Last week I really faced Russian economy situation for the first time. When suddenly had to pay over 10 thousands rubles for my educational credit instead of 4 thousands. Do never go for dollar credits:) You know, that was the first time I was actually scared about the future and my tomorrow. Of course, we’re into it for some time now, we’re constantly discussing it, but you will never realize how close it is to you until you have a situation like that. But I always tried to think possitive and stay optimistic. So I needed someone to return me my optimism. That was when I met Michel Lombardi, charming “Reka” restaurant chef. Actually, I know him from his blog on marieclaire.ru that is always so interesting and up-to-date, that I was really fancy to meet him.
I’ve been to this restaurant for a couple of times by now, but always for a loud and overcrowded parties. So it was the first time to see this place so quiet and peaceful. “Reka” is very meditative and relaxing place: cosy armchairs, dark light and amazing river view (in summer you can enjoy Moscow center from the open therrace.
Michel meets us by the entrance. Honestly, I might probably never get used to meet people, whom I previously only read about.
At the very first sight he appears to be so open-hearted. His biography is worth a book and he is the head of a huge business, and here he is – so calm and sencere. This is always so surprising:)
“I was traveling for all my life, – begins he. “I’ve spent 12 years on yachts. I’ve been to places you might never heard about. Somewhere in a tiny town in Carribean, where there is nothing habitual to prepare food of. That was where I learned to experiment and adapt. People, traveling on yachts, literally pay millions and they don’t care if you have products to cook from or not. I wondered through local markets and every time created something new”.
His creative part is something I really want to talk about. Specially for “Reka” he came up with a unique menu made form local seasonal products, that is never the less clicks with the main menu. Chef calls it ‘antisanctional’. I ask, how sanctionals and new exchange rates influence their business.
“Today we change something every week: some products are not available any more, some of them are getting to expensive. Just before you arrived we were discussing buckweat price. It trippled in just one month! For me it’s just the way to create something new, to become more flexible and to pay more attention to local products”.
You can try salad with the Murmansk salmon, backed beetroot and pods beand or, for example, backed pepper with the young goat cheese parfait and salad leaves here. As a main dish they offer trout from the mountain river, sturgeon fillet or beetroot risotto with Sakhalin scallops. Seems like Michel is really into beetroot:
“We even created some new beetroot desserts. We make really light beetroot mousse with the local mascarpone, And e delicious chocolate cake with beetroot. It is very moist, well balanced. The secret of it is actually in balance: you won’t taste anything if it’s too dry”.
The situation in Russia can’t scare Michel, it only makes him more inspired. “I remember Grenadin Islands in 2004. They just survived dreadful storm and the were cut from the world. Nothing was there! Egg costet 15 dollars. Are you still thinking of crisis?! “
The most important is never to give up. I believe we can win this fight if we all stay together.
“Cartier, Chanel and others went through wars and conflicts, but people continued to buy them in any time. They never betrayed what they stayed for, but they adopted to the new market. That is exactly what we’re trying to do now” .
It means two things for Lombardi – quality control and experiments inside the restaurant and helping those who can help you outside. He already helped one farm situated somewhere near Bryansk to create two new cheeses: chocolate mascarpone ans ricotta with chocolate. He uses them in his kitchen and farmers can sell them to anyone. Today they already sell more than 12 tonnes of those cheese every month! “See, we still can make something good together”.
“We will never agree to compromises in quality”, – says Michel. To develope and improve the restaurant in any situation, he will look for new ingredients, new recepies, create, but will never allow to lower the quality.
There are still possibilities, when there is a will.
He believes that one day the situation would not only improve, but become victorious for Russian manufacturers. “It will take years, not months or weeks. To become independent, we will have to work hard. But I’m sure it will only increase Russian selfidentity”.
When I already feel like an elephant sits in my stomach, Michel Lombardy offers dessert – the most soft macarons ever, that they make themselfs: “Very convenient: everyone loves them and it doesn’t take us long”. I’m surprised, cause macarons are know as difficult dessert. “It depends on who makes them. Don’t you think circus acrobat suffers any difficulties while making his tricks?” – smiles he.