25 Jan 2014
In Omsk we (the bliss group, or budget version of the tour) were driven to a sports hall (big gymnasium) that amazingly had no showers. We set up our sleeping mats and bags, had some smoked and cured salmon and left to a banya (sauna) for a good clean-up after the two-day train ride.
The next important task to tackle was to find something to eat. Fortunately, literally next door from the sauna we found Restoran Khibara, which serves Russian and Japanese cuisine.
The menu was in Russian, but a waitress spoke enough English to answer our questions. In this restaurant we discovered solyanka, a delicious soup with different kinds of meat, bacon, and olives. It was served with sour cream, dill and lemon.
Solyanka (R165, about $5.20)
The borsh here looked good, too, and was served with garlic bread.
Borsh (R155, about $4.89)
Apart from the soup I also had lamb ribs served on lavosh bread (which I asked to be skipped) and served with potato fries, tomato and onions. The lamb (from NZ) was incredibly tender and was covered in a pleasant sweetish sauce.
Lamb ribs with fries (R420, about $13.25)
The other dishes ordered that day were pork neck with spicy sauce and chicken teriyaki. I had a bite of the pork and was very good.
Pork neck with spicy sauce
We were given split bills without asking and left a generous tip given the excellent service and outstanding food. It was definitely one of our best meals in Russia.
Later we attended a session of the course with our lama, and some people went to the mandatory post-lecture party. I returned to the sports hall with the intention to sleep straight away but was invited to share a picnic-type dinner with some Europeans friends. We had some cheese, dried calamari, dark chocolate, mandarins, oranges, capsicum, halva (a Russian sweet made with sunflower seed butter and sugar), dates, ikra, etc.
26 Jan 2014
Unfortunately the next day we didn’t have time to go to the sauna for a shower. We departed to the travelling teacher’s lecture with our bags. In the venue we had “train food” for breakfast: cucumbers, ikra, smoked herring, cheese, radishes, celery.
Smoked herring, cheese, ikra, cucumbers, bread
After the lecture I was invited to jump on the space (the “luxurious” version of the tour) bus to go for lunch and to visit the local Buddhist centre. Lunch was at a canteen where everything was dirt cheap but unfortunately not very good.
Mash, pasta, rice
Pastries and jelly
I had some borsh with no beetroot and what I thought was beef strogonovski (aka stroganoff) with mash. The soup was okay but the meat was very dry and tough, and the mash was extremely bland. It wasn’t until I translated the docket when I found out that it wasn’t beef but liver. I like liver but this one had been cooked the wrong way.
Borsh (R40, about $1.26), liver strogonovski (R71, about $2.24), potato mash (R23, about $0.73)
After a brief meditation in the Buddhist centre we departed to the last session of the course. Later we took the train to Tomsk for an easy overnight ride. Dinner was typical “train food”: salami, cheese, olives, gherkins, rice with veggies and curcumin, dried calamari, cognac.