An author of Minta Eats blog, a culinary journalist. We trust her taste. We highly value her column at Wysokie Obcasy called “Żywicielki” (Feeders) where she presents women who produce fine Polish food. We meet at one of her favourite venues for breakfast and coffee – at Forum in Elektoralna Street. What did she order? Of course bread with tomatoes.
You are constantly on the run. Is Warsaw still attractive to you?
Of course, I am a Warsaw patriot. If it wasn’t so much happening here like nowadays, I wouldn’t probably be doing what I am doing. I have just spoken to a friend from Tel-Aviv who comes to Warsaw a few times a year just to eat. So there must be something about it. There is a stimulating competition in Warsaw gastronomy. The Varsovians are demanding because they travel a lot, follow trends. They want everything to be nice and tasty.
So probably you are often asked to give tours for people from your profession. What do you show in Warsaw other culinary journalists?
I often do it for the city. For sure I want to show the base – products, ingredients. That is why Hala Mirowska. The most democratic market in the world because you have elderly ladies here, eco mothers, the representatives of ethnic minorities, expats. If the weather permits we visit the Majlerts as it is also an interesting place.
Do you also like to start your tour from the market?
Yes, I do. However, in Copenhagen for example, there are no markets.
How come? How do they live then?
They have everything in shops. But unfortunately, there is no direct contact with the producer.
In comparison to other countries of southern Europe, we have a very rich culture of eating breakfasts. I recommend my guests dairy products as this is something they are not familiar with. We go to SAM because they offer cottage cheese, Vienna style eggs, toasts from challah which is made on the spot, shakshuka.
I always try to show Warsaw phenomena that have happened throughout recent years. For example coffee culture. We go to Stor or Forum. I try to show bakeries so we go to Stalowa do Rano or we just simply have a quick chat with Cała w Mące at Forteca.
As for cuisine, Polish, modern, based on ingredients from local producers. That is why we often end up at AleWino. Or we go to Superlardo because I want to show them what Paweł Fabiś has to offer. For example, they grind flour from ecowheat and bake delicious bread out of it, prepare cold cuts. Kieliszki na Hożej, Warszawa Hotel…
Remarkable just like Darek Barański. He is one of the most diligent and talented chefs I have met in my life. Modest. For example, he recommends other places to food critics. It is quite an unusual. We go to Bibenda, MOD. I have recently taken a Swedish journalist there and she couldn’t believe her own eyes: a Singaporean chef, doughnuts in the morning, neo-bistro in the evening, 18-year-olds who drink natural wines from Austria on a date. Additionally perfect coffee. She said it was even more hipster than any other trendy venue in Stockholm.
I also introduce my guests to other people. This is what I like most, too. However, in my company, they will have to drink Polish wines, beers, and ciders.
Do they complain much?
No, they don’t. Five years ago there was only one Polish wine, but it has recently changed. They are still relatively expensive but the quality is getting better and better: Wieliczka Vineyard, Dom Bliskowice, Winnica Wzgórz Trzebnickich, Moderna.
I try not to hide anything but concentrate on what is good. If my guests want to go to a milk bar we don’t go to Prasowy but we head to Sady where you can feel this milky aroma in the air. I took there Marina O’Loughlin, a British journalist who is my food critics guru. She is very ironic in her articles which she publishes in her column at “Sunday Times”. If she ever criticised my restaurant, before I’d close it, I’d die laughing.
And she comes to Warsaw.
At first, I was nervous but it turned out perfect. She was very brave, we ate and walked a lot. At the end of her stay, we visited AleWino where she had a homemade dinner and leniwe with roasted plums and caramel for a desert. “BBC Good Food”, one of the biggest culinary magazines in Britain, has published an extensive article. Flattering.
What did she like most?
Warsaw in general. She didn’t beat about the bush. In her eyes, Warsaw is quite an architectonically chaotic city. She wrote that you have to have an insider for a guide to show you around because otherwise, you will end up at the Old Town. But I think it’s the case with every city.
Do you follow the beaten path and visit only friends?
Luckily I am not a food critic so I don’t have to visit places which I wouldn’t like to visit.
Where do you eat, work, spend time?
At Relaks, because I live nearby. Right now Dobroczynna is even closer. This cafe donates its revenue to the Charytatywni foundation which supports kids eduction. Stor in Tamka Street because of their coffee and cheesecakes prepared by Fatima El Dessouki who is a real master. And I like cakes. I drop by to Miss Mellow for a New York cheesecake. I like Forum because they offer fantastic coffee and unique breakfasts. They play good music which is rare in Warsaw. You can work here and the market at Hala Mirowska is just around the corner.
Bibenda, AleWino, because they have never considerably failed me. For a business meeting, I would choose Kieliszki na Hożej. Delicious, innovative food and a pleasant atmosphere. Cosmo for an evening drink. Yesterday I drank there an excellent cocktail with apricot. I just wanted to take a bath in it.
Piekarnia Rano – it just proves I am not entirely sane. I live in Upper Mokotów, I don’t have a car and I am still a regular customer there. They will soon open in Stalowa Street a cafe with breakfasts. I can’t wait.
What is it that you lack in Warsaw?
Wine bars. Non-pretentious, simple, with fine, natural wines from Moravia, Austria. The ones which are close to us when it comes to flavour and geographical region. I am pushing wine importers and restaurateurs. Maybe they will take it under consideration one day. Monsieur Leon was for me a substitute for this kind of place. In this micro venue, I probably spent the majority of my summer evenings.