My Red Obsession


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "New Warsaw Express"

Born in the south of Europe, I was brought up seeing never-ending vineyards, barrels of homemade wine in my grandparents' house and bottles of red wine vinegar in every kitchen around the country. The vinegar was always kept in a handy spot, ready for use in soups, salads and pickles. It is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisines and, if you ask me, any other cooking style. You can call me a vinegar freak, but I can find plenty of ways to use it and always have two or three kinds of it at home. The moment I found out that there was an vinegar museum somewhere in Pennsylvania, founded by a vinegar-addicted cookbook writer, I began to plan an pilgrimage there.
At the beginning of the 90s, the only vinegar on Polish store shelves was the white, acrid kind, and that's good only for scrubbing bathrooms as far as I'm concerned. I had to bring my own supply of wine vinegar all the way from Bulgaria. This once resulted in a clash with a very hard-nosed customs officer on the Polish-Slovakian border. He was convinced I was smuggling alcohol and would not back down until I let him have a sip.
These days you can get all kinds of vinegar and nearly everywhere, but - and this is a serious problem for me - many Warsaw restaurateurs seem to not to have noticed. I can handle under-par service or not-too-major failures in the menu, but I can't get past a bad vinaigrette. It is so easy to make. And yet, the vinaigrette you get in most Warsaw eateries is something white, salty, with dry herbs and usually not a trace of garlic. Do these people get instant vinaigrette mix, or what? When I try to salvage my salad and ask for condiments, they usually don't have any vinegar. This is when the Aries in me really comes out. I dig in my heels and keep pestering the waitstaff till I get it. It works. This is how I taught the folks at one of my favourite lunch spots, Bordo on Chmielna, to fork over the red elixir the first time I ask. They are learning, and maybe one day soon they will have it with the standard spice set at the tables.
From the new restaurant front - it seems that the French are on the march again. Several new eateries serving French food have popped up recently. The new Prowansja restaurant has replaced the Guinness pub on Koszykowa 1. I think it's only fair to give them time to get everything ironed out before really putting them to the test. The same with Sami swoi on Trebacka 3, where the chef says the menu will change weekly. It also seems that Agnieszka Kreglicka's Absynt on Wspolna 35 is getting the wrinkles out and becoming a fashionable rendezvous spot.

MARGO CYGIELSKA

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