Travel-less 2020 doesn’t seem to be changing the theme any time soon, so date nights are still of the utmost importance in my life. This week, A and I journeyed virtually to Russia, the huge splotch of place in Europe and Asia, land of Putin. I’ve actually been to Russia, way back in 2007 when I spent two days in St. Petersburg. But that’s hardly enough to capture the spirit of a place, and given the political “stuff” with Russia, and the possibility that writing a critical piece would get me poisoned by Putin and his cronies, it’s not really on my radar for the near future.
That said, there is a ton of fascinating culture that comes from Russia, so it was a fun place to explore from the comfort of home. Here was our itinerary. Perhaps we should have watched the ballet or taken in some Tchaikovsky, but I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out.
Russian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Pelmeni and Ptichye Moloko
Pelmeni are Russian dumplings. It seems every culture has something like this. Make a simple dough of flour, egg, water, and salt, fill with ground beef and onion, seal, and boil. I took mine up a level, and after boiling them, pan fried them in brown butter because everything is better with brown butter.
I also made some simple braised cabbage with the leftover dumpling filling that didn’t fit in the dumplings. And, of course, vodka.
A made perhaps her most complicated dessert yet. Ptichye moloko (don’t ask me to pronounce it) is a layered cake with cream frostings. Yes, frostings, as the one between layers is different from the one on the top and sides. This cake is not for those with dairy allergies, as it uses butter, sour cream, milk, cream, and frozen whipped topping – all in a single cake. It is amazing, though, and gorgeous to look at!
The cake was incredible!!!
Learn: The History of Russia
For this date, we had two animated histories, one of Russia as a whole, and a second focused on the USSR years. These are cute, informative, and pretty much superficial since they condense centuries (or more) of history down to just a few minutes. All in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
Our VR component today was a really great five minute look at some of Moscow’s most impressive sights. Red Square looks insane, but I was most taken aback by the ornate subway system. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd.
Visit: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Built on the site of Czar Alexander II’s murder in 1881, this is one of St. Petersburg’s most impressive tourist sights, and one of the most ornate churches you’ll ever see. Try to find bare wall. I dare you!
Watch: Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy’s novel is considered to be among the best ever written. We watched the 2012 film adaptation with Keira Knightley playing the title role and, unlike some of our date night films, thoroughly enjoyed it. The constuming and set designs were especially brilliant. Just don’t expect happy feels; like most Russian novels and plays, this is not a feel-good story.
A really well done adaptation
All in all, this was a lovely date night, with some of the best food, and one of the best films. I hope it inspires you to plan your own!
If you enjoyed this, see all of our travel themed date nights here.
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