Ahh, the comforts of home.
The third and final buffet group presented its week's worth of hard work today. The theme was Croatia, and I was a happy camper: Several of the dishes reminded me of food I grew up eating. (I'm half Slovenian—the country of Slovenia is adjacent to Croatia and has very similar food—and the rest of my ethnic background is Italian, Irish and Polish.)
One dish in particular—potica—was especially meaningful. The first bite of the nut roll brought me back to Christmas in Cleveland when my Grandma Mary was alive. She would make it every year; if there was any left, we'd take it home and dunk it in coffee in the morning. The potica made for the buffet was awesome. Thank you, mom, for sending the recipe, and thank you, chef and a good friend (you know who you are) for trying your hands at a family favorite. Grandma would be proud.
I was obviously thrilled about the potica, but I was also psyched to work with rabbits. The butchering comprised the entire day. The first half, I deboned them and used Activa—also known as transglutaminase "meat glue"—to roll the rabbit into a sausage-like shape. During the second half of the day, I broke the rabbits into several pieces, including front and rear legs, tenderloins and the smallest rack of ribs you've ever seen. Butchering took up most of the day yesterday as well; I removed the legs and breasts from ducks.
I really racked up some butchering practice this week.