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Summer on a plate

In Poland, when I was young, in the spring we often ate small, half-kilogram chickens stuffed with breadcrumbs with butter and dill. Currently, the biggest problem is getting chickens of this weight. – wrote Aniela Rubinstein in her book ‘Nela’s Cookbook’ – It is best served with a green salad with cream or mizeria cucumber salad, or both. What else is on Warsaw’s plates and in markets in June and July? Who was Aniela Rubinstein, and what connections did she have with Warsaw?

The end of spring and the beginning of summer is the time that all gourmets look forward to, dreaming of fresh fruit and vegetables. June is primarily the month of strawberries, but often at the end of the month you can taste cherries – both sweet and tart ones – the fruits whose flavour many Polish people associate with the summer. In July, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are available. What is more, apricots and peaches appear in the orchards and at Warsaw’s farmers’ markets. In July, rose petals are also harvested and the making of traditional rose jams begins.

The city’s farmers’ markets look spectacular; there you will find spring onions, chives, radishes and beet greens. Just add buttermilk, cream or yogurt, mix it all… and another summer speciality is ready! These are the ingredients for chłodnik, a cold soup which is prepared like a salad. Next, in summer the main courses are served with seasonal side dishes such as new potatoes with butter and dill, or stewed baby cabbage. Some enthusiasts prefer only fried eggs with these spring and summer specialities, to savour the simplicity of seasonal vegetables.

Świeże truskawki w białej miseczce.
Strawberries, photo: Ewelina Majdak

In June, a sour sorrel soup served with a hard-boiled egg appears both at home and on restaurant menus. What a joy it would be if sorrel grew in every garden! There are two types of sorrel: the broad-leaved cultivated one and the smaller one, growing wild – both equally fertile. Unfortunately, during cooking, sorrel loses its wonderful bright green colour, and the leaves become grey, dark olive. – in Aniela Rubinstein’s book we can find as many as three different recipes for sorrel soup. I recommend this soup for parties: it’s always a surprise for guests and generally tastes good to everyone. I like to serve it with hot eggs fried in butter and stuffed in the Polish style, served on a separate plate, or simply with quartered hard-boiled eggs added to each portion. – advises the author.

Aniela was the daughter of Emil Młynarski, a world-famous conductor, co-founder of the Warsaw Philharmonic and long-time director of the Warsaw Opera. She grew up in Warsaw after the First World War, in tied accommodation located in the opera house, and dreamed of a career as a dancer. At the age of 18, she fell in love with Arthur Rubinstein, who is today considered one of the most outstanding virtuoso pianists of the twentieth century. After many years, her dreams came true and she became his wife. Friends called her Nela and remembered her as a woman of ‘absolute taste’ because she was able to recreate even the most complex dishes like musicians who have absolute pitch can identify any given musical note. They also mentioned that she was a great cook. Her original cookbook, in addition to phenomenal Polish home cooking recipes, also contains many anecdotes from the worlds of music and culture.

Bazar przy Hali Mirowskiej, kobieta sięga po warzywa ze straganu, dzień, lato.
Hala Mirowska, photo: Filip Kwiatkowski

In the summer, weekends in Warsaw start on Thursdays, and weekend nights fall early, as early as 5 p.m. (on Sundays even from 4 p.m.) – at least for all those who want to taste street food from all over the world at the Night Market. You will find it at Warsaw’s (former) Main Railway Station (3 Towarowa Street). Warsaw foodies have considered these neon-lit old station platforms the tastiest station in the capital for the last nine years.

For those who are hungry and thirsty, there will be ramen with seasonal extras (in early June, it was asparagus), burgers, Korean corn-dogs fried in batter and topped with delicious sauces, Italian pasta and pizza, spring rolls, sushi, Georgian and Greek delicacies, Berlin curry wurst and many others… check out the full list of stalls on the Night Market’s Facebook fanpage. This year’s offer provides new concepts such as the Night Guest stand, i.e. a gastro pop-up space which is located on the left side of the entrance, closer to the end of the platform.

What does the tasty timetable at the Night Market look like? In summer, you can party and eat on the Main Station platform on Thursdays from 17:00 to 24:00, Fridays and Saturdays from 17:00 to 1:00, and on Sundays between 16:00 and 23:00. The best way to get there is by Warsaw public transport to Plac Zawiszy and then… follow the crowds.

Summer food events in Warsaw are the perfect way to get to know the capital outside the city centre and the Old Town. The Night Market invites you to explore the urban post-industrial heritage in the Wola district. The Breakfast Market, on the other hand, is an opportunity for weekend trips to Żoliborz and Mokotów. What is it all about?

Nocny Market na Dworcu Głównym, ludzie stoją, rozmawiają, w ręku trzymają butelki, obok stoiska z jedzeniem, noc, lato.
Night Market, photo: m.st. Warszawa

Breakfast markets are an opportunity to have a lazy breakfast or lunch on the grass (or bench) outdoors at the weekend. The idea is to get to know new flavours of world cuisine or enjoy your favourite dishes bought at the stands and to spend time together. You will meet us there, i.e. Varsovians living in the area, but there are also local people commuting from other districts. They spread their own picnic blankets or sit on benches prepared by the organizers to enjoy food and summer in the city.

At Breakfast Markets, there are also themed weekends, e.g. Indian, Vietnamese or Indonesian. In addition to food, you can also listen to music or watch specially prepared performances, so it is worth taking a look at the organiser’s website for a full list of attractions and exhibitors, as well as information about the possible cancellation of the event due to the weather. Lately, summers in Warsaw have been capricious.

This year’s twelfth edition of the Breakfast Market takes place in two locations. On Saturday, you can eat on the square between Śmiała Street and Wojska Polskiego Avenue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is right next to the Citadel, so you can plan a visit to the new Polish History Museum and be sure to climb up to its roof to admire the extraordinary panorama of Warsaw. On Sunday, it is worth going south, because the Breakfast Market takes place on the AK Grant Group square at the corner of Puławska Street and Woronicza Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is literally opposite the entrance to Królikarnia: the park and museum of sculptures of Xawery Dunikowski. It is the Mokotów branch of the National Museum in Warsaw and the perfect place to take a stroll after eating.

Author: Agnieszka Kuś, Warsaw guide

Targ śniadaniowy, grupa znajomych siedzi przy stole, na którym leży jedzenie i picie, w tle stoiska z jedzeniem, spacerują ludzie, słoneczny dzień, lato.
Breakfast Market, photo: m.st. Warszawa