Life’s a FroBlog for Warsaw Foodie blogger Joanna Mroz
Popular Warsaw wine kitchen Kieliszki na Próżnej serves up small plates plus stories of food trends, changes and successes shared by Poland’s top restaurant blogger.
Wanda Hennig: Warsaw
Warsaw is rich in culinary luminaries. One of them is Joanna Mróz, prolific founder-author of Poland’s popular food blog, FroBlog: “Fro” being the acronym for Fine Restaurants Only.
Joanna has (as of October 2017 and counting) been blogging about Poland’s culinary scene, mainly through what is served up at good-food restaurants, for 10 years.
We meet her at Kieliszki na Próżnej, a trendy cutting-edge Warsaw “wine kitchen”. The aptness of this description is reflected both in their acclaimed wine list and the decor. As of their first anniversary in October 2016, Kieliszki na Próżnej was one of the most popular eateries in restaurant-rich Warsaw.
To share how the folks at Kieliszki na Próżnej see themselves: “Our cuisine does not diverge from the Polish tradition but we give it a touch of freshness and creativity. Our menu, apart from main courses, contains small plates – little and original snacks we are proud of that taste great with wine. Our cooks use products from small, local suppliers that have to meet our high standards, just like our vineyards.”
See the FroBlog entry on Kieliszki na Próżnej, in Polish, here.
Joanne started blogging anonymously. The beginnings were simple. She says she had no idea it would take off as it did.
“What I was writing, at first, was a culinary culture blog to share my views on food, film and music with a friend in the United States.”
The blog developed a following. It received media attention.
Noting where most interest was directed, she tweaked her focus “and started writing restaurant reviews.” So, FroBlog is a restaurant review site. To visit it is to take a virtual Poland culinary journey of good eating experiences.
In 2012, spurred by the success of FroBlog, “A friend and I started Warsaw Foodie. Here the focus on new restaurants and what’s happening in and around food.
“It took off. It became hot! It’s success surprised us.”
There is lots to cover. “It is something of a trend in Warsaw for restaurants to open and close within five months,” Joanna says. Which makes me feel more than a little sad: thinking of hopes raised and dashed. Broken dreams. The challenges of the food business.
If you check out Warsaw Foodie, you can see what has opened; what has closed. What is new. Who is doing what. It is practical and information-driven.
Poland as culinary destination
With the rise of Poland as a whole, and Warsaw in particular, as a culinary destination, it seems apt to raise a glass and congratulate Joanna for being in the right place and doing the right thing at the right time.
Over dinner—small plates that include a succulent chunk of lightly grilled fish topped with “caviar” and a delightful fresh polenta-based veggie dish and a light-as-air dessert with berries: I photographed them (in good-for-conversation, pretty bad for food photography, restaurant light) but sorry, didn’t write descriptions and the online menu, which probably has changed, is in Polish—Joanne told us about her recently completed food studies course.
By chance, the course she did was run by Magdalena Tomaszewska-Bolałek. Joanna’s major thesis project was researching and writing about modern gastronomy “starting from Escoffier and continuing on to molecular.”
Joanne confirms what I have heard from other foodies and successful chefs. Something that speaks for a unified Europe. For sharing ideas. Giving and taking. Learning and returning.
“When Poland opened to the EU, quite a few chefs took the opportunity to go work in kitchens and restaurants in Europe and the UK.
“The owner of this restaurant (Kieliszki na Próżnej) worked at the Ritz in London; came back and opened up here.”
She also shares some surprising food for thought:
“The average check—money I paid for a meal in a restaurant—has dropped 50 percent since I started FroBlog. More casual places are opening. Eateries people can afford. Along with this, the street food scene has evolved.
- “To succeed, a new restaurant has to be different; unique. So a pizza would need to be a special pizza dish. It would need to be the first of its kind in Poland or something like that to get people interested.
- “There is a fascination in poultry. Maybe everyone likes chicken. It remains popular. But now, the trend is duck. Sexy duck.” Lots are doing duck, and interesting things with duck. And, she says,
- “Fine dining, internationally, is dead. Even in Paris, the focus is bistro-style dining. Same in Poland. In the summertime, the food truck scene is big.”
I get back to my hotel and link to Joanna Mróz via @Froblog and @Warsawfoodie.pl on Instagram.
Some special links not in the article above:
- To join a culinary tour from the US or elsewhere, connect with Sarna Rose at Poland Culinary Vacations.
- In Poland connect with Monika Kucia. See her Polish P(a)late on Facebook.
- Warsaw Official website.
- With thanks to the Department of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, Warsaw.
- And the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Pretoria.
© Words and Photos Wanda Hennig, 2017