Photos by Caitlin Abrams
You know what I love? Being able to walk into a specialty market and put together a whole authentic dinner party’s worth of food from the good exotic stuff I find on hand. You know what else I love, theoretically, but not actually, because I have yet to experience spring this spring? I love the idea of getting a bunch of smoky Polish beef sticks and bungee-cording them to a bike rack to take with me on a taproom tour of Northeast. If you like these things too, behold: the new Sikora’s Polish Market and Deli in Northeast!
If you’re a devoted Northeast Polish market patron, no doubt your first thought will be, ‘Didn’t there used to be a Polish market around there called Ziach?’ Yes, yes there was. But it closed, was renovated, has new owners, and is now called Sikora’s, and it’s worth a trip. Here’s why!
1. Sausages, ham, and ham sausage
Meats straight from Chicago, Sikora’s has a wide selection of hard-smoked and lightly smoked sausages I never see here: Juniper berry smoked kielbasa jatowcowa, fat rings of old fashioned kiszka, double smoked, extra lean “Gypsy” bacon, Krakow ham sausage, and fantastic kabanosy, which are moist, peppery, smoky beer sticks. Owner Maciek Sikora helpfully explained that if I wanted my kabanosy less moist but more intense I could hang them at home and let them get dry. I am drying one in my kitchen right now, and it smells fantastic, like I’m running a very small smokehouse. Our northeast beer culture needs more drinking snacks just like this in easy biking distance to the breweries. Make a note of it.
2. Smoked Polish cheese
Why are we not forming our cheeses into cute shapes and smoking them, as they do in Poland? Beats me, but I got one of the hard smoked Polish cheeses, Golka, from Sikora’s case and: Yum. Very densely flavored and smoky but not pungent at all, it makes a fantastic sandwich on dark rye with mustard and onion. If a salami was cheese, it would be this cheese. The only problem with this cheese is, it’s sort of lonesome for beer and pickles.
3. Rye bread
I didn’t know about Fred’s Bread in Eden Prairie, but I sure like Fred’s rye. It’s chewy, dense, real, and not phony . . . it's the good stuff. A loaf of bread, some smoked cheese, some beer sticks, you could have lunch for a week and just leave the bag in your car the whole time. If you’re going on a road trip or camping, think about provisioning at Sikora’s.
4. Paczki Fridays
Are you a member of the cult of paczki? If so, you need to know that Sikora’s has fresh paczki, like jelly donuts, but much much richer, on Friday mornings.
5. So many pierogi!
There’s a whole freezer case at Sikora’s full of periogi. Mushroom, cheese, sauerkraut, pork and beef, potato, cherry, strawberry—I got distracted and stopped writing them down, there were a dozen more. If you want cheap pierogies on a Tuesday night, stock your freezer! You could be your own short order Polish diner cook.
6. Pickles, sauerkrauts, exotic stuff in jars
Are you sick of all the jams, pickles, sauerkrauts, mustards, horseradish, and jarred soups you know, and want access to jams, pickles, sauerkrauts, mustards, horseradish, and jarred soups you don’t know? They are here! Liven up your next grilling weekend with sauerkraut made with carrots or caraway. Vegetarians, you need to see all the pickles around here. Health food nuts, wouldn’t you rather have some jars of borscht in your desk instead of sugary granola bars? Oprah says yes you would. Or at least, that’s what I hear Oprah saying to me.
7. Nice market owners!
I was charmed when owner Maciek Sikora came to stand by me to explain that if I got some bacon, fried it with onions (in bins by the market’s front door) threw in some pierogie, and finished with sour cream I would have an authentic Polish dinner. That’s news I can use. And everything to make that happen was within 15 feet of where I was standing.
What else? I’m told that inventory waxes and wanes, depending on when the latest shipment was. I happened to venture in right after a delivery and it seemed like the most bountiful spot in town.
But what if you hate cooking and now just want to know where to go out to eat for Polish food? Try Nye’s Polonaise, Kramarczuk’s, or for my favorite sweet-and-sour cabbage rolls and short ribs cooked in cabbage borscht, the Crossroads Deli in Hopkins. You can get Polish bride bread at St. Agnes Bakery in St. Paul sometimes. And this August there will be a Polish Festival. If you’re reading this and thinking, "I need more Polish food in my life," volunteer!
Till then, hooray for us! Just in time for grilling season, something new to grill. Just in time for growlers of beer in the backyard season, something new to go with growlers of beer in the backyard. Best summer ever?
Sikora’s Polish Market, 1625 NE Washington St., Mpls., 612-789-0907