To some of my new readers I wanted to share with you that my blog is about personal growth and learning. I welcome you to share your experiences and stories so that we may better grow together!
In this chapter of my life, I’m exploring Warsaw, Poland. This is my first time visiting Europe and I’m only sharing with you what I learn from locals, historical sites and what my spouse Adam teaches me, as he is a Warsaw native.
We spent the afternoon on a guided tour with FreeWalkingTour.com. I always highly recommend travelers to seek out walking tours, because I find you always learn so much from (typically) a local guide and often times they are free or inexpensive!
On this particular tour we paid 40 złoty each because it was a Food and Beer tour! (This works out to roughly $12 CA)
We started off by meetin near Nowy Świat (New Town) in Warszawa. By the time our tour started we had 8 people in our group including the tour guide.
There were 5 stops included in this tour, experience in the order with how a typical Polish meal maybe be eaten.
Here we go!
1. Bambino Bar
Our first stop was at a traditional “milk bar.” We were served a very traditional form of Polish Boscht – beet soup.I’ve grown up drinking borscht but this was very different than the soups I’ve had before. The Polish style is very brothy and much more sweet in comparison to let’s say the Russian or Ukrainane borscht which is often rich with potatoes, meats or other root vegetables and served with sour cream.
Now, what is a “milk bar”? These special spots began as a location where milk products were often made available. During times of communist rule, meat was not easily accessible and milk bars served as a place to subsidize protein in the diet.
However, milk bars were not only a place where one could get diary products, they also became a place where people could congrate to discuss issues of the time. It was a venue that provided an opportunity for people of different classes and socioeconomic status to socialize and mingle.
The milk bars eventually evolved into more of a cafe style place where all sorts of edible things are sold. They are still popular now and you may have difficulty distinguishing the difference between a milk bar and a cafe because they have many similarities. The most important thing to understand is that milk bars were created in times when meat was scarce.
This was a perfect way to begin our tour as it became the gateway for us to meet other members of the group. Which essentially one of the by products of going to a milk bar – forming relationships.
2. Zapiekanka at Zapiexy
We started with a soup and now our second stop is to enjoy a snack or appetizer known as Zapiekanka.
Honestly, I’m going to write an entire post about Zapiekanka because for us there’s an entire adventure based on this delicious treat.
For now, all you need to know is that Zapiekanka is a traditional Polish fast food kind of thing. If you could imagine pizza toppings on a toasted baguette, then you have a loose underanding of what a Zapiekanka might taste like.
For many Polish people it brings one back to thier childhood. A sort of comfort food.
To accompany this dish, we were served a clear orange pop. The vessel of which the guide found amusing because it had a very traditional communist flair to it, in terms of the drawings and font and the fact that every sealed bottle had a very different volume of pop, though it was advertised as universal in volume.
3. Wodka i pierogi at Afera
For our main course we arrived at Afera. As our guide would say “very hipster,” sort of a place with retro exposed brick walls complimented by solid wooden tables with funky steel legs.
The guide told us this would a place were people would have a snack and pre drink before heading off to the clubs for the evening.
Here we snuggled into a corner table and within minutes we were faced with a shot of wodka żołądkowa and ruskie pierogi.
Those of you unfamiliar with pierogis, they are little dumplings made of soft wheat dough and filled with anything from blueberries to potatoes to meat and everything in between. Often served with a generous dollop of sour cream!
Typically they can be found in most Canadian grocery stores in the frozen section and are usually filled with mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese and onions. Needless to say the ones in Warsaw are much better!
4. Dessert – cukiernia @Pawlowicz
Adam had been raving about these Polish style donuts since we arrived. What makes these different than North American donuts is that they are not as sweet, bigger and traditionally filled with a very homemade jam filling. In this case we had a rose filling which was incredible, as rose is one of my most favourite flavor!
5. The last and final stop of the tour. BEER aka PIWO (pronounced as Pee-vo)
Our guide brought us to one of his favourite beer places as it has over 91, local to Poland, beers on tap. Its name PiwPaw, had a triple meaning. The first being the sound a gun makes. (I guess in Poland kids say “PiwPaw” and we in Canada say “pewpew.”)
The second is that piw is kind of a play on piw-o ( beer.) Lastly paw means “peacock” in Polish, hence the peacock in the logo. I’m not sure what to make of all those put together but it’s cute.
Now from here I can’t give the best review on the beers as 5 of us from the tour group made it our mission to drink every single one of the 92 beers on top for 1 złoty a shot. Which works out to $30 a person for a lot of fun.
All I can remember is they have many fruit beers. Some really tart which I’ve never experienced and really enjoyed. They also had a few cigar tasting beers which were the most horrifying things any of us ever tasted. Imagine…. A cigar that’s been boiled, puréed, strained, fermented and chilled and then served as a beer. Exactly.
If this bar alone doesn’t convince you to come to Warsaw… Wait til I post about a 5 lb meal with 2 litres of beer for less than $12 CA.
Na zdrowie! (For health!h