‘Duck with apples’ and English lessons
Menu choices during Ice Hockey World Championship
By Oksana Zakharinskaya
2014 will see Minsk hosting the Ice Hockey World Championship for the first time, gathering fans and players from around the globe. Needless to say, Belarusians are quite impatient for the event to begin and the capital is acquiring various new sports facilities and hotel accommodation. Of course, a comfortable bed for the night and fantastic ice rinks will be well remembered, but food is just as important; meanwhile, affordability and tastiness should go hand in hand.
‘Fan-zones’ and first-class restaurants
This year, the capital will boast a total of 175,000 square metres of retail space. Olga Yezapenkova, the Head of the Main Administration of the Consumer Market’s Public Catering Department (Minsk City Executive Committee) notes that 10,000 catering sites are state run. Minsk Arena alone has a shopping centre with a hypermarket, a restaurant and a cafe — suitable for adults and children. During the Ice Hockey World Championship, many temporary shops, seasonal cafes and places of entertainment will spring up, expanding the servicing zone by more than 20,000 seats near Minsk-Arena and Chizhovka-Arena. The accent will be on serving snacks and drinks, as well as larger meals and, of course, selling souvenirs. Ms. Yezapenkova notes that such restaurants and cafes will particularly serve traditional Belarusian cuisine. The Aginsky, Kuchmistr and Metelitsa cafes are newly opened at the Ice Palace, with all sites aiming to offer a range of traditional dishes, to suit every taste and budget.
The Victoria Hotel inside the Stolitsa Business Centre is already fully booked for the championship, and has planned its meals in advance. It will be hosting eight ice-hockey teams, including those from Germany, England, the USA and Norway, as well as foreign fans, notes Oksana Borko, who heads catering at the hotel. Its two dining halls can seat 120 and 140, serving buffet style European and Belarusian cuisine. Naturally, sportsmen tend to prefer healthy meal choices, so their trainers have liaised with the hotel to ensure that appropriate dishes are prepared. They seem very happy with the arrangements for accommodation and the menu, which offers vegetables, fruit, fish and seafood. Belarusian carp and sturgeon feature, cooked in various ways, while those seeking heavier Belarusian cuisine won’t be disappointed by duck with apples, pork medallions in a spicy sauce or potato pancakes stuffed with salmon, caviar and mushrooms.
Ms. Borko emphasises that all service and food will be of the highest level and menus will be offered in three languages: Russian, English and Belarusian. Staff are also having English lessons — with waiters and administrative staff learning tailored vocabulary.
Victor Radevich, the Chairman of Board of the Belarusian Association of Cooks believes that the standard of cuisine across the capital will surprise many visitors. A campaign is underway to encourage chefs to make wider use of sauces. Recipes, gathered from far and wide across Belarus and Europe, are being shared, ensuring that menus are diverse and mouth-watering. A recipe book of 194 dishes, with illustrations, is to be distributed, while a similar edition is planned for tasty snacks. Of course, many traditional Belarusian dishes use dried mushrooms, fresh berries, honey and locally grown herbs to flavour them.
Loading up on pasta before each game
Former Belarusian national hockey team player Vladimir Kopat notes that players need to be conservative in their diet. Meat, fruit and vegetables are important, as are carbohydrates before each match. Pasta is the usual meal beforehand, with athletes able to enjoy a wider range of foods on their days off, in moderation. Keeping fit in every way is essential, with nutrition playing an important role in performance.