Goose liver pâté, oxtail broth, turbot stewed in tarragon butter and white wine, and partridge, stuffed with truffles and game meat. All these delicacies can be found in books of the famous Gdańsk-born writer, Nobel Prize winner, Günter Grass. In real life, this menu is available in Villa Eva restaurant in Gdańsk.
To cook like in the novels “The Tin Drum” and “Turbot” by Günter Grass, and to eat like their protagonists. It seems like a simple idea, but the amount of involvement and creativity is astonishing. We talked about this idea with Tadeusz Kulczycki, owner of Villa Eva in Gdańsk, and Wiktoria Kulczycka, the restaurant’s manager.
– The first question seems obvious: where did the idea for such menu come from?
Tadeusz Kulczycki: – We hosted Günter Grass together with a group of translators in our hotel for over a month in June, 2005. They were working on another translation of “The Tin Drum” , which gave us the opportunity to meet Günter Grass in person. He was an incredibly inspiring man, with great passion to Gdańsk’s historical district of Wrzeszcsz. We spent hours and hours with Günter Grass in our restaurant, debating pre-war Gdańsk, its customs and tradition. Günter Grass would return to Villa Eva on numerous occasions. I was born in Upper Wrzeszcz, it has always been magical and inspiring to me. I would like as many people as possible, both citizens of Gdańsk and tourists, to discover and explore this amazing district. Contrary to the Main Town, this place has been mostly untouched by the turmoil of World War II. Therefore, it is a sort of an enclave of Art Nouveau architecture. My wish is to honour Günter Grass and his writing and, through his position in literature, present our beautiful and unexplored district of Wrzeszcz.
– The menu includes turbot and partridge. Turbot is the title fish, but please do tell more about the fish, and the meat…
Tadeusz Kulczycki: – Many dishes in Günter Grass’s writing is only briefly mentioned. Due to the novel’s title, the recipe for turbot is quite detailed, which makes the dish more authentic. The recipe for partridge is also quite detailed. What’s more, the dish is quite unique on the local market. Wildfowl meat, especially of partridge, is light and delicate, perfect for different kinds of roulades. Our suggestion is partridge roulade stuffed with truffles and game meat.
– Finding a supplier for turbot or partridge is not an easy task. Which suppliers are you co-operating with?
Wiktoria Kulczycka: – When choosing products, our priority is quality. By “quality” I mean that they should be 100% natural, seasonal, and with no artificial additives. This allows us to bring out the full palette of flavours. Running a restaurant, cooking on a much greater scale than at home, we need to be even more aware of our impact on natural environment. We try to buy as much products as possible from local suppliers, thus reducing our negative influence on environment. For example, we co-operate with a local fish processing plant, we buy vegetables from local farmers (what’s interesting, I’ve known the owner of the plant since childhood). Recently, we’ve discovered a wonderful cheese factory that produces well-ripened cheese, cottage cheese, and others. It is located only 40 kilometres away, so we decided without hesitation to introduce its products into our menu. They are an excellent pair to our broad selection of wines. I have to admit that I find visiting and getting to know our suppliers enjoyable. I’m glad that we established a rapport, it allows us to select precisely the products we need.
PTB: – Grass-inspired menu isn’t of course the only one Villa Eva has in store.
Tadeusz Kulczycki: – Gunter Grass-inspired menu is just a curiosity, which allows our guests to experience authentic, middle-class cuisine from Gdańsk as described by the author. More often than not, described dishes are not exclusive or rich. They are mundane, just as the middle class used to eat in their homes. This includes a thick slice of wholemeal bread with blood soup, or podpłomyk (traditional, Slavic flatbread) stuffed with lard. It took us a substantial amount of time to select out of 200 recipes from only the two books – “The Tin Drum” and “Turbot” – those that would on the one hand be authentic, and on the other interesting to more demanding guests.
Moreover, we also have a regular menu that includes more dishes. These include representatives of traditional, Polish and regional cuisine. We change our offer each spring and autumn. We think that local cuisine in Pomorskie has taken an interesting turn under the influence of people who inhabited the region. Note the number of people that migrated from Vilnius, Lvov, and the East in general. They brought with them many recipes that became the region’s traditional ones. We serve many of them, including delicious dumplings in broth (“kołduny w rosole”), which we traditionally prepare with lamb. We also prepare the dish in a special way before serving it. Our menu also includes deliciously prepared meats, such as confit duck, beef rib baked in home-made smoked plums and bell pepper sauce, as well as many lighter, also vegetarian, dishes, and fish.
Stefana Barorego 28, Gdansk
phone.: +48 58 341 67 85