Sunday, September 11, 2011

Elena Spirina brunch at Simple things (Простые вещи) restaurant

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I already said a lot about Elena Spirina, a Moscow food book writer and blogger. I can't help wondering how many different original and beautiful things Elena manages to do around food. Today I saw her once again in a completely new role - hosting a special brunch at Simple things (Простые вещи) Moscow gastropub and wine bar.


I got to know Elena last year while she was teaching pastry classes at half-a-teaspoon cooking school. I went to several of them including fire pancake class, a class about meringues and custards and icings class. I did quite some baking before that, but I definitely had a lot to learn from Elena. She seemed to understand how the pastry works much deeper than me. I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming classes when they start over this autumn.

At the classes I found that Elena was not only a food book and blog writer. She also hosts cookery series Simply tasty (Просто вкусно) on Kuhnya TV. Today she said she is starting a new book about 54 cakes, which will be adapted for kids. My bro is already planning for it.

I never knew about the weekend celebrity brunches at Simple things (Простые вещи) before Elena announced her own last week. It turned out that the restaurant selects and invites famous food people (but not professional cooks) to host 1 - 5 pm brunches on Saturdays and Sundays (at the branch on Konushkovskaya 32). I'll definitely keep an eye on their Facebook page now.

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Simple things little hall was packed with guests and filled with warm buzz when we arrived. Calm and beautiful Elena was around, welcoming and greeting the newcomers, joining this or that table for a short chat, advising on the menu.

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The 6 dish special menu was breathing with coming autumn, warmth and comfort. No surprise we ended up ordering almost all of it.

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The roasted vegetables soup with cumin and lemon zest was intense sweet-peppery, very appetizing.

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Caponata was sweet and sour, with very mild, a bit caramelized eggplants and zucchini, olives, raisins and almond flakes. The bread it was served on was also made by Elena and complemented it perfectly. I'm hoping the recipe will soon be up on her blog. We even thought of ordering the second one, but decided to keep some room for the tempting desserts.

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The men were eating lamb shanks stewed in white wine with rosemary and green olives. Elena presented it as lamb pretending to be veal. No strong spices, no roasting. Just tender, mild slow cooked meat. She served it on bulgur - this I did steal from my dad's plate and it was delicious.

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The desserts (which I was also stealing from the plates around) were inspired by autumn plums. My mom ordered these warm and tender cottage cheese dumplings stuffed with plums and served in plum compote with cinnamon and star anise.

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My dad was eating spice cake with plums. While it was quickly disappearing we kept arguing about whether it was made of wheat or rye flour, but we never found that out. By the end of the spice cake we were completely happy and our bottle of wine was empty.

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My respect and great thanks to Elena and Simple things for making such a wonderful thing happen.

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Related posts and pages:

Simple things (Простые вещи) Moscow restaurant