It was a dark night in crisis-hit Moscow as the heroic members of the Moscow Good Food Club made their ways surreptitiously into the halloed halls of the Ritz Carlton. With doom and gloom surrounding us, one long standing member mentioned that it was somewhat similar to being Members of the Resistance as we secretly gathered in the CafÃ© Ruse.
However, once together and amongst trusted friends the veil of secrecy evaporated, we relaxed and laughter ensued! Maybe it was due to the amazingly creative cocktails that were presented to us by the O2âs leading bar tender, Vitaly. Reflecting the Peruvian accent to the O2, his signature cocktail is called 67 and the ingredients included, Pisco (Peruvian brandy), Bianco Vermouth, lime juice, sugar, egg white, fresh green grapes decorated with cinnamon and mint. The stage was set for another memorable Moscow Good Food Club; Good Food, Good Wine and great company.
We took our seats meeting old and new friends and eagerly awaited the first course of Salmon Tartar with yuzu ponzu dressing with friend onion and pink radish. An amazing creation that was exceedingly well balanced by the light Voignier, Gai Kodzor from Krasnodar.
This was during the dark days of the crisis and our great friend and the Chief Sommelier of the Ritz Carlton, Anton Galkin had some creative wine suggestions for us. For many reasons he had decided that this evening we would enjoy only Russian wine. This raised some eyebrows but all members were eager to try and be educated. We were not disappointed! Most of the wines were from only the second vintage and whilst we would not go out an add them to our cellars, the wines were most interesting and well balanced for the dishes prepared by Executive Chef Fabien Gailly.
The second course was a wild mushroom risotto, fried quail egg and parmesan foam accompanied by a Rousanne de Gai Kodzor also from Krasnodar. There were many discussions on the âdonenessâ of the risotto with some feeling that it could have used a minute or two more, however others enjoyed the slightly crunchy texture and delicious flavours with the wine being a perfect match.
It was then on to the main course of roasted chicken breast, pan friend polenta, mushroom and natural jus. Huge helpings of perfectly cooked chicken complemented the polenta and mushroom with the natural jus. The wine was a Krasnostop Unoaked Vernikov from Rostov on Don. Again only the second vintage but a delicious red to watch for in the future.
The piece de resistance was the beautifully light and tangy Lemon Meringue Pie accompanied by the Muscat de Gai Kodzor an absolutely amazing sweet wine that had many of our connoisseurs grabbing for their phones to make a careful note of the label. It was a perfect match and a dessert wine that can take itâs place honourably beside its long established European peers.
As is tradition, our venerable members were asked to discuss a given topic with their spokespersons delivering the verdicts at the end. On this occasion the question was:
âHopefully âOur Winter of Discontentâ appears to be over. We have seen many changes over the last months that require creative thinking. Please provide us with 5 tips for survival during sanctions!â
After the highly attentive service of our Sommelier and his team, the answers ranged from hilarious to un-printable(!) but included: Donât read the foreign press: make sure that you are paid in hard currency: adapt, try and trust local produce; learn to take the rough with the smooth; remain optimistic and drink more!
So with grateful thanks for the entire team at the CafÃ© Russe in the Ritz Carlton our brave members returned to their normal clandestine lives in Moscow well imbibed and content. Others however were noted taking the lifts to the rooftop 02 Lounge to try another of Vitalyâs amazing inventory of creative cocktails. Long live the Moscow Good Food Club!