It's Valentine's Day today.
I've never really bought into the whole overpriced-roses-on-one-token-day-of-the-year concept, but that doesn't mean I don't believe in romance. Because as much as men think that women are swayed by expensive jewellery, five-star dining and miniature carry bags in Tiffany blue, the best way to worm your way into any girl's heart is time and effort. Trust me on this one, boys.
This is why chicks dig poetry. And picnics. And hesitant guitar strumming with awkward self-composed stammering heartfelt lyrics. "He wrote you a song? Oh my god, that is soooooooooo ro-MAN-tic!" The more effort involved, the more time they were thinking about you, and that is totally awwwwwwww.........
Of course romance isn't a one-way street either. Men love it too. Ideally it's remembered every day, not just on one trite day of the year. Sometimes it's there and you don't even know it.
When our travelling dinner party crew - hereby christened Stomach's Eleven - moved on to its next rotation, we were excited about a night of home-cooked Polish food. Mr Potato Head is Polish and we were in for a treat. We feasted on bigos, or hunters stew, one of Poland's national dishes as well as crumbed eggplant, crumbed mushrooms and homemade barszcz beetroot soup washed down with Polish vodka.
Here's the catch. It was all made by Miss Rice. Miss Rice is nice. She's also from Shanghai. And she cooks great Polish food because she's learnt from Mr Potato Head's mother. Dishes she's honed and perfected over the years.
Now that's what I call romance.
And this is what I call a great meal...
Wisniowa cherry Polish vodka
Cheerful gerberas on the dining room table
Homemade barszcz beetroot soup
Barszcz beetroot soup is traditionally served as a plain broth with the vegetables discarded, but the chunky wedges of simmered beetroot and carrot seemed too good to waste. Made by boiling beetroot and carrots with fresh chicken stock, it's sweet and slightly piquant from the addition of vinegar, and garnished with freshly chopped parsley.
Coffee table centrepiece of candles
and flourishes of Dutch carrot and beetroot
- very Iron Chef!
Kotlet Schabowy chicken schnitzel
Crumbed eggplants and mushrooms
The crumbed eggplant was one of my highlights, and not just because I lent a hand with these in the kitchen. The process of schnitzel is the same for all - simply dip in an egg wash and then coat generously with a mixture that is 3/4 breadcrumbs and 1/4 plain flour. Fry in a moderate amount of oil until golden. The eggplants should be salted on both sides for at least 15 minutes to reduce the bitterness [thanks for Miss Rice for the corrections!].
Beans with schnitzel crumbs
The beans were served with the crispy crumbed remnants left in the frying pan after cooking the schnitzel and crumbed vegetables. Apparently this is a traditional dish, undoubtedly created as a means of minimising wastage and maximising deliciousness. Genius, I say!
Bigos hunter's stew
Bigos is perhaps the national dish of Poland, a hearty stew of smoked pork, onions, tomato, mushrooms and plenty of sauerkraut.
The potatoes looked simple but were amazingly good. Boiled potatoes were heated through with a little bit of butter and cream and then topped with a generous sprinkle of chopped marjoram. The potatoes were sweet and waxy, smooth and creamy goodness in every mouthful.
My dinner plate from the help-yourself buffet
The talented Pig Flyin' couldn't turn up with some hand in the cooking. His contribution was a crema catalana , the Spanish version of creme caramel. Rich and eggy, there was a conversational lull as everyone tended to their precious portion. The custard was as soft as satin, baptised in a thick sauce of molten caramel that had everyone licking their plate clean. Literally.
It didn't take long for us to realise that the crema catalana dish still had a thin layer of toffee, held prisoner by solidification. It took seven minutes of determined prising and bashing before the toffee hostage was released. We relived our childhoods with glee in a sweet tooth-sticking moment of bliss.
Sour cherries with premium vanilla ice cream
We ended the night with a Polish finale of sour cherries (truly tart, in an uncontrollable twitching kind of way) on top of smooth and creamy premium vanilla ice cream.
True romance never looked so good.
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Polish - Na Zdrowie, Glebe
Polish - Restaurant Nadwislanska at Ashfield Polish Club
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2009 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L)
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2/14/2009 01:07:00 am