Slow Food Albania

No recipe today.  Instead, I’m cross posting from Albania or Bust, my original blog that follows my life as a mom, Navy wife, and world traveller.  Its a foodie entry so enjoy!

I first became aware of the Slow Food movement a few years ago.  Slow Foods International and Slow Europe have helped to take the movement global and their influence has spread across to globe (and even as far away as Albania!).  Slow foods is a grassroots effort that aims to grow and produce food locally while taking into consideration the larger environment.  It considers the entire “cost” of the end product.  Are the farmers and food producers treated fairly?  How much of an environmental impact does the production of the food have?  Does the food enjoyable to eat and taste good?  Slow food’s  mission statement resonates with me: the organization seeks to  “envision a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet”.  How can one argue with that?

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, I love good food.  You might call me a foodie or a food snob but that doesn’t bother me.  Salty, sweet, or savory; from the most complex flavor profile to the simplest, if the food is made with good quality products I enjoy it. I can be as equally satisfied with a creative salad as I am with a platter of meat.  I prefer local and organic products but do eat carefully selected imported items.  I would rather taste a single bite of a quality food item than have heaping plates of food of an inferior quality.  In my opinion, when it comes to food, more isn’t always better.

The cheese course that included fresh ricotta and a sage-cheddar cheese

posted about my first visit to Mrizi Zanave, Albania’s tribute to the international Slow Food movement last year.  I’ve been back several times since my initial visit with each meal being just as good, if not better, than the last.  We returned again this past weekend and once again the menu didn’t disappoint. From the endless mezzes that started the meal to the fruit filled desserts —yes plural desserts— and the meats and pastas in between, it was all amazing as usual.  Some of the dishes, like a carrot byrek and tempura broccoli I’d had before, but the pasta with blueberry cream sauce that accompanied the mushroom risotto was new to me.  This is one of the things I love about Mrizi Zanave; they pair food combinations that I would never even dream of serving together with amazing results.  Traditional Albanian meats of baby goat and lamb cooked in milk took on new flavors when they were slow cooked rather than overcooked.

Three fruit desserts on a single plate

The latest addition to Mrizi Zanave was their new cold storage area that was actually built into the hill abutting the restaurant.  The owner proudly showed off this area where fruits, vegetables, and meats are preserved and stored.  I love behind the scenes views of restaurants.  Not only do they show off how well organized and clean a place is (two very important details) but looking at the massive quantities of a specific ingredient sets my mind racing with all of the possibilities.  What would you do with all of those cured meat or pomegranates?

Air curing meats
Wild pomegranates used for a refreshing juice spritzer; potatoes are in the forefront

Have I mentioned that I love this place?  I can’t wait to go back!

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