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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Svinjski Vrat i Ajvar
On my way back from my job site, I took a different route today. I saw a business in Merrillville Indiana that specialized in imported food. The name of the place was called the Busy Bee. When I saw the offerings on the signs in the windows, I thought that I was stepping into a Greek grocery and delicatessen store. I was surprised to find that the Greek offerings were pretty much from the north part of Greece.
When I looked at the meats in the deli case, I saw many cuts of meats and sausages that were not Greek in origin. The languages on the deli meats were barely recognizable to me, but the words did look like eastern european languages of the Balkan region like Croatian and Bulgarian.
When I decided on what deli meats that I was interested in, I asked a few questions about the names of the sausages and meats. Every item that I had questions about, the deli clerk was more than helpful with explaining in detail what the item was. Some of the items in the deli case were mislabeled or not labeled at all. That became a problem when asking questions. There were a few deli clerks present and one of the items that I asked about happened to bring about several different answers. As it turned out, none of the answers were correct! The item looked good, so I bought it anyway.
The deli clerk also cut samples of the items that we talked about for me to taste. Cutting samples for customers is an old fashioned way of doing business in a deli. Everything that I tasted, I bought! Good thing I only tasted two items!
Nearly every specialty item was a pork product. Svinjski Vrat was an item that I was not familiar with. Svinjski Vrat translates to pork neck. Svinjski Vrat is prepared many different ways in the countries of the Balkan region. Raw it is stewed. Some recipes are pickled. Some recipes are peppered.
The svinjski vrat that I chose was lightly seasoned, dry cured and lightly smoked. The deli clerk explained that this version is meant to be eaten like a lunch meat at room temperature or is can be lightly sauced and heated. The seasoning was different than any smoked pork meat that I have haver had. The dry curing produced a light Italian prosciutto kind of flavor. The light smoking process was perfectly and carefully done. The svinjski vrat was one of the best tasting prepared pieces of pork that I have ever tasted!
The deli clerk recommended a vegetable spread to go with the meats that I had purchased. The deli had a large selection of ajvar vegetable spreads and similar products. Serbia is where ajvar originated. Ajvar is popular in the entire Balkan region. Ajvar is a finely minced relish of sweet red bell pepper, eggplant, garlic and mild chile pepper. The flavor of ajvar is perfect for the flavor of the svinjski vrat. Ajvar is also nice for spreading on good bread.
I purchased a mixture of spicy olives as an accompaniment for this meal. There was no less than seven different kinds of olives in the mixture. A loaf of thin crusty fresh baguette bread was the final item that I purchased.
This recipe is simply my style of presenting these Balkan delicatessen items. Other than arranging the items on the plate, I had nothing to do with the preparation of any of the ingredients. When arranging a simple deli platter and a light entree, it is best to keep the presentation simple with clean, clear organized look. This presentation is like how this plate of Balkan delicatessen food would be served in the Balkan region. Just like with Italian cuisine, it is not how many ingredients that make a plate of food great, it is the quality of the ingredients!
Deli Platter Presentation:
Overlap 6 thin slices of svinjski vrat along the border of a plate.
Overlap 6 slices of small crusty baguette bread on the border of the other side of the plate.
Place a small mound of ajvar on the middle of the plate.
Place some mixed spicy olives on one side of the plate.
No garnish is necessary.
This simple plate of Balkan delicatessen food is a real pleasure to eat! This entree brought back memories of simpler times. The quality of all the ingredients on the plate is superb. The ajvar is spread on a slice of bread and then a slice of the svinjski vrat is is placed on the ajvar. The flavor combination is perfect! Simple deli style platters are commonly served as a light dinner in the summer season. This Balkan style deli platter entree is worth recommending! Yummy! ... Shawna