Thursday, August 20, 2009
Sovereign State #2: Albania
Mish Qenji i Pjekur në Skarë (Grilled Lamb Rib Chops)
Fërgesë e Tiranë me Peppers (Roasted Peppers with Tomatoes and Albanian Feta)
Pure Patatesh (Mashed Potatoes with Lemon & Dill)
Tarator (Yogurt Sauce with Cucumbers and Walnuts)
Sallatë Shqiptar (Albanian Arugula Salad with Garlic & Lemon Dressing)
Albania is a country that I never really gave any thought to before doing this project. Sure I had seen images of the flag with the awesome two headed bird and I remember thinking that one of my favorite martial arts films Gymkata (featuring gymnastics-fu awesomeness) used a fictional Albania-esque country as it's background. It's a small country that has it's back to the sea with Montenegro to the north, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the southeast. Albanian food definitely has a lot in common with Greece. Those familiar Mediterranean flavors, the sour, tart, lemony, goodness you come to think of when you think of that region. So when it came down to cooking this dinner, I felt a little more at home. I know these flavors.
For the grilled lamb I got some beautiful fresh lamb rib chops from Olsen Farms and I marinated them overnight in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. I grilled them for about 3-4 minutes each side until they were perfectly medium rare. Of course they were delicious. I knew they would be. For the roasted peppers dish, I used a mix of purple and green bells with one or two cherry peppers, fresh Roma tomatoes, and Albanian feta. A very good and simple dish. Mashed potatoes with dill and lemon = deliciousness. The arugula salad was refreshing and I really like the simplicity of the lemon, garlic vinaigrette. The Tarator or yogurt sauce was the dish that has made me a believer in Albanian food. It seems like the condiments are always the stars. Plain yogurt, diced cucumbers, lemon juice, dill, crushed toasted walnuts, salt. I will be putting it on everything for the next week or so. The meal turned out amazing. Two for two so far. We popped in some Albanian folk music (I liked the song where the kid sounds like he's choking and the other song with the cracked out banjo player) and ate our Albanian feast and I have to say, I'm really digging this exploring new cuisines gig. Thank you Albania for your tasty food. I shall be back.
For more info on this project, read this: 203 Sovereign States