In a few weeks, we will be embarking on our fourth Connoisseur's Cruise with Seawind Tours.  This time around we will be exploring the Baltic Sea.  This weekend we put on a small event for those joining us on the cruise, and we made a few pupus to whet their appetites for the journey ahead. 

I have never been to Russia.  I have never eaten Borscht in Russia made by a Russian.  I have never eaten Borscht made by a Russian period.  So, I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like and look like according to a real one.  But that’s ok with me, all I need is some guidelines and I will make it my very own anyway.  I have a cookbook authored by a Russian chef, and I learned the components of a Borscht.  This inspired me to make two things - a hot soup with beef short rib, and a chilled pureed beet sauce to accompany a fried goat cheese cake.  It wasn’t until I talked to a Russian media person last year in Maui that I learned it could be a hot dish and usually is.  The two dishes are as different as night and day.  Tasting the two preparations side by side was a lesson for me, and I learned one new thing yesterday.

In today's world, there are so many different ways to get information, but nothing can replace the value of learning something directly from the source - a person from the region you're trying to learn about.  If someone is not there to correct you or taste it to verify if indeed what you did is accurate and correct, then how do you know if it’s a good one?

-- Alan Wong