Cafe Polonez

On January 29th my Babcia or great-grandmother passed away. She was 95 years old and one of the most amazing people I have ever known. She was always strong, determined, supportive, proud and selfless. She watched over our entire family of her 6 children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. I am so proud and lucky to have known her and she will be sorely missed.

When we found out that Babcia’s condition was worsening I sought comfort in food (obviously) which led us to Cafe Polonez in Roncesvalles.

IMG_3247We started with the cheddar and potato boiled pierogi with a side of sour cream and fried onions and pork. Pierogies are always amazing – the dough was fresh and tender, the filling was creamy and the onion and pork topping was salty and rich. These were so satisfying and comforting. Next time I would get them fried just to add some crispiness. I am planning on taking on the ambitious task of making my own pierogies from scratch so stay tuned for the adventure!

IMG_3248I ordered the cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and pork, topped with tomato sauce and served with potatoes and a bouquet of salads. The cabbage rolls were tightly packed with rice and pork. The filling was simple, not seasoned to excess; very Eastern European. My filling has dill and other herbs, rounding out the cabbage roll a little more. The sauce was thick and sweet, I prefer my tomato sauce to be a bit thinner and more tart when it tops a cabbage roll. These were good, but I prefer my own and my grandmother’s.

This was a huge portion and even if we hadn’t started with pierogies, I wouldn’t have been able to finish everything. My favourite side was the red cabbage. It was sweet, tender and so delicious. My love for cabbage obviously illustrates that my background is Eastern European.

IMG_3249And GC ordered the chicken schnitzel sandwich. He said it was a delicious sandwich that was incredibly filling.

A delicious meal that was filling, comforting and warming. The perfect thing when one is feeling down and remembering an amazing woman.

Happy munching!

Museum Tavern – Part II

The week before Christmas I was finally able to introduce GC to the Museum Tavern. The restaurant was decked out for Christmas – swags, buy ribbons and pine boughs. The Christmas decorations just gave the restaurant an even cosier, Victorian feel.

GC ordered the Wild Boar Torpedo.

IMG_3148The Wild Boar Torpedo – smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, mushrooms and tomato sauce served with frites and slaw.

Wild boar tastes very similar to regular pork but it is much richer. This sandwich balanced all the rich flavours together perfectly between the sweetness of the onions, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the smokiness of the cheese. It takes your standard meatball sub and kicks it up a notch. If you are a sandwich lover, the torpedoes at Museum Tavern are worth trying out.

Instead of ordering a main, I decided to ordered two starters which was overwhelming. Next time, I could do with just one but I was so excited by the prospect of Stuffed Chicken Wings and Truffled Mushroom Pierogies that I had to order both. GC helped me finish both of these off.

IMG_3149Stuffed Chicken wings – with bacon and blue cheese, served with hot sauce. These chicken wings were ridiculous, but in a good way. The two smaller wings were not stuffed and allowed you to taste the chicken on its own. It was juicy, meaty and had a perfect crispy, slightly sweet breading on it. The stuffed wings were amazing and if you love blue cheese you need to try them. The combination of blue cheese and bacon is salty, creamy and a complete indulgence. This filling takes traditional chicken wings and takes them up a notch, making them sophisticated and more than frat boy pub grub. The hot sauce was smoky and hot, adding another dimension to these wings.

IMG_3150Truffled Mushroom Pierogies – caramalized onions  and crispy boar belly, served with sour cream. For as much as I loved the chicken wings, I think I loved these pierogies even more. They are not your traditional pierogies and I think it would be unfair to compare them to any traditional ones. The outside is crispy, protectively covering a soft and tender filling. The onions were sweet and tender, offsetting the richness of the boar. The boar was crispy, tender, juicy, meaty and completely fattening. The sour cream was speckled with chives which added freshness to the dish.

Any and all of these dishes should be consumed. This was another amazing meal at Museum Tavern and GC loved his first taste of it.

Happy munching!

The Goulash House

A few weeks ago I had a few appointments in Newmarket and my dad was nice enough to drive me around to them and then take me for lunch. We went to a relatively new restaurant in Newmarket, The Goulash House. The Goulash House opened earlier in 2012, shortly after I moved to the city, and I was severely disappointed that I had missed its opening. I have been waiting for months to try this place and I finally got to. It was well worth the wait.

The Goulash House serves Hungarian cuisine and has the rustic, simple decor that pairs naturally with this kind of food. It is homey and cozy, a perfect ambiance to enjoy a bowl of thick, juicy goulash.

JDL started off with the goulash.

IMG_3102After seeing this stew, I need to learn how to make it. If any of my Eastern European friends/family have a recipe for goulash, preferably one that goes in the crock pot, hook me up! My dad loves their take on the goulash stew and says it’s enough to stand alone as it’s own meal. But that’s no fun, we had to get more food…

Next, JDL ordered the schnitzel sandwich.

IMG_3103And I, of course, ordered the pierogies.

IMG_3104This pierogies were amazing! They were crispy on the outside but tender and cheesy on the inside. The sour cream was thick and creamy and the bacon and onion mixture was crispy, salty and a great way to offset the richness of the cream and cheese. The pickled cabbage was unreal – slightly sweet, tangy and crunchy. These are the best pierogies I have ever had, but to be fair, these are the first pierogies I have ever had at a restaurant. Polish fail I know.

If you are in Newmarket this place is definitely worth a visit and for people in Toronto, it is worth the scenic drive to Newmarket.

Happy munching!

Guest Post – Cafe Polonez

Guest post by my sister Amelia, pilule who last week when she was in Toronto was on the hunt for some good Polish food!

195 Roncesvalles Ave., decease Toronto ON; 416-532-8432; open daily 11 am to 10 pm, take-out available; seating capacity: 80+; http://www.cafepolonez.ca/About_Us.html

Searching for authentic Polish pierogi, I made a mid-week trip to Roncesvalles for lunch. While the area has diversified over the years, there are still several distinctly Polish/Eastern European establishments on the avenue. Café Polonez is one such restaurant and has received several positive reviews on blogto.com for their pierogi.

The exterior does not distinguish it from other storefronts on the strip but it’s recently renovated interior was a pleasant surprise and features comfortable seating. A family run restaurant, Café Polonez’s popularity was apparent as the restaurant had more than a dozen customers shortly after opening at 11 am.

I ordered the 6 piece pierogi (homemade boiled dumplings). Café Polonez will pan-fry your pierogi if you ask, but this is unnecessary, as these are delicious boiled. Served with sour cream and fried onions and minced pork, they offer four types of filling: Ser cheddar (cheddar and potato), Ruskie (cottage cheese and potato), Mieso (Minced pork), and Kapusta i grzyby (sauerkraut and mushroom). I ordered the cheddar and potato. They were great! They were large (about double the size of standard frozen pierogi), and the filling was creamy and rich. While sour cream is frequently paired with pierogi, I had never had the minced pork and onion topping. It complemented both the cheddar and potato filling and sour cream.

The only thing I would change on my next visit would be to get the 12 piece dish instead! I’ll be returning to Café Polonez next time I’m in Toronto for pierogi and to try other menu staples such as beet root soup with dumplings, crepes, and potato pancakes.

Thanks, Amelia! This is definitely a restaurant GC and I will be checking out!

 

 

 

 

The Polish Hall

On March 18 we celebrated my Babcia’s (Babcia is Polish for grandmother, but she is actually my great-grandmother) 95th birthday at the Polish Hall in Oshawa.

A few words on my Babcia – she is truly amazing and I am so lucky to be able to know my great-grandmother and for the length of time that I have. She is strong yet silent and truly brings substance and respect to the term matriarch. I wish everyone could have someone like her head their family and I know she gives our family strength and inspiration. I have no doubt that Babcia will see many more birthdays to come and I can’t wait to celebrate them.

This place is about as Polish as you can get in North America without being in Chicago. From the building being called Pavilion Krakow, the number of Polish eagles and maps, and all the red and white, this place got everyone’s Polish senses tingling.

It is hard to find authentic Polish food since the majority of people don’t even know what Polish food consists of. An easy way to remember it is the “beige food diet ” – a phrase coined by my father to mock my sister Theresa’s eating habits.  Polish food is hearty food that is cheap to produce in mass quantities – to put it simply. My top three Polish foods are:

1. Cabbage rolls

2. Pierogi

3. Meat Sticks

I did eat all of these things at the Polish Hall but unfortunately, I was too excited and ate everything before I could take a picture.

The food is ordered by the plate (for example, a plate of cabbage rolls is about $10 and has 8 cabbage rolls) and is intended to be served in a family dining sort of style. Of course, you could go as one person and order a plate of meat sticks and be quiet content.

Oh, and mix is fre. How very Polish.

It is my goal to make my three favourite Polish from scratch soon, it’s just a matter of finding the right recipe. I think I will start with cabbage rolls and Martha Stewart has a recipe (being the good Polish girl that she is). Then I will try to make meat sticks using whatever recipe adaptation my sister Amelia comes up with. And lastly, I will make pierogi. Likely filled with cheese.

Stand by for more Polish adventures.