The best way to start exploring the taste of Małopolska is by trying its internationally famous smoked cheese called oscypek. Crisp and subtle, redolent of specially selected wood and mountain meadows, oscypek is made from ewe’s milk and is only manufactured in the Polish mountains. You also cannot miss bryndza podhalańska, a fresh soft cheese with a characteristically pungent flavour.
A lot of original dishes and foodstuffs traditionally come from Kraków itself. During a visit to the capital of Małopolska, one has to taste the Kraków-style żurek and beetroot soup. Local bakers specialise in making ring-shaped, poppy-seed and salt covered obwarzanki and little golden crispy pretzels. The former are seen by many as one of the symbols of Kraków. Chleb prądnicki (“prądnicki” bread) is less known, although it has been baked since the 15th century, and a genuine loaf of such bread is one metre long and weights in excess of 10 kg! Other specialities of Kraków include delicious cakes and bagels from Kazimierz – rolls with a distinct hole in the middle, sprinkled with nigella, caraway, poppy seed and salt.
Original bakery goods are not only Kraków’s speciality. Every gourmet will also appreciate jodłownicki kołacz z serem (ring-shaped cake with cheese), the crumble-topped Jurassic kołacz or the oblong wheat bun called kukiełka lisiecka. A good way to satisfy your hunger is to try the quern bread from Łomna or Jurassic bread, which remains fresh for a long time thanks to one of its ingredients – potato flakes.
It is widely known that fresh bread tastes best with honey, when the crust and the soft inside of the bread become soaked with sweetness originating from mountain apiaries. This is where the best honeydew honey is produced (the regions of Małopolska and Sądecczyzna).
Traditional local products also include salt from Wieliczka, ice-cream from Nowy Targ or the famous and healthy balsam kapucyński (Capuchin balm). As regards cheese and dairy products, one should mention (alongside oscypek and bryndza) such delicacies as: redykołek (smoked cheese in the shape of animals, a heart or a spindle), żentyca (whey made of ewe’s milk), ser gazdowski (the so called gołka, pucok or kara; cheese made exclusively of cow’s milk) and bundz (mild, nutty and slightly sour loaf-shaped cheese).
As far as drinks are concerned, worth mentioning are the local alcoholic beverages, which include plum vodkas called śliwowica łącka and śliwowica wyborna, as well as the mountain ash based jarzębiak izdebnicki and the sweet jarzębinka.
Among the most interesting varieties of cured meat is kiełbasa lisiecka (“lisiecka” sausage), produced in Liszki and Czernichów near Kraków. It is made of top-quality pork and smoked over aromatic smoke from specially selected fruit tree wood. Other regional delicacies include Zator goose carcasses and lamb meat from the Podhale.
You should also try fruit and vegetables, such as: “charsznicka” sour cabbage, “Piękny Jaś” butter bean from the Dunajec valley, “łukowicka” and “suska sechlońska” prunes and the traditional varieties of apples from Raciechowice and Łącko. Finally, a very special delicacy: the “zatorski” carp from the neighbourhood of Zator, where it has been bred since the 12th century in the numerous ponds of the Carp Valley.
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