Results tagged “poland”

Feeling sheepish

poland
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Smbarnabyoscypek0001.jpgA day without vodka has done Barnaby the power of good and he is now back on solid food.  To nurse himself back to health he has been nibbling on his favourite of all Polish cheeses - oscypek ('os-tsi-pek'), smoked mountain sheep's cheese.

Oscypek is a speciality of the Tatras mountains around Zakopane.  The sheep's milk curds are packed into carved wooden moulds, most traditionally a spindle shape, to harden, and then hung in woodsmoke to acquire their classic colour and flavour. 

Apparently unscrupulous market traders paint their cheeses with coffee to imitate the authentic oscypek appearance.   But this one came from an impeccable source via Richard and Marzena's cheese lady.

A good oscypek should squeak when you bite into it and have a rich buttery taste.  Barnaby likes his sliced and fried until crispy golden-brown on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Beyond the valley of the dumplings

czech republic, germany, poland
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Smstuffeddumplings0001.JPG Well since leaving France we've come quite a long way (now about 3,500km on the clock in fact).  We shifted across Germany pretty fast, eating nice fresh apples and sticky spätzle by the Bodensee and then great griesenschmalz in the Bayrisches Wald.  But we wanted more - spätzle only get you so far - so we crossed over the mountains into the snowy Böhmerwald and the Czech Republic, immediately being rewarded with the first dumpling sightings of the journey.

This was only the beginning - we soon made our way to Bohemia and Český Krumlov, where we learnt all about why Czech beer tastes so good, and about its ideal accompaniment in the form of (imagine the excitement) the stuffed dumpling.  Next to Moravia ...

Places to eat in Poland

poland
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Smpierogi0001.jpgDuring our quest for the best żurek, pierogi (pictured), barszcz and golonka we came across these rather nice places to eat. 

Should you find yourself in Zakopane, Kraków or Kazimierz Dolny (three of the prettiest towns in Poland), you could do a lot worse than dine here...

Places to stay in Poland

poland
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SmRichardMarzena0001.JPGOf course, the best place to stay in Poland is where we spent most of our time - with Richard and Marzena and their two lovely daughters at their home in Zakopane. 

But if you’re not lucky enough to know them, you could try one of these other places which we would highly recommend.  (Places we would not recommend not included.)  Most fun is to stay in an agrotourism, along with the goats, rabbits, cows and sheep...

Breakfast: Poland again

poland
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IMG_1267t.jpg
I know we've already done Poland, but this was amazing: żurek with kielbasa (i.e. fermented sour rye soup with sausage).  Both were home-made by our hosts here in Barcice Dolny, and both were wonderful.

Sweet, sweet honey

poland
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Smbarnabymiodula0001.JPG Today Barnaby discovered that in Poland they make Miodula - a vodka made out of honey.  Yes, a vodka. Made out of honey.

Bears are quite keen on honey.

Barnaby is quite keen on vodka.

You get the picture.

Today we are taking him to safety in Slovakia.

Refusing to be cowed

poland
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Smbarnabycow0001.jpgToday Barnaby challenged Malina to a staring contest.  They both claim to have won but we couldn't really tell.

Malina (Polish for 'Raspberry') was enjoying some free time between morning and evening milkings.  She provides the entire Łatka family, and us today, with organic milk. 

Mrs Łatka cleverly transforms the milk into sour cream, butter and cottage cheese, using not much other than a warm room and a food processor.  The whey and buttermilk don't go to waste - not only do they make delicious drinks on their own, but they also go into a number of Mrs Łatka's homemade treats, including her żurek soup and linseed bread.  Go and stay with them in Barcice Dolne and you'll see what I mean. 

A Pole apart? Thinking outside the goat-shed

poland
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smkoziesery0001.JPGLuckily, by the time we'd reached the remote Bieszczady Mountains we'd learnt enough Polish to recognize that 'kozie sery' meant 'goat's cheeses'.  (It's great being married to a linguist.)  So when the hand-painted wooden sign appeared by the side of the road we slammed on the brakes - and then tentatively approached the farm gate, while two enormous barking dogs approached us from the other side, a lot less tentatively.

The farmer came to our rescue, and proceeded to introduce us to his goats and cheeses with great generosity of spirit.  You'd be forgiven for thinking that in this far-flung corner of southeastern Poland he was making cheese the way his great-grandfather had, according to time-honoured Polish tradition, isolated from the world.  But you'd be wrong (as we were).  In fact, Zbigniew Wantula's cheeses have truly international dimensions, but with traditional cores. We were to discover how Germany, France, Greece and the UK were all playing their part...

Billy goat's gruff

poland
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Smbarnabygoat0001.jpgBarnaby made a hasty exit when the big boss goat at Zbigniew Wantula's dairy farm caught him messing around in the barn with his 22 wives.

Barnaby was just being curious - he wanted to know where the delicious goat's cheese he had just tried came from.

In this far flung corner of southeast Poland Zbigniew makes fresh goat's cheeses and feta-style aged ones. You can buy it direct from the farm, or if like Barnaby you're too traumatised to go that close, you can get it in the pub up the road.

Breakfast: Poland

poland
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IMG_1227.JPG
A seriously hearty farmhouse breakfast just outside Kazimierz Dolny.  As well as the array of rolls, meat, cheese you might expect, check out the eggs and bacon! And the proper butter ... fantastic.

Polish bingo caller

poland
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SmKrakow0001.jpgWe heard this walking down the street in Kraków this evening, and didn't realise what it was for a while.  If you understand Polish, presumably this sounds like a very boring string of numbers - which is all it is (it's a bingo caller in action).  But if (like us) you don't, it sounds like some kind of mysterious ritual chant.

Click here to listen.

Click here for more audio samples.

A bakery with a view

poland
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Smsamantadonuts0001.JPGIn the basemenent of Maciej Rzankowski's bakery, Cukiernia Samanta, there's a 100-year-old poppy-seed grinder that's been in the family since 1927 - much like the business itself.  It started with his grandparents, in the southern Polish town of Zakopane, up in the Tatras mountains.  And it's still there over 80 years later, and still going strong: Zakopane only has a population of about 26,000, but on the last Thursday before Lent ('Fat Thursday', the Polish equivalent of Mardi Gras) he sells 47,000 pączki doughnuts

Since 1927 there have been many changes in Poland, much of which we found reflected in the history of Cukiernia Samanta. There's a lot that his grandparents wouldn't recognise: it's changed from a one-shop operation into an out-of-town factory supplying cafés all over town.

But there's a lot they would recognise, too. It's still an avowedly local, family business, still has the same eye for quality, and the loyal customer base who wouldn't let him get away with anything less. And having tasted a selection of delicious freshly baked goodies - both in one of the downtown cafés and after our tour of the factory - we're sure his grandparents would have been proud of all of them.

Like a bear with a sore head

poland
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Smbarnabyapplepie0001.JPGLast night Barnaby had a great time in Zakopane drinking 'apple pies' with Anna and Matt's friends Richard and Marzena.  Richard makes a mean cocktail using just Żubrówka, the famous Polish vodka flavoured with bison grass, and apple juice.  Its innocent taste is remarkably like a delicious apple pie, buttery pastry and all.  Today Barnaby is a bear a little worse for wear.  (Although he looks better than Matt and Anna.)

Read recipe here.

Apple pies

poland
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Smapplepie0001.JPGThe combination of Żubrówka and apple juice is a popular Polish tipple.  (Or of course, you can omit the apple juice.) 

Żubrówka (aka bison grass vodka), made in Poland since the 16th century or earlier, is said to boost manliness, stamina and sexual drive.  This is because it's infused with the grass which the bison of Białowieża forest in Poland love to eat.   These ancient bison are so fond of this special grass that attempts to transplant them to other parts of Europe have failed due to the absence of the grass.  Every bottle of Żubrówka contains one stem of the grass.

This recipe comes courtesy of Richard Abel, our friend in Zakopane, Poland.  Richard welcomed us to Poland with several rounds of apple pies...
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