Friday, November 16, 2012

Meat jelly

Yes, you read that right. Delicious meat jelly. Otherwise known as "terrine."

You've heard me talk about this type of food before - I had an amazing version at Kuurna for my birthday made out of pig's head meat (mmm) and a rather disgusting and unamazing version while on a business trip to London made out of grilled vegetables (remind me to not ever order that again).

In any case, my opinion on terrines is sort of split at the moment - apparently you can either make them really well or you can waste a lot of food by making rather nasty savory paste out of otherwise tasty ingredients. It's up to the chef. Only the tongue will know.

So when I was in Stockmann this past weekend, trying to find some buttery reindeer leather goods (it's a long story, and no, I don't plan on explaining), I went up to the appropriate floor where previously I'd found the Helsinki Design corner and instead found...Christmas Corner.

That's what I have decided to name it. Because that's what it should rightfully be called. Instead of finding a delightfully designed space with Designer goods (yes, you read that right) and Marimekko prints,  I found every single surface completely covered in ornaments, glitter, and holidays foods of every kind from every European country (of the gourmet variety...we were in Stockmann's...after all).

In my ever-working state I had failed to realize that after a certain date, Finns had no more holidays between now and Christmas, unlike the States. In the States, despite stores doing a similar thing and rushing to get their Christmas/holiday (if they're particularly PC/politically-correct about the season) goods out as soon as Halloween is over, most people slightly scoff at the notion. There is still Thanksgiving, thank you very much! But Finns don't have that. So I guess it's a full two-month rush towards Christmas, and nothing else.

Bit terrifying, that is. But I bet everyone actually finishes their shopping on time. Or if they don't they're definitely called lazy. There's no excuse when you have several months to finish the job.

Anyway, I digress. As I found myself surrounded by an overwhelming assortment of Santa-related items (one must remember that Finland also has the officious Santa's workshop location located in Rovaniemi, up in Lapland...it's near the Arctic Circle and is actually open year-round), I fought the disappointment of finding out I wouldn't be able to get my reindeer goods here. Damn. Well, guess the search will have to continue elsewhere.

In the meantime I figured I would have a look around. I was there already and quite a few of the people on my list love gourmet food, so...why the hell not?

As I looked around quite a few of the goods were familiar to me - we get a lot of international goods in California and I've traveled a decent amount, so nothing was too foreign.

...until I saw the terrines.

At first I mistakened them for foie gras, since they were in similar containers and as it happened, foie gras was right next to it. But then I looked a little harder, since the texture was off and it was in glass jars (well, some of them anyway). What the hell was this made out of, anyway?

The answer? Many animals of the delicious variety: hare, pheasant, duck...if it was fatty and in the wild, it was made into a delicious meat jelly paste with herbs and spices.

...and I was going to buy them.

I immediately thought about how this could be made into a gift item for my foodie friends, but then sadly remembered that crossing the borders into my country would see them swiftly confiscated or otherwise pounced on by the customs sniffer dogs.

Damn.

Well, guess I was just going to have to sacrifice and eat them myself. Meat paste this gourmet should not go unexperienced.

So I bought all of the flavors. There are 6 in all. And yes, I do plan on documenting them in full detail unless I get comments stating otherwise.

Excited with my bounty (German K was slightly disgusted), I brought them all to the counter and purchased them all. I paid 25euros for 6 cans of meat jellies and paste. I was ecstatic.

The rest of the day was spent shopping a little more for holiday goods and eventually seeing a horror movie (Sinister...actually quite well done and freaky; but I'll not get into that), so I didn't end up experiencing my meat paste until later that night.

But I did.

Choosing which one to open first was like trying to decide which bon bon to eat first out of box of chocolates. They all looked so good! Oh which one?!?


The decision was very anxiety-ridden. But I made it, knowing that I would eventually experience them all.

I chose hare with Provencal herbs. Seemed like a pretty good choice.


Since I had nothing gourmet to go with it (an oversight, unfortunately), I decided toasted wheat bread as as good as it was going to get.


Ignore the fact that it looks like smashed Spam spread on bread and it actually looks decently appetizing. I was certainly excited about it. It smelled like how you could imagine (sort of like pate...but less like liver).

The taste? Very tasty. Like congealed soup with really savory chunks of meat in it. Jellied bits of stew.

In summary? Totally awesome. I don't know why meat pastes aren't made more often. Way more nutritious than butter on bread. Perhaps a little odd in concept, but I think it could catch on; someone with the appropriate marketing skills could really take this far. I've understood the Atkins diet is really taking off here in Scandinavia (not that Finland is considered part of Scandinavia, but it's close enough) and they should really take this terrine stuff seriously. Someone could make a fortune (and the wheels start turning...).

Anyway, in conclusion, I'm excited to try my other flavors of meat paste. Gourmet food, dazzle my tastebuds!

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