• Polish wine for sale at summer festival
  • Grapes at Jasiel winery in Jaslo, Poland
  • Poland Culinary Vacations guests visiting Adoria vineyard in Lower Silesia region of Poland
  • Delicious food shared with Poland Culinary Vacations guests in Gronkow village, Podhale, Poland.
  • Krakow Market Square, Poland.
  • Oscypki sheep cheese sold at Zakopane, Poland open market
  • Poland Culinary Vacations guests cooking in Obidowa village, Podhale, Poland.
  • Poland Culinary Vacations guests at the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland.
  • Chicken livers with apples from Wesele restaurant in Krakow, Poland.
  • Musicians playing for visitors heading on their rafting trip at Pieninski National Park.
  • Poland Culinary Vacations guests having lunch in Gronkow village, Podhale, Poland.
  • Poland Culinary Vacation guests rafting on Dunajec river in Pieninski National Park, Poland.
  • Boleslawiec Polish pottery from Lower Silesia region of Poland.
  • Modern Polish cuisine from Ancora restaurant in Krakow, Poland.
  • Poland Culinary Vacations guests posing in traditional costumes in Dlugopole village, Podhale, Poland.
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Archive for March, 2013

Polish Easter Traditions and Cuisine

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Polish Easter traditions were born out of a combination of old Slavic customs, regional traditions and most importantly, the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are many Easter customs, many of them connected with the cuisine. Let’s enter the fascinating world of Polish Easter traditions!

Coloful wooden Easter eggs hand-made in Poland.

Pisanki – colorful wooden Easter eggs hand-made in Poland.

Celebration of the Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. Palm branches symbolize victory and triumph. It was a common belief that a child carrying high palm will grow tall in the future and that during Easter, a man will eat much more than he eats on any other holiday. Even in the homes of peasants, Easter time was a period of a great feast. That’s not only because of joyful nature of Easter, but also because it follows the season of Lent – the period of prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter. There were only few dishes which were allowed to be eaten during the 40 days of Lent and many people refused to eat anything!

Two most popular Lenten foods have always been Żurek soup or Żur and herring. Żurek soup (zhooh-rek) – made from sour rye starter, similar to that used in sourdough bread and served with hard boiled egg and herring – prepared in different ways.

Żur - sour rye soup. Eaten without the white sausage during Lent.

Żurek – sour rye soup. Eaten without the white sausage during Lent.

Herring salad.

Herring salad.

Lent came to an end on Good Friday. Good Friday was a time of preparations, especially in the kitchen. Housewives and kids worked together to prepare foods for Easter.

The most important Easter foods have always been eggs. Easter eggs symbolize new life.  Hard-boiled, beautifully decorated Easter eggs are called “pisanki” in Polish. Pisanki can be made by using different techniques:
Kraszanka (or malowanka) – is made by boiling an egg in a concoction of plants or natural products. It could be gold (made from bark of young apple tree), black (oak), brown (onion peels), pink (beet juice), and many other colors.
Drapanka – which is made by scratching the surface of an egg (especially kraszanka) with a knife or other sharp tool, to reveal the egg’s shell.
Pisanka – created by drawing on an egg shell with melted wax; the egg is then submerged into a dye.
Only women could decorate Easter eggs and men were not even allowed to come inside the house during that process. It was widely believed, that man entering a house, when women were preparing “pisanki” would bring bad luck!

More of  colorful hand-painted Easter eggs – pisanki.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Pisanki are very important part of so called “Święconka”, which means the blessing of the Easter basket. Tradition of food blessing at Easter has very old medieval roots, and is still in widely practiced in Poland. A basket containing a sampling of Easter foods (including pisanki) is brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. All baskets are very decorative. Foods inside have symbolic meanings, i.e.: eggs symbolize life and Christ resurrection, bread symbolizes Christ, salt – purification, ham – great joy and abundance.
After the blessing the food remains untouched until Easter Sunday morning.

Traditional “Święconka” – Easter basket.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

So what are the main courses for a Easter Sunday breakfast (and dinner later), and typical, traditional Polish dishes for Easter?
All kinds of meat; baked or fried and in the villages across Poland pig roasts are common, too. Baked ham, roast leg of lamb or loin of pork, roasted veal, beef, turkey, duck or chicken. Fresh, predominantly white sausage, and of course famous bigos, know as a Hunter’s Stew. It’s ingredients vary, but most often it includes sauerkraut, cuts of meat and sausages, tomatoes (whole or pureed), honey and mushrooms.

Another characteristic dish is braised red cabbage – sweet and sour braised. Boiled potatoes with caramelized onion and dill, famous pierogi (dumplings), horseradish, various cheeses and chalka – slightly sweet, egg braided raisin bread. You can eat chalka for breakfast or with a meal.

For desserts, a full range from cakes, which could take many fancy shapes like Easter lamb. The most popular cake is “Mazurek” (type of pastry), “Babka” a rich bread-like cake, often shaped to reminiscent a woman’s skirt, hence its name Babka (Grandmother Cake). Honey cake, makowiec – which is Polish specialty (poppy seed cake), sernik (cheesecake) and many other delicious desserts.

Delicious poppy seed roll. It's a type of pastry, consisting of a roll of sweet yeast bread with a dense filling of poppy seed.

Delicious poppy seed roll and blueberry cake.

Easter holiday is not, of course, just about food. It’s about getting together with extended family and friends and enjoying leisure time. Monday after Easter is also a holiday in Poland and most shops are closed for business. Easter Monday or Wet Easter Monday is known as Smingus-Dyngus day in Poland and that’s when boys chase after girls with buckets full of water and try to drench them with it, all in good fun!

Poland is worth visiting at Easter time, both for great food as well as wonderful atmosphere!

Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych! Happy Easter!

EATING OUT IN POLAND – Polish Cuisine with a Focus on Seasonal and Local Ingredients is Served at These Trendy Restaurants in Poland.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

If you love traditional Polish dishes, you’ll also love sophisticated modern Polish cuisine at the following trendy restaurants in major cities throughout Poland.

Warsaw is leading, with talented Polish chefs opening their own restaurants and bravely mixing old and new. Pay them a visit on your next trip to Poland and you’ll be in for a “tasty” surprise!

Warsaw – Warszawa:

Platter Restaurant

Platter restaurant in Warsaw, Poland.

Chef Karol Okrasa (left) at Platter restaurant in Warsaw, Poland.

Platter Restaurant is led by chef Karol Okrasa. Here food is a form of an art. After all, art is all about arranging elements in a way that they stimulate our senses, beckon our eyes, provoke our thoughts, and tease our emotions. Chef Karol Okrasa creates flavours that evoke many things: warm memories of long-forgotten childhood tastes, a surprising sense of fun, and an invitation to take pure pleasure in food.

Karol Okrasa is one of Poland’s most celebrated and popular chefs. He hosted a few, very popular TV shows and wrote a book: “Cook with Okrasa”, which includes 105 of his own recipes.

As an expert in local cuisine, he promotes the use of Polish flavours in dishes, and offers distinctive combinations. He delights in combining familiar natural ingredients with unusual and forgotten ones, and in giving traditional Polish cuisine a modern flair.

His philosophy is: food in not only an occupation, it’s a lifestyle.


Tamka 43 Restaurant

Tamka 43 restaurant is a magical place. It’s an authorial project of Pawel Kwiatkowski, a well known promoter, concert and event producer and Robert Trzópek, one of the most famous Polish chefs. Chef Trzopek gained his experience among others in the Copenhagen’s Noma and the Spanish elBulli restaurants. Menu at the restaurant changes regularly and is entirely based on the best, carefully selected and seasonal Polish and European ingredients. Surprising combination of flavors and sous vide cuisine make up for the unique character of this place.


Sowa & Friends Restaurant

Robert Sowa cooked for the Polish national soccer team, the luxurious Jan III Sobieski hotel in Warsaw  and composed menus for LOT National Polish Airlines. Last year he decided to open his own restaurant. Sowa & Friends quickly became one of the most famous restaurants in Warsaw, certainly a must see or rather a “must taste”.

Robert Sowa loves seafood and is a big promoter of old, forgotten Polish recipes: simple, interesting and healthy.

How Sowa creates his excellent dishes?

“Provisions are formed in the head, on paper, in a pot, a pan, a plate. I can compare it to compose music. Composer hears sounds, I feel the taste. He creates a song, I mentally compose a dish, even though I’m not sure what it will be. He arranges the score, start to write down notes, I write down products. He sets his orchestra, I instruct cooks. He has the instruments, I ingredients. He begins to play, I cook. At the end  his work is assessed in concert halls, my on a plate.”

(source: Robert Sowa webpage: http://www.sowarobert.pl/ ).


Atelier Amaro Restaurant – Poland’s First Michelin-Starred Restaurant!

They do not work with the “la carte” concept, instead they offer prestigious menus in different formats, from three to eight delicious dishes, introducing supreme Polish flavor combinations. Atelier Amaro is also a member of Slow Food Poland Association. Last year, Atelier Amaro became the first restaurant in Poland rewarded by the prestigious Michelin Rising Star, appearing in the world’s best culinary guide and this March became the first restaurant in Poland to be awarded Michelin Star for culinary excellence! Atelier’s chef, Wojciech Modest Amaro, is the author of a bestselling book: “Polish Cuisine of 21st Century” and one of the most award–winning Polish chefs. He developed his skills with famous chefs, like Ferran Adria (Elbulli), Yanick Alleno (Le Meurice), and Rene Redzepi (Noma).

Chef Wojciech Amaro likes to show that being creative with traditional dishes can give magnificent results.


Opasły Tom PIW Restaurant

Arranged in the interior of the National Institute of Publishing (PIW) bookstore, Opasły Tom PIW shares tradition with an old café, that existed here in the 60s, visited by many Polish actors and writers.

Opasły Tom PIW is led by Agata Wojda, a very talented Polish chef. Menu in the restaurant is always short, sophisticated, and tasty! It includes dishes made from locally sourced, specially selected products. Juices are brought in from Maurerów, sheep cheese and other cheeses from the shepherd Wojtek Komperda, herbs from Maciejowice village and eggs only from the chicken barn and farm in Podlasie region, in eastern Poland. Opalsy Tom PIW is a place worth visiting if you’d like to experience the best of local cuisine!


AleGloria Restaurant

Magda Gessler’s famous AleGoria restaurant is more than a restaurant. It is an invitation to meet Polish art and Polish cuisine – fine, intelligent, drawing on tradition, and at the same time served in a contemporary setting. AleGoria may be called an embassy of Polish art in a modern version. “The art in harmony with the universe, the art that might impress contemporary Europe” – Magda Gessler points out. It is a ‘Polish culinary fusion’. If you want borscht, it has got to be prepared with raspberry syrup and beets marinated in balsamic vinegar. Tomato soup requires dill and a fresh pickled cucumber. Faworki (deep-fried pastry ribbons)? Yes, but … made of carp on kogel mogel (egg yolk stirred with sugar). ‘Polish fusion’ is also expressed by the interior design. Kurpie paper cuttings decorating … a modern elevator. Stags antlers of …. wooden branches and doll beads. Easter palms at the entrance all year round. Traditional embroideries made by Polish highlanders (the so called “parzenica”) and lace tablecloths.

Magda Gessler is the most recognizable Polish chef. She hosted Polish version of “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Master Chef” TV shows. She’s not only a chef, but also a painter. Her restaurants have most astonishing and wonderful look among all Polish restaurants!


Kraków – Cracow:

Ancora Restaurant

Herring appetizer from Ancora restaurant in Krakow, Poland.

Herring appetizer from Ancora restaurant in Krakow, Poland.

Ancora Restaurant, lead by chef Adam Chrząstowski is a unique place. If you visit Ancora during winter season, you will encounter a special menu, to make a chilly weather a little warmer.

The chef and the co-founder of Ancora Restaurant Adam Chrząstowski is a philosopher by education, but he dedicated his career to flavours, aromas and wine at a young age.

He learned his cooking skills in Switzerland, Poland (prestigious Hotel Bristol restaurant led by Kurt Scheller) and… China. Adam worked for two years at two Shanghai restaurants. This experience enabled him to create his unique, signature cooking style, famed for unconventional fusion of flavours and aromas.

Menu changes often, according to season, or upcoming holidays.

After exploring Wawel Castle, and Krakow Market Square visit Ancora Restaurant for a delicious meal full of surprises!


The Tricity – Gdańsk, Sopot, Gdynia:

Metamorfoza Restaurant – Gdansk

Located in the city of Gdansk by the Baltic sea, Metamorfoza restaurant offers very interesting mix of Polish cuisine with plenty of seafood dishes.

At Mertamorfoza traditional Polish cuisine is combined with flavours from many other regions of the world; some ingredients undergo molecular change to enrich taste values. A vast majority of dishes are cooked sous vide, the products are fresh, not frozen, and come from regional suppliers, ecological farms, and fishermen – straight from their fishing boats.


Walczyk Smaków Restaurant – Gdynia

“Restaurant only for connoisseurs of outstanding flavors.” The restaurant “Walczyk Flavors” welcomes guests interested in fine dining, sophisticated both in terms of menu selection, master cooking and serving the professional qualified personnel experienced in handling VIP guests.

Why the “Walczyk Flavors” is so special?

It’s friendly for business meetings and foreign tourists, offers discretion, care for the atmosphere and most importantly an outstanding menu. .

Simply put, “Walczyk Flavors” is worth experiencing for two good reasons:

First, the Chef – Jarek Walczyk, forever committed to offering top quality ingredients in all of his carefully prepared recipes.

Second, is “Thursday’s Live Cooking”. It’s very attractive form of spending time during business, family or friends meeting. All participants can take an active part in the preparation of dishes, which enriches the event. So, if you would like to try to cook with a master chef, visit “Walczyk Flavors”.



Art Hotel Restaurant

The capital of Lower Silesia offers many good restaurants, in which traditional Polish cuisine is mixed not only with modern flavors, but also with regional, Silesian dishes.

Good example of that is an Art Hotel restaurant, lead by chef Grzegorz Pomietlo. Located in a renaissance tenement, one the few so good preserved in Wroclaw, with authentic stone portals, and 18 century paintings, offers highly varied cuisine. If you want to try regional flavors of Lower Silesia, it will be a very good choice. The cuisine of Wroclaw is like it’s history; rich, fascinating, and still not completely discovered. It’s recipes were influenced with many other cultures.

Grzegorz Pomietlo is not afraid to present you with these flavors, and mix them with many modern recipes, creating tasty, unforgettable cuisine.


JaDka Restaurant

Pork knuckle served with horseradish sauce at JaDka restaurant.

Pork knuckle served with horseradish sauce at JaDka restaurant.

JaDka Restaurant is located in a cozy Wrocław theatre nook, near old, medieval butcher shops. Under its Gothic vault you will find a rich variety of flavors. The appetizing aroma of sauces and pungent smell of spices emphasize the unrepeatable nature of  Polish cuisine. All this is completed with a subtle nonetheless inspiring composition of salads.

At JaDka you can experience the taste of cold yogurt-and-beetroot soup, Zurek – sour rye soup eaten with potatoes, white sausage, hard-boiled egg and sometimes served in a bread bowl, golden chicken consommé with noodles, double fried lard mixed with onion, marjoram, apples or prunes – often spread over bread and served together with pickles as an appetizer before the main meal, steak tartar: raw minced beef with chopped onion and raw yolk, beef sirloin with mushroom sauce, Polish sausages, spare pork ribs in honey, roasted or grilled lamb, Bigos – seasoned “Hunter’s Stew” made from sauerkraut with chunks of various meats and sausages, Jewish carp in aspic with raisins, pierogi – very traditional small white dumplings, larger than ravioli, filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms, cheese and potatoes or with fruit or meat, pastry twisters, cheesecake, cake with apples and many, many more delicious desserts.


On your next travels to Poland experience Polish tastes at these trendy restaurants and you will not be disappointed. SMACZNEGO!

Szczesliwej Podrozy i Smacznego! (Happy Travels & Bon Appétit!)
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