The winter Olympics are well underway! Events like speed skating and snowboarding acrobatics keep us watching, hoping for gold medals, and keeping an eye on Russian culture. While not everyone may be into the games this year, most of us can get down with a reason to celebrate when there are not too many other holidays giving us the excuse to have a party. So, invite your friends to dress up as their favorite winter Olympian, or in ski, snowboard, or ice-skating gear, and host an event made for legends.
When in Russia…
Russian foods may have not made it big in the States, but there are few authentic items that can please your crowd, without breaking the mostly-dreaded pickled hearing. Caviar is Russia’s food darling and is thought of by us as a luxury food. For a fancy appetizer that doesn’t require cooking, serve caviar with blini’s (mini Russian pancakes found at specialty stores), red onion, and crème fraîche. For a hearty familiar dish, serve borsch–the beet-based, crimson colored favorite could be presented in soup bowls, or as soup shooters for a no-mess appetizer. Also popular both in the U.S. and Russia are kebabs, or shashlyks, traditionally made with lamb. The kebabs are cooked over an open fire or a grill. Pelmeni are also a national favorite– a unique dumpling, similar to perogies, filled with meat and served with sour cream. Have plenty of rye, or “black” bread on the table, sour cream and dill for garnish. For traditional Russian sweets have a platter of gingerbread cakes, apple bread, and hazelnut Russian teacakes.
Another Serendipity idea: If going with the Russian theme doesn’t suit your fancy, ask your friends to bring a traditional dish from a competing Olympic country of their choice and have an international potluck!
The most widely known drink from Russia is, of course vodka. Russians have long celebrated with the libation and it is commonly sipped daily. In fact it is so normal to have vodka regularly that the Russian word for it translates to “little water.” There is a famous debate over who originated the clear drink, as Poland and Russia both proudly claim to have been the first distillers of vodka. Historians believe that variations of vodka were being distilled with herbs, spices, and even charcoal as early as the 8th century and through time have been refined to what we know today. For a true Russian experience of straight sipping, we suggest spending an extra few dollars and buying premium vodka. Local Colorado distilleries, like Mystic Mountain’s Colorado Crystal Vodka, and Woody Creek’s Reserve Stobrawa Vodka are ideal for smoothness and flavor. If sipping vodka straight seems like a harsh way to keep your party going, serve the currently popular Moscow Mule, or classic White Russians.