Neighborhood Kitchens

Sandrine's Coucroute

Monday, November 25, 2013
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Cafe Polonia's Stuffed Cabbage

Friday, January 24, 2014
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Learn how to make Cafe Polonia's stuffed cabbage.

Cafe Polonia's Dill Pickle Soup

Friday, January 24, 2014
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Learn to make Cafe Polonia's Dill Pickle Soup

Cafe Polonia's Apple Crisp

Friday, January 24, 2014
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Learn how to make Cafe Polonia's Apple Crisp

Neighborhood kitchens visits the Polish Triangle and Cafe Polonia

By Margarita Martinez   |   Thursday, October 31, 2013
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I remember looking forward to Easter morning as a child, because there would be eggs and kielbasa to enjoy before church. I always thought that kielbasa was a certain type of sausage and that all kielbasa tasted the same. I also was only familiar with the kind that came in plastic packaging sold in most grocery stores. If this sounds familiar, please head to the Polish Triangle in Boston to the Baltic Market and ask for their recommended kielbasa. Your mind will be blown. My personal surprise occurred several years ago when I entered a shop with a sign labeled “Kielbasa” in the Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint in Brooklyn, NY, and asked for kielbasa at the counter. The butcher gestured all around him and said, “Lady, this is all kielbasa.” I meekly asked for whatever he recommended and walked out. At home I sliced off a piece and ate it. Oh. My. Goodness. I had never had kielbasa that flavorful. There is a wide selection of kielbasa at the Baltic Market. I recommend buying some, slicing it up uncooked, and dipping it in Polish-style mustard or horseradish. You will not be disappointed.

Golabki, a traditional Polish dish, Cafe Polonia.  I have a soft spot for Polish food and search it out wherever I live. Lard spread with fried bacon bits on a slice of Polish rye bread is an excellent way to start a meal. I then like to move on to a soup. Either a Polish dill pickle soup, as we make on the show, or a borscht. Next, I order the Polish sampler plate, if available, so that I may try as many Polish delicacies as possible. At Cafe Polonia, the satisfying Polish plate comes with a bit of kielbasa, a small serving of bigos which is a hunter's stew with cabbage and beef, stuffed cabbage called golabki, and a selection of pierogis sauteed with onions. All of these hearty flavors represent comfort food at its finest. The atmosphere at Cafe Polonia is very inviting and comforting as well. Chef-owner Tedeusz Barcikowski, or Teddy, built all of the beautiful wood tables, chairs, and banquettes, which have lovely individual cushions in different fabrics to encourage you to stay a while. There is always Polish music playing from the speakers and lots of Polish beers to choose from. Diners are transported to another place at Cafe Polonia.

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Boston’s culinary landscape. Then…and now!

By Patricia Alvarado Núñez   |   Sunday, October 13, 2013
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Neighborhood Kitchens has visited some of the area’s best ethnic restaurants… Japanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, South American, African, to name a few. With neighborhoods filled with restaurants featuring food and ingredients from all corners of the world it’s hard to believe that Boston had such limited ethnic food options just a few decades ago.

According to Mr. Leo Romero, owner of Casa Romero, a Mexican restaurant in the Back Bay (featured on Neighborhood Kitchens Season I), back in 1972 the only thing that people could find in Boston was Chinese food, lobster and steak. Mr. Romero, one of the pioneers of more diversified cuisine in the city, remembers the Boston of the’70s as “not brilliant.” He jokingly told us that people wanting to have a good meal in the city had to go to Logan Airport and take the first plane to New York.

Not anymore. So much have changed in a few decades. There are more restaurants, more chefs offering new and interesting flavors, and more people with curious palates than ever before. Chef Ting Yen, owner of Oishii in the South End (featured on Neighborhood Kitchens Season II), remembers how 15 years ago Boston only had a handful of Japanese restaurants (now there is one in every corner!) and that he took a leap of faith when he opened Oishii, “I wanted to bring sushi to another notch and I had a tough time at the beginning, because people didn’t get the food. But now I have no worries. I think Boston customers are learning. They look at Japanese cooking very differently now.”

Ana Sortun, owner of Oleana, one of the top restaurants in the city (featured on Neighborhood Kitchens Season I), remembers when she opened her Cambridge eatery more than a decade ago, “In the beginning I remember being very nervous every time I found out there was a Turkish customer, a Greek customer or an Armenian customer. I wondered if they would understand how we interpret some of their very sacred and traditional dishes. And sometimes I would come out and people would be in tears. Tears of joy that someone was actually inspired by and paying attention to something that they grew up with. And a food that isn't that commonly represented here. So, it became sort of a boost of confidence to continue to do it. The enthusiasm was what really kept me going.”

During a recent visit to Christina's Spice & Specialty Food in Inman Square, owner Tom Ford told me how the shelves in his store reflect what is happening in the city. He distributes herbs, spices and other ingredients to restaurants around the city. Now his shelves are filled with za'atar, Peruvian peppers, black rice, pink peppercorns, heirloom beans and lentils, exotic corns, and so on. There is a great appetite for all these exotic flavors.

Ethnic restaurants are thriving because people are traveling more, reading about exotic destinations and becoming more adventurous when it comes to food. “What's really great is we still continue to see new faces. A very diverse crowd comes here, everywhere from the neighborhood, to the town in Cambridge, to Boston, and to outside of town and from other parts. It's really fun. Lots of different people to meet,” says Ana Sortun about her growing clientele.
At the annual Artisan Taste here at WGBH in September many Neighborhood Kitchens fans stopped by to tell us how much they appreciate learning about ethnic restaurants in the area. We are happy to carry the message to people who want to expand their culinary horizons… you don’t have to go far…because there is so much to explore right here in your backyard!!

About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44

About the Authors
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
click on the map to explore

Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi


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