This summer, I was lucky enough to do another trip back to Russia, and wanted to share my travel adventures with you all. There has always been a link between my food adventures and travel. I get so much inspiration for food from my travels, and I suppose it was always going to link to Peter's Food Adventures website. Food is the spice of life, and I'm happy to take you on this journey with me. Don't worry, I will continue to share my food recipes, but am adding an extra layer with these travel adventures. I promise the videos will get better over time. Thanks for following and for your support!
Sochi Central Market - Центральный Рынок
Sochi is an amazing city located on the Black Sea in southern Russia. There are palm trees that grow here as it's in a subtropical climate zone. It's not at all what people associate with the stereotypes of Russia. The warmer temperatures influence what grows locally. I saw bananas grow, figs, persimmons and pomegrantes. The close proximity to Georgia and Abkhazia also influences with their wonderful foods. What's the best way to discover what people eat? Go to their local market of course!
Sochi Central Market is located in Central Sochi, about a 10 minute walk from the Sochi train station. If you're staying closer to the Sochi Grand Marina, it will take about 30 minutes to walk there. This market dates back to the 1930's, and has had modern upgrades. This is what real shopping for groceries should be like! It's much better than a supermarket with authentic foods, direct and fresh from local farmers.
What things can I buy at the market?
The food market has every type of food imaginable, it's a one stop shop. I love the preserved and pickled vegetables that are found in Europe, and here is no exception! Then I moved into the smoked meats. So many different types of sausages, many of them aren't easily sourced overseas. You are over powered by the delicious smokey smell of the kolbassa sausages. I even saw sausages made from horse. Now Russians don't usually eat horse, but they are popular in Central Asia, and can be found in random markets. I was too chicken to try it. Most of the sausages are beef, pork or lamb.
The cheese aisle was another favorite for me. Again, the smoked types of braided cheese called Chechil. They are too pretty to eat. These are quite salty, and are commonly eaten with beer. The amount of fresh dairy and natural dairy products was outstanding. From fresh butter, Farmers Cheese, Goat's cheese, fresh Smetana (sour cream), and freshly milked cow's milk. The best part is that each vendor tries to entice you to buy with feeding you little samples.
There are old Soviet style butcher counters, where the beef and lamb is delivered fresh, cut on site (in full view) and it is sold on stainless steel counters. The counters aren't refrigerated, but the meat sells same day, and it's not a problem. It's all clean, tidy and sells fast, however just looks funny. I did notice that the poultry and quails they sold were refrigerated.
The second floor of the market has the produce section. The variety of fruits and vegetables is astounding. Specifically with the different varieties and heirloom produce that we don't have out here. Unfortunately, we have a huge focus on growing and buying hybrid plants, usually at the expense of flavor. Flavor is not a problem here with so many varieties. Not only is the fruit and veg local, but it's also imported from across former Soviet countries, from Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to name a few. The long football looking cantaloupe is a specific favorite of mine.
There are amazing displays of dried fruits, nuts, spices, churchkhela and fruit leather available. There are different varieties of dried apricots, dried persimmons, dried plums and dried grapes with different flavours and colors. The spices had flavor combinations what I had never seen before, such as Pomegranate Salt, and Georgian and Armenia spices. They're all piled high in an open market style. If you want to bring some home, buy the commercially packaged spice packets, so you don't run into problems with customs in your own country. There are also honey are different jam varieties.
Check out these dried Persimmons!
What is Churchkhela?
You will see these long candle shaped candies all over Sochi. They are a Georgian sweet or snack, made by threading walnuts on a string then dipping them into a thickened juice. This has the consistency of a jelly with crunchy walnuts inside. It's typically a grape juice that's used, but there are variations from pomegrante to cherry juice. You can't miss them all over Sochi, and the Central Market is a great place to try a variety of different flavors.
This little blog post won't do justice to the food experience of the Soviet style Sochi Central Market. The sights, the smells and flavors, it's truly one of my happy places. If you're reading this and love food as much as I do, I'm hoping that one day you get a chance to experience a Russian food market. Definitely in my Top 10 Things to do in Sochi! For more videos and recipes, check out my Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/petersfoodadventures. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!