout the year.

During the year an impressive 251 different events are planned, with one large festival each month, including the Jazzkaar jazz festival in April, Tallinn Old Town Days in June, the Youth Song and Dance Celebration and Tallinn Maritime Days in July, the Birgitta Festival for opera in August and the Black Nights Film Festival in November.  This, the largest cultural event in the history of Estonia, will attract some of the world’s biggest names in art, literature, music, film and culture.

Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn has chosen for its Capital of Culture theme `Stories of the Seashore’, to tell the story of Tallinn and Estonia’s spiritual and cultural associations with the seashore, as the city continues to re-open the city to the sea.  As part of the seashore development the new Estonia Maritime Museum will open in July in the re-developed vast concrete sea-plane hangars, located on the coast to the west of Tallinn centre.  The route to the museum will be along a specially marked walkway, enabling visitors to walk the one kilometre route from the city to the Museum.

A full programme of events has been scheduled and information about the daily events in the city can be found at www.tallinn2011.ee with a `What? When? Where?’ event planner and search engine to help visitors plan the date and itinerary of their visit to Tallinn.

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Russian Shop near Waterloo, South Bank, London

I was recently told about a small Russian shop close to Waterloo train station on South Bank in London.  Just before Christmas, when I was in the area, I spotted a sign to the small shop, so thought I’d finally investigate.  The Russian Shop is quite hidden so you will have to look out for it.  Walk through the door and down a dark, narrow staircase and the shop is located on the right.  Granted this place is small, the smallest of small, but it is crammed with lots of my favourite Russian products including cheeses, meats, sweets, beer, vodka, and even delicious honey cake.

Russian Shop

If you’re in the area and want a taste of Russian, pop in!  But be warned, as expected, Russian is the only tongue spoken here!  If you are feeling particularly adventurous there is also a Russian hair salon nextdoor!

Russian Shop, Cornwall Road, London SE1

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Visa Free Ferry Line Stockholm to St Petersburg

Going to Russia, while exciting, is always a bit of a hassle due to the visa restrictions.  That was until now!  A few weeks ago the St.Peter Line announced the opening of a new visa free ferry line, the “Stockholm – St. Petersburg”.  Starting from April 2011 St.Peter Line expands its traffic to Stockholm by presenting the new cruise ferry “Princess Anastasia”, to be deployed on the Stockholm – Saint-Peterline, twice weekly.

St Peters Line

The ship former Viking Line Pride of Bilbao, now the “Princess Anastasia”, has been extensively renovated and can accommodate up to 2353 passengers.  The cruise ferry features 834 cabins of different types and price categories and a car deck which can accommodate up to 580 vehicles.  The ferry will also feature a spacious SPA, Russian and European cuisine restaurants, authentic Russian shows of Music Hall cabaret, bars, discotheques and casino for onboard entertainment and multilingual services for the guests.

The estimated travel time from Stockholm to St Petersburg is 25 hours.  As the schedule is made for the comfort of tourists, the new ferry line will be the most convenient and affordable way of traveling to Russia.  Plus the weekend trips are scheduled to make stops in Tallinn on the way from Stockholm to Saint-Petersburg.  Passengers from all over the world will be able to enjoy marvellous treasures of Russian North Capital Saint-Petersburg within 72 hours without Russian visa.

Passengers will then have an opportunity to stay in Saint-Petersburg from 1 to 3 days using hotel packages and both ships of St.Peter Line fleet.  Book now!

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Luxury for Less: Caspian Caviar

CaviarCaspian Caviar was set up by Suzanne Shepherd because, following a Cordon Bleu degree and years of sampling find foods, she thought Caviar was too delicious to be left in the hands of only a select few who could afford the prohibitively expensive price tag. Her mission was to make it more affordable and more widely available and she’s certainly enjoyed some considerable success.  Over the last ten years Caspian Caviar has become the number one online supplier in the UK and is believed to supply the lowest priced legal caviar in Europe. It is all caught processed and shipped under strict adherence to the CITES rules and regulations.

The online direct delivery service means you can have wild Royal Beluga, as well as the best farmed caviars sourced from across Europe, delivered to your door.  In fact, farmed Beluga is now Caspian Caviar’s most popular brand because it is both delicious and affordable.

To compliment the caviars, there is a whole range of luxury foods, carefully sourced by Suzanne, which again demonstrate that the biggest foodie treats can be affordable. There are fresh black and white Alba Truffles depending on the season, fresh Duck Foie Gras lobes, wonderful smoked salmon, delicious chocolates and specialist vodkas.

To check out the range of luxury food visit www.caspiancaviar.co.uk

Tel: 01453 844870

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