Friday, January 9, 2015
Bears have it SO easy.

They're all, oh hey I'm gonna wake up whenever I want, hunt for some fish in a stream, scare people away just for the hell of it, and SLEEP THROUGH WINTER.

And I realize that my crankiness with Houston's 32 degree weather is laughable when I have friends in the northeast posting pictures of weather readings of 12 degrees (NYC) and 1 degree (Boston). You guys win on the My Winter Sucks More Than Yours scale, hands down. But regardless of all that....I'd still like to sleep through the winter and wake up in beautiful spring.

You know. Be a bear.

But since the odds are that I'll continue to be a human, I'll cope accordingly: stay in the hot yoga studio for as long as I can until I get kicked out, daydream about warm weather vacations, eat lots of comfort foods, and do happy things that make my insides warm and fuzzy and bear-like.

And Polonia fulfills the last two.

When my sister Emily was in town for the holidays she joined my mother and me for lunch at Polonia, and our little Polish clan reached extreme levels of nirvana.

I was raised on Polish food - especially during the holidays - so this is where the warm, fuzzy, good feelings part comes in. For me, eating at Polonia is a nostalgic trip down my blissful, sauerkraut-aroma'ed memory lane.

The no-frills interior was inviting, and the service was warm, friendly, and attentive. Our charming server brought us a fresh bread basket and exchanged a few Polish phrases with my sister.

My mother and I asked for hot tea so we could warm up and pretend to be bears, and we were presented with a beautiful case of assorted teas to choose from.

Seriously, the place is magical.

When you order an entree at lunch, a soup comes with it. The soup changes daily, and that particular day we were served tomato soup. The delightful soup was light, creamy, and tart, and had noodles inside!

Tomato noodle soup, where have you been all my life?

Not realizing I was getting a soup anyway, I had already ordered the barszcz (pronounced "borscht) soup without dumplings to make it vegetarian. I'd actually never had barszcz, but I figured a beet soup would be right up my alley.

While it certainly was vibrant and pretty to look at, I wasn't really into it. I think this is because: a) I omitted the dumplings, an integral part of the soup; b) I had expected it to taste sweet and beet-like, but it had more of a bitter taste; and c) this is not something I ate growing up. My mother ate barszcz growing up, and she seemed to like it, though she said she prefers it with sauerkraut.


In Christmases past, the three of us would devote an entire day to making homemade pierogies from scratch. We'd make the dough, roll it out, cut hundreds of little circles, fill them with potato and cheese or potato and sauerkraut, fold them over, crimp the sides down with a fork, boil, and fry them up. Making pierogies is a lot of work and a major labor of love!

And the ones at Polonia are no exception. Emily and my mom split an order of fried potato and cheese pierogies (along with an order of kielbasa, a meat dish I truly miss). They were soft and crunchy, and I was super impressed with the amount of filling inside each one. Too much filling, and pierogies break open, so how these were stuffed with so much potato is beyond me. These tasty pierogies were comfort food in its finest Polish form!

I tend to stick with pierogies of the fried, potato-cheese variety, but that particular day I was feeling adventurous and ordered the boiled mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies. And they. were. PHENOMENAL. Topped with caramely onions, the pronounced tartness of the sauerkraut created a perfect partnership with the delicate, sauteed mushrooms inside. Wrapped up in the smooth, doughy, boiled exterior, it all came together beautifully.

I admit that part of my new love for Polonia coincides with my love for Polish foods and my heritage. That aside, the food there is insanely good. You don't have to be Polish to appreciate it (especially those pierogies, GAH). So I invite you to partake in some of the Polish food traditions that have been such an important part of my life. Believe me when I say a trip out to this homey, welcoming, tasty spot is definitely worth your while!

Bears eat Polish food, right?

Polonia on Urbanspoon


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