24 March 2008

A very Good Monday!

This is by no means a complaint, but for accurately the whole last week rain and me are going hand in hand. And - as mysterious as it may seem - apart from sunny and dry weather, my wanderlus also reaches its peak when it’s virtually an 'Unwalkable' weather outdoors. So today is not an exception. I woke up to an unsettling feeling that there is a certain place in Moscow I’m still unaware of and yet it is, unquestionably, the place I need to be in. I had no choice but to grab a map, put on my rain boots and set out for a quest. And my Dear Readers, if I didn’t follow the voice of my inner wisdom (*wink*) I would end up the unluckiest girl ever. Why? Listen...

I didn’t know in which direction I had to go. I simply let my feet carry me there. I got on the metro, closed my eyes and got focused on my intuition. After a few metro stations I still didn’t get any coherent answer to my questions. I tried to ease my budding doubts with a thought that a ‘destinationless’ gentle stroll about moscovian narrow alleys and side-streets – which I adore - would also be spectacular; never mind that i’ll have to negotiate a wall of rain and allow wind to to embrace me tightly in between. And here where my napping inner wisdom kindled at me and said: there is a magazine in your bag, so leaf through it and thee will find thy answer.

And my answer I found. In the Perlov’s Tea House* which is, indubitantly, one of the most outstanding and beautiful places in the central part of Moscow.

At the moment I spotted it, I knew it was my place. In glee and at a heartbreaking speed, I propelled my way through to it and presented myself happily in its frontdoor. This is where I learnt how the heavens smell. Interested? *wink, wink, wink* MY heavens smell of CHOCOLATE, RAW and GROUND COFFEE BEANS, TEA LEAVES and LIQUORS. The view of said goodnesses residing on the shelves gently stroke my eyesight while I was standing in the middle of the venue greedily inhaling the exgilirating aromas and odours. And the house’s interior is all but dull. Initially planned as the merchant’s residential house with a teashop on the first floor in mid-18th century, in a run of following years its owner (merchant Perlov) commissioned contemporate architects to decorate the house in the Chinese style (I take it that the intended purpose was to pay reverance to and thus establish closer connections with his chinese partners at that time – smart, huh? *smiles*). Eventually it appeared to look like a Chinese pagoda. Right in the middle of Moscow. I’m telling you, this is THE perfect place to be in on a Good Monday – no, every single day!

The warm and tender aroma of vanilla; from leathery to smoky to woody to fruity aromas of chocolate; the odour of freshly brewed coffee of all imaginable sorts with a possibility to taste a cup before buying beans of your choice; muted voices of customers (mostly french today); bottles of creamy liquors oozing their seducing flammable fumes, the ancient chinese design with dragons painted on the ceiling and mirrows everywhere – I was soaring high, I was speechless, I was under the magic spell, I was in love.

After a numerous efforts I pulled myself up together and invested my money in chocolate (honestly, I sooo needed to refill my stash of chocolate – probably, this is why I felt unsettled in the morning *smile*) and a thumb-nail bottle of old Riga herbal balsam (for coffee rather than plain consumption, though it feels sooo warm when alone in your belly!) *wink, wink, wink*

I came back home absolutely contented (you would guess so, wouldn’t you? *smiles*)! One mission was accomplished. But there was something else...something unnerving, which I, again, didn’t compute right away. The evident explanation to this unease came to me only when I'd stuck my head into a fridge (ha!) wearing a thoughtful what’s-for-dinner expression. I, somehow, completely forgot that a few days back I’d purchased one (1) kilo (please, don’t ask! *wink*) of fresh spring onion at a local farmer’s. Believe me when I say that 1 kilo of spring onion is fairly much. Too much! The time when my lovely onions would start getting rotten was unmercifully approaching ( I virtually heard its footsteps and could even smell). So, I had to take immediate measures. And I did.

*****Onion burgers*****

Yields about 10


For burgers
500 g white onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
5-6 sprigs spring onion, finely chopped
1 egg
4-5 Tsp plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
For a sauce
2 Tsp tomato paste
1 tsp harrissa
½ cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves of garlic, crashed (or finely chopped)
1 1/2 cup plain water

1. In a medium bowl, combine onions (both white and spring) and a carrot.
2. To the mixture, add an egg, seasonings and flour and mix very thoroughly.

3. With a tablespoon, scoop a mixture and form small balls. Flour and flatten them slightly.

4. Preheat a non-stick frying pan, and fry your burgers over a high heat (5 mins on each side).

5. Once done, put the burgers on a kitchen paper towel to move away excess oil.

6. Into the same frying pan but over a low heat now (after you are finished with burgers), pour tomato paste mixed with 1 1/2 cup plain water, add garlic, cinnamon stick and harrissa. Stir well. Simmer the mixture until thickened.

7. Put the burgers in a small saucepan, pour the sauce over them and simmer at a low heat for about 10 mins. This will incorporate all the flavours.

8. Serve with steaming rice, or green salad leave, or as you wish.

If I didn’t know that it was onion burgers, I would think it was a fish dish. Seriously!! I absolutely love it. Fiery harrissa adds spiciness to the dish; plus cinnamon and fried onions is a FANTASTIC combination!!!

Such has been my Good Monday!!

Perlov’s Tea House
Myasnitskaya str.19


Cookiemouse said...

Good Monday to you, too! Those burgers look very tasty.

White On Rice Couple said...

Anya, these are the perfect vegetarian patty for my friends next week. I never thought about using just onion and have been racking my brain into thinking about using grains. Thanks!
I love reading your posts, they're like poetry. :)

Cookiemouse said...

That tea house also sounds fantastic!

anya said...

Cookiemouse - I'm glad you liked both the tea house description and burgers! ;)

Todd and Diane - I hope the recipe will work for you! Sometimes a kind word is like a seed that could be a start for something to grow and bloom. Thank you for this!

toni said...

Anya - These look absolutely fantastic! I love the use of harissa in this dish.

And the tea house? OMG! Here in southern California, there is absolutely NOTHING like that! People here are so very proud of our old buildings which - in this part of the country - means 100 years or so. You make me want to go and find one of them right now!

Cinnamonda said...

What a beautiful building! And your burger recipe is very interesting. I will keep it in mind for later.

anya said...

Toni - what amazed me most of all was that these burgers had a taste of fish rather than onions. Alternatively, you can make them from white cabbage. The texture will be ever so slightly crunchier, while the taste won't be demolished even for an ounce.

As to the buildings I'm a sucker for such hidden gems/holes-in-the-wall. Alas, presently people over here care more about building business centres and the like passing the historic buildings in oblivion. And I really think it a shame.

Tiina - thanks! I believe Helsinki gorgeous, too! If you could share some tidbits on your city with us, it would really be smashing! ;)

Cinnamonda said...

Anya, as it happens we had such nice, sunny weather here on Saturday that I grabbed my camera and took the metro to the city center and photographed some of the sights there. I could put some of those pictures up on my blog... :)


anya said...

Tiina - please, do so! :))

Astra Libris said...

I absolutely adore your method of wandering and letting your intuition be your guide! You are a true adventurer! The tea house sounds divine, too... Such a perfect destination!

Oh my, your onion burgers look and sound perfect! Such a clever, delicious idea!