Filed under: Dinnerparty, Essen gehen, Food-Talk, Freunde, Polen, polnische Küche
I met my very first real „culinary friends“ in Poland about 6 years ago, Ewa and Piotr Michalski from Poznań’s Toga restaurant. Of course I ate typical polish food in private homes and restaurants before that, but all the time I assumed, there must be something more original in taste and I found it on my first visit in Toga. Ewa and Piotr are not educated in gastronomy and the logistic in there kitchen might be a bit chaotic, but oh my god, they know how to cook ! And they do it with such a passion. Collecting recipys that are probably several centuries old, sometimes presenting them in a new style by using modern kitchen-technics, their dishes can be described as ancient-modern-polish-polish-fusion. In the last years some outstanding dishes I had there were horse-tatar, Czernina (a polish duck-blood-soup), grilled bone marrow and beef-cheeks (long before everyone had it on their menu), just to name a few culinary delights that pop up in my memory.
With the years we became good friends, I started going there a few times per week after my own work, not always for dinner but talking mainly about food, exchanging ideas, cooking together, tasting things we found on markets or on travels. Piotr introduced me to Wojtek, who is running the Festival of good Taste, Jarek and Tamara, two regular foodie guests who seem to know everything about food from all over the world, Marek, who is running a farm and produces exciting goat’s cheeses, Julijusz who is a food journalist, another Marek who is running the Slow Food convivium in the region and many more. And we started co-operating on different food-related projects. This sounds normal but at that time it was not. Many gastronomes in Poznan had these competitive thoughts that were poisoning the food-szene at that time.
We organized a culinary trip to Poland for Berlin Slowfood Members, shared a stall at the Festival of Good Taste, travelled together to farms and producers in the region, doing the catering and running 3 bars for Transatlantyk Festival, introduced foreign journalists and groups to the exiting world of polish food, shooting a polish christmas dinner for deutsche Welle TV and helped each other whenever we could. And it seems that everyone in the Polish Foodscene knows Ewa and Piotr, from a small producer up to the food-celebreties of Poland. When ever I need advice where to find a product? – I asked them. Who will fix my broken coffee machine for an acceptable price ? – I asked them. I needed to borrow a kitchen-tool that I could not find in a shop nearby? Ewa would disappear in the furthermost corner of her kitchen catacombes and came back with what I need. And always I got a satisfying helping answer.
I always describe Ewa and Piotr as my polish adoptive parents, because that is how I feel when I enter their place.
So I also always get invited for special events that are happening in Toga. Once a year they do a herring-dish competition for their friends, a few weeks ago there was a sturgeon degustation, tasting of Nalewka, and this week we had a very special pre-christmas dinner.
The polish traditional christmas dinner contains 12 dishes (according to 12 apostels) and even the most adventurous foodies stick to the typical dishes on christmas. We used to have christmas dinners in Toga before but in general they where for good friends and family where Ewa cooked and we enjoyed only her food.
This time it was a little different. Only people from the gastronomy scene were invited, 22 people in total, and we all had to bring a dish ! I am sure, everyone can imagine the great delicious variety, when 22 food obsessed guests bring their dishes on the table. And most of the dishes where suitable for christmas time, but with a little twist !
Marek has of course brought in some fantastic cheese-platters with a variety of his goat’s cheeses. In Poland it is not unusual that a cheeseplate is served as a starter and not after or as a dessert.
Usually there is no meat allowed on Christmas Dinners, but we still had 4 days for christmas to come, so we did not take this ‚rule“ too seriousand got some fantastic goosebreast.
And of course you can not have a christmas dinner like this with wonderful marinated herring and a cream sauce.
A fantastic surprise for me have been these small marinated pears – sensational in taste and they could go with everything: sweet dishes as well as meat or just pure.
No Christmas Dinner without Pieroggi ! We all agreed that the dough of these ones has been the best we had in years.
Piotr prepaired a supertender and juicy goat-leg which made some people even fighting about the last bits from the bone :
And I prepaired a gingerbread parfait with a tangerine caramel as dessert:
It was a very different „restaurant-visit“, as all dishes were standing on the table, people walked around to get something on the other side of the table, or you were forwarding plates with food that was placed infront of you. It gave us the feeling of a dinner at home with the family. And in a way that is what we are – a culinary family in Poznan.
Thanks Ewa and Piotr for hosting this amazing evening, and thanks Juliusz for letting me use your pictures 😉
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