Dr. Lott and I ventured off to try a Belorussian (White Russian) restaurant that I spotted on my morning jog, and which also was recommended to us by Dr. Kerim Friedman, when we visited National Donghwa University today. Kali Laska turned out to be a small place, 6 tables or so, and understaffed today because the waiter had asked for the day off. That meant we got to speak directly to the owner and chef (Kareesh, if I understood correctly), who gave us a fine, truly Russian-flavored meal–with a glass of kefir and an extra blintz beyond what we’d ordered–then chatted with us for quite awhile, after the kitchen had closed for the evening.
Kefir, in case you’ve not had it, is unsweetened, drinkable yogurt, a bit like strong buttermilk, and blintzes are pancakes made with kefir, and served with jam. There also was some kefir in the onion-and-potato pancakes that I had as a main dish. Kareesh uses lots of onion and dill, as well as kefir, so everything had an authentically Russian flavor, quite different from the spice sets most often used in East Asia. (Once we solve the photo-posting problem, I’ll add some pics to this post).
Kareesh said he’d been running this restaurant for four years, and he clearly is part of a small but highly visible Hualien community of expatriates who work in the restaurant and outdoor adventure business. He is a big fan of Taiwan’s beautiful, varied landscapes, particularly the ocean beaches. The standard dream of Taipei’s harried, hard-pressed white-collar class is to move to Hualien and open a small restaurant, and Kareesh has managed to do just that.
This is my first post on this blog, because up till now I’ve been too busy planning the next step of our journey to find time to write and reflect. I read through all the previous posts, and fully enjoyed the details and comments gathered there–it was a great way to re-view our trip thus far, especially now that we are heading into the last week. One more day in rural Hualien County, two in Jiaohsi (Ilan County), and then, almost like popping back out of the rabbit hole, up we will go the 21st-century megalopolis, Taipei.