Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Goose Season. Warm Salad with Smoked Goose Breast, Chanterelles and Pumpkin.

Summer in Poland is gone. We are close to November which means that the peak of the goose season approaches. As you might remember it, last year I wrote a bit about the excellent Polish oat goose. I also mentioned the action promoting the Polish oat goose – "Gęsina na św. Marcina" – (goose tastes best on St. Martin’s fest”). This year, the event will last for more than two weeks: from 8th November to 1st December 2013. Selected restaurants, including top ones, have goose specialties on their menu. If you are in Poland at that time, I strongly recommend to visit one of the restaurants listed HERE.

Goose meat is also promoted by the authorities of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region. The region and a local touristic organization have created the "Goose Culinary Route" (Gęsinowy Szlak Kulinarny) which is financed, inter alia, by the Polish Ministry of Sports and Tourism. The region specializes in goose breading, and goose meat produced in this area is of a very good quality. You may then taste the classic baked goose, but also the famous "półgęsek" (an ancient specialty made from boneless goose breast with the skin on, cured and slowly smoked) or "okrasa" (a kind of spread which you can use as a topping for tartines). The official opening of the Goose Culinary Route is planned for the 7th of November 2013:

Below is a list of restaurants which are recommended by a special committee and, as a result, are listed on this culinary route:
  1. Restaurant "Weranda", Hotel Bohema, Bydgoszcz
  2. Restaurant "1921", Hotel Pod Orłem, Bydgoszcz
  3. Restaurant "Za piecem", Bydgoszcz
  4. "Regionalna Warzelnia Piwa", Bydgoszcz
  5. Hotelu Filmar Restaurant, Toruń
  6. Hotel 1231 Restaurant, Toruń
  7. Hotel Heban Restaurant, Toruń
  8. Jan Olbracht Browar Staromiejski, Toruń
  9. Sfera by Sebastian Krauzowicz Restaurant, Hotelu Copernicus, Toruń
  10. Ostromecka Restaurant, Ostromecko
  11. Gęsia Dolina Restaurant, Ślesin
  12. Karczma Rzym, Pawłówek
  13. Karczma Borowiacka, Bysław
  14. Vistula Hotel Restaurant, Świecie
  15. Karczma Chełmińska, Chełmno
  16. Hotel Młyn&SPA Restaurant, Włocławek
  17. Pałac Bursztynowy Restaurant, Włocławek

I still have one "półgęsek" in my fridge which I bought in Gruczno as it is practically impossible to buy it in any shop in Kraków (the distribution of local products in Poland is really bad and this is due to various reasons). Some restaurants here serve it occasionally. If I had my own house with a garden and a smokehouse, I would make this "półgęsek" on my own – the recipe itself is not complicated. I also brought from Gruczno an excellent buckwheat honey made by Mr. Wnuk from Lniano. His buckwheat honey won the first place at the Festival (it was also served during our Parisian event by chef Baron. It goes very well with sautéed pumpkin.

Warm Salad with Smoked Goose Breast, Chanterelles, Pumpkin and Spinach
(sałata na ciepło z półgęskiem, kurkami, dynią i szpinakiem)

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
200 g chanterelles
100 g smoked goose breast (półgęsek), thinly sliced (may be replaced with magret de canard)
1 small bunch fresh spinach leaves
200 g pumpkin, cut into thin slices
Buckwheat honey of good quality
1 table spoon, lemon juice
50 g fresh goat cheese
1 garlic clove, thinly chopped
Olive oil or cold pressed colza oil
Arugula flowers (optional)
Fresh thyme

Prepare the mushrooms: Using a brush, delicately clean mushrooms from leftovers of the forest. Scratch the stems to remove soil. Rinse the mushrooms delicately under cold water. In a saucepan, slowly melt butter over minimum heat (do not stir). Remove from heat and skim the foam off the surface. Spoon the butter into a bowl. Discard the milky sediment. In a hot large frying pan, heat butter, add mushrooms (they should not be crowded, so they can grill evenly) and fry them on each side for a couple of minutes, until nicely grilled (depending on the thickness) and until they release their juices and absorb them back in (when frying over high heat, they should not release a lot of juice). Add garlic, fry for about one more minute. Salt and pepper.
Prepare the spinach: clean and wash your spinach, spin it. In a hot large frying pan, heat butter with a bit of olive oil, add spinach and fry it until soft. Salt at the end. At the same time, in another frying pan, melt some butter, add pumpkin slices, fry for a couple of minutes, then add honey with lemon. Reduce the heat and let the pumpkin simmer until nicely grilled and caramelized.

Prepare your salad: roll tiny cheese balls from your goat cheese. Heat the mushrooms. Put the caramelized pumpkin onto your plates. Put the spinach, chanterelles, cheese balls and the goose meat on top. Top generously with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, as well as some olive oil or colza oil if you want.

Bon appétit !

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Polish Institute and Fête de la Gastronomie in Paris. 20-21 September 2013

A couple of months ago the Polish Institute in Paris asked me to co-organize an event promoting Polish cuisine. In September, "La Fête de la Gastronomie" is an important culinary event organized in France which is supported by the French Ministry of the Arts and Crafts, of the Trade and of Tourism (Ministère de l'Artisanat, du Commerce et du Tourisme). Basically, La Fête de la Gastronomie" is designated to the promotion of the French cuisine, but this year national cuisines of other countries were welcomed to present their culinary heritages. We did not have much time; the decision to participate in the event was taken in June, right before the holiday season, while the whole thing was planned for the month of September. We really had very little time!

As I mentioned it many times in this blog, Polish cuisine experiences great times (although you do not notice that so often in most restaurants). After years of fall during the communism, we witness the birth of a new Polish culinary art. Talented and non conformist chefs bravely use ancient traditions of the regions, the richness of nature, the extraordinary history and the unique, traditional techniques of food preparation as well as food products from the best local producers. That is why the Polish Institute invited Aleksander Baron, a talented chef of the young generation, to be in charge of setting up a menu, choosing the products, which arrived straight from some of the best producers in Poland and preparing the meals in Paris.

On Friday, 20th September, some selected guests were invited to the beautiful palace of the Polish Embassy in Paris. The honorable patronage over lunch was performed by Mrs. Urszula Orłowska, the wife of the Polish Ambassador in Paris.

This Friday lunch started with a famous chilled soup (chłodnik) made with Polish Red cattle broth and Polish noble crayfish. Then Białowieża Woodland bison - tenderloin was served with milk cap mushrooms and wild carrots as well as with Jerusalem artichokes baked in phacelia honey and wild Polish thyme. Between the courses the chef served "amuse-bouches", such as for example Vistula trout, pickled river lamprey and smoked goose breast. Dessert was simple but unique, as the chef had elected honeydew honey honeycomb, Polish sour cream and farmers' tvarog from Smykań, all of them brought over from Poland of course. Unfortunately, the artisanal butter which was part of the shipment did not survive the transportation by plane. Thus, the chef was not able to serve what he had anticipated: ice cream from butter from Smykań, Vistula sour cherry in single distilled young potato vodka (Młody Ziemniak 2012). The lunch was accompanied by an assortment of the best, local Polish liqueurs (nalewki) and vodkas, all chosen by the chef.

To make a step into in the culinary future, one has to know the past. That is why the second event, which took place on Saturday evening in one small Parisian restaurant (specializing in Hungarian food) called Beashka, was dedicated to Polish influences in the 19th century French cuisine. The dinner was animated by the renowned food and culture historian professor Jaroslaw Dumanowski, while chef Baron adapted ancient recipes to our more modern culinary language. Our guests could taste revised versions of meals based on ancient recipes from old French cook books like, for example, Vincent La Chapelle "Le cuisinier moderne" (The Hague, 1742) and Urbain Dubois "La cuisine classique" (Paris, 1856). Hardly anybody knows that a couple of hundred years ago, Polish cookery had been appreciated and described by old masters of French cuisine, who had been using Polish inspirations in their cooking.

The dinner started with Polish noble crayfish cooked with dill weed and lemon butter roux. The guests then were served two risky dishes: beets and carps. An excellent Polish borscht was prepared with pickled beetroots and smoked goose breast (półgęsek). Boneless carp from the Land of 1,000 lakes (Mazury) was served with an old fashioned grey sauce with gingerbread (from the pastry shop of Franciszek Pokojski in Toruń) and a parsley mousse. For desert, the chef served a selection of four ancient Polish species of apples (antonówka, grochówka, szczecinka, boskop) which were simply baked. Of course, everything was accompanied by Polish liqueurs (nalewki) and vodka, chosen by the chef.
Here's is the link to the booklet we prepared for the event.

The whole event was recorded by the National Digital Library of Poland and digitalized.

Let's hope that the Polish Institute will repeat the project in the future.

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