Friday, April 30, 2010

Mrs. MBR Goes To Poland

I will not be accompanying her for a variety of reasons. But, Mrs. MBR will be going to Warsaw, Poland in less than two weeks. What should I demand that I bring back?

She has already done some research herself
Hmm. Apparently, you can buy Bison Grass Vodka in Poland, which is illegal here in the US. It has coumarin in it, which the FDA has said is unsafe as food. I guess drinking a precursor to rat poison isn't good for you. ... In the show [Three Sheets], they mixed it with apple juice, honey vodka, and something else.
A little side note about coumarin - the rat poison precursor. There's actually substantial use of it for beer products in Germany and Poland. Coumarin is one of the natural additives of Sweet Woodruff, a flavoring syrup used in Berliner Weisse.

I have heard some pretty dreadful things about Polish brewing and I'm not sure I've ever had anything Polish (mostly Okocim, owned by Carlsberg, and Zywiec, owned by Heineken) that hasn't been on the "bad side" of "eh".

Vodka is more prevalent in Poland. Though, I can't imagine a Zubrowka ("Buffalo Grass") and Tonic would be particularly good. And Julie Powell (yes, of Julie/Julia fame) made a dessert called Souffle Rothschild that traditionally calls for a Polish herbal liquor with gold flakes in it called Goldwasser, (note: Goldschlager, the cringe inducing college kids drink, is a cinnamon schnapps from Italy),that was not particularly good.

So, I know readers of MBR are world travelers. Any ideas and travel advice for Mrs. MBR on her trip to Poland?


  1. For beery travel:
    there's a lot of breweries in Poland.
    One is owned by a family from Winona, MN
    Browar Namysłów Sp. z o.o.
    ul. Bolesława Chrobrego 26
    PL-46-100 Namysłów Poland
    Telephone: +48 (077) 40 39 100
    Brewer: Ryan Gostomski

    I've had some of the beers...well made, but undistinctive. High alcohol lagers with plenty of boozy aromas and flavors.
    If you can find the dark lagers, porters, stouts that are made give them a try, those I've been able to find over the years have been quite good.
    Cheers and have fun!

  2. You can get Zubrowka at Woodmans and I believe Reilly's. Poland has a few other herbal vodkas that are really good. Zubrowka actually does go really well with tonic. Ice tea and apple juice are other decent combinations.

    Favorite quote from poland comes after pointing to the riot vans the police have parked outside a strip of clubs

    "Well people drink more beer and less vodka after communisim. The cops don't have to hall too many away anymore."

  3. Ooh, Goldwasser was on Three Sheets, too. They said it stemmed from the time that people believed gold and curative aspects and this was "medicine."

    As for the Zubrowka here in the US, according to my research (a/k/a Wikipedia), it is a close facsimile but does not actually contain courmarin.

    Na zdrowie! (I just looked that up)

  4. I lived in Poland after college--2002 to 2004--teaching English and debauching myself across across Eastern Europe. There are at least a few breweries in each province, typically situated in the main city therein, and the residents of each province swear their beer is better than so-and-so's. I lived near the small brewing town of Lomza, and, the fact is, their beer was good but utterly identical to so-and-so's as well as the big national brands like Zywiec and Okocim.

    Pub culture is still a new phenomenon in Poland--most people still prefer to buy a few bottles of Wyborowa and gather at a dining room table with a smorgasbord of pickled goodies so they can talk smack about Germany and Russia without reflexively looking up each time someone walks in the room (natural selection has made this a prevalent trait over the centuries.)

    So my advice: drink the beer, but don't expect an epiphany. If you want one of those, go to a traditional Polish restaurant like Chlopskie Jadlo in Krakow and get a plate piled high with pork and cabbage and order a flight of flavored vodkas. Or better yet, befriend someone and get them to take you to their grandmother's house for dinner. Eighty year old World War II survivors will ply you with booze and food til dawn.

  5. I've got a bottle of the Zubrowka that was given to me by a friend who had travelled in Poland. He was very excited about giving this bottle to me. Too bad it tastes like shit.


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