Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucky Saaremaa Wedding

The recent triple-8 date prompted a whole regiment of otherwise rational and unsuperstitious people to schedule one of the few momentous events in the human life cycle over which we have any control – their wedding – for this day. Hey, don’t look at me like that – I chose to be married – way back then – on the Spring Equinox.

On Saaremaa alone, there were eleven of these optimistic couples. One of these, Pablo from Spain and Mai from Saaremaa had invited 80 of their friends and relatives to a traditional island celebration. To say that the location of this happy event was ‘in the back of the beyond’ doesn’t begin to describe the remoteness of their choice. ‘The middle of nowhere’ more closely locates the holiday camp tucked away down 4,6 km of gravel road, surrounded by ancient pines, near the end of the Sõrve Peninsula.

AND since no bride wants to be flipping burgers in her bridle gown, she hired Mahe Köök and its troop of multicultural jugglers and loonies to provide the wedding feast.

We began our preparations on Thursday with cutting and marinating the meats, 80 entrecotes, and cubes of lamb for skewering. Vegetables for the stir-fry were julienned and blanched, potatoes cooked for salad and fresh mayonnaise whizzed up.

On the day, as well as the steaks and kebabs, there would be burgers of lamb or veal and Denis, our budding ‘Grilli-meister’ from Bretagne, would be in charge of the fish. My section was vegetables and salads.

Mid-day Friday, under lowering but not spitting skies we loaded plates, glasses and cutlery for 80, every towel and piece of linen in the restaurant, as well as the gas grill and a wok into two cars and a trailer. The last problem was find places for four WWOOFER’S (We have a new addition – Manuel, originally from El Salvador but now a student at the University in Toulouse) and three nominal grownups: Karen, Alar and myself.

On arrival we found a charming holiday camp with a large wooden hall for the reception, an add-on space from which to serve; close by a white and green tent for the grill station and a lovely flower ringed clearing with a fire in the centre for the traditional wedding dances. The band arrived; two guys with a selection of instruments: accordion, guitar and wood pipes. Shortly after that came a bag-piper wearing Estonian costume. We were ready; the bridal party would be late – naturally.

Once they finally found us, the guests were seated and words of welcome were said; the party could begin. There is an Estonian tradition at weddings that I am especially fond of – ‘Identifying the Guests’. The wedding mistress, asks the members to stand according to different categories: those from Estonia, from Latvia, from Finland, Spain, Peru, Germany…. One by one their place of origin is recognised and noted; other categories are raised: married or single, teachers, doctors, artists, musicians, friends of the bride, of the groom, of both….

If you add in the homeports of our troop: France, El Salvador, Canada the USA, we had here a perfect example of the European Union doing what it does best – bringing people together.

‘Now that we all know each other, the eating can begin.’

And eat and drink they did. Salads and juices had to be replenished. I was as busy as the grill-team turning out stir-fried mushrooms. This is a super year for kukaseinid – in English – chanterelles. We had quartered these lovely golden trumpets and served them with the julienned carrots.

I’m going to make a separate post about the wine, the jambon’ and the dancing but for now – a recipe.

Stir-fried Chanterelles

Serves 2

300 g. fresh chanterelles, brushed clean and quartered
100 g. peeled, julienned and blanched carrots – preferably new organic
1 medium white onion sliced into strips
1 fat glove garlic chopped to a paste with salt & pepper
1 tbls. fresh thyme
small glass of dry white wine
2-3 tbls. sour cream
butter for frying

Heat the butter in a wok or similar pan. I use an Italian padella.
When the butter is foaming add the garlic and fry until fragrant, add the onions and continue frying.
Throw in the mushrooms and fry until they have given off most of their liquid.
Add the carrots, thyme and the white wine
Cook until there is just a small amount of syrupy liquid left
Add the sour cream and warm through, stirring
Taste for salt & pepper and serve

This can go on pasta, potatoes, rice or any other light coloured grain.

5 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Fascinating!

spacedlaw said...

I LOVE chanterelles (although they are hell to clean). I make a lovely creamy soup with them, which tastes extremely nutty.
And they go brilliantly with roasted duck.
Dammit, now I am hungry and I just had a very nice lunch...

martha said...

Thank you Rachel.

Chanterelles are a ...to clean - That's what we have WWOOFIE's for.
This years crop has been so big that they haven't been particularly difficult.

spacedlaw said...

wwoofies?
It sounds like a word verification thingy...

martha said...

WWOOF'ers = World-Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming. It's an organisation that places - usually youngish - people as volunteers in organic farms and businesses for 2 weeks to 3 months. At the moment we have 4, another farm raising organic spelt has a lovely girl from NYC and the good Karma soap people have 1.