Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015376, Mon, 30 Jul 2007 09:40:25 -0400

Nabokov in _Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle_ ...
SpiceLines <http://www.spicelines.com/>Complete article at following URL:
At Podvorye, Dreams of a Russian Summer: Peonies, Chilled Vodka and Beef
with Spicy Sour Cream

[image: IMG_0705.jpg]
*At Podvorye, a country restaurant favored by Vladimir Putin, peonies and
were blooming in profusion in the summer garden. *

"Marina came in a red motorcar of an early 'runabout' type, operated by the
butler very warily as if it were some fancy variety of corkscrew. She looked
unwontedly smart in a man's grey flannels and sat holding the palm of her
gloved hand on the knob of a clouded cane as the car, wobbling a little,
arrived to the very edge of picnic site, a picturesque glade in an old
pinewood cut by ravishingly lovely ravines. A strange pale butterfly passed
from the opposite side of the woods, along the Lugano dirt road, and was
followed presently by a landau…."

--Vladimir Nabokov in *Ada or Ardor: A Family

Nabokov's *Ada* is *a novel that demands to be read during the dog days of
summer*, preferably on a velvet couch while drinking cold black tea spiced
with black peppercorns and red currants. Ada and Van Veen's cousinly love
affair evolves slowly and deliciously during a languid summer at their
family's romantic country retreat. Even though Ardis, a three-story pile of
"pale brick and purplish stone," is located in some mysterious land, not
quite Russia, nor Europe or America, it is in spirit a summer place that
evokes *the dreamlike world of the old dachas* built during the reign of
Peter the Great.

Dacha means *"something given"*—and the term came to be used for the
property given by the tsar to his most loyal retainers. Some dachas were
simple log cottages or *izbas*, others were small palaces—but all of them
were *places of retreat* from the world, where long hot summers might be
spent drowsing in bedrooms on cool sheets, chasing butterflies in wildflower
meadows, and drinking, as Nabokov wrote, "the cold sweet tea of childhood".

[ ... ]

Later, perusing the menu on Podvorye's
I was struck by what we didn't have a chance to try: paprika (red peppers)
pickled in honey, wild quail stuffed with lingonberries and apple, chicken
Taback, pressed and grilled Caucasus style, sturgeon (Beluga) shashlik (on a
skewer), and the "drunken desserts"—*preserves of fruit like mulberries and
cornelian cherries in liqueur*, homemade at Guttsayt's own summer place in

*Podvorye Restaurant*, 16 Filtrovskoye Avenue, Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg,
Russia 196625. Telephone: 812-466-85-44. Web:

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