It seemed only appropriate that the annual Festival of Taste (Festiwal Smaku) take place among the apple trees. (See #eatpolishapples) The festival took place in the northern Polish town of Gruczno. What started as a small town festival attracting only a few dozen visitors, has now turned into one of the most anticipated food festivals of the year. Producers from across the country apply to sell their products at the festival, but not everyone makes it in. Then, from among the producers that do get in, a “best in show” is chosen by a panel of judges.
I will have to admit that my understanding of Polish food culture was rather limited. Growing up in Toronto, I think that everyone has basic knowledge of different food cultures, and kielbasa is where my understanding of Polish food started and stopped. But kielbasa comes in many shapes and sizes, and there are lots of other tasty sweet and savoury foods to enjoy.
Our day began with a large degustation of some of the best products of the festival, according to Maciej Nowicki (Chef at Muzeum Palac w Wilanowie).
“Breakfast” included some fresh bread and different mustards and spreads to go along with the sausages. Some of my favourites were the horseradish mustard, preserved walnuts, and gingerbread mustard.
And here are a few more of my favourite things:
Redykołka – is produced in the Podhale region of Poland. It is a smoked sheep’s cheese that comes in various small shapes like this one.
This fresh goat’s cheese was decorated with flower petals, different kinds of herbs, or my personal favourite, grape skins. This turned the outside of the cheese a wonderful dark burgundy (as seen here in the middle of this cheese board).
These sweet stuffed pasties stole the show – they were the winners of this year’s festival. The fried pasties were stuffed with a fresh curd cheese, much like kohupiim in Estonia.
And then it was time for beer. This has now become my favourite summer beer: Amber Czarny Bez is a beer made with elderflower, which surprisingly is not that sweet. Read more about it here.
And last, but not least, goose. Goose is prepared in many ways in Poland: paté, sausage, smoked, cured… But some of the best uses of goose was the following: two goose breasts are taken and wrapped in their own skin and then tied.
The breasts are then either cold smoked or hot smoked. When ready, you untie them and slice thinly. And the second best goose product was a goose sausage, which was so good that it was eaten before I could photograph it.
And finally, I bet you are wondering what this is:
This was described to me as a type of goose tartar. Essentially, everything that is left over from the goose is chopped finely and preserved with goose fat and various herbs and spices. It is eaten by spreading it on bread, or as I first tried it, with a spoon.