By Darra Goldstein, "Sochi: An Olympic Flavor Medley,"January/February 2014
The 2014 Winter Olympics might be why you’re hearing about Sochi, Russia, for the first time, but there’s more to this Black Sea resort city than sports. Sochi may just be one of the best-kept culinary destination secrets around. Thanks to its geography, it has been a trade crossroads for millennia, settled by ancient Greeks, Circassians and successions of diverse ethnic groups. Most groups were largely displaced when Russians conquered the region in 1864. But Russian cuisine never dominated Sochi as completely as it did other areas of the country. Instead, today you’ll find Russian flavors along with traditions from its neighbors. Circassian chicken, for example: poached breasts layered with ground walnuts, hazelnuts and cream. Or chestnuts served Abkhazian style: mixed with ground walnuts and salt and garnished with pomegranate seeds and walnut oil.
Sochi’s mild climate allows citrus, grapes and tomatoes to thrive. Cold mountain rivers and streams provide excellent trout, while Black Sea fishermen bring flounder and salmon. Favorite snacks along the city’s waterfront promenade include dried fish washed down with beer or kvass, a lightly alcoholic drink—fermented from black bread—that was introduced by the Russians.
Recipe to Try: Sochi Salsa