Polish Yums

The most recent box from Universal Yums was loaded with great snacks from Poland. I was excited for these because I’ve been to Poland a couple of times so I felt more connected even though I didn’t have any of these.

Another pretty solid box, nothing that would make a top 10 all time snack list but nothing making the worst 10 either.

It was actually difficult to pick a favorite because there was no “star” but several I really liked. Upon reflection I enjoyed one of the simple ones most.

E. Wedel Ptasie Mleczko are dark chocolate covered vanilla marshmallow treats. The chocolate was moderately dark and had a good cocoa taste. The marshmallow was a slightly different texture than most I’ve had. It was almost like a cross between marshmallow fluff and a gummy. Very sweet with a hint of vanilla. As I said simple but tasty. The next favorite was more complex in the flavors dept.

This big bag of Pierniczki Basniowe turned out to be heart shaped gingerbread covered with dark chocolate and filled with an apple jam like substance. Lots of flavors going on here. The chocolate was decent, the gingerbread was mild and the touch of apple filling was appley and sweet. Very nice combo and hard to stop eating. Weirdly it was also hard to stop eating what I’m putting in the “worst” category.

I didn’t even get a picture of these so here’s a photo from the internet.

Image result for beskidzkie paluszki

These were poppy seed covered pretzel sticks. Worst in this case means they were the most disappointing, not that they were bad. The pretzel stick was actually delicious and the poppy seeds were plentiful but there was no salt other than what might have been in the stick batter. In my opinion that was a significant lack. However once I started munching on them I kept going back for one more crunchy little stick.

The oddest one was also one I’d say was probably my third favorite of the box.

Rarytas Crackers were little Ritz like crackers with black cumin seeds and onion. I like cumin as a spice but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to add it to a cracker, fortunately someone else had better vision. After tasting the first of these I immediately went and made a bowl of soup to go with the crackers and make no mistake the soup was the side dish for the meal. I mean I really enjoyed these crackers.

I’m going to throw out a mention to the first of the snacks I had out of the box just because they were fun.

These little ghost shaped potato crisps were light, crisp, salty and potatoish. A tad on the greasy side but still made me smile as I devoured the little spirits.

I think next month’s box is going to be from France so I’m hoping for wine and cheese but no snail flavored snacks.

Poznan pt 2


This is part two of a visit to Poznan.  If you missed the first part you can find it here.

We continued to patronize the wonderful breakfast buffet at the hotel in the mornings and had lunches brought in so the evenings were the food highlights for the last two evenings.

Wednesday night we went back the Stary Browar and to the Piano Bar restaurant.  We had the entire compliment of people working on the project so we had a large round table that accommodated all 14 of us but still allowed conversation with everyone.  In spite of the presence of the eponymous Piano no one played while we were there and none at the table admitted to being a pianist.  So we just had socialize and eat.

My first choice of meal was a grilled ostrich steak but they were out of ostrich so I settled for lamb chops.  As settling went it was a nice back up.

The lamb came with a few little potatoes and a pureed carrot sauce that made a good combo.  The lamb was tender and very mildly seasoned so the taste of the potatoes and carrots were very much in play.  I don’t say this often but the side salad was actually more interesting from a flavor standpoint.  It had some baby greens, sun dried tomatoes, marinated pears and Gorgonzola cheese.  The slight bitterness of the greens contrasted with the sweetness of the pears and the texture of the tomatoes made them standout and of course Gorgonzola.  A glass of Lech Premium beer washed it all down.

On the final night, since we had to be up at an unbelievably early hour to go to the airport, a couple of us decided to eat at the hotel bar again. Before I get to the food I have to go off on a quick tangent.

The waiter we had was a tall, thin fellow with very close cropped hair.  He was a very model of a cordiality and precision as he took care of us but it was bugging me because he reminded me of someone and I couldn’t figure out who until after I got back home.  This guy was a dead ringer for Christopher Eccleston during his Doctor Who run. It’s probably just as well I didn’t figure it out then as I’d likely have made some sort of time lord joke he’d not have understood.

Ok now back to the food.  I decided the to just go with the next thing on the menu after the duck I’d had the first night which turned out to be veal loin.

Let’s do a trip around the plate because it’s not easily apparent what each item is.  Starting at the 6 o’clock position we have and egg yolk confit, at 9 we have buckwheat groats wrapped in cabbage and topped with a couple cloves of roasted garlic.  At 12 is a hunk of wholemeal bread toast topped with more garlic and at 3 o’clock is the veal loin. All served with a thyme sauce.

That hunk of veal doesn’t look very big but somehow it seemed bigger when I cut into it (see what I did there Whovians?)  The veal was tasty and tender but again the sides held my interest more.  The egg yolk confit had the consistency of a thick custard and unsurprisingly tasted just like egg.  The buckwheat groats were an interesting change of pace on the grain front and I enjoyed them.  The cabbage wrap was tender and not fall apart soggy like I was afraid it might be.  The toast and roasted garlic was good but since I’d be trapped in planes for 11 hours the next day I didn’t want to subject people to the aftermath of a 3 clove meal so just had one.  I have to say as hotel restaurants go I’ve had great experiences both times I’ve been to Poznan.

From a culinary standpoint this trip was a winner on every front.  The food was great, the people were friendly, the atmosphere was welcoming and the company was outstanding at every meal.


Poznan pt 1


Image result for poland passport stamp

After a bit of a holiday hiatus the Culinary-Passport is back with a two parter from a business trip to Poznan Poland.  After a couple of flights, one long and one delayed we got into Poznan, got to the hotel, checked in and unpacked we were pretty much beat.  That being the case we decided to dine in the hotel bar area which got their food from the hotel’s restaurant.  The restaurant was just a bit fancier than we were feeling so it was really the best of both worlds, casual atmosphere and fine dining.

The hotel we stayed in was the Andersia and their restaurant is Flavoria which also served the daily breakfast buffet which I’ll get to next.  The bar had a fun sort of retro feel to it with these interesting scoop shaped stools that felt like something out of a 70’s vision of the future.  The bartender who was also our server spoke pretty good English and was very friendly and helpful answering questions on the menu.

For my first meal this trip to Poland I went with duck as it was mentioned as a good local choice.

The grilled duck came on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes with pear chutney and caramelized endives in a marjoram sauce.  The duck was good, it was a bit tough to cut but it was easy to chew.  There was very little seasoning to the duck so the other dishes added the flavor highlights and every side was delicious.  My favorite though was the pear chutney.  Accompanied by a half liter of the Lech lager on draft it was a successful first meal.

Our room rate came with the breakfast buffet served in the restaurant.  The buffet was outstanding and designed to offer something for everyone no matter your culture.  In addition to eggs, bacon & sausage that are standard fare for us they had a salad bar with vegetables & fruit next to a cheese and cold cut section.  Across from that was a pastry, waffle, bread & roll section not far from three different hot cereal options that varied each day.  There were also selections of smoothies, yogurts, juices, milk, teas & coffees.  If you couldn’t find something to enjoy from this buffet you had to be basically dead.  For my first breakfast I went mainly protein with a slice of melon and one of bread as nods toward balance.

The eggs had such dark orange yolk I thought they had cheese in them but it was all egg.  I got one of each of the sausage options.  The white sausage was best described by one of my colleagues as tasting like a hot dog.  The reddish brown one was like a mini kielbasa and very good.  The sausage wrapped in bacon also had a light coating of cheese so while the sausage wasn’t as good as the mini kielbasa the combination was outstanding.  I couldn’t pass up grabbing a deviled egg from the salad bar area because who doesn’t love a deviled egg.  I didn’t toast the bread but it was a nice multigrain with some big seeds to give it texture and crunch.  The cantaloupe was ok but the mango orange juice was a fruit win.  Coffeewise I snagged a cup from the plastic urn because I didn’t feel like participating in the coffee dance around the fancy cappuccino / espresso machine.

The second evening after a long work day we went across the street to a mall built where an old brewery had been, Stary Browar.  One of our local colleagues was our guide & interpreter and after a bit of shopping we adjourned to one of the restaurants in the mall, Weranda which was an interesting place.

We dined in a loft section of the restaurant.  I’m not sure how best to describe the place as it had big pictures of tribes people of varying cultures, hanging mobiles of orbs and stars plus plants all over the place.  The picture directly across from me hanging above 3 of my dinner companions was a man with 1 tooth and two circles in his nose and a piercing or two, smiling like he just won the lottery.

I chose the grilled pork loin in mushroom sauce as my entree while three others opted for the burger and another for one of their huge salads.

You can’t even see my pork loin for the mushroom sauce but trust me there was a nicely grilled hunk of tender pork hiding under all those mushrooms and they made a tasty combo.  Alongside  the pork I got buckwheat groats with goat cheese and a pickled cucumber salad.  As good as the pork and mushrooms were I really enjoyed the novelty of the sides more.  The salad consisted of sliced cucumber pickles that had just a few pieces of onion in the mix and the tart acidic taste made a great contrast to the creamier mushroom sauce.  The buckwheat was ok but the addition of the soft tangy goat cheese brought it up a few notches.  To wash down the meal I started with a Polish craft porter and finished with some of the fruit infused water, both of which deserve a mention.


The porter was an accident.  Our local guide was a bit of a beer connoisseur and currently on a black IPA kick so she was trying to order the two of us one.  After a long conversation with our server she thought we had one on the way.  He showed up with two porters and that garnered him a couple of side eyes.  I decided to keep mine since they didn’t really have a black IPA.  It turned out to be a good pairing with meal.  It had a chocolate & molasses flavor that gave it a sweetness that cut the tartness of the pickled salad and goat cheese.  Towards the end of the meal I opted for water instead of another beer.  The water was served in a large carafe and had raspberries, lemons, cucumbers, mist and probably some other fruit leisurely bathing in it.   I definitely got the cucumber and mint tastes with undercurrents of lemon.  It was refreshing but not how I’d want my water every day.

By all accounts the burgers & salads were also excellent.

Day two had to be considered a culinary success.  Next week we’ll hit the last two dinners.





After a couple of weeks off due to holidays and the snowstorm that wasn’t, it was time to grab the passport and head out.  Destination this week was Taste of Europe in Matthews, NC that specializes in Polish cuisine.  The restaurant is kind of small and has a split seating area.  The front has 4 tables and there is another area in the back that I didn’t venture into but it wasn’t huge either so it doesn’t take long to fill up.  I don’t know about the back but the front was noisy even with so few tables so if you want a quiet meal keep driving but if you just want some good food park and head in.

I didn’t see anything on the menu I wouldn’t have tried but in the interest of my waistline and wallet I just went with the Polish Sampler that came with a cabbage roll, a piece of grilled kielbasa, and a few pierogis in your flavor choice.  My choice was sweet farmer’s cheese.

The cabbage roll was stuffed with seasoned meat and rice and had a nice mild tomato sauce over it and was quite tasty.  The polish sausage was pretty much the same you could find in any grocery store.  I’d never had sweet farmer’s cheese pierogis before but now that I have I would recommend them.  The farmer’s cheese is a soft white cheese as you can see from the second photo.  It has a consistency that reminded me of ricotta cheese, is really mild and they added a bit of sugar to sweeten it.  You can get the pierogis either boiled or pan fried.  I opted for boiled as that is the more traditional. Interestingly, according to the lady who was the lone server talking to another patron, most Americans prefer the fried.  That might just be a southern thing but I’m sure they would have been good fried too.

I was disappointed they didn’t have potato pancakes but that was probably for the best anyway since the sampler plate was enough to fill me up but not leave me stuffed.  Overall I’d rate this a great comfort food kind of meal that felt like authentic Polish.  I think I’ll be going back at some point to try the hunter’s stew and pork cutlet.

If you like cabbage rolls, Polish music or random trivia stop by the Tell Me More page.

A final note, the one year anniversary of the blog is coming up in a couple of weeks and there will be a giveaway to celebrate so stay tuned for details.