I’ll start with one of our favourite moments in Wroclaw, Poland…a morning walk followed by a beautiful breakfast at Central Cafe not far from where we were staying at the Puro Hotel in the Old Town (1st photo below). Puro Hotel (2nd photo below) was a super modern/high tech small hotel which is an unusual thing to find in such an historic Old Town. Our first impressions here weren’t very good as instead of a person to welcome you there is a bank of computers so very impersonal! We went up to our room – the word minimalist comes to mind to describe the style! The room was small but every inch of space had been carefully designed and it all worked quite well – there was also a pleasant view out to a pretty lane way. Other guests had views into the hotel courtyard which was set up as a small market on the weekend as can be seen in the photo. While we were staying they had a “Food Network Convention” with many people working in the industry staying there. The lobby had a Smartboard about x4 the size of what I used in school classrooms and while we had our morning coffee in a lounge area nearby, we could hear the presentation and produce/employment related discussions. It was all quite fascinating!
Of course, chefs and those who really love cooking might disagree but my philosophy when saving recipes is KEEP IT SIMPLE especially if you have a busy career and/or you would prefer to be doing something other than spending hours in the kitchen.
So the recipes I note in this post (and others) are generally quick and easy to make – unless I absolutely adore a more complex recipe for some reason. For example, I made Rum Babas Savarin Style (see French post) in the 70s (in my 20s) and it became my go to recipe if I’m asked to “bring dessert”. If I was short on time, Tiramisu was another good one as it’s a lot quicker; however, does need to be made night before – recipe in Italian post.
Where our food (+ travel) inspiration comes from...skip over this if you’re more interested in the food (more for our kids/grandkids one day:)
Tony usually enjoys cooking more than me, so I also pass on the more complex starters/mains to him – lucky me😉. However, he’s generally not into making desserts but he does enjoy helping me with a “Sicilian Apple Cake” – he likes the preciseness of slicing and layering the apple just right. I may have mentioned before that he did lots of Maths in his 2 degrees and his career and has a love of order – which I lack sometimes! I was the slap something healthy/tasty together fast sort of cook especially when he was away on business trips + I was working fulltime + I had 2 teen boys to feed + ageing parents to visit in Sydney + major spinal surgery looming – a long story and I could write a book! It was exhausting at times but life is so much better now! Our differing personality types has been a source of good natured teasing in recent decades…before that, more like regular debate!…all relationships take work! Off track with a bit of writing therapy here so please skim read/bear with my craziness (aren’t we all?) if more interested in the food😜…
Back to the Apple Cake... I’ll type that recipe up in a Sicily post…we had a week in Sicily a few years ago.
So onto the first food inspiration for this post…the photo just caught my eye as scrolling through photos from 2016 in Poland:
POLISH DUMPLINGS – PIEROGI (list of ingredients below photos + method on Net…see Polish Dumplings or Polish Dumlings for kids for an even easier start!
Poland’s national dish is pierogi – dumplings filled with cheese and potato and topped with fried onions. We went to many bars and restaurants during our 3 weeks in Poland (Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw…see previous posts) and Pierogi were always on the menu even in the less traditional restaurants where the chefs experiment with fusion techniques etc. They sometimes varied the fillings quite a bit but we did love the traditional dumplings – often served simply with a dipping sauce and at other times garnished beautifully like the plate below with red currants draped over the top. So pretty and appealing! The restaurant in Warsaw was Stara Kamienica (dumpling photo) – an elegant, old world setting as can be seen from the tablecloth.
Simple Polish Dumpling Ingredients:
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1 cup warm mashed potatoes
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
2 large shallots, diced; OR one medium onion, thinly sliced
For the Method Go to Simple Polish Dumplings for Kids; or there are fancier recipes to try as well if you have more time/energy😉
Photo above: Polish style herrings – I’ll check the Net and note the Polish name. Again the presentation was so lovely! It was a perfect combination of fresh flavours (herring/blueberries/onion rings/apple/pink peppercorns/lemon/herbs) and soft/crispy textures – delicious! I better go and prepare some lunch as it’s 1.30 pm here and this is making me hungry! Unfortunately, nothing quite so gourmet in our fridge today but there is some left over Italian which isn’t a bad substitute – last night we had Veal with Sage & Mozzerella + fresh green beans😋…the recipe is in my Italian food post🍝
Photo below: Warsaw Uprising Museum…So many great cafes and restaurants can be found at wonderful museums and galleries today – at home in Australia and in many parts of the world…on each trip we see things getting better in that regard and it’s inspiring! I love the way food is being connected with the Arts, History, Music, Culture…the list goes on – all so important in this totally mad world of ours! Never stop learning we say! If in Warsaw check out the fairly new Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN) – it’s outstanding! It received the 2016 award for the European Museum of the Year. Even if you don’t get to Warsaw, if you’re interested in building and architecture like our family, it’s worth looking at it on the Net. It’s architecturally magnificent as well. Of course their cafe/restaurant is excellent too – after our visit we had a late/delicious/long lunch…mostly Jewish food of course. We skipped dinner that night!
Photo above: Caramelised walnut sweets…so good with coffee – from Warsaw Uprising Museum cafe (off the bookshop). It’s a great museum too that tells the very heroic story of the Polish Resistance’s last attempt at the end of WWII (Aug 1944) to overthrow the Nazi German Regime. Tragically, the death toll was huge – Hitler and Himmler retaliated by destroying the city and the German military (and later notorious Russian mercenaries) killed a very large proportion of Warsaw’s citizens and inhabitants. More information on the history can be found on my Warsaw post if you’re interested.
Photos below: 2 more of our favourite traditional dishes in Poland were Whole Baked Apples with Cranberries (recipe will be posted as apples are coming into season in Australia now:); and Polish Nut Rolls...all varieties were beautiful! The hotel we stayed at in Warsaw (Polonia Palace Hotel…photo below) served both these plates at their stunning/elegant breakfast buffet. In fact the whole building was beautiful – one of the only historic buildings to survive the destruction of WWII (described above) because it was Nazi headquarters in Warsaw between 1939 and 1945 ie. the during of the War.
Photo above: The Radio Cafe in Warsaw. We enjoyed this cafe/restaurant and it has a very interesting history too (check out Net if interested). They served many Polish favourites including herrings in oil, pork knuckle (which Tony liked more than me) and a beautifully presented platter of grilled local vegetables – Mediterranean style with just a little extra virgin olive oil. It was a balmy evening in early September (we were lucky with weather over our 3 weeks in Poland!) in a very relaxed setting. They had an Polish and English menu and the staff were warm and welcoming.
Lots of cafes in the beautifully restored/reconstructed OLD TOWN OF WARSAW…we loved “To Lubie” where we met up with our Polish/Australian friend’s niece. We can recommend their fresh fruit tarts! After this meet up with our new friend, I accidentally photo bombed a wedding photo – Tony was calling out but I didn’t hear him. Very funny when I look back at the photo…that’s me on the right coming up the steps😂
If you love interesting food as well as learning about history don’t miss the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Photo below) – it’s also worth going to look at the stunning modern architecture. Last year (2016) it won the award for Best European Museum. You might be wondering why I’m mentioning a Museum in a food post…like I mentioned above, many restaurants around the world are seeing the connections between food and culture and POLIN does this so well with their beautiful restaurant. It’s possible to have either a casual meal or a more formal experience. It’s open quite early in the morning and may even be open in the evening? We had a memorable lunch – so many delicious plates of both traditional Polish/Jewish food as well as Modern European/Fusion etc. The whole museum is innovative and cutting edge with interactive exhibits etc. – the food in the restaurant reflects that sophistication too. We highly recommend a visit! We took the tram – just get detailed information from Tourist Information in the centre of the city – we almost missed the museum stop. It was only a 2 min walk from the stop. We didn’t get any photos of the outside of the museum (photo below is from the Net) as there were quite a few school groups and security guards didn’t want us taking photos. There’s airport type security at the entrance and any large bags need to be left in a locker (free).
Photos below from Net: POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews