My birthday noms

December 31, 2013 • 6:52 am

Because I was being feted on my birthday by being taken to a Polish restaurant in Płock (the line through the “l” makes it pronounced as a “w”), I ate sparsely at lunch. Besides tomatoes and bread (not shown), there was an assortment of kielbasa (Polish sausages) and discs of the famous smoked cheese from the Tatra mountains, oscypek (lower right):


Płock is a 35-minute drive from Dobrzyn, and is situated on the Vistula. Although we arrived at about 4 pm for some sightseeing, the sun was already setting:


The Płock Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Masovia, is one of the oldest in Poland, founded in the 11th century and reconstructed in the sixteenth after a fire. It’s a lovely Romanesque structure, and we were allowed to go inside, but it was too dark to photograph.


Meanwhile, in front of the town hall there was a skating rink. Many of the skaters were quite skilled; the sport is obviously common in this wintery land.


On to the important stuff: birthday noms! We went to the Karczma pod Strzecha restaurant, highly recommended for its Polish food (menu here, conversion is about 3 zlotys to the dollar; see also TripAdvisor recommendation here).  Here’s a shot from its website. It’s a homey and welcoming place:

Screen shot 2013-12-31 at 4.00.20 AM

We began with a traditional and complimentary appetizer, smalec (pork fat mixed with onions and apples), it’s like non-kosher schmalz, and is to be spread on bread. It was delicious, especially with the pickles:


My first course was bacon-wrapped prunes, which were fantastic. The bacon was much thicker and chewier than American bacon. (Food police: do not criticize my diet here; I eat like this only on vacations and special occasions. Critical posts will be deleted!)

Bacon wrapped prunes

Then a delicious bowl of Polish borscht, or beet soup.  This one was Lithuanian style, with meat-filled dumplings.


And the pièce de résistance, potato pancakes with goulash. Potato pancakes are a staple of Polish and Jewish cuisine (Jews know them as latkes), and one of my favorite foods. These were hot, crispy, and scrumptious. I liked that they put the meat on the side; too often it’s ladled on top of the pancakes, which then become soggy. This was all washed down with a mug of cold piwo (beer).

Latkes & goulash

Małgorzata had mushroom-filled pierogi (dumplings) which I photographed and also sampled (they were excellent):


Oy, was I full: no room for dessert! It was a great birthday meal, and thanks to my hosts for the treat.

31 thoughts on “My birthday noms

  1. Oh, man…you are so effin’ lucky. From top to bottom, you named so many of my most favorite foods…I could live on a good dried Polish kielbasa…I can’t get enough of Dad’s borscht or latkes….

    Indeed, the only problem with your diet is that I’m not sharing it!


  2. OMG, I think I actually went into a bit of a trance looking at that food.

    I suspect that chocolate & cheese are giving me migraines (I had an abundance of chocolate, cheese & migraines this holiday) so I at first felt sad but then realized all the other noms that I still could have!

    And borscht! I love borscht!

  3. On the website, The Inn Under the Thatched Roof has a delivery menu. No delivery radius specified – might be worth a call.

    Sometimes I forget how far north Europe is. Chicago is 41-51 North Latitude – about the same as Rome which is 41-54. Dobrzyn is 52-38. Courtesy of the US Naval Observatory, I checked sunrise and sunset for today.

    Chicago 7:18 and 16:30, a 9:12 long day – already 4 minutes longer than the solstice.
    Dobrzyn 7:54 and 15:38, a 7:44 long day, almost 1.5 hours less than Chicago. But already 6 minutes longer than the solstice.

    Of course, Dobrzyn makes up for it in the summer with a longest daylight of 16:52 while Chicago peaks at 15:14. For a species that evolved close to the equator with about 12 hours of daylight year round, I doubt that we have adapted fully to the variation in daylight that goes with moving out of our ancestral homeland.

  4. Wouldn’t have gone for the borscht myself (not a fan) but everything else looks great.

    One good thing about London is that with it’s large Polish population it is pretty straight forward to track down proper kielbasa and piwo!

    1. I find bacon slightly mysterious. I was vegetarian for about 15 years and then with kids started eating bacon again and tried a whole bunch of different kinds trying to find a right match for my tastes. Usually thicker cut bacon can be outstanding, but then other times not. It definitely depends on how it is cooked and adding different oils (though I usually never add oil) Though sometimes I will fry bacon in previously (once) used bacon grease.

      In all of my experimentations, one can definitely achieve crappy bacon results and bacon elysium even with so-called local (US) stock.

      By the way, the bacon-wrapped prunes above a look like a gift from Ceiling Cat.

      1. I’ve occasionally pondered what’s wrong with bacon served in the US – is the bacon itself tough and dry and requires grilling to death, or just different taste. I’ll eat soft English style bacon any day but have to be really hungry to eat crisp style bacon.

        Even Hobbits are infected with a liking for “second breakfast” with “crispy bacon”, if The Lord of the Rings movies are to be believed.

  5. As a student I shared a house with a Russian postdoc who made a kind of borscht that was delicious, but your bowl is a thing of beauty, translucent and that deep colour – wow.

  6. Looks delicious!
    Happy birthday, and all the best for 2014.
    Is that a Norwegian cheese slicer on that lunch table?

        1. It may be a Norwegian invention but this particular osthyvel was produced and bought in Sweden so I suppose it was Swedish.

  7. “Nie wierz gębie, połóż na zębie”
    is a Polish saying meaning literally don’t believe what is said about this food item, put it on your tooth.

    Ja bym chcial położyć na zębie te smaczne potrawy.
    This means I’d like to put on my tooth these tasty foods. Perhaps there is a more colloquial way to say this in Polish.

    I am having an attack of cibarious envy!
    I wonder if Hili feels the same. Was she brought some samples??

  8. I’m longing for some bacon-wrapped scallops now, but I’ve had enough cheese to last me till spring. Over the last week, I’ve scarfed down a whole hunk of blue cheese and a bit of brie and a box of crackers by myself.

    1. Yeah I think I’ve eaten about as much & I think that’s why the uptick with migraines lately. Oh and my poor stomach!

      I’m having weisswurst for dinner. Like silk on the stomach!

      1. Yeah, poor tummy; some lactose intolerance for me. No migraines though — just sluggishness. I seem to be breaking out in a little rash too, and I suspect it’s from all the overly rich foods at two big holiday dinners and a big spread at home too.

        Some day, I really should give the weisswurst a try. Never had it! We had linguine and perfectly poached salmon for dinner. Tomorrow, it’s the beginning of austerity times for me. 🙂

  9. i) vistas also “on the Vistula” = Lovely !

    Who doesn’t just treasure gazing upon Things Along Waters ? !

    ii) also lovely — in addition to that stupendous Coynezaa spread: the fact that all of its presentation is ( that I can see, anyhow ) made on simply plain white ware: all the MORE — from one’s eyeballs — to savor the flavors on one’s palate.

    Golly, on confabulating re those flavors:
    THE absolute next hors d’oeuvre that I am preparing for hoo – hahs will ( try to ) be those bacon – ensconced prunes !

    O, m’taste buds’ imagination … … stat !

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