A day’s gourmet escape to the Russian south

A gourmet escape to the south of Russia

A gourmet escape to the south of Russia

Lori/Legion-Media
Given the numerous hidden gastronomic treasures found near the Black Sea, RIR sent a gourmand on the hunt for exquisite food on the southern Russian Black Sea coast.

Frankly, the thought of spending three weeks in the south of Russia was a little unsettling. Moreover, my destinations did not include Krasnaya Polyana, which has significantly improved its restaurant scene and overall service quality after the Sochi Olympics. Instead I was headed for places far less well-known for gourmets with a penchant for la dolce vita.

If you’ve grown fond of Europe or Moscow and their gastronomic opulence, odds are that you’re unlikely to want to test your taste buds in places like Sukko or Anapa. I rented a car to begin my quest for delicious foods, nice interiors and helpful waiters. Unexpectedly, Anapa and its vicinity turned out to be rich in agreeable surprises.

Breakfast in Abrau-Durso

Lori/Legion-MediaLori/Legion-Media

The words that come to mind as you enterAbrau-Durso, an agricultural area famous for its sparkling wines, are elegance and style. An exquisite sign at the entrance to the town is replicated as a logo in every brochure and on every corner. Things begin to look quite promising. The name itself is awe-inspiring: Abrau means “cliff” in Circassian, while in Turkic languages Durso means “four waters.” This area also features the clean and fresh Lake Abrau.

For a brief while, it seemed that I was back in the summer of 2015, which I had spent in Italy, by the famous Lake Como, surrounded by villas of Hollywood celebrities. However, it wasn’t long before I remembered where I was: a helicopter with a sign that read "Abrau-Durso" flew overhead.

/ Sofya Raevskaya/ Sofya Raevskaya

"Breakfast in Abrau-Durso" sounds like a fitting title for an adventure novel. My search for a combination of a rich menu, reasonable prices and a cozy interior eventually led me to Petit Cafe. The problem here is, if you stay too long, you risk staying indefinitely, enjoying the view of the lake and the SUP surfers in the distance while sipping yet another Raf coffee (a Russian invention featuring espresso, sweetener and a splash of cream) or a seabuckthorn lemonade.

Had I stayed on in Abrau-Durso for lunch, I would have paid a visit to a different restaurant such as Terrasse di Lago or Aqua. The area is definitely worth checking out as it also frequently hosts culinary workshops by outstanding chefs.

Lunch in Anapa

/ Sofya Raevskaya/ Sofya Raevskaya

Anapa is a fairly eclectic city. Many of its restaurants leave a distinct Soviet aftertaste, but there are a few spots worthy of attention. Among them are the coffee shops ‘Expa’ and ‘More Ryadom’ (The Sea is Near), the ‘Shpinat’ self-service restaurant and Brooklyn bar. The local superstar, however, is the Italian restaurant ‘La Veranda’, thanks to chef Paolo Lopolito.

/ Sofya Raevskaya/ Sofya Raevskaya

It is practically impossible to get a table on Friday nights. To be honest, I got a little lost halfway through the menu, so I went for a classic plate of lasagna served in a casserole dish. Tourists at neighboring tables cast perplexed glances at my plate, but I knew this was just the right way to serve it.

Afternoon snack at a local winery

/ Press photo/ Press photo

Having been born with the noble surname of Rayevskaya, I was pleased to learn that the vicinity surrounding Anapa features an eponymous settlement and winery. Wine experts argue that the wines here, such as the red Renaissance, are quite promising, but probably need another five years to mature.

The winery plans to open a full complex by 2019, which will include tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels. The project looks so ambitious that I even made a note to attend the inauguration in my Google calendar.

Should you want to see the local vineyards of today, head to Semigorye mansion. A perfect destination for eno-tourists, the mansion is stylish, well-preserved and clean.

Dinner, sunsets, dolphins and fireweed tea in a hammock beneath the stars

/ Sofya Raevskaya/ Sofya Raevskaya

Little did I know that dinner would find me sitting in a hammock looking up at the stars. The hammock was provided by Kobobar on Kosa beach, a "secret spot" that is popular among the surfers. Kosa (the Russian word for sandbar) is the nickname given to a beach in the settlement of Blagoveshchenskaya outside Anapa. While it is not exactly easy to get here, the journey is worth it. I was lucky to come by late at night when surfers were heading for their tents after a day spent riding the waves.

 / Lori/Legion-Media / Lori/Legion-Media

Finishing my grilled vegetables with a fireweed infusion, truly revitalizing after a long drive, I approached the water to get a better look at the bioluminescent plankton in the water. In late summer, Kosa beach has the most gorgeous sunsets, with the sun kissing the sea and dolphins frequently jumping out of the water.

The spectacle was so impressive and I was so immersed in the moment that I forgot to take a photograph.

 

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