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December is the month of Christmas flavours. But if you’re tired of making all those Christmas treats, your gingerbread came out flat, and the perspective of cooking Christmas borscht makes you cringe… why bother? Christmas menus in restaurants is rich, and everyone can find something for themselves. Today, we’ll drop by restaurants in the region to look for Christmas flavours. We will try the more and less traditional dishes, and we’ll dissect the Christmas catering offer.

In the small town of Wicko, in Pałac Poraj, the first thing you’ll notice is the wonderful, Christmas atmosphere: an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby, dozens of candles, stunning decorations, and, of course, ambient music. There is Christmas in every detail, there even have spruce twigs as napkin decorations. The menu is full of Christmas flavours. The seasonal card, titled “Classic winter”, comprises dishes that are customarily associated with Yuletide season. You’ll find classics, such as traditional pierogi with cabbage and mushroom filling, borscht with a croquet, but also beet carpaccio, pancakes with nuts, or a Christmas cake.

For starters, we got ourselves the delicious herring made in three different ways: with cranberries, spicy, and with bell peppers. Afterwards, we tried the excellent borscht with home-made croquet, and finally, pierogi with pronounced filling, and smooth dough. For dessert, we tried the Christmas cake with white chocolate cream and preserved orange rind (which you can buy in a jar on the spot). Pałac Poraj also offers the traditional wafer-sharing meetings with delicious menu that includes, among others, mushroom soup with traditional lazanki noodles, stuffed zander, or fired herrings in vinegar.

We came back to Gdańsk. There, by the Motława river, we went to Zafishowani restaurant that also shows signs of Christmas. In the entrance, a Christmas tree plays the role of the “host”, and the seasonal menu includes Christmas accents. December flavours in Zafishowani include pierogi, here with goose meat and plum sauce, with caramelised apple, walnuts, and parsley mousse – doesn’t this sound delicious? Another Christmas flavour is cream of porcini mushroom soup with celery fondant, horseradish, and parsley olive oil. This is also what we had, the crunchy fondant contrasts nicely with the smooth soup, and the note of horseradish spices up the entire dish. The main dishes in the December card come in two varieties: meat and fish. First one is duck breast with knedle, a type of potato dumplings, apples, and cranberry sauce. The second one is cod served with pot barley, pumpkin mousse, dried grapes and orange sauce. We decided to try the second dish. Zafishowani delivered as always. The cod melted in the mouth, and the delicious, orange sauce Mousseline accentuates perfectly the tenderness of the meat.

In came the dessert. An absolute Christmas classic – gingerbread, but with a twist that made it more interesting than the “regular” version. This particular gingerbread has layers of plum jam, glazed with chocolate and served with nuts and dried fruit. Its consistency is key here, unlike traditional gingerbread, here the cake isn’t as dense, but fluffier, similar to sticky toffee pudding, or chocolate brownie. This delicious gingerbread is sure to make anyone happy, even if they don’t like this type of cake!

Our last stop before Christmas was in the Sheraton Hotel in Sopot. More precisely, we visited Polskie Smaki restaurant. There, the executive chef, Krystian Szidel, told us about his childhood Christmas in Gdynia, where different cuisines mixed. French cuisine came from his grandmother, who was born in France. Russian cuisine, on the other hand, was introduced by his Russian-born grandfather. This exciting marriage of the East and West is also present in the dishes that the chef serves to his guests in his restaurant. As we were looking for Christmas flavours, we started with a rich mushroom soup, served with sour cream and noodles, which smelled like Christmas Eve. Next, we tried the perfectly balanced fish soup, with a pleasant sour note that comes from pickled cucumber juice. This chef’s idea to bring out the flavour of this seaside classic makes it stand out.

The incredibly tender marinated herring with roasted beet mousse and pickled celery salad with apple and crème fraîche is a dish that comes straight from the chef’s childhood. Let’s go back in time to fully understand the essence of the dish:

“I remember my grandfather brining herrings from the Gdynia market hall. He would then personally gut, fillet, salted, and pickled them in spices. He held them in a large clay vessel, and let them rest. These herrings were our traditional, Christmas Eve dish, served with jacket potatoes,”  Krystian Szidel told us.

The herrings that we tried in the restaurant were prepared in the same way, from grounds up. You can feel it in how the herring tastes. It’s slightly salty and spicy flavour and the sweetness of beets, earthy flavour of celery roots, and the crunchy sourness of apples  make a beautiful composition. Our main dish of choice was perch fried in clarified butter, served with potato casserole, warm garlic kale (delicious!), and pickled radishes. As the chef put it, these weren’t your traditional Christmas flavours, but their modern interpretation. This is a perfect dish for Christmas.

You can order these Christmas flavours to enjoy at home. Seasonal dishes from Polskie Smaki restaurant includes classics, such as borscht, mushroom soup, or żurek (traditional sour rye soup), as well as cold cuts and fish from the restaurant’s smoke house, and a wide range of hot dishes and Christmas pastries.

With an offer like this, you don’t need to lose sleep over the Christmas countdown!

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