Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Long-Overdue Follow-up Report on the Potica Workshop

Have you been wondering what ever happened at that March potica workshop at San Francisco's Slovenian Hall?

I am happy to report that it was a great success.

It was a full and festive day. Among the forty-plus attendees was a charming young woman named Gisele, who works at Blue Danube Wine, an importer of wines from Slovenia and other places in Central Europe and the Balkans. For a great overview, along with photos of the three different styles of potica presented at the workshop, take a look at her write-up. It was a delightful surprise to read it in the Blue Danube e-mail newsletter, and to see that my recipe was included. At first, I didn't even realize that the photo at the top was my own potica!

I'll admit it: I was a little nervous, especially in front of native Slovenians, like my language teacher Mia and my classmate Sylvia. But my family recipe was well-received. Several people commented that it seemed very traditional. I was relieved!

Giving a few pointers to my friend Sylvia
Under the watchful eye of my Slovenian teacher

I was reminded of the importance of using the best possible ingredients: fresh, organic, and locally sourced whenever possible. This is especially critical, I think, with the simple, uncooked layered filling we use in my family recipe.  So I took special care with the ingredients for the workshop.

I found freshly harvested California walnuts at my local market in Berkeley. I also tried a new honey: Home Town Honey, which is produced just down the street from the retirement community where my mother lives. I also used organic butter and raw cane sugar, which has an off-white color and a slight caramel flavor.

This particular combination of ingredients created a wonderful flavor. It took me back to childhood, and to my grandmother's kitchen. I tried to capture it in the photo below, in my own kitchen. Even our black cat wanted a taste!

Ten days after the workshop, I made another batch of potica. Our journalist son was visiting, and he wanted me to do another demo, so he could take photos and make a recording before he returned to Kosovo. This time, I experimented with an earthy and delicious buckwheat honey from Heavenly Honey in Oregon. I also tried a double-roll technique I had seen in a video. You can see it in the left-hand photo at the top of the page.

For now, I am taking a short break from potica!

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