Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Snow!

This is the side view of the church in Szöreg.
It's been snowing nearly non-stop today. As I was leaving school in Szöreg I decided to snap a few shots because I was so excited to finally see so much snow this past week.

This is a tree.

This is the church next to the school.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Freak Snow Storm on Friday the Thirteenth


Today's was a morning like any other...that was until I was hurriedly opening my door and I was greeted by a full carpet of white and thick snow fall. There was already a couple of inches at 7am and now it's noon and the snow still hasn't stopped though it has slowed down a lot and everything will most likely melt before the end of the day.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mangalica Festival!

Oh, where to begin? How about the samples? Hmm, lets start with the pig.

This fellow is a Red Mangalica. Notice that I'm using the Hungarian spelling which is pronounced Mangalitza, which is a common Austrian spelling. These two countries have been a safe haven for the breed as they are popular and have thrived for nearly a century and a half whilst this wonderful pig fell out of favor and became extinct in other countries. This is a huge bonus to both Hungary and Austria right now as farmers who are eager to jump on the porcine train of popular pork want to begin raising them. So naturally they have to go to the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to pick out their breeding stock.

Speaking of stock here are all three varieties of the Mangalica: Blond, Red, and Swallow Bellied. Notice that these happy pigs all have their tails intact. There are many reasons why industrial farmers remove the pig's tails. All of these reasons begin with farming and social conditions that the pigs live in that result in tail biting. But if the pigs are happy, interested, and allowed to spend their curiosity on exploration, and they are mixed well this is not a problem that necessitates the docking of their tails.

Please check out the following blog: Wooly Pigs. I've been following him for a while, but had forgotten about his farm after his pack was doing well. Heath Putnam imported his own pack of Mangalica's to Washington from Austria (I believe) and began selling meat to The French Laundry, among other venues, and has now expanded his sales to retail available in farmer's markets and cities like Seattle and New York. If you are close to these sources, please, check it out.

This is some of the Mangalica kolbász I bought. Notice the dark colors and fat. Mangalica are known for their delicious fat and juicy meat. This kolbász was smoked and has paprika in it. Smoke and paprika just go together so well! The overall flavor is sweet and smoky and the texture is really soft.

Various cuts of Mangalica including prosciutto.

The szalonna, bacon (raw in this case), I tried melted in my mouth like a good chocolate does. I also tried other types of kolbász, but it wasn't the only food I ate...

This is a pan of stuffed cabbage, Mangalica stuffed cabbage to be exact. These pans are similar to giant paella pans and hold a lot of food.

Here's a close up...

These are a few of the friendly Hungarians who produce some of the best porcine products in the world.

I'd like to leave you with an image of the animal that makes all of this possible...

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Monday, February 9, 2009

New Knives and Homemade Jerky

I'd like to start this post with a big thank you to my family: Nick who made smoked beef jerky, Sam who included a most indispensable candy dispenser, and my Mom who mailed it all. I just got it today at school and was most happy to see it!

On with the post. Spar, a supermarket chain store has been running a promotional for a while where for every 1,000 HUF spend you collect a sticker. Over time, these stickers add up and are saved for discounts off of the Henckels knives they are selling. When this happened during the fall I figure it was high time to have some decent knives. My best knife in Europe, until today that is, was a cheap Tesco paring knife with which I've done everything from prep for stir-fries and soups to cutting bread. These are no small tasks for such a blade: have you seen the 1 kg loaves of bread here?

The sticker dispensing part of the promotional is ending this next Sunday and I've been noticing that the knife stock has been running out at my friendly neighborhood Spar's so I added up my points last night and realised I didn't have enough points for 50% percent off of the chef's knife, but I did have enough to get 25% off of a chef's knife, a paring knife and a steel. So today, after lessons, I went to 3 different Spar's to find my two new blades. The first one at Csillag tér didn't have either. I went to the next Spar a couple of stops closer to my flat and they only had the paring knife, so I bought it. Then I went to the tiny little Spar next to Mars tér and they had the chef's knife! Mission accomplished!

New Henckels knives

New knives put to task on some homemade jerky

Please note the hand-crushed arbol chiles on the jerky

So I'm guessing Nick made a marinade of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar before smoking the beef strips in his Little Chief. Good job Nick! I love the extra hot the best, it's not too hot for me. It's about 85% hot, but 100% delicious!

And just in case you were wondering: this is the indispensable candy dispenser. It's a Wii controller. Cheers!

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