C'mon, how can Balkan food possibly be vegetarian and have that Balkan awesomeness at the same time? Let's go there.
For this event we are going to venture into a bit of myth busting. Balkan cuisine has its own umami secrets, its own enchantment with color and textures, and its own dogged dedication to fresh and nutritious ingredients. First, we will venture through Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia in one sampling swoop. Three distinct flavors that feed the Balkan Soul (definition: Balkan Soul is a soul that uses daily moments of happiness to weave the sadness of ultimate disappearance ... which is, when you think about it, a pretty accurate picture of the human experience).
I digress. The big pot item will be my wife Vesna's favorite dish of all time. Since she is not an eager meat eater, we will construct a unique vegetarian experience out of this traditionally rich meat dish. I am not making this up; I ate and prepared it dozens of times back home. I promise you, if you are a meat eater, you will leave this dinner thinking, "Why?" But before you go on with your week, we will cap the dinner with Slovenian Crepes that feel like Forest Fruits being intimate with Dulce de Leche.
INVITATION TO THE BIG RED POT SERIES
"This is a slow food establishment," my dad would declare while standing at the kitchen door. I was ten and it was the end of a hard working day on building a house. Once the guests’ sense of expectancy peaked, he brought a large heavy dark blue pot out of the kitchen. I was following him like in a procession. He would deftly lay this result of his long labor of love on the middle of the table where masons, woodworkers, electricians, and family helping hands gathered. It was time for a respite from the day’s work and the time for community.
Shared pot matters to every human being. I want to recreate here the mid-week evening dinner table experience, familiar to homes around the world. At the table gathered around a big pot we are reminded of dignity of all work, of home, of shared origin and same destiny.
In today’s climate of segregation of preferences, opinions, and information, the common pot pushes against the sovereignty of individual tastes and restores our trust in life itself, in something larger than ourselves, by first trusting the cook’s mysterious cookery and then everyone else around the table, including a stranger (Across cultures historically, one cannot sit at a dinner table without putting aside their weapons).
Each tribal, regional, or national cuisine has its own familiar flavor profile that is best embodied in a large pot. These dishes exemplify the dynamic slow process of forming a cuisine’s deepest and purest layers of flavor. These recipes have been tested and developed over hundreds of years.
So, come, and observe what happens to your head, heart, and hara (stomach) as you take a break to celebrate life in the middle of a working week.
There will be no unnecessary appetizers, deserts, and other such distractions. I would like to make them for you, really badly, but I will resist, and be taken by dedication to this one pot.
These dishes take days to prepare and everything one needs is in them. They slow down time and provide contentment with what is. You are enough. We are enough. This pot is enough. Being alive is pure grace, and there is simply nothing else one hast to bring the table except one's presence.
Organic main ingredients. Low-priced. Protein rich. 1h 30min events. Samir's profile page: www.eatwith.com/@SamirSelmanovic/
UPCOMING IN BIG RED POT SERIES (FEEL FREE TO REQUEST YOUR OWN DATE, CHOOSING ONE OF THE MAIN DISHES BELOW OR SUGGESTING YOUR OWN - MAYBE WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!):
Pintada au Vin (France) Coq au Vin (Rooster in Wine) is an epic French dish, a part of national heritage, that will catapult you into the collective subconscious of hundreds of years of rustic farm eating in the Burgundy region. We will drop the Coq though, and use Pintada (a.k.a. Guinea Fowl) which is better. It's a wild West African bird that I can best describe as “what chicken was 100 years ago," and great chefs call “the ultimate bird.” Got it in a West African halal butcher store in my West African neighborhood sprawling with French restaurants. The meat is organic and awesome, one of those great city finds. Sidekicks: A relaxing farm cheese dish and two French red wines.
Summer Sarma (Bosnia) Ground poultry with rice and spices rolled in savoy cabbage, then slowly cooked in the broth made of white wine, garlic, and smoked poultry. All toped with European style yogurt and paprika/ghee fusion. With fresh multigrain bread. This Bosnian umami festival of a dish will drain out your worries, dispel your doubts about the hospitality of your own life, and vanquish your need to prove anything to anyone. Renewal. I’ve never tried cocaine (I think), but this, I imagine, provides a brief moment of its culinary equivalent.
Summer Seafood Stew (Harlem, New York)
Beef Short Ribs in Dashi (Japan)
Bean and Mushroom Dutch Oven - Vegetarian (Future hit on planet Mars)
Lamb Neck - Bosnian Soul Food (Bosnia)
Bob Marley Oxtail Stew (Jamaica)
Osso Bucco in Hearty Wine (Italy)
Sauerkraut and Sausage Yoga (Germany)
Bisera’s Stuffed Peppers (Croatia)
Stuffed Peppers for Vesna – Vegetarian (Balkan Nouveau)
It's sunshine on bread. Imported from a small business in a village close to where I served in the army.
Aged in wooden barrels. Its' what cheese always wanted to be.
CROATIAN MUSHROOM SPREAD
Porcini rules the mushroom kingdom.
All three spreads served with the best gluten-free bread in NYC. I don't mind gluten, I get this bread because it is an event in itself.
BIG RED POT SERIES - BALKAN NOUVEAU
Bosnian Baked Stuffed Peppers for Vesna
This is one of those dishes where it is not all about the broth, or all about the texture, or all about one ingredient. It all has to work together. A twelve-ingredient dance party.
Everyone in the Balkans eats these, but my mom was Slovenian and she would make them otherworldly. Toasty batter, red and black berries, and walnuts. Balkan nirvana.