Azerbaijani cuisine: Barashka (Барашка)

My friend Diana from San Francisco, who now lives in Panama but was born in Russia, has a sister named Katya (short for Катерина, Katerina) who lives in Moscow. The sisters moved out of Russia in late 1990 but Katya moved back to Moscow with her husband in 2005. She owns a custom cake company here, Select Cake Studio. She makes those beautiful cakes that cost thousands of dollars, the cakes that in America are pretty much reserved for expensive weddings. Here in Moscow there are enough people who love lavish parties (and who embezzle government money) that these cakes are often for no good reason other than I want to show you how much money I have.

Katya took me for lunch to one of her favorite restaurants in the city: Барашка.

She goes there often enough where they didn't at all balk when she brought her wire-haired dachshund, Motek, into the restaurant. What a beautiful dog, and also tasty food (the restaurant, not the dog; this is not Korea).

I ate homemade flat pasta with minced meat (lamb, I think) and onions, and also lamb and vegetable soup, plus a drink made from tarragon that was fantastic. Afterward I had my first decent cup of coffee in Russia, not only decent but actually great. The coffee in Russia, even in Moscow, is generally pretty terrible, and across Siberia and the Russian Far East it is worse than you can probably imagine. Your only choice is almost always instant coffee.