"When I eat with my friends, it is a moment of real pleasure,
when I really enjoy my life." -Monica Bellucci
Yelena's Russian blintzes in my humble American kitchen.
Served with a Russian confection of sunflower seeds and honey, over yogurt.
If there's anything better than being invited to a friend's house for an authentic home-cooked Russian meal, it's being sent home with even more delicious treats.
Yes, my friend Anya set her mother, Yelena, to work on a borscht-inspired dinner that transported me all the way from Mukilteo to Mother Russia. Besides the signature beet soup, sweetly flavored with cabbage and topped with a generous dollop of sour cream, we enjoyed a feast of classic Russian go-withs:
beef cabbage rolls garnished with pomegranate
roasted peppers and green olives
and a irresistible loaf of fresh rye bread.
Every bite soothed my soul, as I ate under Yelena's generous and gracious supervision. Anya's stories of her days in Moscow held me transfixed until dessert arrived, with Russian chocolates galore and endless pots of fresh steaming tea.
But as the evening wound down, Anya and Yelena had even more in store for me.
Here, take these blintzes home with you. They're like crepes, and filled with homemade ricotta cheese. Fry them up with a bit of butter, and serve with sour cream and maybe some jam.
I did exactly as I was told.
The blintzes were delicious. Just as I had during dinner, I felt transported to a warm kitchen in wintry Russia, windows steamed with the heat of cooking, a flowered cloth on a simple table, chairs drawn close together against the dark, and candles flickering around the room.
This is the power of food - to take us places we can't otherwise go, and to connect us to people in ways that transcend ordinary conversation.
Thank you, Anya and Yelena, for sharing this delicious feast from your hearts with me.
A feast for my eyes and stomach as well as my heart.