Piquant Liver

One of the things I looked forward to most during my European Peace Walk through Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy was exploring local cuisine, delighting at the newly discovered variety and novelty. The obverse of course is also, unfortunately, true. Ill-prepared, bland tourist fodder or the ubiquitous pizza or kebab,IMG_0866 usually on offer in the same low-grade style cafe – sometimes the only thing available in villages along the route of my walk – so I congratulated myself when, after a fairly gruelling walk of 30k plus, I arrived in Postojna in south-western Slovenia and looked forward to a good meal.

A lusty male choir in the chilly town square made sitting on the outdoor terrace of Hotel Kras unattractive and there were no seats in the bustling, brightly lit restaurant inside, but the waitress recommended another restaurant a few hundred metres away but, when I arrived, it was another pizza restaurant and it was closed.

Hunger began to make the prospect of a kebab seem feasible especially as a light rain started. A policeman mentioned a restaurant in the “red house” on the far side of the square but that too seemed to be closed as there were no lights on. Despairing, I walked around to the car park at the back and there was a lighted staircase leading to a basement restaurant, bright, warm and cheery inside.

There was an English menu and the chef’s specialty was braised liver in red wine. No hesitation here, a bottle of red wine – the waiter’s recommendation – and a starter of stuffed wild mushrooms in a nutty sauce and a delicious, rich dish of tender liver slivers, still pink inside.

I have distinct – and delicious – childhood memories of liver with creamed spuds and baked beans but since then I seem to have skipped over offal themed meals, although there was that fantastic liver, bacon and onion dish in the Serasa Yacht Club but that was in another lifetime and a different century! Anyway, inspired by my Slovenian meal, here is my take on liver, for what it is worth.

Ingredients

200 g lamb liver                            1 onion, cut in ringsIMG_0984

3/4 tsp whole black pepper

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp flour

10g butter

1 tsp oil

good splash of medium dry sherry

splash of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tblsp lemon juice

salt

Method

1.Crush the peppercorns and mix with the flour and mustard powder.IMG_0990

2. Heat oil and fry the onion rings for about 10 minutes until brown at the edges. Remove from heat.IMG_0991

Some recommend steeping the liver in milk before flash frying.  I tried both steeping and non-steeping with no appreciable difference.

3. Quickly fry the liver, sliced finger thick. When spots of blood begins to appear, flip them over. IMG_0993They should still be slightly pink inside.

4. Add to the onion.

5. Stir the flour, pepper, and mustard into pan. Soak up all the juices and then add sherry, followed by the Worcestershire and the lemon juice. Thin with more sherry, if necessary.

6. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over liver and onion. Serve with creamed spuds.

Sadly, plating a dish was never my forté but trust me, it tastes better than my photos look!IMG_1002

 

Footloose & Fancy Free or Footsore & Weary

Started this European Peace Walk — this is me on the first day – on Tuesday July 04, from Sopron in Hungary and ending in Trieste in Italy, passing through Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and finally Italy. In Croatia now and about half way there but the blisters are mounting. So far, great food, interesting people and cheap beer. On the down side, I am sick of trudging through muddy, ploughed up corn and wheat fields and getting lost in dark forests where I am a main course for voracious insects and fair game for stinging nettles!

In Krapina, Croatia, letting the blisters heal. Seems like a fantastic little kip – loads of bars and cafes and there is even a museaum devoted to Neantherthal Man!

European Peace Walk

fullsizeoutput_151eI recently received the European Peace Walk (EPW) guidebook for 2017. I know I mentioned ages ago that I was going to do this Walk – a 500+K walking trail through six European countries – Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Italy – over three weeks. It seems a bit daunting, given the current state of my overall fitness. Some days involve 30K hike between sleepovers and the most I’ve done so far is about 16k or so. Anyway, I don’t begin until mid summer – July 04, – so I still have a few months to get up to speed.screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-8-59-50-pm

I’m really looking forward to this – it is going to be both an adventure and a bit of a learning curve – grappling with languages I don’t know – I only have a smattering of German and Italian, spoken, respectively, at the start and end of the journey, and no idea of the cultures, history, topography, everything.

Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia didn’t exist as separate entities when I was in school and when the Balkans began its tragic breakup after the death of Marshall Tito, I was no longer living in Europe and the events passed me by, for the most part. Since its debut in 2014, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the EPW now passes through Slavic, Teutonic & Romantic cultures, a route only made possible by the geo-political collapse of the region’s former Democratic, Communist and Socialist political allegiances. As recently as 1989, the EPW would not have been feasible, as Europe was still divided into the above contrasting ideologies and its borders and peoples were firmly closed. Now, it is possible to have breakfast in Hungary, lunch in Slovenia and sleep that night in Croatia! So an exciting learning curve there, getting to grips with the tangled histories of the region – I think Bismarck once referred to the Balkans as “the sick man of Europe” – and that, along with the dourness I associated with the former Iron Curtain countries may have contributed to my former lack of interest in the area. But now? Rolling countryside, originally populated by Celts before they (were?) moved on in their endless migrations and then there is the wine and food of the different regions. Can’t wait!

It’s kind of exciting to know that I will have to be totally alone, solely responsible for my own safety and enjoyment in exciting and new environments. I think the whole journey will be a mixture of ‘down-time” and reflection – perhaps not as spiritually reflective as on the Camino, – as well as a physical challenge (in between wines, beers and exciting food) as well as meeting and communicating with locals along the way as well as the 9 other walkers who begin on the same day I do. I suppose both the EPW and the Camino bring people together to share common experiences as well as to learn about each other’s differences and I think this might well embody the ‘Peace’ aspect of the EPW.

Anyway, I have already started planning and preparing,and that’s half the fun, isn’t it?. I bought a new 30 litre capacity backpack, a good pair of walking shoes – not boots – shirts and jackets and pants made of modern textiles which “wick” the sweat away from the skin while at the same time keeping me warm in cold weather and cool in hot. We’ll see. I want to travel really light, total weight, including my bag, should be no more than 10Kg. I’ll have to start carrying the bag when I walk soon. So, that is my current curve – start walking more in this Perth summer heat and build up to at least 20 – 25 k a day so that when July rolls around I will be in some type of fit condition to actually enjoy the walk and the surroundings. Wish me luck!

http://www.facebook.com/european.peacewalk

http://www.peacewalk.eu