Saluna: cute décor, friendly service, fab menu. Rasta and I then went for a gorgeous walk up to Nobby’s Lighthouse which was unexpectedly open to the public. A lovely Newy visit!
I posted my Best Biscuits™ recipe yonks ago here before I was doing much in the way of pictures. Here’s a variation with dark chocolate, crimson raisins (no, I’d not heard of them either ’til I saw them) and broken-up salted pretzels. I am now using a dodgy electric oven so these ones were baked for 16 minutes not my usual 14. (Generally aim for 14, check if the bottoms are golden, and if not then maybe give ‘em another minute or 2. They firm up when cool, trust me.)
I made a double batch, and my 400g of ‘flavour ingredients’ was roughly a third each of chocolate, raisins and pretzel bits.
NB: I consumed slightly too much raw dough and felt predictably ill. Hard not to though!!
Na Zrdowie has been on Glebe point Road for at least 7 years and is a lovely little local serving authentic Polish cuisine. I had to avoid it for a while in early 2008 after a birthday celebration for a Polish Australian friend which involved many plates of pierogi but also much cheap rosé, cumulating in some very loud singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, then said friend befriending the Polish Australians at the next table and encouraging them to sing her ‘Happy Birthday’ in Polish, and then the Polish National Anthem, and then some other Polish songs… From memory I’m not sure if the other table did in fact join in or if was just my friend doing the Polish singing. I’d like to hope we left a good tip, though we were povvo students at the time…
Anyway, I’ve been back many times since (more respectably en famille) and it’s always delightful. The food is hearty and meat-and-potatoes based, but overall I find Polish food a bit more refined than its more Central European counterparts (e.g. all the countries represented at Tommy’s further down the street). Not to disrespect the Fatherland: I do love my simple Czech knedlíky and Slovakian strapačky. But Polish pierogi – basically ravioli in un-Italian flavours – are arguably more sophisticated in substance and design. (Don’t tell my dead ancestors.)
Our party of six shared All The Smoked Meats of Poland, plus horseradish sauce, and some fantastic caraway-spiked rye bread which came in a sweet little basket lined with a grandma doily.
We then shared two large plates of pierogi – the pork ones, fried, with mushroom and cream sauce; and the sauerkraut ones, boiled, with onion and bacon topping. Thicker skins than ravioli or other filled Italian pasta, but not as stodgy as bread or potato dumplings. I could have happily ordered another plate of these – perhaps a mixed plate, which they do – for the rest of my dinner.
But instead – lest this become yet another a post solely about dumplings – I revisited All The Smoked Meats of Poland in the form of bigos or ‘hunter’s stew’, with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. Probably the best thing you could eat on a cold winter’s night (bar Czech guláš).
Dad’s roast duck with red cabbage was declared delicious but not quite as good as the Czechs do it at Tommy’s (of course).
The shish kebabs defeated everyone else – they came with a pile of fried potato dumplings, plus beetroot & apple relish, plus a pot of aioli or some Polish variant thereof. I stole various dumplings from people and dipped them in the Polish variant. Mmm.
For pudding, Dad and I (with perpetually hollow Czech legs) shared a piece of poppyseed cake which seemed, coincidentally, exactly the same as a recipe for a Ukranian poppyseed cake which I’d torn the day before from a food magazine and made a mental note to bake ASAP. It was almost black with poppyseeds, and very soft and airy as though many whipped egg white had been folded in. There was a taste of lemon zest too, which really enlivened the nutty, earthy flavour of the poppyseeds. It was meant to be served with chocolate sauce but Dad asked for it without – my Ukranian recipe calls for chocolate ganache, which I will definitely been keeping! I should note that it was all-in-all an unusual combination of textures and tastes, and may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or piece of cake). But worth trying if you are feeling adventurous! I will report back with I’ve made the Ukranian one.
The service is helpful and friendly and, like at Tommy’s down the street, the staff always seem personally touched that you want to try their cuisine (and gently correct your mangled pronunciation!). My only beef is with the pricing of the mostly-pickled-vegetable side dishes: all are $4.90, and all are very small. See the traditional pickles in the pierogi picture above – that few pickles should not cost $4.90. The bill quickly starts to add up if you order too many side dishes, which is obviously what you want to do when trying a different cuisine. The mains average at about $24, which is fair as they are well sized and very filling. And I certainly don’t begrudge a small, probably family-run restaurant in that no-man’s-land strip of Glebe Point Road for needing to charge what they do to make a profit. I just want a few more pickles for my $4.90!
But pickle grumbles aside, Na Zdrowie is very much worth a visit. You never know, someone at the next table might sing to you in Polish!