Krakow – City Break

Last weekend saw me, my sister and my mum take our first trip abroad together, just the three of us. It’s crazy that in almost 30 years, we have only ever been to London together on a mother/daughter break. We wanted to go somewhere different and a few of mine and my sisters colleagues mentioned how good Poland, in particular Krakow was. With the help of dad, we managed to get a good deal on flights on a hotel. The hotel, Queen Boutique was in a good location, 15 minutes walk from the Old Town and 5 minutes walk from the Jewish Quarter. The train station was 20-25 minutes walk away and was how we got to the centre from the Airport. 9 zloty each and a straightforward journey and walk (if I can work out how to buy tickets and which stop to get off at, anyone can).

Beer Hall

Bierhalle – Pork Crackling and Lard, Sour Rye Bread Soup, Pierogi, Beef Stew with Potato Pancake

Groats

Gruzinskie Chaczapuri Restraunt – Georgian Dumplings, Breaded Pork Cutlet with Roast Potatoes, Goulash with Sauerkraut and Groats

Milk Bar

U Babci Maliny – Mixed Pierogi. Peramin Chill Out – Cocktails and Gin

We stayed there for four days (Saturday to Tuesday) and planned two days of activities before we got there. The difficulty was deciding which to do. If you’ve ever been away with me, you’ll know that I love food and when I’m abroad (especially somewhere for the first time) I like to try as much of the local cuisine as I possibly can. I probably ate more in these four days than I do normally in a week! A unique way of doing this is booking onto a food tour. I was able to find one with the help of Trip Adviser. Eat Polska offered a small group tour around Krakow sampling local cuisine. In four hours you would visit four different establishments and sample 12 different foods (plus a shot of vodka). We did this tour on the Monday and was worried that we would be repeating foods that we had already tried as we were having our meals in restaurants that did local cuisine (think goulash, beetroot soup, pierogi and sauerkraut). But we needn’t have worried. Our tour guide took us to places that we wouldn’t have considered (or I turned down as not authentic enough), very informative on the history of Polish cuisine and a true foodie. We were learning from each other on food trends, behaviours around food and I picked up some recipes. I surprised her with my knowledge on Polish cuisine (all learnt from my Polish Meat Free Feast). I strongly recommend booking a place on this tour (or look for food tours on your next city break). It’s not only about trying local cuisine but also about learning about the history and culture of the country. We visited one of the numerous food markets and the amount of seasonal fresh produce available was good. Made me envious of how much we take for granted having produce available all year round. We struggled with the cheeses and meats but still managed to eat all our cake 🙂 Our eyes may have been bigger than our bellies as we then stopped of at E.Wedels for a trio hot chocolate taster. You’ll be pleased to know that we were then in food comas for the rest of the day.

Food Tour

Eat Polska Food Tour (plus a Trio Chocolate Sampler)

Our tastings were:

  • Zapiekanka – Polish Street Food, pizza
  • Zalewajka – sour rye soup
  • Barszcz z pierogiem – red borscht / beetroot soup with dumplings
  • Obwarzanek – Polish pretzel
  • Sliwka wędzona – smoked prunes (yes…that is correct)
  • Śledź maties z kwaśną śmietaną, gryczano grzybowym poppingiem i dymką – matjes herring with sour cream, buckwheat popping and spring onion (a modern twist on traditional cuisine)
  • Stek Hanger na ziemniaczanym racuchu z boczkiem z sosem z boczniaków i pieczonego czosnku – Hanger steak on potato pancake with bacon and oyster mushrooms and baked garlic sauce (a modern twist on traditional cuisine)
  • Biała kasza gryczana smażona z warzywami, słonecznikiem i boczniakiem – Fried white buckwheat with vegetables, sunflower and oyster mushrooms
  • Puree ziemniaczane – Potatoe puree
  • Warzywa z czosnkowo – ziołowym masłem – Vegetables with herbs & garlic butter
  • Wódka Baczewski – shot of Baczewski vodka
  • Polish cheeses: – twaróg – quark, oscypek – smoked sheep’s milk cheese, koryciński – cow’s milk cheese, klagany – mild cow’s milk cheese, homiłki – cheese balls with mint
  • Coldcuts platter: schab – pork loin, salceson – brawn, boczek – pork belly, kiełbasa – sausage, pasztetowa – spreadable pate
  • Vodka chasers : smalec – lard, chrzan – horseradish, ogórki kiszone – sour pickles, sour dough bread
  • Kremówka – cream cake

Our second booked activity was a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau. Although my mum was a bit reluctant to go on this tour, we felt we needed to as it is part of our history. Although very emotional, the tour and attraction have been done in a respectful manner. It is something that you would need to do if visiting Poland. It does take a day to visit and I would suggest that you only do the one trip in the day. Some tours offer both this and a visit to the salt mines but personally, I think that it is too much for one day. However, I would like to go back and visit Krakow again to go to the Salt Mines and visit some of the other attractions that we were unable to do. We managed to walk around the Castle and visit the Underground Museum. 

Sights

Before getting to Krakow, I had a mental list of the different foods that I wanted to try and I managed to sample them all. On our first day we had lunch in a beer hall where I got to try sour rye bread soup with white sausage. In the evening I tried Georgian beef stew with groats and sauerkraut. I learnt from the food tour that groats is buckwheat and is a well used grain in Poland. The following evening we visited a milk bar which was different. The menu consists of cheap, traditional foods. The room is set up with long benches and stools and is more of a self service. Orders are placed at the till and you then wait for your number to be called. I tried to re-create my homemade Polish feast and tried the beetroot soup and the peirogi three ways. Another thing I learnt from the food tour was that the beetroot borscht I’d made is known as Hungarian borscht in Poland (explains why the beetroot soup was more of a broth in the milk bar). Our final meal in Poland was in the Jewish District where we enjoyed a set menu. I finally got round to trying the last item on my mental food list, bigos stew!

Momo

Momo Cafe – Pumpkin Soup, Bigos (Hunters Stew), Mama’s Tea.

Spiral Bread

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited on two masterclass sessions ran by Luis Troyano (finalist in last years GBBO) at work. In one session I joined a number of food bloggers in a watch and follow for a chocolate hazelnut and orange tart. The other session was a cookery demonstration with fellow colleagues on bread making where Luis showed us how to make some flavoured spiral muffins. It was this session that I enjoyed the most and was the recipe that I wanted to try and make at home. Well, this weekend was the chance I got to do exactly that.

Last month, I suggested that me and the girls should have a girls night in where we each brought a cocktail to make and some food to go with it. Straight away, the flavoured spiral muffins mentioned above came to mind. But instead of putting them in muffin tins, I wanted to make as a share and tear style loaf. The cocktail choice was easy. Mai tai.

Here’s the recipe that I used Spiral Bread Muffins – Luis Troyano

You might think it a bit strange to put bread in the fridge overnight for its first proving but it works. I normally find that my bread never doubles in size when I follow the traditional method of leaving it out for a couple of hours. It just isn’t warm enough. But following the method for this recipe worked a treat. Being able to start it the night before was also a bonus. When preparing the olives and peppers for the filling, dry them out on some kitchen roll as you want the filling to be as dry as possible or it will hinder the second proving. It does take a bit of time to prepare the filling (chopping up the olives, peppers and cheese) but let me tell you, it’s worth it. The saltiness from the serrano ham, manchego cheese and olives is complimented by the sweetness of the peppers. The melted manchego cheese adds a gooey texture and seems so naughty. The filling could easily be changed for something else. I’m considering using pesto or sun-dried tomatoes next time so that Mr W will try some (he’s not a big cheese fan). It was a big hit with the girls and I was able to give some to my parents for them to try (they shared with friends before a Chinese takeaway. Weird combination but it still went down well).

Spiral BreadCocktails and Tapas

I just wanted to include some pictures from the girls night. Of the food and cocktail combinations. The first drink of the night  was sangria. This tasted like the sangrias I remember from my holidays to Spain. Imagine my surprise when I was told that they had added Pimms to this batch!! This was paired with some crispy chicken kebabs. By the way, that’s the serving bowl, not my glass!!

Sangria with chicken kebabsUp next was my serrano ham and manchego cheese with olives and peppers spiral share and tear bread (bit of a mouthful). As mentioned above, my cocktail of choice was a mai tai. Boy, was this lethal. The recipe I was using didn’t included any fruit juice to dilute it down. Although, the more you drank the more it grew on you.

Spiral tear and share

Round three involved two dishes and two cocktails. The first pairing was a paella with a rum punch. The rum punch was my favourite cocktail of the night. It was a mixture of pineapple juice, orange juice, white rum, dark rum and coconut rum…holiday. The second pairing was patatas bravas with a bramble. A tapas dish that always goes down well. The cocktail, for me, was a bit too heavy on the gin but still managed to finish it.

Paella Patatas Bravas

And the grand finale, chocolate fondue with a raspberry Bellini. Can’t go wrong with chocolate and cava. Only thing missing was marshmallows but I don’t think we would have had enough room for them.

Chocolate Fondue