“I love you.”
He was standing at the open freezer, professing his love to a block of stuffed cabbage — golabki to be exact. They were one of the many delicacies that I brought back from my hot date with Baltic European Deli. Traditionally my mister is the one to escort our Polish fare home, but with a DottieHotties post breathing down my neck, he let me have my way.
I was quite bashful upon entry. It was all so overwhelming and new. Like a good girl, I had brought my mother along to chaperone the soiree. She became engaged at once with the fresh baked bread, and our senses were stimulated with the beautiful variety of loves — ahem — loaves.
Once I composed myself, the object of my desire was located — in the freezer. The label reads: rice, ground pork, cabbage leaves, tomato sauce, tomato pasta, flour, sour cream, spices. In my heart, however, golabki are so much more. I tasted my first bite of the dish as a newlywed, made by my mister’s Gramma Mary. One trip to Baltic European Deli, and a little heat is all it takes to transport our taste buds back to a Connecticut kitchen, and a plate-full of hugs.
Both lovers of international food, my mom and I took our sweet time walking down the aisle of imported groceries. Once we rounded the corner, my heart skipped a beat. Never in all my life had I laid my eyes upon so many pierogi! Cheese, potato, mushroom, sauerkraut, and more … they had filled dough in ways that I had never imagined possible. It was more than any one woman could handle. Vowing to honor my husband’s potato and cheese wishes, I selected a ziplock bag full of Baltic European’s Deli’s homemade version.
My final conquest was the kielbasa. The expansive deli counter was a literal meat market. Gripping our cart, we waited in line, our hunger growing more intense by the moment. Finally, our eyes met with Kamila, a true goddess. As I timidly ordered the house kielbasa, I confessed that it was my first time. We got to know each other a little, and I shared my story of woe: a failed relationship with homemade pierogi – according to Gramma Mary, I didn’t pinch the dough tight enough.
The establishment has been open for over ten years, and is owned by Joanna and Tadeusz Barcikowski. They also own Cafe Polonia, which is located across the street, and will most certainly be the site of my next dinner-date with the mister. Divulging her favorite part about working at Baltic European Deli, Kamila said, “I like introducing people to Polish food, checking out their shopping cart, and making sure they have everything that I would put on my table.” I revealed my groceries, and she had some great advice. We strayed from my prearranged list, and had an affair with Chrusciki or “Angel Wing Cookies”, Apricot filled Sour Cream Cookies and an additional brand of pierogi: Alexandra’s Home Style Dumplings. They were still potato and cheese. I have my type.
As we parted ways, Kamila was all smiles. She made a promise to teach me more about kielbasa and deli meat the next time I was in the area. As a token of her hospitality, she added their sandwich menu and the bi-weekly edition of the White Eagle newspaper to our bags. I am often tongue-tied, so an enthusiastic “This was great!” was all I could awkwardly exclaim. The experience was so pleasurable that I told Kamila “I’m not so sure about letting my husband do all the shopping. I want to come back.”
“You should come together next time!” Kamila suggested.
Perhaps we will. We can make a date out of it.
Baltic European Deli: open 7 days a week, offers catering
632 Dorchester Avenue
Care Polonia: Fine Polish Cuisine
611 Dorchester Avenue