It’s always nice to come across a specialist store doing well, particularly one that specialises in Eastern Europe. The Dobry Smak store in Aldershot stocks a wide range of Polish goodies, all types of food, drink and even media.
Here’s a quick look at what you can pick up
Dobry Smak, Station Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, UK
This week Russian Standard Vodka announce the launch of Russian Standard Vodka Originals, a revolutionary and unique programme designed to provide people unrivalled access to a world of real music and film. Russian Standard Vodka is steeped in Russian heritage; it is based on the vodka formula created by illustrious scientist Dmitri Mendeleev and is produced with premium Russian ingredients which are distilled at Russian Standard Vodka’s state-of-the-art distillery in St Petersburg. And thanks to Russian Standard Vodka, this year people will experience the first ever truly credible brand offering with authentic, free ticketed, live music and film events across the year, courtesy of Russia’s number one premium vodka.
Russian Standard Vodka Originals kicks off with a bang with two intimate live music experiences in iconic music venues on the 19th and 20th May at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh and the HMV Forum in London, respectively – featuring the British, Gold selling band The Noisettes. Described as ‘the best live band in Britain’ by The Guardian, the Noisettes bring with them an exciting and alternative sleek pop sound.
Loyal Russian Standard Vodka fans and new customers have the amazing opportunity to attend this free ticketed event and share it with a friend by entering the draw and registering for a pair of tickets at www.rsvoriginals.co.uk, the online hub containing all exclusive content for the campaign.
The hottest new breakthrough act Chew Lips will be supporting on both nights and each gig will culminate in a celebrity packed aftershow party with a DJ set from some of the coolest names on the scene. Each venue will be bespoke themed to bring to life the world of Russian Standard Vodka and people will be immersed in an unrivalled premium brand experience and atmosphere that brings the best of real music and film direct to them. For those unable to attend the Noisettes concerts, the gigs will be filmed exclusively for Channel 4 and shown later in the year.
At the events consumers will be given the opportunity to receive Russian Standard Vodka privilege cards. By interacting with the brand, re-visiting the website and entering codes gained on purchase of a Russian Standard Vodka bottle, the card will give priority access to unlock a world of Russian Standard Vodka assets throughout the year.
Anyone who would like to attend any of the Russian Standard Vodka Originals events will need to visit www.rsvoriginals.co.uk and enter the draw to be in with a chance of winning a pair of the free tickets!
On 15th May, the Smirnoff Co. will remix the vibrant colours, boundless energy and unbridled creativity of South Africa in a ground-breaking mashup of culture and music. The world’s biggest DJ/producer, Tiësto is set to work with South African psych-rockers BLK JKS, named ‘Africa’s best new band’ by Rolling Stone magazine, for a unique collaboration and to bring his legendary live performance to the globally renowned series of original nightlife events, when Smirnoff Experience lands in Johannesburg.
As part of this collaboration, Tiësto and BLK JKS are currently in the studio creating an exclusive new track, which will only be available to Smirnoff fans on www.smirnoff.com and www.facebook.com/smirnoff, set to be released this April. The track will be premiered live to a worldwide audience in South Africa during Tiësto’s concert, on the night of May 15. Following the success of Tiësto’s recent genre-bending collaborations with Nelly Furtado, Three 6 Mafia, Calvin Harris, Tegan & Sara as well as remixes of MUSE, Bloc Party and Editors, the outcome of his sessions with BLK JKS will surely break new musical grounds for both acts.
Smirnoff Experience South Africa ‘Mashup Street’ is an event that celebrates the fusion of vibrant South African music and street cultures. Tiësto will preside over this one-of-a-kind experience as the headline talent. Mixing modern and classic genres of music, fashion art and mixology, ‘Mashup Street’ provides the ultimate canvas for Tiësto and BLK JKS to bring their creative vision to the world.
Want to be there? Smirnoff fans in Ireland, Canada, Australia and Venezuela can enter for a chance to go to Smirnoff Experience South Africa and the rest of the world can take part by visiting www.facebook.com/smirnoff and www.smirnoff.com.
With stops in Moscow, Shanghai, Paris and New York, the Smirnoff Experience series continues its journey around the world landing in Berlin on 23rd April with headliner Simian Mobile Disco before heading to South Africa. The events celebrate originality in nightlife by bringing to life original concepts, forming one-off collaborations and championing original drinking experiences.
Founder of The Pickled Village, Camille Ortega McLean knows how to get you in the mood in the morning. Wake up to a fruity St Valentine’s Day with The Pickled Village’s limited edition Valentine’s marmalade.
The Amorous Breakfast is a heady cocktail of pink grapefruit marmalade with cranberries coupled with a good nip of Russian vodka. Based on the sea breeze cocktail, this marmalade makes a sweet start to the day and is bound to get your Valentine into a deliciously amorous mood. It is also perfect when used with poultry dishes as part of a romantic feast.
While, the Morning After Marmalade is the perfect tonic for those sluggish moments. Its citrus lemon zing blows away the cobwebs, restorative ginger tackles the excesses of the night before and for good measure, a shot of Siberian Ginseng injects a dose of form for the day ahead.
After an exclusive promotion with Virgin Atlantic, Akvinta will be introducing their sensory set to Harrods. The Akvinta Sensory set provides the consumer with a unique experience to bring the senses together and set the scene to enjoy this luxurious and distinctive tasting drink.
Akvinta has a light lemon nose, appealing sweetness, luxurious round mouth-feel and a gloriously smooth finish. Delightfully moreish when drunk neat or over ice, its round, luxurious structure adds quality to cocktails and makes a first class Vodka Martini. It has organic certification from both Europe and the United States, and is also under Kosher supervision.
The beautifully presented coffret, produced in partnership with Arran Aromatics, contains specially developed fig scented candles, a massage soap, and a grapefruit room spray.
Customers will receive a complimentary coffret with the purchase of a 70cl bottle. Additional kits may also be purchased for £18.00.
In the 10th Century Prince Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus’ wanted to abandon paganism in favour of a more modern religion. In the Primary Chronicle it is said Vladimir sent emissaries out to investigate alternatives. When the emissaries returned and relayed what they had found out about Judaism, Christianity and Islam it is believed Vladimir rejected the option of Islam saying, ‘Rus’ loves to drink, we cannot be without it.’
Mead, kvas and beer met the imbibing demands of the Kievan Rus’ until the late 14h Century when spirits became available, probably via the Baltic. However, there is some confusion over what exactly was available, vino being used to describe sprits distilled only once (unlike vodka) and also wine. According to one Soviet historian, there seemed a complete absence of information on drinks like present-day vodka and if one is to believe written sources, only spread to Russia in the 16th Century.
When one thinks about Russia, be it the feasts of Ivan the Terrible, the European-style banquets of Peter the Great or even the large socio-political functions of Stalin, one conjures the images of excess, indulgence and merriment, all at the expense of the poverty-stricken masses. But the truth is, even with little money, the Russians know how to put on a good spread for their guests. Even those with little will open their door and greet their guests with the offering of a zakuski (закуски in Cyrillic).
Zakuski can be anything from a simple appetiser to a laden table. The tradition began in the decadent Russian manor houses of the 18th Century when the tradition of opening a meal with vodka, bread and cold soups, gave way to open sandwiches, meat and fish. Although the style of food changed, the diet remained relatively the same as before, with the exception of the introduction of cheese.
The Zakuski table would be ready to welcome guests inside from the harsh climate. A bottle of vodka, or more popular among the elite, European Champagne or wines, took pride of place, as did the samovar full with hot tea. Guests were invited to help themselves, mirroring the hospitality the Russians are famed for.
Among the delicacies, guests enjoyed salted cucumbers, sour cream (smetana), pickles, black bread and a simple meat or fish dishes. The zakuski was designed to be quite different to the main meal, so if the main course was to be fish, meat appetisers were provided and vice versa. Ensuring the table was an array of vibrant colours was important so the choice of ingredients was key: carrots, beetroot, cucumbers etc.
Blinis are an ideal component of the zakuski table.
I popped into Waitrose yesterday in order to stock up my rather bare cupboards and while I was gleefully gliding past the alcohol aisle with a basket full of goodies on my arm, something caught my eye. Waitrose, or at least my Waitrose (though I would imagine this is a nationwide decision) are discontinuing their contract to stock Luksusowa Vodka. The 700 ml bottle of triple distilled vodka, blended with artesian well water and winner of four gold medals is on offer for just £12.99.
Most people, have at some point, probably during their youth, had an unfortunate encounter with vodka. I hold my hands up to this rather foolish moment, where one too many double vodka and cokes got the better of me. Since then, and no doubt like many others, I had not touched vodka, until during my second year at university, during a particularly stressful time, my very good friend, Victoria, took me to Bar Polski (formerly Na Zdrowie). I had been there previously, but had never indulged in the vodka, fearful and reminiscent of my first encounter. However, that night out changed everything. Finally, I learned vodka could be enjoyed, if drunk responsibly. This is the key, do as the Russians do, drink vodka, neat if you desire, but make sure you are snacking constantly. (Note, I am not recommending drinking during times of crises, but rather, turning to your friends for support, my discovery of the beauty of vodka was simply an added bonus in my case!) Since that fateful night at Bar Polski, I have been able to enjoy many a vodka (although some should be avoided, I would personally not recommend a cherry vodka, but then what is gold for one can appear as nothing more than a mere spec of dust to another).
Many people will say that vodka has no taste. However, I do not believe this is the case. Many have quite a powerful, harsh taste and kickback. Yet, others can have little character at all. Luksusowa, the Polish word for luxury, had a distinct taste which is a result of its potato base. Many vodkas are distilled from corn, or rye, but Luksusowa is made from a selective potato crop in Poland, grown exclusively in the Baltic coast region of North Poland. The result is a smooth texture and rich taste.
I have never tried Luksusowa before but I found it particularly smooth and pleasing to the palette neat. However, if you would rather water it down, my preference would be to mix one part vodka to one part dry vermouth, add a dash of orange bitters, shake with ice and serve with an olive, and lemon or orange twist. Hey presto, you have yourself a Vodka Rockefeller! A rather ironic name, for a name of a cocktail of which the basis is the favourite tipple of the former USSR! However, if you want to keep it exclusively East European, try a Berlin Wall. Mix 3 parts Luksusowa with 1 part schnapps and 1/2 part of black sambuca. Shake with ice, strain and garnish with fresh blackberries.
Vodka has been produced for over 600 hundred years. The origin of its production is often disputed and many claim it has its roots in Russia. However, it is commonly believed to have been a Polish invention. During the 16th and 17th Centuries, vodka was not only used as a bartering tool, but also for medicinal properties, particularly when mixed with herbs. During the 18th Century, Polish exportation of vodka to Russia began on a mass scale.
Luksusowa also offer two flavoured vodkas: Citron and Wild Berry.
Luksusowa Potato Vodka, 40% alcohol, is currently on clearance offer at Waitrose for just £12.99. Buy it now before they run out!
Since 2007 London restauranteurs have suffered devastating losses and been forced to terminate service. However, those left standing with a reliable clientele have been fortunate and wise to undergo significant, and much needed facelifts, dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. However, the change at Bar Polski can be described as subtle at most. Formerly known as Na Zdrowie, the management have finally realised that the majority of its clientele are incompetent! Incapable of pronouncing the Polish word for ‘cheers’, many opted simply to refer to it as, The Polish Bar. As a compromise, the management have renamed the bar-restaurant, Bar Polski. The name change appears to be where any difference ends and Bar Polski continues to effectively cater for Eastern European enthusiasts and less knowledgeable Londoners alike.
With its only remotely close landmark being a Pret à Manger, Bar Polski is hidden down a backstreet in Holborn and unless actively seeking it out, one is highly unlikely to find it. However, it is definitely worth taking some friends on an adventure in order to discover it. Chic sparse décor, black leather seating and basic grey tables are juxtaposed with colourful traditional folk motifs and cockerels painted on the walls. The latter of which provides a great deal of amusement to those with little knowledge of wycinianki style and Polish traditions.
If you want to sample some traditional Polish food it is best to visit Bar Polski during the week from 8 P.M. onwards, when the post-work drinkers are leaving, and you are able to acquire a table. In a similar way to Spanish tapas or Greek meze, the food at Bar Polski is served in a way that is perfect for sharing among a large, ravenous group of people.
For a relatively small bar-restaurant, Bar Polski offers quite an extensive range of Polish food. The mixed fried pierogi (dumplings) stuffed with meat, cabbage and cheese are served on large white plates with three dips, one of which is indistinguishable. The pierogi stuffed with meat and pierogi stuffed with cabbage are delicious. Unfortunately the pierogi filled with cheese curd is somewhat disappointing. If unfamiliar with Polish food it is very important to remember when ordering pierogi to ask for the fried version because the boiled version may well put you off Polish food for life. This is not the fault of the chef at Bar Polski, simply a problem that arises from the method of cooking; boiling any food turns it into a slime-like substance.
Nonetheless, the vast majority of the menu will certainly not let you down.One plate not to be missed is the Bigos, a stew of sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, mixed meats and seasonings, served with rye bread.
All of this can be washed down with any of the beers on the menu or if you are feeling a little more adventurous sample some of the vodkas which are categorised into ‘dry and interesting’ and ‘nice and sweet’.For the hardy among you a shot of any vodka on the menu will compliment the food.However, if you would rather drink vodka ask any of the helpful Polish staff which mixer they think goes best with each one.They will always endeavour to help you.
Bar Polski is at 11 Little Turnstile, Holborn, WC1V 7DX (tel: 020 7831 9679).
Drinks, lunch or dinner. Food served until 10 P.M. No bookings accepted.
Takeaway service available.
Who to know: John, the owner. He has been known to wrestle with pickpockets to prevent inebriated customers are not mugged.
What to know: If you come to a SSEES event at Bar Polski you will enjoy plenty of free food.
What to eat: Pierogi, Bigos.
What to drink: Beers including: Zywiec, Lech and Tyskie; around fifty types of vodka.
Spotted: Current and former SSEES students and staff!