Café Polonia Serves Up Savory Comfort

Posted: April 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe Polonia, German, Polish, Salem | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

We were looking for a bit of comfort last week, our spirits sagging from the cold and rain, and decided to stop into Café Polonia for lunch one day. It was definitely the right decision. The bright, welcoming atmosphere and hearty warming food were just what we needed.

Cafe Polonia is the second location of the Dorchester restaurant known for its traditional Polish fare. The Salem location, which opened in October, not only features Polish foods, but German, Hungarian and Eastern European specialties as well.

We settled in with a Tyskie (a Polish lager, $5 for 500ml bottle) and ordered the potato pancake sampler for two ($8) to start. This plate could easily have been our entire meal, with four huge potato pancakes served with sides of sour cream, a chunky apple sauce, and a bowl of Hungarian goulash. The pancakes were fresh and crispy, and the goulash was delicious: rich and hearty with hunks of tender brisket and vegetables in a savory gravy. We ended up ladling the goulash over the pancakes and eating them together—comfort food heaven.

We didn’t really need another bite, but we soldiered on as we had already ordered the Polish plate and the Pyzy dumplings. The Polish plate ($14) was a sampler of traditional tastes, and once again, enough food for several people. The pierogies were lovely, delicate and crisp on the outside and stuffed with savory filling. We tried the meat, potato, and cheese and the cabbage and mushroom, all very satisfying. The kielbasa was excellent, and the hunter’s stew, made from various sausage, pork, cabbage, and sauerkraut was interesting, almost Alsatian in taste. The stuffed cabbage was quite respectable as well.

The Pyzy dumplings ($14) are meat-filled potato dumplings served with caramelized onions. The dumplings steamed rather than fried, so the thick jacket of potatoes can feel a bit gummy, but the filling of ground pork and spices made a tasty counterpoint.

There was so much food that we ended up with a meal’s worth to bring home, and there was no way we had room for dessert. We’ll have to try the apple crisp or the chocolate babka next time around.

Café Polonia
118 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 745-0045

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Swedish Treats and Holiday Cheer at Karl’s Sausage Kitchen

Posted: December 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Deli, German, Karl's Sausage Kitchen, Swedish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My grandfather left Sweden and traveled to America on his own when he was a teenager, and over the course of a few years, he and four of his siblings settled here on the North Shore. This means that there are quite a few of us still lurking about that were brought up to embrace our Swedish heritage, and we enjoy serving traditional foods when we gather over the holidays.

Each year before the family fracas, I make a pilgrimage to Worcester to procure Swedish goodies, but this year, I was running short on time. I had heard Karl’s Sausage Kitchen in Saugus had some Nordic specialties, so I decided to investigate.

If you are not familiar with Karl’s, it is a wonderland of meaty treats that has been around since 1958, consistently wins accolades, and was even mentioned by Robert B. Parker in one of his Spenser books.

A few years ago, the shop was taken over by Robert and Anita Gokey, whose dedication to quality is obvious upon tasting their products. They hand make most of the sausage on site and operate their own smoke house. They chop the meat and spices in lieu of grinding and never use fillers or MSG. In addition to the deli cases chock full of gorgeous meats and cheeses, their shelves are overflowing with European specialty foods of every description.

I am happy to report that I found what I was looking for. Karl’s offers medvurst, a Swedish soft salami that they had make in-house, and it is excellent—perfectly spiced and not greasy ($11.49/lb) They have house-made kok korv and potato sausage, which I’ll have to return for. They also have house-made Limpa (Swedish rye bread) with a light caramel-y crust and a hint of caraway that is delicious. Swedish cheeses include Herrgords Orst ($11.29/lb) and Bond-Ost ($9.59/lb) among others.

I also picked up pickled herring, crisp bread, and Swedish gingersnaps. While I didn’t need lingonberries, I was impressed at their selection, which is right next to the cloud berries, pickled beets, Julmust, and Glogg (non-alchoholic, we make our own high-octane version at home).

Karl’s is currently decked out for the holidays with all sorts of festive confections;  German, Swiss, and Belgian chocolates; a huge variety of Stollen and cookies; adorable marzipans; and a cavalcade of Kinder novelties. And for those getting into the Christmas spirit, think about stopping by this Sunday (12/5) for Karl’s Annual Christkindlmarkt.  You can shop for gifts, sample traditional foods, and experience the atmosphere of a German Christmas Market.

I’m thinking I may have to become a regular at Karl’s. Not just for the Swedish specialties, but because I want to try all of that fabulous hand-made sausage. There’s so much there, from bratwursts to andouille and chorizo, not to mention the smoked meats and cold cuts—it’s a project that could take years.

Karl’s Sausage Kitchen
142 Broadway, Saugus
(781) 233-3099