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Food and Leisure

A slice of Poland in Makati

IN BETWEEN DEADLINES - Cheryl Tiu - The Philippine Star

I’m a big fan of dumplings and Eastern Europe. One day while scrolling through my Instagram feed, food writer Angelo Comsti’s photo of beef and vegetable pierogi, topped with bacon bits and onions, caught my attention. I messaged him instantly to ask where I could get them. It turns out that these dumplings, made from unleavened dough that are first boiled, and then either baked or fried, are from a home kitchen at the heart of Makati called Babci Kuchnia.

Babci Kuchnia is Polish for “Grandma’s Kitchen,” and at the helm of it is Mia Magpayo-Pysk. Her husband, Peter Pysk, is Polish by descent and many may recognize him as the friendly former F&B director at the Mandarin Oriental, Manila.

“When we first moved to the Philippines (from Taiwan) early last year, I was a full-time mother of two daughters, Ilia and Kaia, under four years old,” explains Mia. “Since I have a support system here, being with my family and their household, I thought it was the right time to start something small for myself. After serving pierogi to my friends, they suggested and eventually encouraged me to sell them.”

A CROSS BETWEEN EMPANADAS AND DIM SUM

While Polish cuisine spans an array of dishes, Mia chose to focus just on the dumplings. “I once tried jellied meat, though it came out really nicely and tasty, it wasn’t a hit with my family and friends. Pierogi seemed closer to the Filipino cuisine, or easier to associate with having empanadas and dim sum present in menus all around. Pierogi for me is a cross between those two.”

The recipe that she prepares at home with her assistants, Precy Neo and Fely Zita, is one she learned from her mother-in-law Irena or Babcia (grandma), as her kids fondly call her, passed down from her mother, Wanda Trypucka or Prababcia (great-grandmother).

“(Cooking pierogi) is a very tedious process of preparing the filling, the dough, resting the dough, rolling, filling and curling each and every pierogi by hand,” explains Mia. “They are also recommended to be cooked in big batches for the same reason — as well as because they keep very well in the freezer.”

She shares that before packing and freezing them, each dumpling has to be boiled first to last longer frozen, and to avoid them sticking together when they are cooked.

FLAKY, DELICIOUS DELICACIES

There are currently four varieties that can be arranged for pickup or delivery. The savory ones: Potato, Onions and Cheese (P250/ half dozen; P400/ dozen); Beef and Cheese (P300/ half dozen; P450/ dozen); and Beef and Sauerkraut (P350/ half dozen; P500/ dozen) come with sour cream, caramelized onions and bacon bits.

For dessert, Cheese and Rum Raisins (P300/ half dozen; P450 dozen) have raisins soaked in rum overnight, and come with a decadent rum-butter sauce. Vanilla ice cream also works with this.

The most important thing you need to know about these pierogi is that they are absolutely delicious. When served piping-hot from the pan, a slice in the middle crackles into a crisp — at least for the fried version — before the generous fillings spill out. (The Beef and Cheese reminded me of a delicate beef stroganoff.) Cooking instructions come with each order, whether you like them boiled (how they are eaten in Poland) or fried (how most Pinoys enjoy them).  They make for great snacks, or a light meal. My family and I wiped out our orders one evening and we were very pleased. My dad said this was something different, one that he had never tried before, and as for me, it brought me back to my time in Eastern Europe, without having to hop on a plane.

* * *

For orders, call Babci Kuchnia at (0917) 627-5147 or 897-9330, email [email protected], or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Babcikuchnia. All orders must be pre-arranged three days in advance. There is a delivery fee of P300/ order for Makati CBD and P500/ order outside of Makati CBD.

* * *

You can reach me at [email protected], on my blog www.cheryltiu.com, on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/cherytliu or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/chertiu.

AMP

ANGELO COMSTI

BABCI KUCHNIA

BEEF AND CHEESE

BEEF AND SAUERKRAUT

COM

DOZEN

EASTERN EUROPE

MAKATI

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