Best Zakuski - 2006
European Foods Wholesale
Every Russian meal worth its Stolichnaya begins with zakuski, a bountiful array of savory appetizers that make the rest of the meal seem superfluous. The place to get 'em is European Foods, where fresh salmon caviar is sold by the tub and Cyrillic is the font of choice. Beet, herring, potato, cabbage, eggplant, and mushroom salads the mainstays of the zakuski table sell from a counter up front. One wall is lined with refrigerated cases of fresh and cured sausages from throughout Eastern Europe. There's smoked eel, mackerel, salmon, and sturgeon (tasty with sour cream and a loaf of that dense black bread) and a case filled with yogurt, butter, and cheeses from home (Hollandskiy, anyone?). Freshly made piroshki and all manner of flaky pastries are available as well, plus Crimean and Bulgarian wine, Baltic and Ukrainian beer, and Georgian mineral water to accompany all that noshing. Troika-brand chocolates and intriguing if unidentifiable jams and jellies are also on hand if you want to jump right from zakuski to dessert.