Secret Kitchen menu, 16th November 2013

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Istrian autumn

Quince & apple cocktails
Crostini and potato skins with
black olive tapenade and chive & chervil dip

Persimmons, pršut, radicchio & ricotta
with the Tikels' new season olive oil

Wild boar & Teran stew with potato njoki,
mushrooms and white truffle

Apple & quince strudel with cream


Tonight's dinner

Istria is the peninsula in the northwest of Croatia, near Slovenia and Italy.  Its cuisine is clearly related to Italy's, while also including old Habsburg and Yugoslav favourites.  We spend a lot of time there since we're attempting to renovate an old stone farmhouse which will one day be home, and a culinary tourism business of some sort...

This year for the first time we managed to get there in the autumn during white truffle season.  We ate our fill and brought home a pile for tonight's dinner.  White truffles are said to be superior to black.  I love them both.

Istria at this time of year is wonderful, and has inspired tonight's dinner.  We caught the end of the olive harvest and first of the new season olive oil - bright green and super peppery.  Between the olive trees we found bitter autumn salad leaves growing.  Fruit trees were laden with quinces, apples, pomegranates, medlars and bright orange persimmons.  (So we planted all of these in our garden and will now wait patiently for a few years for our first crops...)  And chilly evenings were warmed by plates of home-made pasta and njoki with game stews and truffle sauces.  So I have attempted to put these things together and recreate an Istrian autumn in London!

Thanks go to the marvellous Tikel family who provided their olive oil, teran wine and truffles.  The pršut and medenica (grappa flavoured with local honey) are also from Istria.  The persimmons, radicchio, watercress and apples are from Riverford, the boar is from my butcher Chris Godfrey, and the quinces from one of my generous cooking class guests!

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Culinary Anthropologist