If you have not been lately, the Leucadia Farmer’s Market has become an international smorgasbord of delicious culinary delights.
The row of vendors serving ready-to-eat meals has expanded to a point where making a decision can be difficult. One of the latest entries and a new favorite for Lick the Plate is A Taste of Poland serving up savory Polish favorites.
It’s a family affair with owner Alicja Miechowski, daughter Ewa and granddaughter Paulina running the show at the Leucadia market and several others in the area. Having spent time in the Hamtramck area of Detroit, which is full of great Polish restaurants, and in Chicago where there are even more, I’ve developed an appreciation for this comfort cuisine as I call it.
Alicja hails from Olsztyn, Poland, which she referred to as the “Polish Hawaii.” So I had to do some research on this place.
A quick Google search turned up nothing but did give some me some history on the area. Olsztyn is the largest city of the region of Poland with 176,000 residents. It’s also a renowned cultural and academic center, boasting a large symphony and. It is heavily influenced by both Polish and German cultures, which is evident in the cuisine.
Maybe the Hawaii reference had something to do with being located on the Lyna River, surrounded by thick forests, and 13 large lakes, which make the city a popular holiday resort. It sounds like a beautiful place to visit.
Polish food shares many similarities to other Slavic countries and is also influenced by German, Austrian and Hungarian cuisines. One of the most enduring of Polish culinary traditions is the pierogi, which has been called the national dish of Poland.
Alicja, who was taught to cook by both of her parents, does them right. Hers are filled with five different filings including beef, potato and cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms, potato and cheddar cheese with jalapeno, and spinach and ricotta cheese. She also features, bigos, potato pancakes, crepes, babka ziemniaczana and of course Polish sausage.
Ah yes, sometimes there is nothing better than a Polish sausage on a bun with grilled onions with home made sauerkraut, a Polish pickle, and a few pierogis to complete the plate.
And just FYI, by the time this column hits newsstands, they should be featuring Gołabki, whish is known as Golumpki in the U.S.
It’s a cabbage roll made from soft-boiled cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef with chopped onions and rice or barley and usually served with a creamy tomato sauce. This is pretty much comfort food defined.
In case you are unfamiliar with the other dishes described above, babka ziemniaczana or potato babka, is made from grated potatoes, eggs, onions, and pieces of smoked, boiled or fried bacon and sausage.
Bigos is a traditional meat and cabbage stew typical of Polish and also lays claim to be a Polish national dish. This sounds like something that would work perfectly on a cool autumn day.
Everything I have sampled at the Taste of Poland stand was fabulous and you can taste the passion and dedication to tradition that the Miechowski family puts into every dish.
This is a family labor of love and I could sense that by the energy and enthusiasm the women showed to every customer, many of who were not familiar with the food. Alicja and her girls will take the time to explain the cuisine you and create a dish suited to your tastes.
It’s home cooking at it’s best and the lines that are starting to form at their booth are testament to that. It is definitely worth including in your mix of farmers market stops.
A Taste of Poland is also at Sunset Farmers Market in Oceanside on Thursday nights, Vista Farmers Market every Saturday morning, and at the Welk Farmers Market in Escondido on Monday afternoon. Given the lack of solid Polish restaurants in North County, I’m really hoping that this takes off enough for Alicja to make that happen.
I could not find a website or a Facebook page but both are coming soon. In the meantime, if you want to know more, contact Alicja at firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 420-5145.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.