Accomodation, Alcohol, Cafés, Culture, Cycling, Czech Eats, Czech Republic, Czech Wine, History, Moravia, Pubs, Restaurants

Cycling Moravia

We’re going to Znojmo again next week for a week-long trip of riding around the border areas between the Czech Republic and Austria, and sampling wine (maybe even helping out on the farm, we’ll see). If anyone is interested in cycling guides and maps of the area I will be putting some together while I am there and posting them to my account at Everytrail, so any format suggestions for said guides (.epub etc.) would be appreciated.

We may not have been able to do Greece this time but at least we will get something published for others to use.

Accomodation, Beer, Bohemia, Cafés, Culture, Cycling, Food, Free Wi-Fi, History, Moravia, Pubs, Restaurants

Everytrail Guide

Just submitted my Guide to Everytrail for review. If accepted that means I’ll continue with more on cycling Czech Canada and then the wine-producing areas & border region around Znojmo in southern Moravia. If it doesn’t work out, then we need to start looking at others for ways to publish handy, portable travel info. for cyclists. Motion X doesn’t fit my idea of a neat, clean way to share my bike trips, it looks great for workouts and personal training but little else. Maybe I need to give it another try, dunno.

Update: Part 1 has been approved.

Eating Greener, Farming, Food, History

Another Day with Fatback and Patés

Dealing with pork fat yet again (see here).

Trying to combine about 4 recipes from both Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn’s book “Charcuterie” to make some Patés and Terrines. I’ve never cooked meat in this manner before (slow cooking in a container of water as opposed to baking) so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge but I’m always willing to try something new. Why am I doing this? I have the ingredients already and I want to make something that we can eat over the course of a week, and this should last just fine in the refrigerator for at least a week. These are some of the concerns you face when you have a family to feed.

Step one, hammer out some back fat to line the loaf pan/”terrine”. How exactly am I to get “thin slices” of this as I’ve been instructed?

Keep it in the fridge. That’s the first thing. But how to cut it? A sharp knife seems to be the best technique, and then pound out the pieces between wax paper, lining them up next to each other, sort of overlapping the sides and joining them together if necessary. They’re easier to cut when the fat is cold, but easier to pound when warmed to room temperature. But it’s back in the fridge to chill again until it’s ready to be used. Again, I’m winging it here. One book says to line your pans with thin slices of lard, another says to use plastic wrap. I go with fat back.

Still have a lot of grinding to do. Recommended fat to meat ratio is 30%. Ground meat is in the fridge, staying cold. Time to prep the pistachios, liver, the panade (in this case: flour, wine, 2 eggs & cream) and fat and mix carefully.

So now I can lay it all out in the pan. Some of the mixture first on the bottom of the “terrine”, then line up a small piece of pork tenderloin and continue with more of the ground mixture on top. In the end this should give us a nice pice of meat in the middle, gently scattered with bits of liver and pistachios which is a nice contrast not only in texture but also visually.

Since I’ve used fat as the pan lining, I thought it would ok to continue in this vein…

Now cook, partly submerged in warm water. Once again the cooking times and temperatures varied between books so I guessed my way through it. I think it was about an hour (maybe a bit more) at 300F/150C. Then this comes out:

I’d already cut a piece of wood I found in the closet and wrapped it in plastic and foil. You can just see it in back. I’ll place it on top and weight it down and let it sit in the fridge until tomorrow. This will hopefully get rid of any air pockets that might be lurking in the meat.

And whammo, one day later:

What it lacks in appearance (definitely homemade and you can see that it’s not perfectly squared off around the edges due to some of the slices of fat pressing in from the side) it more than makes up for in taste and texture, though I think that next time I will leave out the livers, it was overkill. Now if only it were easier to find real Dijon mustard in Prague.

Fin!

Though the fat has come from a local butcher, all of the meat that will go into it will be from a sustainable, bio/eco etc “grass-farmer” just outside of Prague called Bohemiae Rosa. Good guy, great tours and wonderful food.

Accomodation, Cycling, Czech Hotels, Czech Republic, Farming, Food, History, iPhone, Pubs, Restaurants

Česka Kanada/Czech Canada, Preface

I will be updating this post repeatedly with more information and pictures over the next few…time periods time allows, how ’bout that?

There is an area surrounding the southern Czech border with Austria known as “Czech Canada“. The borders among Bohemia, Moravia and Austria are all located here. There is in fact a town called “Trojmezi”, which is where all three of these regions meet.

We are here this year to cycle around and see as much as we can in the the area, but it has become apparent that we will will have to come back again. And again. And perhaps even a few more times after that.

It is a wonderful place for biking (some official examples around Nova Bystrice), both road and mountain. So perfect in fact that it is hardly a secret to anyone with two wheels. There are cyclists everywhere. Not so many that you will be annoyed, as in Prague, but it can sometimes be hard to find yourself alone.

Some things of note so far:

  • The combination, the abundance of lakes and forest is fantastic.
  • Almost all of the forest areas are completely protected and unspoiled.
  • Most of the roads are relatively small and there are few tourists at this point.
  • The area has some great “Bike Routes of Interest”, one of which seemed to follow us down to the Austrian town of Reingers, the bike “Path of the 20th Century” (.pdf), which discusses and catalogues the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia and their subsequent assemblage in Austria, specifically Reingers.
  • The wasteland known as the town of Majdalena should be avoided at all costs.
  • The recent rains have brought mushrooms galore to the surrounding forests, and I’m not certain what it was down there: the amount of rain, the number of mushrooms growing, the clairity and sharpness of the air; but you could actually smell, from your bicycle, the thick, palpable aroma of mushrooms wafting out of the forests as though riding through a dense cloud of shroom, (and no, we only picked the Boletus) 😉