Lunch was advertised as a ‘round the world’ supper club for father’s day, featuring dishes from all six countries playing their world-cup matches on the day. That included Brazil, Paraguay, Italy, Ivory Coast and New Zealand all of whom inspired a tropical slant to the menu…but then there was Slovakia!!
Now I’m not biased in my culinary slant; I will try dishes from everywhere and anywhere, but to be honest, Eastern European food doesn’t really do it for me. I’m not the biggest fan. The thought of picked everything, beetroot, sausage and cabbage, in the midst of a hot summer, was a total turn off. So with this in mind, but still wanting to represent the country on my menu, I thought I’d get out and do a wee bit of food research so that I could try and find a dish to slip in amongst the tropical fare.
We had a friend staying for the week who without much protest acted as a willing guinea pig in our testing of various dishes. We ate the world in a week…and once we’d done this we came up with a final shortlist of dishes which included the strange ‘Segedinsky gulas’ a combination of lean shoulder of pork and sauerkraut…..several people commented on how disgusting it sounded, but undaunted we gave it a go and it as totally delicious. Several people suggested it had been their favourite dish of the day.
I was less successful with my planned Cassava cake, a dish I was desperate to make as Cassava is such a ubiquitous vegetable in Paraguay, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. Having ingeniously located a source for Cassava (no mean feat in Bangor), I bought one with the intention of returning for more if my experiments were popular. I even asked the guy in the shop if they always had it in. He told me they did. So following the universal popularity of the cake I went back for more, it was only a few days later but to my disappointment they had run out, and there was no chance of any arriving before Sunday. Of course this being Bangor North Wales there was literally nowhere else to go (save driving 100 miles to Manchester). Sadly I had to concede defeat and the Cassava cake will just have to have its supper club debut another day.
On the plus side it allowed me to focus all my attention on the Pavlova which was, according to the teen, ‘immense’…and although it literally was immense (10 inches wide and about 4 inches high) what she meant in teen speak was that it was amazing, or really good. Sticking with the tropical theme it was topped with passion fruit, pineapple and banana.
The rest of the round the world menu went like this-
Brazilian Caipirinha’s (made with chopped and mashed limes, sugar, loads of ice and a bottle of Sagatiba Cachaca). Made in a bucket, which was well and truly emptied by the end of lunch.
Melon balls with lime and ginger and tiny pearls of local goats cheese mozzarella (very retro according to my friend Molly, but also delicious)
Soupe d’avocat abidjanaise (chilled avocado soup with lime and Tabasco). This is a traditional Ivorian dish. This was totally new and I hadn’t even tried it before I made it. It was a very scary leap of faith that paid off. One or two people commented that it was their favourite dish so the recipe will be added to the menu/recipe page.
Segedinsky Gulas with rice (from Slovakia)
Caponata (Italy) made with local tomatoes, Cyprus olives from a local importer, eggplant, and herbs all bought fresh from the farmers market on Saturday
Served with mixed leaf salad, purple scallions and baby tomatoes picked from the garden half an hour before everyone arrived.
For dessert we had our Fresh fruit Pavlova; a New Zealand invention (made with Italian meringue) to honour Anna Pavlova on her tour of the country. We finished off with coffee and Anzac biscuits another New Zealand speciality.
Strangely our attendees were not all there to celebrate father’s day (although most of them were fathers). We had a family with two small children, the smallest being 3 months old and too young to enjoy the food, although their 3 year old tucked in to most of the dishes with gusto (he didn’t like the melon with the yucky stuff on it), there was a couple on a first ‘date’…(I use this term loosely as they looked like they’d started the date early and muttered something about just having got up when they arrived) and the other half requested dinner with his two mates for father’s day (one of whom had been left ‘home alone’ by his girlfriend and the other was leaving to be reunited with his) …they sat at what we shall laughingly call the chefs table, i.e. in the kitchen away from the other guests so they could be silly and misbehave. It ended up with me swearing at them a lot and them heckling me…don’t think I will be indulging them with that again!!…On the plus side I turned them all into my ‘kitchen bitches’ as my usual helper Hilly is gallivanting off to Glastonbury for what appears to be 2 weeks!!!