Human being have an incredible ability to source a place to find their 'mother's cooking'.
Every nationality I know will stream towards a taste of what their mothers and grandmothers use to make for them as children.
I am no different, so natural my first night in London Mum and I headed straight for Mari Vanna the newest and best Russian hot pot for all those who miss a taste of home.
We got ready at Mum's house.
I wore pink pastels. I guess as a sign of being happy about London spring time.
Fresh and beautiful.
Zara does the BEST chunky necklaces especially in florals.
We jumped in a 'cab' and were soon on the door step of Mari Vanna, may I add that our 'cab' driver was a Russian speaker which made the whole experience even more homely.
The front of the Russian watering hole is aptly decorated with blooms, like the front steps of your friendly grandma's house who has been cooking since day break with beautiful kitchen smells wafting out of the open windows.
We positioned ourselves on my Mum's favourite table. She is very table specific may I add! Her table wrangling is on another label. She is like Goldie locks...it has to be just right.
I can not tell you how much joy this establishment brings me. I think that only those of you who have left your place of origins but have memories of it will understand. Every detail IF done well, and believe me in Mari Vanna it is, takes you back to a place, a smell or a detail from your childhood.
What Mari Vanna does like no other is add a touch of kitsch and class to Russian folk food. It is granny chic and perfect.
My mum soon recognised a friend at the other end of the restaurant and darted over to say hello. The story is that said friend has to bring her 10 year old daughter to Mari Vanna most nights of the weeks as her Russian food cravings are just too strong. I know how she feels.
Mum and I ordered two bubbling glasses of pink champagne after the tour of the restaurant and hellos were over.
We had not seen each other for at least half a year so it was time to celebrate.
Mors was then brought to the table. A special drink indeed, which promotes health, almost like a sweet cranberry juice with a viscus texture.
I jumped up as my gaze feel onto the table at the centre of the room, not just any table but a treasure chest bounty of Russian goodies spilling at the rims.
Little red riding hood and three bears in the forrest chocolate candies. The only sweets I remember as a child.
Mari Vanna jams.
Russian dolls a plenty.
Radishes and fresh spring onion strewed over black, thick bread.
And jars! Look at these glorious beauties. These are flavoured vodkas. These are the best thing you will put in your mouth. Each one flavoured by the fruit which seeps into the vodka and forms the most magical tasting experience.
At the end of the night you are given a shot of your choice of flavour. I had cherry. The most Russian of all flavours. Or is it raspberry... no wait, its strawberry.
The menu is a wooden board beautifully decorated with Matroshka dolls.
Before long food was served in the form of Olivey salad, a mayonnaise based wonder that you have to try to believe.
To it's right is a Herring under a fur coat. That is his official name.
Another form of salad loved by Russians. I admit though not my favourite but lovely none the less.
Then came the wonder that is Perogi. I could write a love sonnet to Pergodi, but I won't do that to you. This is my favourite and best food of all time. I sound like an illiterate child saying that but that is how they make me feel....so there!
Mum grabbed the camera on her way to the ladies and got some shots for you.
Isn't the decor gorgeous?
The night was rounded off perfectly with tea in iron mugs and honey cake, the king of cakes in my eyes. Moist, soft and perfect on the sweetness dial.