Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Who knew eggs were so expensive?

St Petersburg survival kit: when you leave the house wear waterproof shoes, take an umbrella, raincoat and sunglasses.  Still waiting to use the sunglasses. This is a Russian summer.

Suitably dressed in rain attire we start the day with a walk up to visit the Fabergé museum located In the fabulous (they are ALL fabulous) Shuvalovsky Palace. It's difficult to imagine all these palaces were someone's home in the 1800s. They are immense, richly decorated (when restored) indulgences.  No wonder the peasants revolted! 

Anyway, the tsars. In 1885 Alexander III commissioned jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé to create an Easter gift for his wife.  In Russian Orthodox tradition Easter is like Christmas for Christians, and gifts are given.  From 1897 the new tsar (there were a lot of them!) Nicholas II asked Fabergé to continue making the eggs every Easter for his mother and his wife.

And the eggs are exquisite works of art and engineering. All have a 'surprise' inside - presumably Kinder stole the idea.  The carriage inside one of the eggs is an exact replica of the Coronation carriage. The wheels roll, the glass in the windows is bevelled, the steps fold down, and inside another surprise: a diamond suspended from the ceiling. It took 15 months of 16 hour days to make the carriage alone.
This is not a stage coach! It's an Imperial Coronation carriage in miniature
Of the 50 eggs made and delivered to the Imperial family between 1885 and 1916 (come the Revolution!) 43 have survived, many in private collections. Current valuations vary according to how complete the eggs are; many surprises are missing, eggs vary in workmanship, detail and amount of precious metal and stones, but millions would be a starting point. In 2014 one sold for 20 million pounds. And you thought free range eggs were expensive!

The palace also has a large collection of cloisonné work and Imperial factory porcelain. The sort of thing you could never imagine actually using

From here we went on to an impromptu lunch featuring eggs of a different kind.

If you are in St Petersburg (on a cold, drizzly Summer's day) why wouldn't you spend $150 a head on a caviar tasting at a fancy pants restaurant called Tsar? Ten grams each of Sevruga, Sturgeon and Beluga with an ice cold shot of vodka. My kind of lunch.
Three kind of caviar, the lightest blini in the world, and ice cold vodka.
And if I didn't know the restaurant wasn't average before going to the bathroom, I knew when I got there. You might want to check out the wallpaper - if you've got a strong constitution. 


This is the throne room

Here's more lovely eggs to take your mind off that.

Lilies of the Valley, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna favourite flower, the surprise is the portraits of the tsar Nicholas II and their daughters Tatiana and Olga

A jade bay tree. A hidden lever opens the top and a feathered so bird rises up, flaps its wins, turns its head - AND IT SINGS! Call Russia's got Talent.



With a pop up rooster and working clock