“Birthday dinner and no sausages please”

So it’s Friday and it is JUdi’s birthday (where did the week go) 3 weeks in only a couple of minor adventures. I have been sorting out filing (deep joy) and trying to organize money stuff.

This time last year we were in California celebrating Judi’s birthday with family and friends. With not a hint of adventures to come. It had been my first trip to the West coast and was great fun. We had been wine tasting and had been chauffeured around in a stretch limo with a driver who spent most of his time talking about horse racing. It was all great fun and we ended up in a rather posh restaurant called Cyrus being looked after by a team Judi dubbed “Dementor’s” they were all dressed in black and would come into the room in a line (in step) and place whatever the dish was in front of you and with a “Ta Darrr” flourish lift off the cover. Then march out in silence whilst we all giggled. As I said the whole trip was great fun and there were a couple of adventures along the way. I got to see a real geyser someone had a hire car with no petrol, a sat nav minus power cord, my car was the wrong one and the firm kept trying to get me to take it back. We ate in interesting places one where the staff were ironing the table cloths after putting them on the table. Maybe they had a fear of creases or maybe it was some tradition. We had stayed in San Francisco for a few days and tried to watch the 4th July fireworks down in the bay not a good idea with the fog so whilst we heard them perfectly well we never actually saw any of them.

It is funny to think it was only a year ago and how many things had changed in what is really a short time. It is only when you stop and think that you realize the only constant is change. Who would have thought we would have ended up where we are right now.

So back to the reality of now.
So what about the sausage. Well we decide to go to the local pub and to mitigate the problems we had last week I have been researching Menus. So I have printed out the main food groups like Meat, pork, chicken, lamb etc and the cooking methods stewed, grilled, roasted etc so we might have a fighting chance of ordering something we could recognize. I am prepared (or think I am)

So the “greeter” who is African and speaks English very well seats us and the nervous young guy we had last week is our server.
New menus this week less intimidating than the 15 pages we had last time this is just a big sheet with food on one side and drink on the other. I order “Piva” (beer, it’s easy) Judi dithers a bit and tries to order a glass of wine which proves more difficult.
The place is really a pub so wine is probably a rare order. Anyway given she can not order by the glass she settles for a bottle. I promise to help when my beer is finished. The bottle will cost 280 rubles which is around $9 which to me is not a good sign given the mark up would be 40% that would make it about $5 then take off transportation to get it here I think the wine is probably worth $3 and when it arrives I am proved right.  

Before we get our order we are presented with something “complimentary”. Two glasses of what looks like red wine and some peanuts I say looks like as I am not quite sure. it tastes wine(ish) but really not sure it could be something I have seen around which is like a local tonic. There are lots of versions and last weekend at a local market we saw it being sold from a huge tank (at least a 100 gallon) hooked up to a car. All of which makes you think “how is it made” and possibly try not to consider things like quality control or sanitation. So the beer and wine arrive and one sip is enough for Judi to give me that look which indicates she may want me to finish it. So now we have 2 glasses of whatever plus a large beer a bottle of dubious wine and the vodka Judi quickly ordered to get the taste of the wine out of her mouth. I can see it is going to be a long night and we have not ordered food yet.
On to the food. My preparation is worth it. We decode Lamb chops and pork and remember when you order the meat you get the meat you have to order the extras so I order rice and Judi chips (that’s fries to you Americans). 

Whilst the place clearly is a pub the chef may not be fully aware as the food comes out extremely well presented. We actually get what we order and it is very good. I should not be too surprised. The food over here is fresh and somehow you can tell.
They did get the rice and chips mixed up but not the end of the world. It is no small triumph to be able to order something and for the same thing to arrive so we drink a toast. Me with 2 glasses of whatever, a beer and a bottle of dubious wine and Judi with vodka.
Not vodka and coke they tend to drink it neet here no watering it down.

The parrot in the corner squarks its appreciation and we sit and talk over the week. Judi has been to Istanbul for a couple of days and I with my Ikea adventures. We decide to give that particular shopping village a miss this weekend and try somewhere new. I want to go to Arbat which is 2 stops up and 3 across on the metro as the books say it has a good pedestrian area and lots of great things to see. It also has the church of “Christ the Reindeer” which if nothing else is an intriguing title. We ask for the “Chot” or bill 1,300 rubles or around $43 which is good. Lots of da svi-dan-ya’s on the way out even from the 2 year old who is the child of the landlord who wanders around the place talking to everyone including us. Given her age and our russian language skills we get along very well, neither understanding the other. 

 I consider taking one of the menu’s home for further translation but they are a little too big to slip out with unnoticed.

Anyway if we knew what we were ordering all the time where would the fun be in that.