For a while now, the symbol of the shepherd culture of the Podhale, the Beskids and the Carpathian Mountains more broadly, is redyk - the spectacular, often multi-day return of thousands of sheep from the vast pastures of the Beskid Sądecki to highlander houses near the Tatra Mountains, which ends the summer grazing. The colourful, autumn parades with music have recently become a special attraction in Szczawnica.
Closely related to sheep grazing is the cheese-making culture. Undoubtedly, the most famous highlander cheese is oscypek - crispy, smoked sheep's cheese with a characteristic edge decoration coming from the split mould, which it probably owes its name to (in hyper-correct, literary Polish, we could say "rozszczepek"). Sometimes called the "little sister” of oscypek is redykołka, made from leftovers from the oscypek production, traditionally presented as a gift during the redyk. Other popular cheeses from the Małopolska region are delicate, juicy bundz (bunc or klagany cheese) - cheese with a mild and delicate flavour, made from sheep's milk in the period from spring to autumn, the most delicious is May bundzfrom early sheep grazing, smoked korboce (korbacze) - a great appetizer for evening meetings or mountain hiking, or podhalańska and sądecka bryndza - a soft, rennet cheese known throughout the Carpathians, from Romania to the Czech Republic. It is best to buy Carpathian cheeses directly from the shepherds, in one of the numerous shepherd's huts along mountain trails.
In Kraków, the city awarded in 2019 the honourable title of the European Capital of Gastronomy Culture it is worth visiting not only the excellent, concentrated mainly in the area of the Old Town, Kazimierz and Podgórze restaurants, 18 of which appear on the cards of the Michelin guide. The culinary traditions of the former capital of Poland are best expressed by bread. First and foremost - obwarzanki - characteristic rings sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt or a mixture of grains, sold in blue trolleys on squares and in popular interchanges, as a daily snack, along with crispy pretzels. The secret of the recipe for obwarzanki is dipping the bread in boiling water and boiling it ("parboiling"). In the Living Museum of Obwarzanek, we can learn not only about its history, but also take part in shows and try ourselves as bakers. Kazimierz, the former Jewish district is the home of bagels - oval rolls with a hole in the middle, which, thanks to immigrants from the capital of the Małopolska region, have also become one of the symbols of New York. An excellent example of the revival of culinary traditions is the Prądnik bread - huge loaves, weighing up to 14 kilograms, baked according to a recipe dating back to the 14th century, bread almost forgotten during the Polish People's Republic and restored to the tables in recent years. The calendar of cultural events in Kraków and Kraków's Kazimierz contains the Feast of Bread celebrated every year at the beginning of June. A remnant of the Austro-Hungarian times is, in turn Pischinger - a traditional Galician cake made of wafers (in Kraków “andruty”) layered with chocolate-nut grazing.
Yeast cake covered with cheese glazing and a characteristic crumble, entered on the list of traditional products - Jodłownicki kołacz z serem. The inhabitants of Limanowszczyzna and the commune of Jodłownik love it the most. It was baked only on important occasions. It could not be missing at the wedding table, it was also eaten during church fairs. The tastiest was prepared by housewives from fresh milk and the best cheese they had in stock. The specific baking temperature, on the other hand, gave it the appropriate colour.
"(...) And there was a pastry shop there. After graduation, we went there to eat kremówki (cream cake). That we endured it all, those kremówki after graduation "- said on June 16, 1999 - John Paul II on the market in Wadowice. This is when kremówka i.e. puff pastry layered with custard cream and generously sprinkled with powdered sugar received its name "kremówka papieska” (papal cream cake) or "Kremówka Wadowicka", used especially by confectioners in Wadowice.
While in Kraków, it is worth visiting one of the artisanal bakeries and traditional markets with regional products. It is primarily the oldest and most famous market Stary Kleparz, but also places like the Market Hall, Plac na Stawach or the organized in Podgórze Pietruszkowy Market - a joint initiative of suppliers of organic food. Lovers of street food will be delighted with Kazimierz, one of the symbols of which in recent years have been the Casserolles (zapiekanki) from the Plac Nowy (New Square), but also returning to favour maczanka Krakówska, called the "great-grandmother of the hamburger".
The most interesting local restaurants in Kraków can be found on the portal called Kraków Foodie, it's also worth taking a look at the city's website Culinary Kraków, compiling information on noteworthy addresses, events and the culinary heritage of the city.
The journey into the region begins with the near-Kraków towns specializing in the production of cold meats such as Liszki, Podstolice or Rajbrot located a bit further. Known all over Poland Lisiecka sausage - traditional smoked pork sausage, produced in the communes of Liszki and Czernichów, entered into the system of protection of regional agricultural products in the European Union. Coarsely ground, baked and dried Krakówska sucha sausage or Szołdra from Rajbrot (pork ham smoked with beech and alder smoke) are just some of the region's meat specialities. Bread in the Małopolska region is, of course, not only a Kraków speciality: it is worth trying yeast kołacze with cheese from Jodłownik, sprinkled with crumble kołacze jurajskie - originally a wedding cake or an oblong wheat roll - kukiełka lisiecka. Your hunger will be satisfied by the oval, sprinkled with crushed wheat grains żarnowy bread from Łomna or jurassic breadwhich, thanks to the addition of potato flakes, stays fresh for a long time. One cannot fail to mention the common rolls in Poland - kajzerkiwhich owed their name to the emperor Franz Joseph, who ruled over Galicia and Kraków.
The Małopolska region’s connection with the sea is, at most, the Morskie Oko but whoever thinks that this is a region poor in fish is wrong. Brilliant trout from mountain streams is served by almost every tavern in Podhale, but the art of grilling or smoking fish has been elevated by the caretakers of the ponds recently restored to use in the valleyfrom which the Ojcowski troutcomes from - one of the showpieces of this picturesque town near Kraków. The seven communes in the upper Vistula valley near Oświęcim, which are densely covered with ponds, constitute the Carp Valley - the national basin of fish known from Christmas Eve tables. Zatorski Carp is one of the six products from the Małopolska region with a Protected Designation of Origin. In the last week of June, the inhabitants of the Zator Commune, emphasizing the centuries-old tradition of carp breeding, sumptuously celebrate the Carp festival, attended by more and more guests, attracted by the smell of smoked and fried fish and the unique atmosphere of fun on the Zatorski market square.
Mountainous surroundings of Nowy Sącz and Limanowa constitute - apart from Masovian Grójec - the Polish centre of fruit growing. Sunlit slopes above the Dunajec, near Tymbark and Raciechowice, are famous primarily for their excellent apples, including certified Łącko apples (Łącko apples description) and juicy purple plums, slightly sweet, with a noticeable aftertaste and smoked aroma - Suski sechlońskie, - dried plums unparalleled in any other region of Poland. Their name comes from the local dialect. "Suska" means a dried and smoked plum, "sechlońska" comes from the name of the town of Sechna. The Małopolska region plums are also used to make dry slivovitz (plum vodka- śliwowica) - a high-percentage, dry drink found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, its main place of production in Poland is Łącko. Another interesting liqueur originating from the Małopolska region is jarzębiak, made of rowan berries in Izdebnik and Lanckorona.
At the northern tip of the Małopolska region there is Charsznica - a village known for its art of pickling vegetables. Once a common way of preserving food for a long and cold winter, it has become one of the hallmarks of Polish cuisine. Healthy, rich in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and iron, pickled in barrels cabbage from Charsznica is cherished in the only one in the world Cabbage Museum. One of the most popular dishes of old Polish cuisine made on the basis of sauerkraut is bigos- a filling one-pot dish with the addition of various types of meat, mushrooms and spices. Other fine pickled foods from the region are of course pickled cucumbers (near Tarnów they are traditionally pickled in a well!) or natural beetroot leaven, on the basis of which soups such as Kraków's red borscht, with an aromatic taste and a deep red colour or the małopolski sour rye soup with horseradish, sausage and egg, often served in bread, which cannot be missing on the Easter table.
The taste of real honey from the territory of today's Poland, the Arabs valued it already in the early Middle Ages, sending numerous merchant caravans to the Vistula River. In the contemporary Małopolska region, the honey harvesting traditions of Harbutowice, in the Beskid Wyspowy and in the Nowy Sącz region. The icon of the Małopolska region beekeeping is, demanding in production, honeydew honey, obtained from honeydew - tree sap eaten and processed by small insects feeding on plants. The honeydew can come from both deciduous and coniferous trees. The spicy, resinous taste of coniferous honeydew honey is an unforgettable taste experience - it is hard to imagine a return to buying artificial, industrial honeys from supermarkets.
A culinary adventure in the Małopolska region cannot be complete without a visit to one of the traditional taverns. Places that authentically draw on the heritage of regional cuisine can be found at the Małopolska region Gourmet Trail. The trail includes traditional taverns of the highest standard, offering dishes prepared using local ingredients - over 40 addresses throughout the region. One of the dishes that you have to taste in the inn are pierogiwhich are a real hit of Polish cuisine. Even an old Polish proverb says "chata bogata nie węgłami, ale pierogami” - a house is rich not because of its structure or apperance but because of pierogi inside. They can be eaten both sweet and savoury, and the types of stuffing can be limited only by our imagination. We can see their diversity during the Pierogi Festival in the Mały Rynek in Kraków, where not only the traditional flavours of pierogi ruskie, with meat, sweet cheese or with cabbage and mushrooms reign, but also the seasonal ones - with fresh blueberries, broad beans or chanterelles - to more bold ones, such as with beetroot, or sweet with chocolate.
To have some craft beer straight from the vat it is best to go to Szczyrzyca where there is a small brewery at the local Cistercian monasteryand, and going further to the Niski Beskids it is worth stopping in front of Grybów, where in a historic building dating back to the times of Galicia there is a brewery still operating called Pilsvar brewery with a shop with taps to pour beer and a dozen or so variants of bottled beers. You can get to know the dynamically developing in the northern and central-eastern part of the region winemaking thanks to the Małopolska region Wine Trail. The trail covers as many as 50 places that can be visited every year, among others during the Vineyard Open Days. The wines of the region are presented at an open-air fair called Enoexpo in Kraków and at the Tarnów Dionysia.
Enjoy your travelling!