Southern highlands.. part deux

9/21/2010 03:40:00 am

The weather here has been lovely this week, and I've been walking a lot. Walk walk walk. I think I'm ready to talk about the pork knuckle now. I wouldn't call myself a knuckle expert, but I have to be honest and admit that I've eaten a decent amount of knuckle in my time.

First a warning in case any of you are jewish or islamic...there's a lot of talk of pork in what follows. There, I said it.

The first time I ate pork knuckle was about 18 months ago, so I have to honest and admit that I've probably eaten more than my share of knuckle in a very short period of time. It's very tasty, you see.

The knuckle is slow cooked, much like a lamb shank. Sometimes it is boiled before being baked. As a result, a well cooked knuckle is juicy and tender, with meat that falls off the bone with merely a poke of a fork, and requires little-to-no effort to masticate.

The beauty of a good knuckle is not so much the knuckle alone. It's the things that join it on the plate. I love side dishes. Nom nom.

Firstly, there's the big ham steak. Though I'm not normally a fan of ham, especially big fat slabs of it, the way it is cooked on a Barvarian platter makes it taste like a big delicious piece of bacon. Mmmn, bacon.

There are usually two kinds of sausage. One is white. The other is red. That is all I know about them, and knowing a bit about the art of sausage making, that's all I need/want to know about them.

At one end of the plate is the sauerkraut. Everyone knows it's not German unless it involves a big pile of fermented cabbage... I'm not a huge fan of sauerkraut. I mean, I'm happy to take some for the team, and do my part, but luckily for me, at the other end of the plate is a big pile of blaukraut. Oh. My.

Blaukraut is braised red cabbage. It's sweet and caramel-tasting, but savoury at the same time. I'm fairly sure that cooking it involves lard and red wine. Those are both pluses in my book.

The foundation of the knuckle though, the sponge for the juices, the anchor of the sausages, is a big pile of mashed potato. Smooth, creamy mashed potato.

Each pile of food is a combination of textures and flavours, which when finished off with a dab of mustard, place me firmly in food heaven. I really like Barvarian food. It shows on my waistline.

At some point in the meal, my friends started to complain about the lack of vegetable matter, but I assured them, "it's only one night. Once you've seen what a week of German food will do to your digestive system, you'll never worry about this one night, ever again." I'm not sure they were convinced. And anyway, I told them, there are vegetables: potato is a vegetable, as is cabbage, and look, there are little green things for garnish." I think I heard Lauren crying, "Salad!" in her sleep that night...

It didn't stop us though. We made it through. Even the rosti I'd ordered on the side disappeared. The bread covered in melted gouda too.

Let's not talk about dessert.

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