Monday, January 2, 2012


Check in time! Going to the Saint Paul Hotel in the downtown area,known for its old-world charm and European inspired elegance, and accommodating the most discerning business and leisure travelers every day. I believe that the hotel is turning 101 years old. Great location as they have complimentary local transportation that will take you to such attractions as the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cathedral and Minnesota State Capitol crowned by the largest unsupported marble dome in the world. I suggest they get an 18-hour Z-bra.

There are parks located just outside the hotel of which have Peanuts character sculptures. I am told that Charles M. Schulz, the creator, was born in St. Paul and wish to gain their claim to fame.

Across the street is the Landmark Center that serves as a cultural center for music, dance, theater, exhibitions, public forums, and hosts countless special events. There was no particular event going on, but went upstairs to see two of the galleries. One was American Association of Woodturners Gallerie, of art that offers a view of contemporary works created in wood and also features educational exhibits, a display of vintage lathes.

On the opposite side is the Schubert Club Museum which houses an educational exhibit of musical instruments, music boxes and more. It happened to be closed when I was there. Peeking in I could see this massive sculpture of instruments.

The dinner hour has arrived. Found this Russian restaurant called Moscow On The Hill, located at 371 Selby Avenue that features both the authenticity and flavored vodkas. Shot down a few like horseradish, honey, and Chateau Marusya (cherry). Some of the vodkas are topped with a skewer of gherkin.

Onto the food commencing with appetizers. Russian Herring - cured herring filet, onion, olives, pickled beets, baby potatoes, dill, cold-pressed sunflower oil. Had to have Borscht, the classic Russian beet soup with cabbage and potatoes garnished with sour cream and fresh dill. That was followed by Blini with Caviar, a crepe blini filled with salmon roe, with dill, scallions, and sour cream.

Hand-made Dumplings are a must. There are two kinds. Pelmeni are traditionally filled with meat, while Vareniki being meatless. For instance, I had the Siberian Pelmeni with beef and pork brushed with butter and garnished with sour cream, served with vinegar. The Vareniki, a Ukrainian ilk was filled with potato and caramelized onion, garnished with sour cream and fresh dill.

I chose the Babushka Stew for an entree, a pork shoulder stew in a clay pot, sauteed vegetables, parsley and mashed potatoes.

Chef Gary Krasner was called to my table when I sampled the "White Russian" Tiramisu. I could not imagine why a Russian restaurant would offer tiramisu. I dare any Italian restaurant to compare their version to the one here! It was exactly the way I expect tiramisu to be. Espresso and Kahlua macerated lady fingers, Mascarpone cream (not that whipped cream kind that cheats on the Mascarpone content), dusted with cocoa powder. OMG! Since I am a chocoholic, I also had two Belgian dark chocolate cocoa dusted truffles.

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