Today, February 27th, is Fat Thursday (Tłusty czwartek) and according to Polish American tradition, it’s the one day a year that every bakery and pastry shop in town sell Paczki (pronounced “poch-key”). The desert is meant to be eaten the week before Ash Wednesday, a binge snack before the fast of Lent. I asked the Polish waitresses at Peter Pan why this is and they answered simply, “tradition.” The girls explained that Pasczki is eaten all year ’round in the home country, but this is the only day you can get it here. You have until 8pm tonight, or you’ll have to wait until next year.
So run, don’t walk to your nearest Polski food provider; most likely, they will be selling these doughey nuggets of joy today. Continue reading →
When I first took over Greenpointers, Beverly, an original Greenpointer who now lives in Florida and stays connected through the website, wrote me one of the most inspiring messages about her mother’s Irene’s Social Column that was in the Greenpoint Gazette in the 70s.
Her warm wishes made me feel that I’d made the right decision to work on this amazing blog and serve Greenpointers who don’t even live here anymore – but still love it and want to keep up with the neighborhood.
She recently wrote me to ask a favor, to fulfill her birthday wish by doing what I do best, photography! She asked me to send her a photo of the building she grew up in, which happens to be the home of Acapulco Restaurant on Manhattan Ave and a house her parents owned on Clay St.
With Beverly’s permission I share her special email that gives us some great insight into Greenpoint of the past:
I was born at 1116 Manhattan Avenue on January 20th, 1951. As you are standing on Manhattan Avenue facing the building, I was born on the top floor left apartment and lived there until I was 12 years old.
My Grandparents had the apartment next to us and on the first floor where the other two apartments are (even though it is one flight up), lived an Aunt and Uncle in each apartment.
Although we did not own the building, at one time it was only rented to family members of mine.
There use to be a Bar & Grill downstairs that closed up very early in the 50′s and stayed that way well past the 60′s and if not mistaken into the 70′s.
One unique thing about the apartments in that building, the apartment one flight up and on the left hand side has a unique thing within it. From the kitchen into the bedroom and parlor, you actually had to walk up like 2-3 steps and then walk down 2-3 steps.
My Dad raised Pigeons there and had a huge Pigeon Coop on the roof that he and my Grandpa treated like it was the Taj Mahal for all the birds. Continue reading →
Here is an excerpt from an interesting article in Voices of NY about an Irishman who admires the Polish community in Greenpoint:
“…living among Poles reminds McDonagh of Ireland.
Greenpoint, similar to pre-boom inner-city Dublin, is littered with old factories, warehouse buildings and loft-spaces primed to be re-envisioned by architects and city-planners … In 2011, the Polish in Ireland superseded the British as the largest non-national community in the state. They are now part of the genetic landscape back home.
Living in Greenpoint, we are lucky to have one of the largest collections of Polish restaurants serving traditionally meat-centric goodness this side of Warsaw. And this is the season for it. Gray, fog-dampened, winter stretches where day and night are hard to tell from one another lend themselves to comfort food.
Grab your sweatpants and your inner fat kid, and read on for what we think are some of the best places in the neighborhood to get your international grub on.
Northside Bakery- Corner of Nassau and Humboldt
Essentially a traditional Polish bakery that decided they could fit some tables and chairs in the space and provide quick counter service. Perfect for grabbing golobki (stuffed cabbage) to go, or chicken noodle soup that’s still has a perfect layer of chicken fat reflecting on the surface. Every variation of rye, multi-grain, rustic, and peasant bread are up for grabs if you wanna carbo-load. This place is about as legit as it gets and it’s crazy inexpensive. Next time you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and get yourself the beet salad.
Lomzynianka-646 Manhattan Ave
Outside of actually having a Polish grandmother, this place is as close as you’re going to get to getting a home cooked meal. The decor here is probably more famous than the menu. Permanent Christmas lights, multi-colored streamers that scallop their way across the drop-tile ceiling, and taxidermied deer heads are festooned with Hawaiian leis can all be found in what is essentially a Polish rec-room from the early 70s. The white borscht and tripe soup are some of the best we’ve ever had and that’s no small compliment. For the more adventurous among you, boiled pork hocks and tongue in horseradish sauce can be found. This place is an institution, and the most expensive thing is only $9. Did we mention that this place is also BYOB? Yeah. We’ve spent many an afternoon sipping Żywiec and nibbling on perfectly prepared farmer’s cheese in this little gem.
Krolewskie Jadlo-694 Manhattan Avenue
We guess when you advertise the fact that you used to be a head chef at Rober DeNiro’s Nobu, we should know what we are getting ourselves into. Easily spotted by the iconic suit of armor found out front, Krolewskie Jadlo takes traditional Polish dishes and elevates them to more complex and innovative offerings. Sure, most Polish dishes are one of the infinite iterations of meat, cabbage, and potatoes, but head chef and owner Krzysztof Drzewiecki is doing his best to change that misconception. A still wildly affordable menu is real big on game meat. Stuffed wild boar with cognac pepper sauce, venison meat balls with garden dumplings and mushroom truffle oil sauce, and grilled pheasant breast served with port fig sauce can all be had for less than $15 bucks each. Grubbing on wild boar in a space that feels like a king’s mead hall is also a pretty tight way to spend an evening.
Karczma Polish Restaurant- 136 Greenpoint Ave.
Growing up in Florida, we guess we’re just a sucker for a themed restaurant. Eating at Karczma is like visiting a historical reenactment site. Not like Civil War reenactments, those are just weird. Once inside the decor and costumes do their best to convince you that you’ve somehow made a wrong turn and ended up in 18th century Poland. Traditional polish food, live polish folk music, and waitresses dressed in traditional peasant garb all combine to create the illusion of dining in a rustic country side inn. Peasant style lard is easily one of the most amazing appetizers we’ve ever had. Mixed with bacon and spices and served with warm rye bread, it’s probably a good thing that lard isn’t that easy to find. We’d put it on everything. Grilled blood sausage, pierogis, hunter’s stew, and spicy beef goulash are all damn near perfect. They also have a full bar and a pretty sweet happy hour on Thursdays. $3.50 Żywiec every Thursday from 5pm – 9pm is some of the cheapest beer offerings in town.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are dozens of delis, bakeries, and cured meat spots peppered throughout Greenpoint. Visit one, be adventurous, and eat something with a name you can’t pronounce. Chances are it’s going to be something you’ve never had before and wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
I ran into Jen G on Saturday at the McCarren Park Farmer’s Market, when I was out Wigilia (Polish Christmas Eve) shopping with my brother and sister-in-law, who had stood in line for 45 minutes at Green Farms Supermarket (918 Manhattan Ave.) to buy sauerkraut fresh out of a barrel. I loved Jen’s post about Wigilia carp and she encouraged me share our own Wigilia.
Christmas season became a million times better when my sister-in-law, Magda (who grew up in Wrocław, Poland), came into my life. This was my third Wigilia and I was psyched. The fun (and work) began Saturday as we made and decorated gingerbread ornaments for the tree.
Sunday, Magda spent hours making barszcz (Christmas beet soup), kompot (a special digestive drink made from soaking dried fruit) and fillings for mushroom/sauerkraut and cheese/potato pierogi.
Monday afternoon was the final countdown to Wigilia that begins when the first star appears in the night sky. We made uzka “little ears” to go into the beet soup (like mini pierogi – the best!). We prepared halibut instead of carp, but I got to hear Magda’s childhood memories of housing a live carp in their bathtub for a few days before Christmas. We also served sauerkraut salad and celery root salad.
Before eating, we proclaimed good wishes as we fed each other pieces from the opłatek wafer. We also made sure to place an extra setting at the table for “the wanderer.”
We happily stuffed our faces, then followed the tradition of opening presents between dinner and dessert. The evening ended with three awesome sweets – pierniczki (gingerbread cookies), piernik (gingerbread layered with plum preserves and covered with chocolate) and makowiec (poppyseed roll) from my favorite Polish bakery in Greenpoint – Bakery Rzeszowska (on the corner of Manhattan Ave. and Java).
It was yet another delicious Wigilia. Please share your own Wigilia stories!
Greenpoint has a very evident street homeless population. It is important for the city to understand how many homeless people are living in our neighborhood to evaluate how effective their strategies are. Polish speaking volunteers are especially needed.
Email from DHS:
“The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) conducts the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) survey, every year to find a point-in-time estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless individuals in New York City. This year HOPE will take place on Monday, January 30, 2012.
DHS needs 3,000 volunteers to make HOPE 2012 a success, and the participation of our fellow city colleagues is very important. I encourage those who have volunteered before to sign up again, and for first-time volunteers to experience how truly gratifying a night of HOPE can be. Volunteers commit to assist us overnight on Monday, January 30, 2012 from 10:30 pm until 4:00 am.
HOPE is critical to helping DHS evaluate the effectiveness of our current strategies to overcome street homelessness as well as developing appropriate housing resources for the most vulnerable New Yorkers currently living without shelter. HOPE’s methodology has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the gold standard and I am proud to say that this is in large part due to your help.
Registration for HOPE can be found on the DHS homepage, at www.nyc.gov/dhs, or CityShare. Questions regarding this event can also be sent to the HOPE Team at HOPE@dhs.nyc.gov or by calling 212-607-5366.”
Did you feel the mini-earthquake the other day? Don’t worry, it was just our beloved Greenpointers’ writer Joann Kim of UpDownAcross paying us a visit. After living diagonally across from Winthrop Park, she had the nerve to move to Lower East Side. But she is back and bought me dinner like a good friend.
I had been craving big Polish food and nearby the Northside Bakery, Division of Old Poland Foods LLC serves order-as-you-go hearty Polish meals. I discovered the exquisiteness of their glass display and all the home cooked goodness inside when I was desperate for chicken soup.
First, perfectly seasoned chicken broth to which they add noodles, fresh parsley and carrots. And then the pierogis happened.
We went big for $16:
Joann got a gigantic roasted chicken leg, pierogis, boiled beets. I got a gigantic cabbage stuffed with chopped pork and beef, roasted red potatoes, boiled beets and red cabbage slaw.
Dessert for 2 was a cheese stuffed crepe from Polish heaven.
I grabbed the beers from the Standard. The bakery doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages. We ate everything right out of the take-out containers on my kitchen counter, but you can sit and enjoy your meal cafeteria style with an elevated view of the happenings on Nassau Ave.
In case you were wondering why every Polish American neighbor was wearing red and white and evacuating Greenpoint for Manhattan today, waving flags and blowing horns, its because it was the Pulaski Day Parade. Two handsome young men walking toward the train told me the parade runs along 5th avenue and celebrates the Polish community and culture in NY.
I very, very rarely post things outside of Greenpoint – nevermind in the city – but I feel like this is definitely of interest to the Polish community and well, who’s got more of a Polish community than us?
My name is Isabel Gardocki, and I am currently a public relations volunteer for the 7th Annual New York Polish Film Festival (“NYPFF”), which is taking place this year from May 4th to May 8th at the Anthology Film Archives in downtown Manhattan. The NYPFF is the
largest festival of Polish films on the East Coast, and showcases acclaimed selections of features, short films, and documentaries that were all created by Polish filmmakers.
This year, we are hoping to generate interest in the NYPFF among more New York City college students and professionals, and thus would like to share the attached flier. We have a modest advertising budget, and would really appreciate it if you could forward this information to your members.