Work hard eat hard (in Poland)

I went to Krakow earlier this month with one of the directors from work for 2 nights. We’re due to go back on Tuesday so I thought I’d better squeeze in this post before then. The purpose of the trip was to check the production quality of a product we’ve been working on in the last few years. I’m not allowed to say too much about the project but I can at least talk about the food we had during the trip!

Hilton Hotel

We stayed at the Hilton hotel which was literally across the road from the airport – no need for a map, it took us under a minute to walk. We went to check-in at the reception and they had a massive plate of homemade cookies greeting us. I didn’t see any more cookies at the reception since then so they were obviously for me only.

Now this isn’t the delicious cookies talking but I think it was one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in and the staff were very friendly too.

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Free cookies!

The first night we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. For mains I had braised ox-cheek in a red wine sauce with vegetables and plums. The presentation of the dishes were clean and elegant and the food was delicious and surprisingly filling. The pudding was a pear and walnut tart with cinnamon ice cream – perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth.

Buffet breakfast at the hotel was pretty good too – they had a waffle machine that you can make one yourself or there’s staff members around to help. I’m already thinking about what to have for breakfast next week – cooked breakfast, pastries, cheese selection, smoothies…

 

Day 1 – work and International Women’s day

The first day at the Polish company we were greeted with a warm welcome and I myself was presented with a tulip and some sweet tartlet treats in celebration of International women’s day. We were told women across the globe went on strike including also protests in the town square of Krakow. (Not for me, we had work to do and the men needed my help in the office anyway).

For a young female designer like myself the meaning of that day was rather important and definitely to many women everywhere. There are still inequalities and unjustness between men and women in the workplace that I am shocked to still see it happening in this modern age. I’m proud to be a female product designer, I’m proud of being able to use tools in work or doing DIY at home which is often seen as a ‘man’s’ job, and I’m proud of being one of the women standing in this world.

Anyway I’m drifting a bit so I’ll leave it at that. Back to blogging about food.

By lunch time we were “Hank Marvin”. Luckily the project manager of the company (Piotr) had brought in these delicious tarts made by his talented trained chef brother. I was so impressed (I’m salivating right now as I type). We had two types of savoury tarts – goats cheese, spinach, and cranberry and another one with chickpeas, onions and spices. We also finished off with a sweet lemon tart. The pastry itself was very well baked and the combination of flavours were very tasty. Top notch!

 

Dinner in the town centre

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Dinner with our Polish friends

After a long day’s work Piotr took us into the town centre and gave us a quick tour around the square and the castle. He was the perfect host and a very good tour guide as well. That evening Piotr and his colleagues Michal and Anna (who have also been working very hard on this project) took us out to dinner for some fairly traditional Polish food. Piotr did the ordering so unfortunately I never took note of the names of certain dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal; good hearty food and I tried everything that was served. I started with ‘sour’ soup made of soured rye flour and topped with Polish sausages. Gordon had the wild mushroom soup that was served in a bowl made out of stale bread (brilliant idea).

When it got to the mains we all shared a mix of dishes – steak tartar, pork meat in jelly, some meaty pate dish, cabbage stuffed with meat, some other cabbage dish with potatoes, pickled herring, and there were of course Polish dumplings called Perogies (we had two types; one stuffed with cheese and another with meat). Almost forgot to mention the complimentary bread that they served with some butter and lard with pork fat and fried onions, which is common in Poland, and very tasty too.

So as you can see very meaty hearty food and then of course there was the vodka. One shot became two, then three, then four… The waiter came with the normal plain vodka and we were told we had to knock that one back in one gulp. The other ones we tried were herb, cherry, and elder flower flavoured. These we were allowed to sip. The flavoured ones were surprisingly nice to drink on its own especially the elder flower vodka (special because it was homemade by the restaurant owners) – I think it had to be the best vodka I’d ever tasted.

 

Last Day in Krakow

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Skansen Smakow restaurant

The next day our last meal with our Polish friends was at this cool log cabin type restaurant close to their office. It was a quick lunch as we still had lots to do before heading back home.

The staff wore traditional Polish outfits and the menus were made with wood. Some quaint details around the restaurant and the food was pretty good.

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Piotr ordered a starter to share – some toasted bread with cheese and ham served with some cranberry sauce (Polish version of a cheese and ham toastie?) it was yummy! The cheese, if I remember correctly, was from sheep’s milk. For my main course I went for trout while Gordon had a massive plate of beef stew with some potato cakes.

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Starters

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Trout

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Stew

So that was my first experience of Krakow. It was a  quick trip and obviously for work but I wonder what food we’ll be eating next week… Poland trip number 2!

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