Articles in Culinary Adventures
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. She is also co-founder of Warsaw Foodie, which follows and comments on Warsaw’s culinary scene. We nibbled on small plates and swilled some good wine with Poland’s top restaurant blogger at Warsaw wine kitchen Kieliszki na Próżnej where she shared stories of food trends, changes, successes and more.
‘We forgot, for a while in Poland, how to grow things,’ says Warsaw restaurateur, author and Opasły Tom co-owner, Agnieszka Kręglicka. ‘But this is turning around now. We’re starting to see a return to traditions and a focus on real food. Gastronomy is now growing really quickly. In Warsaw we’re seeing about 100 restaurants a year opening.’
KukBuk grew out of a ‘a pure love of cooking, eating and communicating round food.’ The intention was to merge cultural, culinary and lifestyle elements. We meet editor Agata Michalak and publisher Daria Pawlewskaat at the Warsaw offices of the award-winning magazine who share the story of KukBuk’s unexpected, unprecedented success. Then we visit Wilanów Palace.
Vodka is the most popular drink in Poland. Twenty years ago (during and immediately after the Soviet era) people were drinking shots, to get drunk. Now, they’re back to vodka for flavor, appreciation and enjoyment, says Pawel Matczak, our host at Dom Wódki in Warsaw, the first restaurant in the world to do menu pairings with vodka.
Would I like to join a study tour of Poland in the event of their being one? “Is the Pope a Catholic?” pops, appropriately I would say, to mind. A couple of months later the formal invite comes via a heavily accented voice on my cellphone. The itinerary is still being planned but she can tell me the duration of the tour will be six days. In October, same month as my previous visit. “Poland’s golden autumn.”
Felicity Vonmoos has stuck her finger up more chicken a-holes than she cares to remember. Hey, she’s a good mom! “Nine times out of 10 if a chicken looks unhappy, it’s because there’s an egg stuck in breach position. I turn it, make it easier for her to lay. Then she dashes off to eat.” Hens are great little creatures, she adds. “They just ask for food, love and water and in return, they work really hard and earn their keep. They lay an egg a day.”
ICC executive chef John Moatshe has cooked for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the late President Nelson Mandela and recently, for several thousand delegates attending Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban. When you quiz this urbane, unpretentious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs-awarded chef about highlights threading through his illustrious culinary career, you discover there are many.
British-born Caroline Grabowska and her Pawła Gąsiorek (Paul) have turned Dwór Sieraków, near Krakow in Poland, into a four-star historic hotels listed establishment. Chef Janusz Fic is the man culinary travelers will seek out at the restaurant, recognized by Slow Food Poland. Paul’s wine cellar is one of Poland’s finest. And their Dwór Sieraków vodka is now a label of note.
Portugal is known for its pastries. The most famous is the pastéis de nata. The original version of the famed pastéis de nata dessert was created more than 200 years ago. If you are in the Belem district of Lisbon and see a line of eager people as the author of this piece did, they’re likely waiting outside Café de Belém, better known as the Pastéis de Belém, home of the pastries and where 19,000 are sold on an average day.
Entering Wieliczka Salt Mine is like being transported into another world. A unreal, mystical, subterranean nether-world. Salt mining started here in the 13th century. Not surprisingly if a little eerily, the adventures, the stories, the lives of men and women who have lived and worked (and sometimes died) here, deep in the bowels of the earth, infuse the place. You feel it, sense it — or at least I did — as you descend after entering. As you climb down, down, down the narrow wooden stairwell into a nether world of caverns and tunnel-paths and overhangs. Small wonder this UNESCO Heritage Site is one of Poland’s top tourist attractions.