There is no other place in Sopot like Café Polskie Smaki at Sheraton Sopot Hotel. Here, the executive chef is proud to serve traditional, Kashubian potato soup. He knows that it was prepared using only the best products from local suppliers. It is a controlled contrast: a clash of traditional Kashubian cuisine with a top-class, prestigious location. That was the purpose. To serve the healthiest and best food of the region. – Regionalism is fashionable. We need to show off what we have. This is what guests are looking for these days – says Krystian Szidel, Executive Chef at Sheraton Sopot Hotel.
Krystian Szidel: – If we want to talk about food, it is best to do it during a tasting session. This is why I have prepared this tasting menu, which comprises typical Kashubian dishes. Potato soup, herring, Kashubian bread, butter, and sour cream. There is also duck breast, “pierśnik”, and sweet cherries in light vinegar…
PROT: – So, the idea is that I will not be asking questions, just tasting the food. And you will be talking about it…
Krystian Szidel: – Great idea!
PROT: – Let’s start with potato soup, then. A typical Kashubian dish.
Krystian Szidel: – Potato soup was a popular dish, because it was cheap and nutritious. And as we all know, Kashubians used to work hard, thus they required a lot of energy. The potato soup that I have served was prepared using an old Kashubian recipe. It’s the simplest Kashubian soup, but it requires skill to prepare. I took a piece of home-made, smoked bacon, and potatoes. Lots of them. Essentially, potato soup is just broth with potatoes, fried bacon, onions, and roux. I also added rye flour. All this with a pinch of buttermilk to introduce a bit of acidity.
We need to remember that there is more to Kashubian soups than just potato soup. There is also fish soup, which was more popular in northern parts of the region. Two basic ingredients of such soup are boiled cod and vegetables. There are literally dozens of fish soup recipes. The “real” one is extremely simple. As we all know, fishermen didn’t have white wine and lemons. However, they always carried liquor and brined pickles. So, they used brine to add acidity to their fish soup.
PROT: – Kashubian cooking is based on sour cream, butter, and roux. Rich in fat, and heavy.
Krystian Szidel: – This cuisine was tailored to suit the needs of region’s inhabitants. As I said, they worked hard. For this, they needed significant calorie intake in order to cope with everyday tasks. This is why the regional menu comprised potato soup, pea and herring soup, pork knuckle, and lots of heavy pork and game meat. However, as with any other cuisine, we need to remember about seasonality. People ate lighter in spring and summer. Summer was perfect to serve fruit soup instead of potato soup. During warmer seasons, people ate poultry, geese, and ducks. Kashubian people had, and still have, access to saltwater and freshwater fish. And this is what they base their cooking on.
PROT: -Exactly. I’ve noticed pickled herring, as well as cod, hiding on this plate…
Krystian Szidel: – Kashubia is a land of lakes, forests, and sea. There’s plenty of fish to choose from. It would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Vendace, herring, pickled zander, cod, all the best fish in one place. The cod that I have served was caught two days ago. Notice its delicate, sweetish flavour, and gentle scent. This is a top quality product from local fishermen. This pays off: for supporting local producers, we have been awarded the Slow Food Poland certificate.
PROT: – The Kashubian platter that you have prepared also showcases a piece of smoked meat. What is it?
Krystian Szidel: – This is “pierśnik” , brined goose breast. It was cold-smoked for a long time. Next to it, there are pickled sweet cherries. However, vinegar is almost indistinguishable. The composition is complemented by wheat and rye bread. The bread is made with rye levaine, and is without sugar. Instead, we use traditional, Kashubian honey as sweetener. This is my secret ingredient. I love honey, and I use it in the kitchen very often. We also add cranberries to our bread, which makes it even more healthy. It’s a perfect match for other typically Kashubian products, such as high quality butter and sour cream straight from a local producer.
PROT: – Kashubian cuisine seems uncomplicated…
Krystian Szidel: – This food has always been simple. Kashubians used lots of potatoes and groats. Of course, a division in Kashubian cuisine existed. On the one hand, we had simple cooking, characteristic of the countryside, and on the other, royal (or “urban”) variety, which was more sophisticated. In our restaurant, we base on “urban” cooking. However, I am not ashamed to serve potato soup. I am certain that it will be prepared from best local ingredients. I was also inspired by the best. My basic knowledge of Kashubian cooking, besides my origin (I was raised in Gdynia), comes from the book “Polish Cuisine” (“Kuchnia Polska”) from the year 1920. It is a book that remembers the times of Józef Piłsudski. It was a gift from my grandfather.
PROT: – As it turns out, ideas that for some are a pinnacle of culinary art, were introduced by Kashubian people a long time ago.
Krystian Szidel: – We go back to books, read them. Then, we think about new dishes, and bring the ideas to life. And then it turns out that fusion cooking has been present in the region for a long time. Kashubian people combined meat and fish, serving cod roasted in bacon. They mixed crayfish with mushroom sauce, and made potato soup with brined eel. You really do not need to go to Asia, to learn about such combinations. You also do not have to look for exclusive, foreign spirits. We serve “Starogdańskie” beer, which is brewed using a historical recipe.
PROT: – Kashubian cuisine is also famous for its delicious desserts, with its basic treat – the traditional crumble cake.
Krystian Szidel: – And yeast pancakes with apples, served with sour cream, powdered sugar, and jam. Angel wings (“faworki”) made with natural, unpasteurised beer were also a popular treat. The recipe? 100 ml of beer, 100 ml of yolk, a pinch of salt, three pinches of vanilla-perfumed powdered sugar, and as much flour as dough can take in. The dough needs to be firmly kneaded, and flattened with a rolling pin. Let it rest for an hour. Then, fry angel wings, and coat it with powdered sugar afterwards. Otherwise, they would burn. In our restaurant, we also serve cheesecake made with goat cheese from a local supplier.
PROT: – So, what is the motto of Café Polskie Smaki Restaurant at Sheraton Sopot Hotel?
Krystian Szidel: – We would like to prepare delicious and simple food based on tradition and local products. All in accordance with Slow Food philosophy, and with respect towards our region’s culture.
Cafe Polskie Smaki in Sheraton Hotel
Powstańców Warszawy 10, Sopot
It is located in the Rotunda of the Spa House, on the first floor – entrance from the Spa Square, and Plac Przyjaciół Sopotu (Sopot Friends’ Square)
phone.: +48 58 767 19 60