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Russia isn't known for its farm-to-table, organic cuisine, or locally sourced and seasonal produce. Boris Akimov, founder of LavkaLavka, an online store selling just about all of the aforementioned goods, has set out to change the way Russia does food. Because of the company's success over the last three years, it currently boasts two storefronts in St. Petersburg and Moscow, marking a growing interest among locals and visitors in fresh ingredients.
During Russia tours, you can take a lunch break on your own and visit LavkaLavka for seasonal fare, many of which you won't find anywhere else.
Weekly happenings at LavkaLavka
As with so many farmers' markets and food initiatives around the world, Akimov is trying to create a sense of community every time he offers a new line of eats, whether plums are in season or the fishermen he works with have just caught a huge batch of sturgeon.
Just about every day of the week, LavkaLavka puts on a special Farmers' Lunch menu at venues around the city, and the dishes typically feature traditional Russian fare like plum pudding, celery salad and potato soup. You could even sign up for a meal of stuffed turnips or whatever tickles your fancy on a particular day.
There are even monthly master classes like "How to Butcher and Eat the Pig," during which you can learn where to get the best pork cuts. Even if you don't plan on carving up your own pig, you can still take your knowledge back home with you and impress your local deli.
On Fridays, you can enjoy burgers and beer at the LavkaLavka storefront in Moscow. Be sure to come with an open mind, because even the burgers will be subject to whatever's in season, so if the chefs are serving up a pike patty or veggie burger with white mushrooms, don't be afraid to dig in!
They might not all be organic, but Russian pies should be on everyone's to-do list during a tour of Russia. Many of them are, however, stuffed to the brim with fruits and vegetables grown in the nation's farmland, from cabbage and green onions to whortleberry (a European blueberry) and fresh salmon.
Thankfully, Akimov is in close contact with fruit farmers, including Yuriy Frolov, who harvests whortleberries and feijoa and turns them into jams and marmalades, which you can purchase when you find a LavkaLavka storefront.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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