Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peking Goose

We had our firm Christmas party at Lotus Garden this year and I asked them if they would cook a goose Peking duck style. I love their Peking duck and we have had them previously cook a special occasion roast goose. Goose is not normally on their menu, but they located a fresh 11+ pound goose in Los Angeles and picked it up specially for our party. They brought out the goose as the beginning course of our meal and I loved the presentation: 
it looked like it was swimming on the plate, webbed feet, wings, head and neck all still attached. 
The chef came out and carved the goose in front of us, 
placing a little meat with skin, 
scallion and hoison sauce on a crepe for each person in our party. 
The finished product.
From a taste standpoint, the goose can't compete with duck. The goose is not as tender or flavorful. But the overall effect, the presentation, the carving and the food itself, amounted to a wonderful addition to our Christmas party. And almost as fun as the bird, a group of about five Lotus Garden cooks and waiters lined up and sang a Christmas song for us in Chinese strangled English which was hilarious and we responded with good humored laughter and clapping. I'm sure the rest of the patrons in the restaurant were wondering what was going on. I love restaurants, like Lotus Garden, that are willing to make an extra effort to make a gathering special.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sausage: Blood with Barley and Liver

Shortly before Christmas I was in the Antelope Valley and stopped, by a whim, at Valley Hungarian Sausage & Meat Company, located at 8809 Pearblossom Hwy in Littlerock, CA 93543 (phone: 661-944-3351). It is a very small house turned into a commercial establishment that sells mostly Hungarian sausage and appears to be quite popular. A bought a number of different kinds of sausage, but was most excited by the blood and barley sausage 
and the liver sausage, neither of which I'd had before. 
Christmas morning, I asked Mariusz Redzikowski, Sam's friend and current BYU roommate, staying with us over Christmas, to cook the sausage. He indicated that blood sausage is a traditional Polish dish cooked with onions. I asked him to cook it for us. He'd never cooked it before, so he called his mother in Poland and got instructions. We had only one large red onion, so we used it, cooking it in a little bit of olive oil. Then he sliced up the blood sausage with barley 
and added it to the cooking onion. 
The casing naturally disintegrated as he stirred it around with the onion. 
It turned into something that looked more like boiled bird seed than blood, and even more surprising, it had very little blood taste to it. 
We all enjoyed it very much. It was rich and not off-putting at all. Next he cut up the liver sausage, 
something he said was not a Polish dish, although they quite often cooked up liver and onions. So he cut up the liver sausage, discarding the casing, and added it to cooking onions as well. 
It also appeared to have barley or some other grain in with it. It looked like hash, but was incredibly tasty, very soft with a pleasant texture, not very livery at all. 
It was even better than the blood sausage. In fact, I think I might prefer the liver to most other sausage I've had, except perhaps Polish kielbasa. Neither were like any sausage I've ever had. The sausage casing acted more like a container to hold the blood or liver and then when cooked, the contents had no real semblance of sausage at all. Mariusz said that it made him feel like he was home in Poland and it added a very nice touch to our Christmas. 
Aside from the prime rib we ate later Christmas day, this was my favorite food we ate over the Christmas holiday.