Today, we went to brunch at the Marriott with some friends. This is exactly the sort of activity I'm up for doing these days. It's been a pretty mild winter by local standards, but with all of the permutations of winter weather (icy winds, snow showers, slippery walkways, and filthy slush), I've been mostly staying inside, except for walking to and from work. When I do venture out, I like activities where I can take a taxi from outside the door of my building directly to the door of another building, and then go inside and start eating.
What's funny is that the Marriott brunch is exactly the sort of activity I probably wouldn't do in most other places. It's more expensive than I'd prefer, for one thing. Unsurprisingly, it's also heavily populated by fancy people. They make for entertaining people watching, with their outlandish fancy outfits and state of the art baby gear, but they're often pretty irritating beyond that, especially when their children behave as if they were raised by extremely wealthy, materialistic wolves.
The food, however, is glorious. We went to this brunch once last month, so we had a better idea of what to expect this time. We decided to eat strategically: no stews containing cheap filler ingredients; no pasta; nothing containing cabbage, beets, or potatoes. I focused my calories and ability to eat on salad greens, which are hard to find and often limp in Kazakhstan; smoked fish; sushi; imported cheese; fresh-squeezed juices; and desserts. They also had oysters on the half shell. I had some of those last month, but wasn't feeling as brave this month, even though they were fine when I last tried them. I'm never able to eat nearly as much as I plan, but I was able to get through a fair amount of food by spreading the eating out and talking a lot. All in all, it was a good day, and a good activity to brighten an Astana winter.