Dining and Drinking, Krakow
Usually I write on VT about museums and monuments. For Krakow I started my comments with one of the best beers I did drink in my life!
I discovered the gorgeous dark beer called PORTER from the Okocim brewery when having lunch at the restaurant Europejska located on the north-west corner of the Rynek Glowny market.
This beer tastes like a somewhat sweet Guinness or one of these dark Belgian Monks beers.
They serve it in bottles of 50 cl and it has 8,6° alcohol content!
There is also a PORTER beer from the Zywiec brewery. Has a slightly bitter taste and 9° alcohol.
Another excellent Polish invention. The dumplings are stuffed with potatoes & cheese, mushrooms, cheese, meat, spinach or cabbage and served with fried onions and sour cream. I definitely recommend this
You will often be offered a shot of vodka after dinner. Be careful though, Polish vodka is quite strong!
Where vodka in the States is about 30% in alcohol content, in Poland it is closer to 40%.
Vodka, which can be made from any starch or sugar rich plant matter, has been made in Poland since the Middle Ages. It is first mentioned as early as 1405, though large scale production probably didn't start until about the 16th century. The main producer, at least early on, was Krakow.
It comes in a large variety of flavors, but as innocent as peach or apricot vodka might sound, it will do a number on you unless you have pretty good alcohol tolerance.
You will say Na zdrowie before you toss back your vodka, it means cheers, though literally it means "to health."
Throughout the city, you will come across many stalls selling bagels and pretzels. These are a popular snack food here and are delicious if you're in the mood. In the heart of the city, you'll find these at almost every other street corner. So go ahead and indulge.
You will notice people walking around eating a long sandwich covered with pasta sauce and cheese. In actuality, it is a baguette, split in half. cooked in the oven until the cheese is melted. It usually comes with cheese and mushrooms and condiments. Here it's called ZAPIEKANKA, you can get it from any street vendor. The best place in Krakow to get a good zapiekanka according to locals and tour guides is the Plac Nowy in Kaziemirz.
You can get it in all different varieties. It should only cost you about 7 zl. (about $2 US)
I admit, I did have one or two of these while I was in Krakow(and they were delicious!!!!)
One surprising dining experience was the kiełbasa van that operates from about sunset to early morning. These two women set up a grill at the edge of an empty lot (used to be a parking lot apparentely) on Karmelitska (maybe 5 minutes from the Square). They grill kiełbasa (polish sausage) You get the sausage and a good helping of mustard or ketchup and there you go. It cost like 8 zloty and was delicious! Good place to meet locals too! When I tried it everyone was coming from partying. One guy was thrilled that I was a foreigner and wanted to tell me all about the local soccer team (he was a Cracovia supporter.)
Try one of the traditional soups when you are in Poland, they are really very very tasty:
Polish sour rye soup: (zurek) this one is my favorite and one of the culinary musts, a vegetable soup flavored with fermented bread with cooked white sausage, garlic and onions.
Sauerkraut soup (kapusniak) a typical polish winter soup based on sourkraut, ribs, mushrooms and onions.
Beetroot soup (barszcz) classic beetroot soup usually served with little dumplings filled with meat.
Another traditional meal which I really enjoy. A stew cooked from cabbage, pork and sausage with herbs and served with bread.
Rynek Glowny is a good place; they never stop eating and drinking even at night.
Pierogi are also served grilled or am I wrong?