What I had for dinner:

Guinea Hen, with Noodles and Ajvar

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This afternoon, it was such a gorgeous weather that I had to get out of the lab. I decided to take a walk, and to give myself a goal, set out to scout locations for a possible pub crawl way downtown. What a bust! Everything south of Fulton street is closed! I ended up walking semi-deserted streets, with clumps of thirsty tourists here and there craning their neck to catch a glimpse of blue.

On my way back up to Burp Castle for a well earned restorative, I popped in to Dean & DeLuca's. A couple of weeks ago, a sysop on the beer forum on Compuserve (and fellow Panician rgarr --Hi Robin!--) mentionned that he had bought a jar of a condiment or preserve made in Slovenia, by the name of "ajvar". Since I am 1/4 Slovenian, at least by name, this piqued my interest. Further investigation revealed that the stuff, while ubiquitous in the Balkans, is more likely of Hungarian or Turkish origin: the name is not slavic at all. In any case, there it was, ajvar imported from Slovenia, so I bought a jar.

It is a smooth paste made chiefly of peppers and eggplant, with various spices, and it is eaten customarily either as a relish, or straight on bread as a snack. After a Corsendonk pale at Burp Castle, and an interesting conversation with a middle-aged hispanic couple from the West-Side who were right there and then in the very process of discovering good beer --he a S.N. Porter and a Chimay Red, she a Salvator and a Celis White-- I walked over to Balducci's with no set idea; but as soon as I saw that they had Guinea hens (aka Guinea fowl; and they are not from Guinea either, but probably from East Africa), I had my dinner. The slightly gamey guinea hen would do nicely in a stew, with noodles and ajvar on the side.

The Guinea hen was cut into large pieces, floured thoroughly, and browned in a little duck fat (still have some of that left). I added 3 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, a handful of sour green Israeli olives (these come in a can, and are cracked so that the marinade penetrates well inside. Their raw taste is a bit too resinous so they are best cooked), and 2 cups of beer and set it to simmer covered for 1 hour, adding for the last 15 min a handful of parboiled, peeled pearl onions.

The Guinea hen was served with plain boiled noodles, and the ajvar and toasted sourdough bread on the side. A very pleasant combination that will yield several lunches as well.

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