Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vegetarian Warsaw

Thursday, August 15, 2013
By Michael
            On our way back to Ukraine from the States, Yulia and I stopped in Warsaw for a few days. We were in Warsaw from June 27th until July 1st, and I should probably write about the experience before it becomes a distant memory. As is tradition with us, Yulia and I seek out any vegetarian restaurants we can while we are traveling. Warsaw was a pleasant surprise. There are quite a few vegetarian restaurants—and they serve pretty good food too!
            We first went to a vegan burger place Krowarzywa that was a few blocks away from our hotel. It was a cozy spot, with limited seating. We got our food to go anyway, so finding a place to sit was not an issue for us. There were a variety of burgers to choose from. Yulia ordered a chickpea based burger with creamy dill sauce, and I got a seitan burger with mayo and mustard. We were very hungry from traveling, so this junk vegan food was a welcome indulgence to us. We also ordered two smufis (smoothies). While we were tickled by the cute Polish name for the drink, they weren’t very good. The restaurant seems to have a not so powerful blender which left the smufi with large chunks in it.
            For breakfast the next day we went to a place called “Green Peas.” They had an English menu there, but we refused to take it and made due with the Polish one. We understand enough Polish to get by thanks to our knowledge of Ukrainian. The restaurant was simply and cleanly decorated. Just the right blend of casual and elegant.

Yulia at Green Peas
Yulia got the nalysnyky (blintzes) and I got pierogies.

Yulia’s dish at Green Pea
For dinner that day we went to “Veg Deli,” an amazing restaurant despite its humble name. Veg Deli is a fancy sit down restaurant with thoughtful dishes. We ate up in the loft section of the restaurant. The environment inside was tasteful, simple, creative, and fun—the kind of design we want to mimic in our new home.

View from the loft at Veg Deli

Another view
 We had some truly novel stuff there. Our raw desert was especially interesting. It was made out of parsnip—that’s right, a desert made out of parsnip! It was shaved into ribbons and soaked in plum jam to make it red. The end result was something that looked like strips of red velvet with chocolate syrup drizzled over it.
            The restaurants we went to in Warsaw were a pleasant welcome. We felt right at home there. For me the Polish language is understandable enough. The use of Latin letters makes it easy for me to figure out the sounds of most letters, and I can recognize other words because of their similarity to Ukrainian. I grew up speaking Ukrainian, and the particular dialect that my grandparents brought with them was infused with Polish terms. We called the store a sklep, for example, instead of the more Ukrainian mahazyn. I also simply like how the Polish language looks written down. If I ever get the chance, I would consider learning it properly. We live very close to the Polish border here, so I’m sure it would come in handy every now and then. All in all, the familiar food and language in Warsaw made for a gradual transition back to Ukraine.

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