Thursday, June 14, 2012

Travels with Sidd - Smoking

It would almost seem that our Sidd is fascinated with food more than anything else, something that Lara hadn't mentioned when she left him in my care. During our stop on the Danish island of Bornholm he decided that he'd hang around the local smoke houses and try a few of the delicacies.

In the village of Hasle, a quick bus ride from the main port town of Ronne, he found one of the few remaining herring smoke houses left on the island. There was a time when the coast was lined with these squat buildings distinguishable by the two chimneys of the smoke ovens, however the presence of large trawlers in the area has meant overfishing and a ban that has led to the decimation of the local fishing industry. Harbours that once teamed with small fishing boats are now filled with pleasure craft as holiday tourism takes over as the main industry on this green and pleasant outcropping in the Baltic.

 Sidd treated himself to a smoked herring - its skin golden and sprinkled with salt, some radish, a touch of mustard sauce, the ever present rye bread and a beer.  And then did a quick look around the smoke house just to check out how things were done. Though he did find that those little bones a bit of a bother and even the next day the smell of smoke clung to his clothes but none of that dulled his enjoyment of this very Baltic delicacy. Mind you when the tour guide suggested that in other times people subsisted on a three daily meals of smoked herring he was appreciative that those times were long passed. And he did have have the willpower to resist the urgings of a nice gentleman from the boat to bring back a length of smoked eel to enjoy (???) in his stateroom. Beside he knew that there was more smoked goodies to come at the next stop.

A leisurely ride through a magnificent forest - the brainchild of an enterprising forester in the late 1800s who realized that the climate and the soil would create a lushness where once there was only Ice Age scoured rock - brought Sidd to one of the success stories in the Danish culinary world: a small farm which produces some of the finest sausages and smoked meats in the Baltic. Its been a working farm since the 1800s and Urich the butcher has been smoking his signature sausages and meats there for the past 25 years and to the delight of mainlanders exporting them for the past 10.

Sidd contemplates the porcine and bovine goodies but his favourite was the sausage basted in Maple Syrup!  A real dyed in the wool Canuek is our Sidd.

Urich's bacon is served in some of the finer restaurants in the Baltic - if only I could have Cecilia believe me I would have!
Sidd (and the rest of us) sat down with Urich and sampled a wide range of smoked goodies - and we even got to taste his wife's homemade rhubarb chutney.
Though he has modern equipment for the more common - if anything he produces can be considered common - pub and breakfast sausages his artisan products are still smoked and cured in the old way. Hanging row upon row in deep cave like rooms they bath in the smoke of fine birch chips, often augmented by herbs and basting liquids, for as long as two weeks. The end result is a variety of sausages and meats with the subtle but deep taste of wood smoke - being a true patriot son Sidd's favourite was a semi-hard sausage that mixed the tang of the smoke with the sweetness of real Canadian maple syrup.

The town of Gudhjem stood in Ronne in Denmark's first Oscar winning movie Pele the Conqueror - the opening scenes were shot on the dock there.  Even back in 1987 the bigger port had become too commercial while the small port had retained much of its original charm.

Though there were not more tasty treats until the evening's Connoisseur Dinner Sidd did stop by a former grist mill in Gudhjem and took a rather strenuous walk through the really charming coastal village. By the time he got back to the ship he was ready for a nap and ended up sleeping right through a seven course meal with interesting wine pairings - who would have thought to serve scallops napped with veal jus reduction and crispy bacon then paired it with a Pinot Noir from California? Sometimes breaking out of the traditional can be an interesting, and rewarding thing.

14 June - 1872: Trade unions are legalised in Canada.

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1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sidd's a bad influence on you guys. Be careful you don't gain weight because of him and his gourmandizing ways!