An Ode to Smetannik
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is upon us! The reporters and guests may not be enjoying their hotel accommodations, but let's hope they're at least enjoying the food there!
My boss is Russian and I've been practicing my "zdravstvujte!" a lot. It comes in handy when I go to my local Net Cost Market, a small but very popular chain of Russian supermarkets in New York City. Net Cost Market has a salad/hot food bar with pay-by-weight goodies, in addition to regular packaged familiar and unfamiliar goods. For a more professional outlook, see my friend Arthur's Yelp review. He lends better Russian insight.
In a typical Net Cost shopping trip, my basket will contain the following items:
. plain Lifeway kefir -- Kefir is a runny yogurt drink popular with Eastern Europeans. It's supposed to be good for your every digestive need, and the flavored ones taste pretty good (strawberries & bananas? cappuccino? practically decadent!). I go hardcore and get the plain one. There's a reason yogurt translates to "sour milk" in probably more than one language (Cantonese for sure; my grandma adds sugar packets even to flavored yogurt).
. farmer cheese -- The farmer cheese I get is like the less-runny version of cottage cheese that I spread on Wasa crackers when I'm feeling diet-y.
. salmon & onion tofu spread -- This is like when Philadelphia Cream Cheese adds stuff to their cream cheese...only salmon, and onion, and tofu, minus cream cheese.
. pierogies -- Hot, meaty pierogies (probably not called pierogies in Russian but it's the only thing I can think of calling them; Russian friends, help me out)! I am actually partial to the egg-filled one.
Chto is smetannik?
I really owe it to Alex Guarnaschelli for introducing me; she considers smetannik one of her favorite foods on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Smetannik is a layer cake that comes in one giant sheet at Net Cost and they cut as much as you want and you pay by weight. The very thin, yet surprisingly fluffy cake is striated with...sour cream.
"Sour cream?!" you exclaim. "But that should only be layered with guacamole and pico de gallo on tortilla chips!"
I'm telling you, though, sour cream cake is banging. The aforementioned fluffy cake part is golden brown and honey-flavored. The sour cream is just slightly tangy to balance the sweetness of the cake, almost like how Italians would use marscapone or ricotta in a sweet preparation. There's some chopped prunes mixed into the sour cream as well, so in every bite you get a chewy sweet surprise.
Tomorrow night, I'm thinking I should get a pound or more of smetannik from Net Cost and nibble on it while watching the Opening Ceremonies...