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Tales from the Antipodes

What better way to start the year than with a resolution  to put an end the drought of my blogging. And to top it, what better way than to kickstart things by writing about my good friend Frank, a man who has ventured out to the antipodes in search of  adventure, food and reality of a different kind.

Let me tell you about Frank a bit. German by origin, Frank has lived in at least three continents. That makes him interesting, and a perfect interlocutor, especially in the company of  good cognac or robust wine. He has taken several trips to the tip of Argentina,  to "La Tierra del Fuego" to visit a set of  remote bird sanctuaries that host populations of small penguins. Frank loves these remote places so much that he will not disclose their exact geographic location. Don't even think of using Google Maps.they won't be able to get streets view in those places, You can only get there by foot, sleeping bag and ship

Now back to cooking .

For a few years now, Frank has provided me with pictures and stories of his cooking exploits. So this year, I thought that I would honor our friendship by featuring his culinary creation. Christmas goose has been a holiday tradition  for him, and I think he has become a master at it.  This year's in particular just looks wonderful.

Christmas Goose

Rather than try to explain and paraphrase, a little excerpt in Frank's own words can color this picture much more than I can .

"... roasted goose is the traditional German Christmas dish  ( and I grew up with the distinctive smell and taste. Most female members (the males did not cook when I was a kid) of my family hated cooking it and I understand now very well, why. It is not that easy to do, it occupies and messes up the whole kitchen plus, when it goes wrong, it usually goes REALLY wrong. 

Every German has that horror story of the burnt, undercooked, overcooked, tough, too fat, stringy goose that almost set the kitchen on fire and ruined Christmas for the whole family that year. I cooked around 10 geese in my lifetime (I started late ...) and managed to screw up two of them, rendering them virtually inedible and putting me in a bad mood for weeks. 
I have absolutely no idea, how my grandmothers managed to produce delicious, perfectly cooked geese using their tiny inadequate ovens with kids (=my parents, aunts and uncles) running around their feet ... I have a lot of respect for that and think about it every time I ignite my turkey proof Viking stove that goes to exactly 500 degrees Fahrenheit within 8 minutes so I can shove in the goose comfortably resting on my Williams and Sonoma non sticking roasting pan. The funny thing is, despite all the technology and tools, I will still be nervous for the following couple of hours, anxiously basting the bird and getting the dripping fat out (which by the way I will use for cooking until the end of spring, healthy and unbelievably tasty) until it's time to cut and taste. And then, only if the universe is well spirited and the goose was a good, though expensive, organic one and I did everything right and the stars all line up in exactly the right order ... THEN it's finally Christmas!
The goose was perfect, cooked for 40 minutes with 500 degrees to get most of the fat out and then roasted for 3 more hours with 400 degrees. The taste is so strong that you do not need any special seasoning - just salt, a little pepper and mugwort (German or Asian stores have it). I fill it with apples, Granny Smith this time. A good sauce is essential, I use all the parts of the goose we do not eat, the wing tips, some of the fat and the meat juice mixed with wine that drips of the goose while it roasts. Then we ate it the German traditional way, with red cabbage and potato balls. A nice Bordeaux goes very well with it. "
Frank, my friend, the stars were definitely lined up for you this Christmas. And here is the finished product.. 

The Spread

Cheers all my friends, those of you in the Northern Hemisphere and Southern alike

Penguine from La Tierra del Fuego  


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