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211adventures reportsGastrotour on Baikal

Gastrotour on Baikal

The task

To organize a gastronomic trip across Baikal for a family of five people.

The customer took as a basis our summer program for the south of Baikal and added some options:

  • Individual menu with Siberian-Baikal features
  • Two nights in tents on Mountain Mamai
  • Helicopter tour with an inspection of the western shore of Lake Baikal and the islands of the Strait Maloye More
  • Visiting the sources in the villages of Arshan and Zhemchug
  • Jet skiing
  • Fishing with an instructor
  • Culinary masterclass

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20 days before the start

Preparation of the excursion program

The first day in the program — a visit to the Museum Taltsy and the Village of Listvyanka. These are the most popular places on Baikal, we use them as an introductory part of the trip. In Taltsy the program includes a guided tour, a masterclass on making clay toys and lunch in the merchant's estate. In Listvyanka there is a show with trained seals and climbing to the Observation Platform Kaman Cherskogo.

After agreeing on the menu in the estate, we discussed in the pottery workshop sketches of clay bears which the guests will sculpt. Then, we went to Listvyanka and bought tickets to the pool with Baikal seals and the funicular.

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Museum Taltsy
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Museum Taltsy
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Museum Taltsy
Museum Taltsy 211 Company

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18 days before the start

Revision of the reserve

We met with the director of the Baikal Biosphere Reserve. We needed: a speedboat for two days, an excursion along the cedar alley and renting a room in the visitor center for lunch. Also, we knew that new exhibitions dedicated to the Circum-Baikal Railway and the history of Baikal were opened on the territory of the visitor center. There is also an enclosure with Barguzin sable. We included new items in the program and discussed the lunch menu.

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Baikal Biosphere Reserve
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Baikal Biosphere Reserve
Baikal Biosphere Reserve 211 Company
Baikal Biosphere Reserve
Baikal Biosphere Reserve 211 Company
Baikal Biosphere Reserve
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Baikal Biosphere Reserve
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17 days before the start

Sources of Arshan and Zhemchug

The villages of Arshan and Zhemchug are known for their mineral springs and picturesque mountainous terrain. Here is clean air, walking trails and spa treatments based on mineral waters.

First, we stopped at Zhemchug, looked at the pools with thermal water and bathed. Taking into account that in July there may be a lot of people, we discussed with the owner of the pool the possibility of a private visit.

To Arshan we needed to bring our chef. We agreed with the hotel administration to rent a kitchen. In order not to carry extra staff we asked a hotel maid to wash dishes. For the chef, we made a photo of the kitchen equipment.


16 days before the start

Camping installation

We climbed Mamai Mount on foot for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The first half of the road is a forest road with almost no slope. The second is a rocky rise of 30–40 degrees. It's hard for an untrained person to walk. For guests, on safety, we planned to put an SUV on the half way. If they get tired they can go by car.

Despite the opportunity to live on Mamai in comfortable conditions, with shower, toilet and Internet, the guests wanted to spend the night in a tent. Meals were planned to be organized in the cottage. For cooking the planned menu, the chef needed civilized conditions: oven, stove, mixer and fridges. During the revision of the kitchen, we found out that we had to deliver in addition: fridges, stove, thermo-pot, dishes and textiles for serving the table.

We did not find an even area under the tent. The terrain is mountainous, there is a slope everywhere. In case the guests change their mind to live in a tent, we booked a cottage.


14 days before the start

Test of a new airboat

Previously, the transfer of the group to the Sobolinie Lake took 2–2.5 hours in one direction. The capacity of the airboat did not allow transportation of more than five people and the group had to be divided into two parts. In this season a new airboat was built, with a more powerful engine. The number of passenger seats increased to nine. We tested it and checked the path to the lakes.

To Sobolinie Lakes there are two paths — old and new. The new is more difficult — many climbs, rocks, crossings over streams and rivers. The old path is more comfortable — flat, there are only a couple of sharp descents and ascents. Due to the fact that it has not gone for a long time, we needed to clean it from the bushes and fallen trees.


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12 days to the start

Railways and container

In the morning we went on a boat to the Recreation Center of Russian Railways. We agreed that our chef will work in the kitchen, use stoves and refrigerators. Also, we inspected the rooms, equipment, banya and a place for fishing. Of all the locations, this was the most complete, here we brought only the dishes.

After lunch, we returned to Irkutsk to collect an isothermal container ordered from Moscow. It is needed for the safe delivery of refrigerated products. Such a container can keep the cold for up to 5 days.

In the evening the manager of the transport company reported that a tent and things of the guests had been delivered to Irkutsk.

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Preparation of food

To organize meals on an individual menu throughout the route, it was required:

  • Choose chefs
  • Calculate the grams of dishes and prepare a list of products
  • Make a revision of all kitchens along the route and make a list of missing equipment
  • Design the menu taking into account the conditions of transportation and storage of products
  • To think over logistics of delivery of chefs, the equipment and products

First, we divided the menu into separate products, with an expiration date of 3 to 7 days. Then, we made preparations using sous vide technology, Cook and Chill, Cook and Frost and packed in a vacuum with barrier properties. This allowed prolonging the life of the products without loss of quality in the texture and use of preserving substances.

Prepared products leveled the floating schedule of guests. Chefs if necessary, were ready to give dishes on the menu for half an hour. Even if it is a leg of prolonged cooking, and in the kitchen, there is no oven.

The whole route was divided into three stages and took a separate chef for each stage. At the base of Russian Railways, we sent Alexander — the chef-pedant. He needs a kitchen with running taps and electricity, and in the refrigerator should be not higher than 6 degrees. We checked the first reaction of the guests on him.

Igor went to Mamai, who can quickly navigate in harsh conditions. Mamai is a place where it is very difficult to access and it is not technically equipped and in addition, there is no connection. Anything he could take with him would fit in the back of the SUV.

Nikita is the chef of the trip went to the last location in the Village of Arshan. By the time we already knew that the head of the family fell in love with omul, his wife does not eat fish, children love meat. Complaints were only on the amount of food — it was cooked too much. We also noticed that the guests do not have a habit of service staff. Later chefs began to leave the laid table and go.

When we served the guests all the chefs were said, “Do not be afraid of the guest but keep the distance. Imagine that you cook for your close people, but don't go over to personalities.” During the first lunches and dinners, we observed their preferences. The information was analyzed and we adjusted the menu in parallel. We were ready that we could be told, “It's not right, everything needs to be changed.”

Nikita Dubrovin, the chef of the trip

The guests liked a warm salad with a duck breast. The head of the family said, “Salad is superb with a very tasty and simple dressing.” It was important for me to get at least one emotion “Wow!” And I got it.

Nikita Dubrovin, the chef of the trip


Preparation of transport

In the program, 18 units of equipment were used — 12 basic and 5 auxiliary. Basic were for guests and auxiliary for the things and the team.

  • Mercedes Sprinter — 2
  • Speedboat Parker 660 Weekend — 1
  • Speedboat Trident Solo 900 — 1
  • Jet skis Yamaha VX Cruiser — 3
  • Airboats — 2
  • Prepared SUVs of Nissan Safari — 3
  • Passenger cars — 4
  • Helicopters — 2

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Preparation of accommodation

In six hotels along the route, we needed to find two rooms with double beds and one room with separate beds. In addition, we booked rooms for the team, for 3–6 people, depending on the location.

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Hotel Kupechesky Dvor
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Hotel Sayen
Hotel Beliy Sobol
Recreation Center Hadarta
Cottage on Mamai
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Day 1

Arrival to Irkutsk

The flight arrived on schedule. We met the guests, got the luggage and went to the hotel. After the accommodation, we went to dinner together. Before the start, we again discussed the route:

Irkutsk City — Museum Taltsy — Listvyanka Village — Station Sharyzhalgay — Vydrino Village — Sobolinie Lakes — Baikalsk City — Mount Mamai — Tankhoy Village — Arshan Village — Zhemchug Village — Olkhon Island — Ogoi Island — Irkutsk City.

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Day 2

Ethnographic Museum Taltsy and the Village Listvyanka

The guests had breakfast and got into the minibus. In Taltsy we arrived exactly at 10:00. We gave the group to the guide, and we went to check the readiness of the pies for tea drinking. Before lunch at the merchant's estate, guests had time to walk around the museum and take a masterclass in the pottery workshop.

After the Museum we went up to the Observation Platform Kaman Cherskogo and visited the show with trained seals. Then we had to go by boat to the Recreation Center of Russian Railways but the weather began to deteriorate. A wave rose. In order not to risk, we shortened the waterway and traveled half way by car. On the boat, guests moved to the Village of Kultuk. By the time of arrival at the base, everything was ready: bath attendant, fishing instructor, jet skis. After placing in the rooms, the chef served dinner.


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Day 3

Recreation Center of Russian Railways

The whole day the guests spent at the center, slept after moving and went to banya with the bath attendant. Children fished and went jet skiing. They had an outdoor heated pool with Baikal water, a shooting range, a chef, a fishing instructor and a guide ready to take a tour of the Circum-Baikal Railway.

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Day 4

Hiking on Sobolinie Lakes

After an early breakfast, the guests boarded the boat and went to the Village of Vydrino. 

Two hours later they arrived at the place where the airboat was waiting for them. The group accompanied by guides climbed up the river by an airboat. Before the start of the hike, the guests were instructed and got backpacks for personal things.

We had a time limit — until 13:30 the group went to lakes, from 13:30 to 15:30 rest and lunch, from 15:30 to 18:00 the return road. It was important to have time to go down to the airboat before dark.

This time we did not have time to reach the Sobolinie Lakes. We made lunch and dinner on the river bank. For dinner, the group stayed at the hotel at the foot of the Sobolinaya Mountain.


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Days 5–6

Mamai Mountain

In the morning the guests were taken by minibus to the foot of Mamai Mountain. Part of the group moved by a prepared SUV, the part went on foot.

One of the children was bitten by a tick during the ascent. Upon arrival at the camp, the guide carefully removed the tick and preserved it to later pass for examination. The guests did not want to go to the hospital, as all had been vaccinated from tick-borne encephalitis.

While the chef was preparing dinner, we set up a tent with guests. The temperature outside was 32 °C, in the tent even higher. That is why they decided to move to the cottage. The next day after breakfast we walked along the gorge to the waterfall. On the way, we swam in the mountain lake and had a picnic.

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Day 7

The Baikal Biosphere Reserve

While the guests were having breakfast, the team loaded things and equipment into SUV. After an hour and a half, we went down from Mamai Mountain to the Federal Highway and reached the Baikal Biosphere Reserve. The group was met by the director of the reserve, led along an ecological path through a cedar alley, told about flora and fauna of the surrounding nature. After, the guests were shown the enclosure with Barguzin sable and went for lunch to the visitor center of the reserve.

After lunch, we went to the hotel to rest. Over the past three days, guests were tired — hiking and hot weather did their job.

In the evening, we organized a culinary masterclass. Adults prepared Buryat poses from three types of meat with a dough on mineral water. Children — marshmallows and marmalade from forest berries.

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Days 8–9

Arshan Village

At 10:00 we left the hotel to the Village of Arshan. On the way we visited the only station in the world, entirely built of marble. We reached Arshan for 2.5 hours. The guests accommodated in the rooms and went for dinner.

After dinner, the guests were taken to the phyto barrel. At the same time, a thunderstorm began. One of the lightning struck a nearby transformer. The lights went out all over the village. As an alternative to phyto barrels, guests were offered a massage.

Our hotel was also without electricity. To cook the planned dinner, we bought for the chef two gas stoves. By dinner, the repair service restored the transformer.

The next day the guests visited the Village of Zhemchug. It is a 40-minute drive from the Village of Arshan. Unlike the cold mineral springs of Arshan, there are hot springs. Water is supplied to outdoor pools. On the way back we drove into the place of the descent of a powerful avalanche. After dinner, guests again went to massage and phyto procedures. In the evening, they visited the Buddhist datsan and the market of medicinal herbs.


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Day 10

Maloye More and Olkhon Island

After breakfast, we arrived at the helipad. A walk along the western coast of Lake Baikal was planned. The route was: Arshan Village — Circum-Baikal Railway — Peschanaya Bay — Buguldeika Village — Ogoy Island — Olkhon Island — Recreation Center Hadarta. About seven hours of flight time, with landings for lunch, refueling and sightseeing. Everything went according to plan.

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Day 11

Irkutsk

We left the Recreation Center Hadarta by minibus at 10:00. We reached Irkutsk in 4 hours. Guests checked-in the Hotel Sayen, walked around the historic center of the city and the next morning flew home.

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