Friday, August 13, 2010

From Russia with love

Rock with Vladivostok band Mumiy Troll then try culinary treats from a Moscow-born chef

For popular rock bands from countries that don’t register on the pop culture radar here, traveling to a city like Boston has its pros and cons. The crowds tend to be considerably smaller, but the community of expatriates at such a performance can make up in enthusiasm what they may lack in numbers. That’s often the case at shows thrown by the Russian Boston Rock Club, bringing hugely popular bands like Bi-2, Vyacheslav Butusov & U-Piter, and Night Snipers to Boston. This Saturday one of the more well known rock bands in Russia, Mumiy Troll, will perform at the Middle East.

Dmitry Rozenblyum, the organizer of the series, has been putting on shows like this for almost 10 years. “When we started there wasn’t so much whatsoever, one or two [Russian] concerts,’’ he says. Mumiy Troll is a pretty big booking. “This is a stadium group in Russia. They play the biggest stages in Russia.’’

You don’t have to speak Russian to enjoy the melodic hard rock of a band like Mumiy Troll. “Mostly it’s a Russian crowd,’’ says Rozenblyum. “But Americans who are interested in Russian culture, they are attending this concert.’’ Rock ’n’ roll is rock ’n’ roll after all. For more on Mumiy Troll, see Page 28.

Mumiy Troll, 9 p.m., Saturday. 18+. $30-$35. Middle East Downstairs, 472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278.
And food is food, for that matter.

Fred Chaihoutdinov, chef and co-owner of Stoli Bar and Restaurant, a delightful restaurant in Brookline Village, is another product of Russia whose work can be appreciated across cultures. The Moscow-born and French Culinary Institute-trained chef’s dishes are the perfect complement to round out a Russian-themed evening. Consider ordering the Russian-style assorted pickles (cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage) for a start, while sipping on shots of vodkas infused with honey, pepper, horseradish, black currant, and more.

Dishes like the samsa, puffed pastries stuffed with ground lamb and Siberian pelmenis, raviolis made with beer and turkey, are authentically endearing (and filling) as well. Russian standards like borscht and beef stroganoff are available, too, but my favorite is the Karsky, a perfectly spiced grilled rack of lamb served with grilled vegetables and fried potatoes. The Karsky is one of his most popular dishes, Chaihoutdinov says, but when I asked for his signature Russian dish, he couldn’t decide. “Everything I make it with my heart, like that. In the kitchen I make everything myself. Very good, people like it.’’ I do anyway.

Stoli Bar and Restaurant, 213 Washington St., Brookline Village. 617-731-5070. 

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