Sochi Winter Olympics Party With the games in full swing plan a Russian-inspired party for the closing ceremony with my easy décor tips and food. Cheer for your team while toasting with a chilled vodka shots or some “White Russians” and munching on delectable hors d’oeuvres. The Games are just so much more exciting that way! Discover a new neighborhood I bet you have your own Brighton Beach in the neighborhood. Discover what Russia has to offer by simply visiting one of the Russian food stores in your town. I guarantee that you’re in for an adventure! Sample some of the pickled vegetables, have a slice of Russian salami or cheese and discover a multitude of wonderful new tastes. If you are a New York City resident, travel to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach for that unique experience of submerging into Russian world – it’s almost like visiting the country itself! My favorite food stores there are Cherry Hill Gourmet and Brighton Bazaar (1007 Brighton Beach Avenue). Birch- Russia’s iconic tree Bring some of the nature’s elements to your party. For this Sochi Olympics get-the-cheer-going with friends, I couldn’t find a better way of bringing a little bit of Russia to my house than by displaying the floral arrangements in birch vases. My friends loved it and yours will too! They are super inexpensive and can be purchased either online or in the flower district of your town. Each vase has a glass container inside to keep the flowers alive longer. Round White Birch vases start at $7.99, Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies in NYC. Create a visual impact with varying heights at the buffet by displaying your foods on birch wood slices. Can’t find those? Improvise by using cake stands or anything that you might find in the pantry. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, high and low displays help your guests navigate through the food buffet better. Round Birch Wood slices, Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies in NYC (in store only) or online ETSY website. Go color It is a dreary winter outside and not surprisingly I wanted to counteract it by bringing in some bold cheerful colors to the table by creating these vibrant centerpieces. By simply following these easy steps you will also rock your tabletop: 1. Stay on a budget, buy seasonal blooms, no need to spend big bucks on something that was flown across the globe in a box. 2. To prevent bacteria from forming in the water, strip the stems clean from all the leaves and separate the flowers by variety. 3. Start by arranging the flowers in one hand, grouping two or three of the largest blooms, twist the arrangement and proceed with the rest. 4. Keep on checking on your arrangement every now and then from above to see how it is shaping up. 5. Once the bouquet is finished cut the stems on a 45 degree angle (it helps the flower to absorb water better) and place in the vase. Gently open up the blooms with your fingers. Keep consistent color scheme, I went with shades of red, dark pink and purple. The flowers I used were Veronica with white and light pink buds, Garden Rose in dark pink & tiny Spray Roses in red, Ranunculus in burgundy, Thistle for texture, deep purple Parrot Tulip variety, and vivid purple King Lisianthus blooms for a lush dense display. Associated Cut Flower store in NYC has a great selection of flowers but go early to get the freshest buds. Pride and joy Cheering for your country and athletes while in a company of good friends creates excitement and overpowering sense of pride and joy! One of my all-time favorite Olympic winter sports is figure skating. It is a spectacle of beauty, grace, dedication and in most cases, DRAMA and FASHION! Remember our Johnny Weir? He is the incarnation of this fascinating sport- he brought haute couture fashion statements and panache to the rink during his last Olympics performances! Bring in authenticity Gzhel is Russia’s centuries old method of making fine porcelain. It is hand-painted in blue design originating from country’s folk traditions. It is difficult to find in stores here unless you are regular in Brooklyn but Royal Copenhagen’s recognizable blue fluted pattern is similar in style to Russian Gzhel. I bought four salad plates with different designs and mixed them into my less expensive set for guests to use at the buffet station. Royal Copenhagen’s high-quality porcelain is continuously manufactured for more than two centuries now. Royal Copenhagen “Blue Fluted Plain” Salad Plate priced at $125.00 on Bloomingdale’s website or Gracious Home stores. Surprise elements The ubiquitous and iconic “matryoshka” as we call it in Russian or a nesting doll is an instantly recognizable piece of Russia. I used a set of hand-painted and carved nesting dolls taken apart and placed them on the console table as a cool display that worked perfectly with the theme! By the way, did you notice that giant “matryoshka” dolls gracing the Sochi’s slopes?!!! Check out The Russian Store website where nesting dolls start from $7.19 and there are plenty of other folk souvenirs and memorabilia. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere It takes a strong drink like “pertsovka”, hallmark Russian pepper vodka, to survive the Russian winter! Since it’s not that cold in New York, I opted for a milder more elegant solution for my party with friends and chose a good quality wheat based vodka (like Russian Standard). Greet your guests with shots of your favorite chilled vodka just to kick in the mood and help make a lively atmosphere! Alternatively create a special themed cocktails like White or Black Russian, which while didn’t originate in Russia have vodka as a primary ingredient and will make a FUN, sweet addition to your Sochi Olympics Party. Make a cocktail station and let your guests try their own mixology skills: 2 oz. vodka, 1 oz. Kahlúa and a splash of cream. I like to use Half & Half. Serve these cocktails along with cinnamon sticks and coffee beans and a bucket full of ice. Simon Pearce Norwich Ice Bucket in Medium for $145.00 can be purchased at Bloomingdale’s. Service à la Russe Traditionally set Russian tables are always overflowing with all sorts of delicacies, hot and cold appetizers, meat and fish courses, pies and pancakes, and of course, desserts followed by tea and cognac afterwards. Offer your guests a variety of appetizers and small bites. Store-bought cold cuts, salamis, smoked fish, pickled vegetables and marinated mushroom are time savers when trying to feed the crowd. Prepare other foods in advance and neatly arrange everything along the table in a buffet style. Dressed Herring Salad, featured on the image above, is the nation’s favorite dish! All that’s left is the main course. Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken Roulettes with Pork are easy to assemble, do-ahead-kind of dish. Pop them in the oven and serve sliced hot! (Recipe is coming up soon) Borscht is another Russia’s favorite beet based soup. Serve it in the mugs or more elegant glass verrines with a slice of black bread and a helping of good quality sour cream! I made my borscht with a twist– seared diced eggplant! To see the recipe, click here Borscht with Eggplant a la Verrine . Go decadent For a truly unique experience create a caviar station with store-bought miniature blintzes, or delicious black bread sliced into thin small squares and accompanied by an assortment of chopped dill and chives, grated boiled eggs, capers and sour cream. Show your guests the way, by first taking the blintz and topping it with some sour cream, followed by delicate caviar and garnished with whatever you fancy. My favorite toppings are grated egg and chives. Salmon Roe Caviar 8¾ oz. (250g tin) – serves 4-8, priced at $62.00 at Petrossian store or website. Sweet finish To save on time, serve some Russian all-time favorite store-bought desserts like the marshmallowy light zephyr, it has a delicate airy consistency and usually comes in white and pink colors but the chocolate covered version is the best! Or purchase an assortment of candies and serve along with tea and cognac. Cherry Hill Gourmet food store in Brooklyn sells it all. And CHEER, CHEER for your country and athletes! Have you been watching Sochi Winter Olympics? What is your favorite winter sport?
Photographed by Gary Flom.