Indoor Skiing and Rodent Burgers

Posted: November 22, 2016 in Uncategorized
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On Sunday I crossed another item off of my Russia bucket list, I finally went snowboarding at an indoor ski area on the outskirts of Moscow called Senjkom. Two years ago, I had seen the place from the bus while going to the Memorial Museum of German Anti-Fascists for research. I was willing to trek out by myself for the experience, but thankfully one of my Austrian neighbors was also interested in experiencing an indoor ski area. So, on Sunday morning, we hopped on the metro to one of the last stops on the purple line in the north-west of the city. From there, we hopped on a minibus and took about a fifteen minute ride to the ski area.

Seeing the area peak out from behind all of the residential buildings.

Seeing the area peak out from behind all of the residential buildings.

At the ski area, we paid for an hour of skiing each. We could have paid for more hours or the whole day, but one hour was more than enough because there is only one, fairly short slope. After buying the list passes, we headed to a different are past a turnstile to rent equipment, also for the hour. I got a fairly decent Burton board, a little shorter than I normally like, but it was fine. The boots were super worn out and terrible, and according to the rental agreement I signed, were worth 0 rubles. I probably should have seen if I could have walked off with them. The equipment rental was also available by the hour or by the day. Thankfully, included in the hour, was an extra thirty minutes to allow for changing into gear and whatnot. After we got our equipment, we went off to the locker rooms to drop off our extra stuff. The locker was pretty cool. My lift ticket was an electronic card. I closed my locker and a central computer bank flashed the number for the locker and then I touched my card to that point and it locked the locker and saved the locker number onto the card. At the end, when I was done, I touched my card up to the point and it opened the locker up again.

The day's ride.

The day’s ride.

The skiing itself started counting down from the first time you touched your card to the turnstile in front of the lift. The area itself included a poma and a quad for getting up. There was one main slope, equivalent to a Green Circle in the American ranking system, as well as a small terrain park with boxes, rails, and a larger jump with an airbag below it for landing. My neighbor and I were a little concerned by the airbag, because in theory landing wrong on an airbag with skis could maybe led to some injuries, but we ignored that and amused ourselves with going down the one trail. We went down probably six or so times. The trip down itself only took about a minute at a reasonable pace, but the ride up and getting on and off of the lift took up the majority of the time.

First ride of the season: check. Snowboard in Russia: check.

First ride of the season: check. Snowboard in Russia: check.

The snow itself was pretty high quality for artificial snow. According to their website, they create the snow by cutting down blocks of ice. The ice shreds are then blown onto the slopes, which are groomed with snowcats, presumably every morning or evening.

Going up.

Going up.

The complex was a little strange in that it was completely filled with advertisements for Austrian ski resorts. All around the “base lodge” there were ads, and then on the wall of the “mountain” itself there were pictures of the Alps to set the mood for skiing.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, but even halfway through the hour, the slope was already getting a little boring. My neighbor amused himself trying to spin around on his skis, while I mostly just went straight down on the board. Because the slope was completely even and fairly well groomed, there weren’t really options to do small jumps or anything like that. And the fairly shallow nature of the slope more or less created a self-imposed top speed. I tried to take a video while going down the slope, but I’m no Brian Sisselman (if you get the reference to 1980s Warren Miller ski videos we should be best friends) so everything was shaky and terrible.

Not terrible for a single slope in a building.

Not terrible for a single slope in a building.

I also had another completely off of the wall adventure today. For lunch, I went to a fairly hipster restaurant that specializes in cooking dishes made from nutria, which is a kind of rodent. Someone had sent me an article in the British press about this place, and someone else had sent the article to Anne-Marie the same day. The two of us decided to go on a culinary excursion for lunch to try the nutria, or “rat” burger from the Bistro Krasnodar. If you know me, you know I love eating different and exotic meats. There is a specialty butcher shop in Pittsburgh and I have a dream of eating my way through the offerings. According to some articles that I read, nutria isn’t really common in Moscow, but the chef who created the restaurant hails from Krasnodar, where nutria can be a fairly common source of food.

The nutria aka rodent burger.

The nutria aka rodent burger.

The burgers came out and we were beyond pleasantly surprised. The meat itself had a very mild, almost bland flavor, with just the tiniest hint of gamey/wild taste to it. The burgers were perfectly cooked and lavishly accompanied by lettuce, tomato, roasted peppers, and some kind of herb mayonnaise/aioli. It was by far one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life, and certainly the best burger that I’ve had in Moscow.

Om nom nom.

Om nom nom.

I paired my burger with a beer from Krasnodar that was on tap, and Anne-Marie got a cider. For about $12, I got a great burger and the beer. This included a small discount for a weekday lunch special. The place also had a great soundtrack of rock hits featuring the Black Keys, the Arctic Monkeys, and Blondie.

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