Gift-shopping spots that put some fun in the giving.
If you’re looking for a gift that’s more high-tech — like what you might find in the Sharper Image stores in the United States — the places to go are Bagatelle and Le Futur Magazin Udivitelnikh Veshei. With gadgets like nail-polish-drying machines and smoke-catching ashtrays, these two shops are full of things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them. There are gizmos galore for children and adults, men and women, home and office alike. Both stores have many outlets all over Moscow as well as Internet shops — so look at the range, the prices and the store addresses online.
Bagatelle: 775-8828, www.bagatelle.ru.
Quirky clocks made from caviar tins or decorated with Baby Lenin badges. Bizarre lamps made of anything from a samovar to a saxophone. Jewelry with a sense of humor. If you’re shopping for someone who’s already got everything, head to Byuro Nakhodok. This gift store stocks one-off creations by more than 100 artists and designers from Russia and other countries, so you should be able to avoid embarrassing double-ups at gift-unwrapping time. Recycling old into new is a central theme, and the abundance of antiques and Soviet kitsch in surprising new incarnations makes this a good alternative to cliched old Ulitsa Arbat or Izmailovsky Park.
Digri’s specialty is unusual knickknacks and interior decorations with an ethnic orientation, including ethno-futurism — so expect to see tribal masks alongside stone-and-metal key rings and bottle openers. The wares come from the Philippines, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy and the Netherlands, making for a diverse selection of gift ideas. There are lamps, toys, pictures, incense sticks, furniture, figurines and much more — check out the entire selection on the Internet site. Gift-wrapping and delivery services are also available, to help take some of the hassle out of the festive season.
Apart from outlets in the Atrium, Mega, Auchan and Ramstore malls, there are two stores in the center; check the Internet for other addresses.
Diamonds are forever; butterflies are for a week or two. But even though the gift is short-lived — and there’s a risk some recipients might consider it cruel — at least two companies are selling gift boxes of live butterflies intended to delight a loved one or liven up a party when released to fly around the room.
Mir Babochek offers more than a dozen colorful varieties with wingspans of 7 to 15 centimeters, costing 25 to 45 conditional units per butterfly depending on quantity. The company says it delivers the butterflies within five hours of receiving the order, 24 hours a day. After they’ve fluttered around your party, the butterflies can be caught and kept, and on average live for another seven to 10 days if properly cared for — no shorter than their life expectancy in the wild, according to Mir Babochek.
Babochka VIP’s Internet site shows almost 20 butterfly choices and recommends ordering no less than 50 for best effect. It requires orders two weeks in advance for European varieties and three weeks in advance for tropical varieties, and delivers around the clock. Prices range from $25 for 10 smaller butterflies to $60 for an individual large butterfly with a wingspan of about 15 centimeters.
With everything from scary sharks and poisonous sea anemones to cute turtles and colorful clownfish, Magazin Morskoi Akvarium is a fascinating place to while away an hour or so, as if at the zoo. This shop sells all manner of bizarre sea creatures, plus fish food, plants and equipment. It also offers aquarium setup and design services, to help you get started.
’Tis the season to be jolly, so how about some booze? The Vinograd wine boutique has more than 200 French, Italian, Spanish, Chilean and Argentinean wines ranging from about 10 euros up to hundreds of euros a bottle. There are elegant single-bottle gift boxes and an impressive selection of liqueurs and spirits. You can order online from Vinograd’s parent company, Grossia, and have your wine delivered to a Moscow address within 48 hours.
Another place to find a formidable range of wine and spirits is the Le Sommelier wine boutique, attached to a sommelier school of the same name — so sign up for a course while you’re there. You can check out their wine and spirits selection, prices and course dates on the Internet too.
If it’s whisky you’re after, try Mir Viski or Whisky World. This elite boutique boasts that it has more than 1,000 varieties, including some rarities of which only a few bottles remain worldwide. There’s also wine, cognac, brandy, cachaca, tequila, rum and liqueurs — and you can buy in the store, online or by telephone, with home delivery.
Korkunov chocolate factory has opened a store selling 13 sorts of handmade chocolates available nowhere else, priced at 228 rubles per 100 grams. There are bergamot-flavored Earl Grey tea chocolates, rum babas, “nutty aerated” treats and more. The regular Korkunov range of boxed chocolates is also available, starting from 75 rubles.
Moscow’s historic Red October chocolate factory, founded as the “Einem” factory in 1867, has long been a leader in the domestic chocolate industry. At its factory stores, the sweet-toothed will find a mouth-watering assortment of gift ideas, including a special range of candies in festive-season boxes depicting Santa/Ded Moroz, reindeer, horse-drawn carriages, quaint snowy villages, fir trees, etc.
Perfumes & Cosmetics
Founded by a Frenchman in 1864, Moscow’s Novaya Zarya factory was the first foreign perfumery to beat the French at their own Grand Prix in 1889. More than a century later, the company continues developing and releasing new, high-quality fragrances and cosmetics. Many items are small and light enough to take or send abroad as a souvenir from Russia, and there’s plenty offered for local gift-giving as well. From the new women’s fragrances, the Zelyony Chai (Green Tea) and Perechny Chai (Pepper Tea) ranges are worth a whiff, while those with a taste for history should look out for Krasnaya Moskva (Red Moscow), developed in the early 20th century for Tsarina Alexandra. www.novzar.ru.
Step through the door in the bright orange facade of Khelo, a Tibetan and Nepalese goods shop in the Shabolovka area, and you are on Tibetan time. A cup of tea (it’s not butter tea, mind you) is promptly offered, and managing partner Jamyang Lodoe is often on hand to show the wares he has selected on journeys to his native Tibet with his wife, Jennifer Neufeld, an American businesswoman living and working in Moscow.
Take your time trying on pashminas and other shawls of various makes, colors and sizes; fingering soft cashmere blankets; admiring European fashions made in Katmandu from natural wool and silk by a Finnish designer. Appraise silver jewelry and small wooden boxes to store it in. Decipher symbols on traditional hand-painted Tibetan furniture and especially their heavy wooden doors that can be turned into smart tabletops. There are also handmade woolen carpets, tankas — religious artworks hand painted on silk by Buddhist monks — and various home accessories. Handmade wrapping paper is available to package the goodies you pick.
Asked why there is now a surging interest in all things Eastern, Sarah Crowley, a partner in the shop, said that the people’s quest for simpler, uncluttered lives drove them to study Eastern philosophy and religion. “People are looking for answers to the questions they’ve had for a long time,” she said.
Shanti, Moscow’s first upmarket Vietnamese restaurant, is, in a way, a reflection of what the Moscow scene is into these days: exotic food, dimly lit teahouses and Tibetan antiques. The gallery inside Shanti comes across as a museum, complete with glass display cases, only here you are allowed to touch the exhibits and even take them home with you if you pay the cashier. So what’s here for the buying? A 17th-century cupboard, for example, covered with bright and intricate designs, a 17th-century leather trunk, or 18th-century tankas. With your spare change, buy an antique lighter, earrings, a knife, a mantra ring or coral or turquoise prayer beads. The wooden butter containers still smell like yak fat.
Anton Shishin, gallery director, said most shop assistants are practicing Buddhists, and they should be able to give a detailed explanation of the usage and meaning of anything in the gallery. Any object can be appraised at the Oriental Art Museum for an additional fee.
For disc shopping, there’s always Gorbushka and the pirate-disc kiosks — but if you want rare art-house movies or alternative music, you’ll find a better choice at Transylvania, Purple Legion or even the Soyuz chain. The good news is that two more specialist stores have recently opened, greatly expanding the obscure disc-seeker’s options.
Promotion group Caviar Lounge opened the Caviar Lounge CD Store at the end of November. The experimental music available on CD includes industrial, exotica, rare grooves, post-rock, lo-fi, new wave, techno, electro, incredibly strange music and more. The DVD section offers Hollywood classics, American 1950s-70s trash, horror, sci-fi and drive-in movies — all in the original language, which is English in 95 percent of cases. Russian cinema classics are also available. The store also stocks dance-music on vinyl and books about architecture, design, photography, fashion, cinema, music and radical art. In short, an incredible selection.
Purple Legion ( www.purplelegion.ru), Transylvania ( www.transylvania.ru) and Soyuz ( www.soyuz.ru) all have online shops with delivery services; the sites are also useful for surveying their vast collections.
While your kids probably have a load of computer games designed to advance their zombie-killing capabilities, there exists an entire universe of intellectually oriented toys for the development of more refined skills.
Consider the Kasparov electronic chessboard by Saitek (8,190 rubles), available at the Malenky Geny (Little Genius) chain of toy stores. Perfect for young chess devotees whose enthusiasm for the game often tires out their parents, the Kasparov will challenge future grandmasters with an endless array of countermoves and gambits flashed on its laptop-like computer screen. For budding biologists and physicians, Little Genius offers the Anatomical Skeleton (Edu Toys, 543 rubles), an exact miniature replica of the human skeleton, fully mobile right down to the last metatarsal. Younger children, from 12 to 18 months of age, will love the “Fantasy” play rug (Chicco, 2,384 rubles), where they can learn the names of different animals and objects, as well as the sounds they make and even their textures.
2/1 Myasnitsky Proyezd (M. Krasniye Vorota)
783-6868, noon-last customer
Magazin Morskoi Akvarium
Caviar Lounge CD Store
Hobbies From Japan
|PROBLEMS? SUGGESTIONS? Write to us!
Advertising | Distribution Points | Contact Details | Fine Dining Guide
The Moscow Times | Arts & Ideas | Jobs & Careers | Classifieds | Conferences
Copyright © 2004 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved. Design: JK.