OK, so you are recovering from the Super Bowl and starting to look ahead to next weekend’s opening of the Sochi games. Which of course means a viewing party, which means food, which means Russian food!
Here’s our list of a seven ideal Russian culinary delights to accompany your Olympics viewing (for full recipes, we of course recommend our fine cookbook, A Taste of Russia, by Darra Goldstein):
Vodka. You knew we’d start there, right? It wouldn’t be a Russian feast without vodka, the “little water of life.” Pop down to the liquor store and get a bottle of Stoli (but wait, that’s not even made in Russia any more!), or better yet Russian Standard for the freezer. (For suggestions on the better vodkas, check out vodkaphiles.com, where thousands of visitors have rated hundreds of vodkas.) But if you really want to make an impression, throw together a home-infused vodka concoction, like limonovka or chesnochnaya. It just takes a day or two, so get one started now.
Stolichny Salad. This wonderful, creamy potato salad is a Russian zakuski table mainstay (and also known as Salad Olivier). Packed with the carbs beloved of all couch potatoes, it also has some protein mixed in there (in the form of chicken) to give your muscles something to be happy about. Throw together a few pounds of this and toss it in the fridge – it’s your go-to dish for all 17 days of the games.
Pelmeni. This Siberian treat is a small dumpling stuffed with a nicely herbed meat. Boiled then slathered in butter and sour cream, it is the perfect accompaniment for a cold winter day full of curling, downhill skiing and ice dancing. Best of all, you can make up a big batch of them ahead of time (or bribe someone more capable in the kitchen to do so on your behalf), freeze them, and have them at the ready for that hockey final.
Shashlyk. This Russian favorite is doubly appropriate because it is a dish from the Caucasus, where the games are being held. Order up some lamb from your local butcher, marinate it overnight, then roll out the barbeque and serve up a few skewers full of this delectable meat dish for friends. Ideally, it should be served alongside slices of warm, cheese-filled bread known as khachapuri.
Pirozhki. These small pies, filled with savory meats, mushrooms, onions or cabbage are the perfect finger food. Bake them for dinner and you’ll not only warm up the house nicely, but you’ll fill it with the irresistible aromas of baking bread and tasty fillings.
Canapes of Salmon. Looking for something with a bit more upscale panache? Pick up some nice smoked salmon at the store (many stores actually even carry Russian Pacific Salmon) and serve up these bite-sized treats with vodka and some good dill pickles.
Poor Man’s Caviar. We like this far better than the fish egg stuff. Two varieties are common: one made with eggplant, another with chopped mushrooms. Both are delectable atop crackers or with some of that khachapuri. And probably alongside a shot of that chesnochnaya vodka you made...
Leave us a comment to tell us what sort of Olympic feast you are planning.
[Photo credits: Bernd Hutschenreuther (pelmeni); Alexander Sherstobitov (salmon); Vvoevale (stolichny salad); Arboreus (pirozhki); Russian Life (vodka); Wikimedia commons (shashlyk)]
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