This week the guys from The Table Set make the questionable transition from Cabbage Patch Kids to the Russian phrase Na Zdorovie? Which may not make much sense to you until you’ve watched the video and listened to the episode. But you can do it.
The Cabbage Patch Kids were an audio gift from the Little Gay Record Player who makes his appearance at the beginning of this episode. The musical interlude may seem like an odd way to ignite a The Table Set conversation on dining. It has something to do with Greg’s high school girlfriend, yet more to do with Andy and Nathan’s association of cabbage with Russian food.
Maybe it’s just the timing. Between the Sochi Olympics and the Valentine season a feeling of love is developing around the table. Russian love. So despite the politics of the games this year, and the obvious implications from the (almost) similarly named James Bond flick the guys send this episode out To Russia with Love.
Besides, Andy’s wanted to explore the idea of Russian food for some time now. Greg is less sure. What exactly defines Russian food, he wonders? After all Russia is a big place. A place Nathan’s been to. A place he’d fit in perfectly. Or so he thought… He’s even had a lovely Russian themed party of his own. As you can see from the photos, it was BYOU (bring your own ushanka hat).
Despite Nathan’ party (and first hand knowledge) Greg still can’t quite describe exactly what Russian food may be. So a trip is planned to a local Russian restaurant in West Hollywood called Traktir. There (amid the still clinging to the walls Post-Holiday Christmas decorations and a never ending televised Russian variety show) the guys enjoyed plates of sliced lamb, slippery dumplings and a beef-brothed soup flavored with pickled vegetables. A plan was hatched as well.
Taking inspiration from the meal they enjoyed at Traktir– a menu was soon hashed out. Guests (who were either born or at least conceived in Russia) were invited. The guys figured they ought to have somebody around the table who knew what they were eating.
Of course that doesn’t mean Russian culinary traditions were followed in the strictest sense. Though Nathan made Pelmeni dumplings (a Russian standard). He served them on Chinese soup spoons (a Russian neighbor?). His were stuffed with with pork, shallot and dill then topped with tarragon vinegar and a spicy patch of pickled cabbage. They were an amusing way to send some love Russia’s way.
Andy would tackle the soup. Like Traktir his had a beef broth– a broth that took 12 hours to make. Pickled veggies were thrown in and a tallow and marrow spread was made for the good Russian black bread.
Greg made lamb on the grill and served it with buttery dilled potatoes and a sweet “ketchup” designed to go with just about anything on the table.
Not every dish was inspired by Traktir. The guys rounded the menu out with plenty of other Russian crowd pleasers. Including Nathan’s Tarragon Soda (Tarkhun) a recipe you simply must try for yourself.