I've had my share of pancakes in Russia. From the obligatory blini smeared with sour cream and a glob of caviar, to the ubiquitous potato pancake crisped around the edges and served with everything from omelettes at breakfast to a hunk of beef at dinner, they seem to make an appearance in some form or the other at pretty much every meal.
Not like I'm complaining... pancakes make the perfect stodgy base to carry the rich, salty and oily flavours of the ingredients that usually accompany them.
But their savoury avatars aside, on a whistle-stop trip to Russia's northern jewel St Petersburg this past weekend, I came across a sweet version that could well be my favourite Russian pancake of them all - syrniki, or Russian curd cakes.
Syrniki (coming from the Russian or Ukrainian word syr meaning cheese) look like obese little blinis - round doughy pillows stuffed with chunks of solid curd. The ones I tasted were served with the ever-present smetana (heavy sour cream) and fresh strawberry compote at the cosy Singer Cafe, which overlooks St Petersburg's main thoroughfare Nevsky Prospekt and the Greco-Roman Kazan Cathedral.
My association with syrniki was, however, short and sweet. Having picked a generously sized savoury egg and potato pancake combo for breakfast, I had to make do with stealing a piece off my friend's plate and keeping my fingers crossed that there'd be another opportunity to order an entire portion for myself.
Sadly, that never came to pass (it was a very quick trip) so I have been left with a taste for a plate of syrniki that can be added to an ever-growing list of delicious dishes I'd like to relive eating in Russia.
But until I get to board a plane in that direction again, does anyone know a place that serves good syrniki in Dubai? I'd gladly book myself a spot for a Russian-style breakfast :)
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