The flavour. Since quite a while it has been one of the most important memories from our trips. Looking for places worth visiting, for food that’s mind-blowing and for flavours that stay with you forever has become our thing since our first trip together on which we ate tonnes of pasta, pizza, mozzarella di bufala, shrimps, mussels and everything else we managed to find on our 3-week trip to southern Italy. Then it became clear to us that during trips we won’t be looking only for beautiful landscapes, interesting sights, museums and churches but also (and often most of all) for FLAVOURS. That’s how the blog started since we decided to share all these beautiful places with others regardless if they are located by the Polish seaside, in France, Istanbul, Bangkok or somewhere far in Mexican Chiapas state. Often it’s the food that drives us in a certain place, we also often associate our trips with a certain flavour. Poland has a lot of remarkable flavours to offer as well – there’s so many different things to try in each region. Regional cuisines can be inspiring and often are one of the main points to go to Suwalszczyzna for a weekend, to Podlasie or Białowieża.
Do you have your favourite regional dishes? We have a whole list – a list of dishes that are worth travelling a few hundred kilometres just to try them!
1) CEPELINAI – SUWALSZCZYZNA
We’ve been in love with cepelinai for quite a while now and it’s been one of the symbols of our annual trips to Suwalszczyzna, Żegary right next to Sejny and Polish-Lithuanian border. Popular in north-east Poland, veeeery nutritious (maybe even a bit heavy?). I used to compare them with dumplings but now I know that for a real cepelinai it can be considered an insult ! 🙂 Usually they’re shaped in an egg-like ball, soft, with potato dough and garlic spiced meat filling. Sometimes, (in Puńsk for instance) they’re called zeppelins – like in Lithuania.
In some places you can get cepelinai stuffed with mushroom or cheese filling (i.e. in Sodas restaurant in Puńsk). Always served with cracklings. Thank God for half the portions available in most of the restaurants! One cepelinai is enough for the whole lunch. Be sure to try those in Karczma Litewska in Sejny and in Gospoda on Polish-Lithuanian border in Dusznica.
2) POTATO BABKA – SUWALSZCZYZNA, PODLASIE
Another must and potatoes once again. North-east Poland once again, but also Podlasie, Mazury and sometimes Silesia. We loved potato babka in Karczma Osocznika in Sioło Budy near Białowieża, we nibbled on it along drinking beer in Gościniec Gaładuś in Dusznica and had it for lunch somewhere in Mazury. Potato babka is one of my personal favourites – served with an essential addition of bacon cracklings or pork fat, soft and crispy at the same time. In some places it’s known as kartoflak and reportedly that’s the name my grandma used to call it when she prepared it. It’s such a pity she’s not doing it anymore!
Lately I learned that every year, in Supraśl near Białystok, they do Potato Babka and Potato Kiszka baking World Championships! The championships are supposed to take place on the verge of May and June. I’m already trying to find time to get there!
3) POTATO KISZKA – SUWALSZCZYZNA, PODLASIE
A dish Łukasz loves even though I don’t dare to touch it 🙂 Potatoes once again (no surprise here!) but this time stuffed into a pork’s bowel, baked gold, usually with bacon and onion. Kiszka is baked in a stove or oven and on a plate it looks a bit like a fried sausage… Like potato babka it’s also popular in Belarus – in Poland it’s usually eaten in Podlasie and Łukasz loves the one from Karczma Litewska in Sejny.
4) SAMOGITIAN BLINTZ
On our trip to Sulawszczyzna, blintz aka Samogitian blintz has been one of our favourites right after cepelinai and potato kiszka. Very popular in Lithuania and therefore served everywhere Lithuanian minority lives – like in Sejny and Puńsk. Blintz are potato pancakes stuffed with meat (spiced fragrantly) or with cheese (not so often). Usually served with a generous portion of cream.
Sweet lovers can also have a dessert version: blintz with no feeling, covered with sweet cream.
5) LITHUANIAN COLD SOUP
Lithuanian cold soup – one of the best ways to cope with heat in the summer. Right now it’s a as popular in Polish and Lithuanian cuisine, however for us it’s still a thing we associate with Suwalszczyzna – there you can have it in pretty much every restaurant in the summer – made from kefir or buttermilk, with a lot of young beet leaves, a hard-boiled egg and an obvious addition in Suwalszczyzna – potatoes.
6) MROWISKO AND SĘKACZ – SUWALSZCZYZNA
Suwalszczyzna is not only about cepelinai, blintz and potato dishes. It’s also cakes and desserts typical for that region. Have you ever tried mrowisko(anthill)? I tried it in Sejny for the first time – it’s a kind of a little hill made from a crisped cakes, covered in honey, poppy seed, raisins and desiccated coconut. Sweet and really addictive. You want more and more.
We often bring sękacz to Warsaw from Żegary (one is already waiting to be picked up from our car) – in order to buy it, we drive by to Mrs. Ela’s house and arrange the number of eggs she’s going to use for this impressive cake.
7) BISON GOULASH – BIAŁOWIEŻA
Białowieża is a place where the bisons are. Everyone knows it. Who haven’t been there at least once (on a school trip for instance)? Who haven’t visited the bison show reserve ? Bisons are a must-see in Białowieża, but you should also try their meat – a fragrant goulash which goes great with potato babka for instance. You can try it in Karczma Osocznika.
8) HALUSKI – BIAŁOWIEŻA
Being a fan of all sorts of baked sweets such as pancakes, drop scones, pampuchy and others I knew haluski will be a thing I’ll fall in love with. So far I only tried them in Karczma Osocznika in Sioło Budy near Białowieża. Haluski are small potato noodles (a bit like kopytka) baked gold and served with sweet cream, sometimes with fruits as well. Trivial but delicious! It’s a pity I haven’t seen them anywhere else!
9) PYRY WITH GZIK – WIELKOPOLSKA
Pyry with gzik. I always knew there was something like this but I only first tried it a week and a half ago! The name pyry (potatoes) means it has to be Poznań and Wielkopolska. They say the other half is called gzik or gzika depending on the precise location. Gzik is cottage cheese spiced up accordingly (With onion, chives, oil, salt and pepper). A trivial meal which seemed a bit weird for years – potatoes with cottage cheese??? But ever since I tried it, I have no doubts why they’ve been eating pyry with gzik in Wielkopolska since 19th century!
10) MOSKOLE – PODHALE
A hot moskol with garlic butter is one of the first things we order whenever we arrive in Zakopane. Usually we get it with a grilled oscypek cheese with cranberry jam and boletus soup. Moskole is yet another type of potato pancakes this time originating from Podhale cuisine. You fry them on a baking tray and they’re made from pre-cooked and crushed potatoes mixed with flour. What can I say, I love them!
11) OSCYPEK, BUNDZ AND… BAGELS – PODHALE
You can’t go to Zakopane or Podhale in general and not buy oscypek. Hot or cold. Big or small. Eaten during a walk, for starters before lunch and as part of various meals popular in local restaurants. A symbol. The flavour od Zakopane and the area. A must for every foreign tourist. And if you get bored with oscypek, try a lightier bundz.
If you want a real oscypek, visit a shepherd’s hut between May and September (or October). That’s the period in which they make real oscypek cheese with at least 60% sheep’s milk. In other months you can try golka (made from cow’s milk) and other highland cheeses.
I don’t know about you but I love oscypek with a fresh crispy bagel with salt or poppy seed the most.
12) FRIED FISH – BALTIC SEA
I know that eating fish by the Baltic sea is a difficult subject. Often it’s hard to find the good stuff. Because the fish doesn’t taste good, is frozen or fried in old oil… But if you find a good spot, fish by the Polish sea may taste like a dream and be worth the travel from the other end of the country. We loved it in a href=”https://www.tasteaway.pl/2014/08/31/na-rybke-obowiazkowo-zlota-wydma-w-miedzyzdrojach/” target=”_blank”>Złota Wydma in the Fishermen’s Base in Międzyzdroje.
13) ST MARTIN CROISSANTS – WIELKOPOLSKA
Another discovery from the last weeks and one of the few sweets on our list. St Martin croissants have 150 years of history, are baked in Poznań and Wielkopolska and can’t be found anywhere else. They’re big, heavy (lots of filling) and very sweet. Inside they contain a filling made from white poppy seed, walnuts, biscuit crumbs, eggs and delicious marzipan aroma. Outside they’re covered with icing and more nuts. You can read more about the croissants and how they’re made HERE.
14) MANTY – KRUSZYNIANY
Since I love everything that’s sweet, pancakeish, dumplingish, with cheese etc. I loved sweet manty the most. Steamed, with delicate cottage cheese filling, melt-in-your-mouth dough, covered in cream and raspberry sauce. Amazing.
Traditional manty are savoury dumplings with meat filling (lamb, beef), also steamed, typical for Caucasian and central Asian cuisines.
15) PIEREKACZEWNIK – KRUSZYNIANY
Pierekaczewnik seems to play a leading role in Tatar cuisine. A EU protected specialty, you need to have a certificate to produce like the owners of Tatarska Jurta in Kruszyniany near Supraśl.
Pierekaczewnik is kind of layered cake with meat, onion and butter. It takes o lot of work to make it since the pastry is made from many layers that are almost transparent-thin, which are then smeared with butter and after that with filling – sometimes sweet, sometimes meaty (that’s the one we tried!). The layers of the pastry are rolled into spiral form and then baked in a special tray.
AND FOR ENCORES….
The last two aren’t regional dishes in true form, but for us they have a strong connection with certain regions of Poland. I guess that for many of you too.
16) WAFFLES WITH WHIPPED CREAM – BAŁTYK
You can’t go to Zakopane and not try oscypek and you can’t go to any Polish seaside resort and not have a waffle with whipped cream and sauce / blueberries / chocolate / peaches / strawberries* (insert your favourite topping here). A guilty pleasure you can’t resist.
17) GIANT PANCAKE – BIESZCZADY
Giant pancake is the weirdest part of this ranking. The rest of the meals is available in many different places and giant pancake is served in one restaurant only – Chata Wędowca in Wetlina. But it deserves it’s place on the list due to its unique and original origins (before, it was served in Mała Rawka mountain shelter) and its flavour. It’s definitely one of the better reasons to go to Bieszczady.
Phew, so many regional specialties. And surely not all of them since large part of Poland is still waiting for us to discover it and taste it! So we want to kindly ask you to add your regional dishes propositions! 🙂