Herring in Garlic Sauce

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Okay. One more post from my Little Poland explorations. I discovered several brands of herring each offering a number of divergent styles in the refrigerator cases of Polish food markets in Greenpoint. In this case, the brand was Lisner and the style was “in garlic sauce”. Not all of the products were equally enjoyable but this one easily made the cut.

Plated over shiso leaves (yes, I know, but I’m all about multiethnic), I dressed it up with cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced sweet onion and tiny adorable cucamelons, aka Mexican sour gherkins (yes, I know, but I’m all about…), Mediterranean capers (yes, I know, but…) and snipped Chinese garlic chives (yes, I…you get the idea), accompanied by a hyperbuttered toasted poppy seed bagel.

Lots of good eats in this neighborhood!


Posted for the sake of completeness, here are two final photos from my Greenpoint Polish explorations back when I was deciding about introducing a Little Poland ethnojunket.

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These are Pyzy. In Polish, the letter Y sounds like a short I, so the singular, pyza, rhymes with “is a” – which explains why, although tempting, the title of this post isn’t Easy Pyzy.

Now that that’s out of the way, pyzy are boiled Polish dumplings made from a combination of raw and boiled potatoes held together with flour and eggs and commonly stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, or meat (like these). Homespun and heavy, they’re served as a filling main course often with fried onions on the side.

The cake rolls are Rolada (like French roulade) – custardy raspberry above and hazelnut below.

So maybe we didn’t start with easy peasy, but we ended with a piece of cake! 😜


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Almost sounds like “lasagna” but with a cute Polish spin on it – and there may be a connection. From Wikipedia:

“Łazanki arrived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-16th century when Bona Sforza, Italian wife of King Sigismund I the Old, brought high Italian cuisine to the country. Accordingly, the name łazanki is reminiscent of the Italian lasagna, the name for a type of pasta in the shape of large, flat rectangles. Since łazanki resemble mini versions of lasagna, their Polish name is correspondingly diminutive in form: little lasagna.”

Or so goes the legend. In any event, boiled łazanki noodles are cooked with either fresh cabbage or sauerkraut, mushrooms, onions, pork fat, optionally kielbasa, and topped with sour cream (of course).

Tastes as comforting as it looks. More Polish leftover photos to come. Stay tuned.


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Thought I’d share a few leftovers with you. Not leftover food, but leftover photos – from the time not long ago when I was prowling the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn deciding whether I should put together a Little Poland ethnojunket.

First up, here is a peek inside a Krokiet, a Polish croquette. Krokiety are crêpes that are filled, rolled up, breaded and fried. They’re served as a snack or as part of a more expansive meal and can be stuffed with meat (like this one), cabbage, mushrooms, sauerkraut or a combination thereof. If it looks like a breaded blintz, you’re not far off – it’s the breading that distinguishes it from its cousins.

More leftovers to come. Stay tuned.


We’ve arrived at the final post in the “Should-I-offer-an-ethnojunket-in-Little-Poland” series and I’ve saved the best for last.

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Fortunately, the champion kielbasi purveyors are still going strong, their kielbasi are still the best I’ve ever tasted, and they still have the most bewildering assortment I’ve ever encountered.

Being an OCD type compelled me to do one of my “one of each please” shopping trips in every one of the best stocked venues. What I did not expect was that each shop had a considerable assortment on display that was almost entirely different from that of their nearby competitors!

Among these culinary masterworks, some distinctions are fairly easy to quantify along a sensory continuum: fatty<–>lean, barely smoky<–>double smoked, chunky<–>finely ground, dry<–>moist, and the like. But then you get into specific flavor profiles: wiejska is garlicky with coriander seed, mustard seed, and thyme, kabanosy is flavored with caraway, wiśniowa is smoked over cherry wood so there’s a subtle sweetness to it, myśliwska (hunter’s sausage) is flavored with juniper and slightly spicy (“spicy” is a relative term and these are very tame), bukowiańska is flavored with marjoram and bay leaf…I could go on.

They’re all pre-cooked, ready to eat, and conveniently consumed in chunks (the best way to eat them IMHO) rather than in slices from a 3-inch diameter log. And I’m not even covering varieties like biała (white) which are fresh and require cooking.

So now it’s your turn!

If this series has piqued your interest, let me know if you’re interested in joining me on a Little Poland ethnojunket to taste some of the goodies from this post and those before it: please email me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Polish Baked Goods

A few posts ago, I wrote about Moe’s Donuts in Greenpoint. They’re outstanding, they’re unique, but they’re not Polish.

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A few of my favorite neighborhood bakeries haven’t survived, but that doesn’t spell the absence of authentic Polish goodies. And speaking of spelling and authentic Polish goodies, this is Drożdżówka z Makiem: “bun with poppy seeds”. Polish bakeries typically offer an assortment of sweet poppy seed pastries. The seeds are ground and cooked together with sugar and other ingredients to make a distinctive coarse paste used in dozens of Eastern European dessert recipes. If your only contact with poppy seeds is in the form of a scattering on top of a Kaiser/Vienna roll or a bagel, understand that those savory sprinkles and this sweet poppy seed filling are Poles apart. (Sorry, not sorry.) My recommendation: the more plentiful the poppy seed filling in the pastry you choose, the happier you’ll be.

These are freshly baked Pączki, genuine Polish jelly donuts that frequently come coated with a sugar glaze; you’ll find that the distinctive dough differs a bit from most American jelly donuts. It seems that they’re available just about everywhere that sells fresh food in the neighborhood – even if it’s not a bakery – if you just look for them. The filling in these tasted somewhat like apple, but I suspect there’s more to it than that.

And of course we’ll sample pączki if I do a Greenpoint food tour – but that’s up to you. I’ll do one more post after this one (Kielbasi!) and after that I’m looking forward to hearing from you to see if you’d like to join me on a Little Poland ethnojunket.

Stay tuned!

Pierogi in Greenpoint

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I’ve sampled pierogi from at least four Greenpoint locations (I’ve lost count) in my quest to find the best of the best for a possible ethnojunket to that neighborhood. Here are two of six varieties that also included sweet cheese, blueberry, mushroom, and potato along with a ubiquitous Polish side dish.

The one on the left is called Ruskie (pronounced rooskieh) and no, it doesn’t mean Russian; it refers to Ruthenia, a historical region that spans what is now western Ukraine and southeastern Poland, so Ruskie means “Ruthenian”. The filling is cheese (specifically twaróg, Polish farmer’s cheese) and mashed potato, and these were sufficiently cheesy to yield a mini cheese pull when I cut them open. The pieróg (singular) on the right is filled with mięsem (meat).

Sałatka Jarzynowa is shown in front (literally “vegetable salad”) and there were as many iterations of this dish in the area as there were pierogi. They all consist of the same basic ingredients chopped together: potatoes, hard boiled eggs, carrots, peas, celery, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, and a variant or two like apples, but despite the similarity in recipes, some were simply better than others IMHO. I suspect it has as much to do with the coarseness of the chop as it does the seasoning.

I’m planning another couple of Greenpoint posts to see if you’re interested in joining me on an ethnojunket to Little Poland, so stay tuned!

Advocat Cookies

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If you read me with any degree of regularity, you know that I’m a foreign language nut. You also know that I’ve been prowling around Greenpoint with an eye toward putting together a Polish ethnojunket.

So I was pleased to find an entire aisle of Polish filled cookies whose wrappers I could actually translate: wiśnia – cherry flavor, śliwka – plum flavor, cytrynowy – lemon flavor, advocat – lawyer flavor…wait, what? My BFF Google Translate was no help; it translated Polish advokat as lawyer. And no, having D as the second letter rules out avocado; awokado is Polish for avocado.

Of course I bought a bag. The English printed on the pack was even less help: “Crispy biscuit with delicious cream of advocat flavour in the chocolate shell.” Gee, thanks. It was only then that I noticed a picture of a tiny glass containing a yellow liquid lurking behind a stack of cookies on the package. I looked up “advocat drink” (how did we even survive without internet search engines?) and discovered: “Advocaat is a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar, and brandy. The rich and creamy drink has a smooth, custard-like consistency.” So it’s eggnog flavor that makes them unique and almost Christmassy! We’re definitely getting these treats if we do a Greenpoint food tour.

Because if you read me with any degree of regularity, you know how I feel about eggnog! 😉

Chłodnik Litewski

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I know. It looks like the dollop of sour cream had begun to temper the borscht in advance of the photo being taken thus rendering it Barbie pink.

But this isn’t quite borscht. Yes, the borscht we usually encounter is deep red and beet-based – there’s white rye-based borscht and green sorrel-based borscht too – but this is Chłodnik Litewski. It does contain beets but one difference is the presence of cucumbers, radishes, and herbs like dill and parsley. Another distinguishing characteristic is that dairy in the form of buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, or sour cream is an essential ingredient, not an afterthought, hence its unvarnished ungarnished color.

So it’s a hot pink cold soup.

Polish Chłodnik (“cold soup”) Litewski (“Lithuanian”) is light and refreshing and perfect for a summer food tour in Greenpoint where I selected it as another example of a treat we’ll experience if I actually do an ethnojunket there. That’s up to you, of course. I’ll post a few more examples and when we’ve reached the last one, let me know if a Greenpoint ethnojunket sounds like a good idea to you!

Stay tuned….

Greenpoint – Part 2 (Farsz)

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There are a couple of Polish/Eastern European food markets along Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint that probably present as 99-cent stores to an unacquainted customer. You’ll find several aisles showcasing jars of pickled vegetables (expect cabbage, beets, cucumbers and the like), canned fish, jams and preserves, cookies, and beverages plus a refrigerator case containing fish fillets packed in a variety of sauces (yes, please) and an assortment of processed cheeses (no, thank you). You won’t find fresh kielbasi: those are left to a (dwindling) number of specialists in the neighborhood that I’ll cover in an upcoming post.

If you read me, you know I’m drawn to the less familiar, like this jar of Farsz. Google Translate, my best friend, suggested “stuffing” or “forcemeat” as a translation followed by “mushroom” (pieczarkowy) and “for casseroles” (do zapiekanek). The product consists primarily of minced mushrooms and just enough bread to hold it together in addition to a gentle touch of seasoning. The company’s website recommends using it for dumplings (pierogi, obviously) as well as in soups and sauces.

Since I’m so suggestible, I decided to make pierogi; served them up with bits of bacon, fried onion, snipped chives, and sour cream on the side. They turned out pretty well for a first attempt; next time (if there is one because making pierogi from scratch is labor intensive) I’d combine the mushrooms with some mashed potato. Unfortunately there’s a good deal left in the jar and I don’t know if it will freeze well until another rigorous kitchen session seems like a good idea. (Yeah, right.) I bet it would make a yummy pasta sauce with a bit of cream though. (Easy, peasy.) Hmmm…maybe with a toss of peas? (Who, me? Suggestible?)

And just a reminder that I’m doing this series of posts to see if you are interested in my putting together a Greenpoint ethnojunket. When we’ve reached the last one, let me know what you think! Stay tuned….