There's no shortage of little bites, known as zakuski, at Russian parties. The idea is to awaken your palate, to make you hungry for the meal to come. One of my favorites is this intensely garlicky beet salad. The original concept is rather simple: grated beets, lots of garlic, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. I'm sure there are variations on a theme, but you get the idea. The garlic is potent, but not abrasive, and I mellowed it out a bit by adding some lemon juice and zest, dates, and chopped walnuts. I also blended sour cream with mayonnaise for a more luxurious feel.
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