‘I am Krakatuk,
You found me in a nook
To break the Mouse Queen’s hex
Walk backwards eyes closed seven steps!’
And off they went, the glamour of bulbous skirts and masks forgotten, the forty guests in search of the special nut which would break the spell … and take them to a feast inspired by Slavic winter traditions and, how else, nuts, nuts, nuts…
The Nutcracker ballet is the ultimate sugar-sweet Russian Christmas story – an epitome of everything we, russkis, feel proud of (our ‘high art’, flamboyant grandeur, convoluted story) but also leaving us somewhat abashed (is this sugar-crystallised tradition the best we can do?).
But what most don’t realise is that the original E.T.A Hoffmann’s story ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ was all together more byzantine, evocative and even darker….
And so a few days before Russian Old New Year’s Eve we invited our guests into so fittingly grandeous Pushkin House to
discover the story within the story.
To liberate that sugar-craving child within us.
To walk and eat the journey with the Nutcracker Prince and his magical toys….
…And so they were met by Kolombina – the mechanical doll – with her milky-nutty-vodkatini cocktails burred in snow that grew by the liquid touch of the Nutcracker…
Fed by nuts slathered in hogwood spice and grape syrup...
The ‘escaped bacon fat’ from the Mouse Queen – black charcoal biscuits topped with Welsh salo, gherkins and grainy mustard…
As the guests proceeded to sit down to their dinner, they were greeted with…
Christmastide breads from Amber Bakery
& organic chicken liver pate with beetroot, dates and walnuts
& kale and beetroot stalks pesto
As the story geared pace and the Nutcracker was fighting the Mouse King….
We served the ‘sausage’ of venison, chocolate, chestnuts and Kagor stew, served with barley, pistachios and sultanas
(vegetarian version: lentils, mushrooms and truffle oil)
And when you think there is no turning back, you’ll enter the Sweetmeatburgh of Sugarplums and real Arab coffee in dzezva pots. Ptschikh!
Christmas tree with bubliki in chocolate glaze
Pastry Christmas ‘twigs’
Pears hidden in a cake
with the real home-made Sugared plums
See more pictures in our gallery
Who helped us with creating the experience:
idea/overall design/menu creation – Katrina Kollegaeva & Karina Baldry
cast – Kirill Burlov, Vernon, Alisa Gutnikova, Jonathan Catherall, Katrina Kollegaeva, Karina Baldry
words – Jonathan Catherall
deco/design – Natasha Meleshkevitsch of NataliaInteriorDesign
costumes – Valentina Vanore
make up/design – Alyona Malakhova
chef – Remi Friendman
all-around-great-help – Dina Reznikova
coffee – Vadim Granovsky
belly dancer – Zhenya Zagoruiko
all photography – Natalia Nestman