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Vegetarian Saint Petersburg

My recent trip to St Petersburg was my first ever visit to Russia and, as always, vegetarian food was high on my agenda. This time, however, I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t read up on vegetarian friendly eateries, and I was traveling with my sister and niece, neither of whom are veggie, so I went with a totally open mind of what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to find vegetarian dishes everywhere we ate in St Petersburg. 

In addition to food, St Petersburg is an art lovers paradise. The buildings and canals makes it feel like a northern Venice. You could spend all your time in the Hermitage and the fantastic new Impressionist and post Impressionist gallery in the General Staff Building. This is arguably the best collection in the World; many of the paintings were first seen in the 1990s having been seized by the Red Army from Germany at the end of WW11.

We found that the best places to eat were festooned with colourful window boxes full of flowers and herbs.

For breakfast our favourite eateries were in The Marketplace, a small chain of restaurants where you could get great food for breakfast, lunch and supper, all buffet style, so you grabbed a tray and chose what you wanted.

My go to choice was Syrnika which are a cross between a cheesecake and a fritter and are slightly sweet with sultanas and served with sour cream and cherry conserve. To drink, a large glass of fermented kefir and black coffee.

At the Museum of Modern Art Erarta we had our smartest meal, served on beautiful earthenware plates of Chanterelle mushrooms, spinach, and sour cream on potato waffles.

In the evening we ate at a couple of excellent Georgian Caucasian restaurants where you could eat mezze style with lots of veggie choice, less so for vegans. Interestingly the mezze was always served with pickles and preserved vegetables.

I ate a lovely Georgian aubergine stew with peppers, tomatoes and potatoes called Ajapsandali similar the Turkish Imam Bayaldi and cooked with copious quantity of olive oil.

The highlight was Khachapuri, a Georgian stuffed bread with spinach and cheese. I have made a version at home using a yoghurt pastry, it can also be made with an enriched bread dough (try my recipe).

Russian Cheeses were white and the two we tried were Sulgani like a firm mozzarella (best alternative is pizza mozzarella) and Imeretian cheese which is a Georgian raw cows milk semi soft cheese (best alternative a mix of haloumi with mozzarella).

Have any of you been to St. Petersburg and have a story to tell, culinary or otherwise? Share with us in the comments or in social media! And if you're feeling inspired, try my recipes for Syrnika and Khachapuri and let me know what you think! You'll find more photos from the trip on Flickr.

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