I read “A Gentleman in Moscow a few month ago for book club. I actually hosted that meeting. I’m happy to report that everyone loved the book and we had a lively conversation.
The the novel opens, a Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov – a Russian aristocrat – Rostov is called before the court to answer for a counter-revolutionary poem he wrote . He is spared from death and placed under house arrest at the Mtropol Hotel, located just across the street from the Kremlin.
Over the forty year span of the novel, we learn how Russian transitioned from a bastion of aristocracy to become a hardcore communist nation. Throughout, Rostov proves to be adaptable – as he goes from eating at the Metropol’s swankiest restaurant, the Boyarsky, to serving as its head waiter; he also moves from an luxury apartment to attic room he must decide what to leave and what to take with him.
One of the joys of the novel is that Towles succeeds in presenting us with characters that interact with the Count, yet each has their own unique story and personality. The Count is hilarious with his quirks and sense of humor as he interacts with the cast of characters Rostov is proud to call his “family.”
Readers will also see the longing Rostov has for what he can no longer experience, such as travel and excellent food, while also refashioning his life.
It was a wonderful read. I highly recommend it.
I was quite taken with this line ~ Count observes: “The onions thoroughly caramelized, the pork slowly braised, and the apricots briefly stewed, the three ingredients come together in a sweet and smoky medley that simultaneously suggests the comfort of a snowed-in tavern and the jangle of a Gypsy tambourine.”
I looked it up and found out that it is called Latvian Stew.
I found a recipe from Amor Towles on this website. I basically cut the recipe in half, omitted the prunes (because my husband doesn’t like them) and added some herbs/seasonings. And I had already has some pork cooked from another recipe so I just used some of the leftovers.
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Yields 4 servings
1-2 pounds cooked pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil,
3 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and sliced crosswise
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried apricots, quartered
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Heat 1 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and spices and stir for a minute.
Stir in tomato paste and broth, apricots and pork. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
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