Tartine success

In Poland we love bread. We don't prefer cornflakes but open sandwiches for breakfast. We eat the main meal (soup & meat dish) in the middle of the day, around 2 p.m. And then we eat light supper - some simple sandwiches. As a child - raised somewhere in the countryside around the end of the communist era - I remember bread slice with unsalted butter and coarse sugar to be a delicacy. With better economic conditions (capitalism...? I don't know, I didn't care then) I sampled marvellous strawberry jam. I could eat it every single day, just bread, butter and strawberry jam, again and again. As you taste more and more you may forget how good were these simple ideas with the freshest ingredients of the best quality. Now, when bread rather rarely resembles bread, we (in the cities) learnt to cover its vague taste with host of sophisticated combinations. Maybe that is why I forgot for a while that a good sandwich is not a bad sandwich. I was contemplating that while I was involved in the following event.

Last week we held in Krakow, southern Poland, the conference on 'Culture of New Zealand'. The event was organised by Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Research Assocciation (AZNORA) and its programme included lectures, displaying NZ's movies, photo exhibition and the visit to the ANZAC soldiers' graves at the Krakow Rakowicki Cementary. As a member of the assocciation I was responsible for the NZ's buffet. I have chosen some of the most unusual NZ's recipes, organised preparing the food and serving . At the opening of the exhibition we served Pavlova, shortbreads, green and golden Zespri kiwi and Matua Valley Shingle Peak Sauvignion Blanc.

For breaks between movies I proposed tartines - small open sandwiches which are very convenient food for an unofficial meetings, but also usually very elegant. They are perfect if you are going to treat a larger group of people because this is the food easy to share and guests can easily move around the table (and further), sample their favourite options and talk with the others. Tartines are easy to hold and to eat so you won't be afraid to approach them. Some plates and napkins are very useful. And, of course, some drinks to go with. Besides, tartines can be impressive at a relatively low cost. We usually made them with cold meats, cheese, spreads and vegetables.

The recipes I used were truly New Zealand's ideas. You really have to be down-under born to create it. These are the ideas of that kind you are thinking 'Oh God, it's not going to work' but when you risk to try you see it works pretty well ( I was no exeption).

The most adventurous for the participants of the conference were top three tartines:

1. Lemon honey & walnuts
2. Carrot & tuna
3. Cheese & mustard

I place Ham, cheese and beetroot outside of the competition because people's anxiety was probably caused by catholic Friday fasting, otherwise the case would be surprising as beetroot is one of our national vegetables.

If you would like to try carrot and tuna sandwich, prepare:

1 canned tuna, drained
1-2 Tbsps mayo
1 carrot
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt, pepper and sugar
dill for garnishing

1. Mix drained tuna with mayo and season with salt and pepper.
2. Grate carrot, season with lemon juice and sugar.
3. Cut the baguette in slant slices.
4. Spread tuna evenly, than form carrot into a long ridge and top with a dill twig.

The key to success were the ingredients first: a great fresh baguette, crispy on the outside and fluffy inside and overwhelmingly light. Then canned tuna - the best you can get means the most healthy meal, classic mayo, juicy grated carrot with a touch of lemon, good balance between spices and a fresh herb.

Then really NZ's idea of matching the aboves together.

And equally important: willing and competent hands of my friends.

Carrot & tuna tartines beautifully decorated by my sister-in-law, called 'Puff' (Ptysiek) in family circles.

I am not afraid to say that I am very proud of the final result. Our tartines practically immediately disappeared!! I am particularily happy that we brodened culinary horizons of our compatriots. And we did it far far away as New Zealand is one of the most distant countries for us (22 000 km, on the very opposite side of the globe).

All of those who helped: a big THANK YOU.

And the rest, remember this idea for your next meeting with friends or colleagues. As it comes to planning tartine schedule I would keep in mind and follow these two directions: diversity of the menu and harmony of the ingredients within one single tartine.

Bread is always fundamental. Currently my top simple open sandwich is a slice of some valuable bread, EVOO (extra vergin olive oil) and cottage cheese from the nearest market. I mean, the cheese comes from a village around 100 kms away, towards the mountains Tatras. Even salt is not necessary.

Sigrid Verbert had made
her choice of great sandwiches that she had found in different blogs.

And what is your favourite combination bread+ ?

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