Arriving at the datscha at sunset (and at midnight)
We leave Petersburg after the opera performance of the Flying Dutchman, at 10:30 PM. The sky is still bright and the sun shines. First we drive north on the large road to Finland, then we turn towards Ladozhskoje Ozero. The streets are now narrower, then bumpy, and at midnight Larissa’s mother welcomes us in the Datscha nicely tucked away close to the forest. The sun is slowly setting and we share some strawberries from the forest nearby (земляника) and from the garden (глубника).
Into the woods looking for berries and mushrooms
On Sunday I join the Russian tradition to stroll through the woods and look for berries and mushrooms. Larissa explains the difference between “look for” (искать) and collect (собирать) mushrooms (грибы). While I find just two red mushrooms (красный гриб), Larissa and her mum find about 10 red mushrooms, 10 chanterelles (лисичка) and 2 сыроежка (Russula in English or Täubling in German). We had to look for the mushrooms, we could not just harvest or collect them.
On the way we also eat and collect strawberries and blueberries. The fluffy dog Raily loves blueberries and chews them away from the bushes.
Our menus: Beljaschi or Ъеляши and a risotto
For lunch Larissa’s mother prepares Beljaschi. This is beef and lamb meet packed into little sacks made from white paste, and they taste great. Larissa prepares a fresh limonade with lemon and ginger. The Wodka is spiced with juniper berries – I will have to remember this.
In the evening we have a risotto spiced with the mushrooms we found today. A white wine from Tuscany accompanied the meal (La Pioggia). A salad caprese is the entry and strawberries from the forest are our dessert.
I learn that in Russia the mushrooms are first cooked in boiling water. This is what I watch Larissa’s mum do and this is what Elena confirms, when I was back in town. Only the сыроежка is not cooked in water, and this is where the name comes from (eat them raw).
The village is also a skiing resort
The village is a skiing resort; Larissa says that here you ski on hills rather than mountains. But the hill looks nice, there are several ski lifts and several ski resorts here. The lifts start at 9 AM, when it is still dark in winter; the sun rises around 10 AM. Well, we are quite far north here.