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« Upcoming Cheese Tastings - Don't Just Take MY Word For It | Main | Super Bowl XLII! »

Tue, Jan 29 2008 at 08:27 AM

The Kielbasa Factory

Posted by Ramona Padovano, Jan 29, 2008

With the hope of finding a market to rival those of my hometown Philadelphia,  I recently visited The Kielbasa Factory in search of Polish comfort food. Opened in November 2007 by Krakow native Krystina Ahrens, the Kielbasa Factory brings traditional Eastern European fare to the Washington D.C. area.

Smal_kielbasa_factory
Located on the second story of a small strip mall on Rockville Pike, The Kielbasa Factory still has a large Grand Opening sign hanging at its' small storefront. Once inside, I realized that at the other end of the long narrow store, there is a back entrance with parking.

The Kielbasa Factory offers a wide range of products with nearly every label and sign in Polish. Polish was spoken by all of the employees and most of the customers when I visited. Despite my difficulty in pronouncing the different types of food, the staff was very helpful and understanding. Just knowing the basics will get you what you want here.

The basics are Polish sausage called kielbasa, meat and rice stuffed cabbage called golabki (pronounced ga-WOOM-key), dark breads,jarred herring, pastries, and sweet and savory stuffed dough called pierogies.

Small_kielbasa_in_case
Kielbasa is a traditional Polish sausage which is usually smoked. There are about a dozen types of kielbasa at The Kielbasa Factory, all imported at this time. Kabanosa, or skinny kielbasa, is the Polish Slim Jim. Generally more smoky and intense in flavor, it makes for a terrific snack just eaten in hand. Fresh kielbasa is also available-it's paler in comparison to the smoked kielbasa and needs to be cooked before serving. Fresh kielbasa is generally served cool, along with with horseradish as hot as you like it.

Kishka, Polish blood sausage, also looked fresh. Next to the kishka was a pan of golabki without (tomato) sauce. I also noted several types of hot dog-like sausage links and cold cuts.

A large freezer stocks several types of pierogies which come in two sizes; small and really small. There are  meat, potato and cheese, cheese, sauerkraut and sauerkraut and mushroom pierogies from a company in New York City. Also from NYC are breads which tend to be darker varieties, like rye and pumpernickel.

Small_paczki

Finally, The Kielbasa Factory has no shortage of sweets. Traditional poppy seed rolls were tempting. Cruschiki, confectioner sugar-coated fried Polish angel wing cookies, were available in traditional white windowed boxes.  At the check out counter, there were boxes of Polish filled donuts called paczki (pronounced POONCH-key) also imported from NYC, and a very rare sight. I suspect Ahrens will be selling paczki by the dozens in the next week or so, as they are traditionally eaten before the beginning of Lent, on Paczki Day-better known as Fat Tuesday or Fastnacht Day.

On my visit, I purchased fresh kielbasa and a smoked kielbasa called wiejska (pronouced vee-YAY-ska) which had a good smoke punctuated by garlic. The fresh kielbasa was prepared by simmering it for about 30  minutes and letting it cool overnight in the refrigerator. Fresh kielbasa should be assertive with garlic and unfortunately; this was not. Paczki were filled with raspberry jam and confectioners sugar which dotted my sweater with each bite, however, the dough was dry. Getting paczki at their best is like swerving your car into the Krispy Kreme store when the "hot donuts" sign turns on. You just have to get them fresh. Last, the potato cheese pierogie were fried up in butter and onions, served with a dollop of sour cream and satisfied in a way that Mrs.T's satisfies. Not bad, just not out of my Babci's' hands.

Overall, The Kielbasa Factory has a nice selection of Polish meats and sausage, breads, sweets and imported dry goods. The pierogi selection is numerous and I'm looking forward to trying different varieties, such as the meat pierogies in my freezer. The staff is friendly and helpful and hopefully one day,they will be making kiebasa themselves!

The Kielbasa Factory

1073 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
240-453-9090
http://www.kielbasafactory.com/
Directions

Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11am-7pm
Sat: 11am-6pm
Sun: 11:30am-3:30pm

Categories: Rockville, Shopping
Link To This Post

sadina

THANK GOD! i've been packing my bags with kielbasa from visits home to detroit for years now. it really is about time.

Ramona

I know! I pack a cooler with kielbasa etc. when I visit Philadelphia. I also get loads of rye and pumpernickel bread at my favorite Jewish deli. My mother just shakes her head and laughs at my foodie hording each time I visit!

On the Red Line

Oooh! Poppy seed rolls! Now that has made me finally want to head over and check that place out.

My husband's been importing those from Pennsylvannia :)

Stephanie

Yay! I can't wait to check out this place. Do they have the smoked cheese?

I once toted a cooler full of kielbasa from Central Falls, RI, to New Orleans for my aunt. Almost left it at the airport at my layover! But the emanating scent kept others from picking it up and drew me back to it.

Ramona

Stephanie-I'm not sure if they have smoked cheese-I know they had cheeses at the meat counter and in the refrigerator. I was sort of excited taking it all in!

Mary Gallagher

There has never been sausage like the Polish store (now closed) near Frogtown, the Polish section of St. Paul, MN. At Easter time they made a special white with green flecks, veal w/parsley?, sausage that was the best ever. My Polish mother-in-law was a great cook doling out POONCH-key with a seasoned hamburger filling or her favorite lemon. Without the sugar on top it was meat. She never made periogi's but her pork ribs with sauerkraut and dumplings on top were incredible. My Polish neighbor made stuffed cabbage leaves by chopping up a pork roast that she had seasoned highly and cooked to the falling apart stage..never hamburger-add a little rice and fill the leaves. They had about 12 kids.The famous Nye's Polonaise in SE Minneapolis and Kramarczuk East European Deli get good reviews but have nothing on home cooking. By the way Minneapolis used to have fantastic Vietnamese restaurants where four people could have more than enough to eat for less than $25.00.

Sadina

Ramona:

We once made the mistake of carrying the kielbasa (all 15 lbs. of it) on the plane. Let's just say it wasn't long before the whole plane was full of garlicky kielbasa goodness. Oops.

So nice that our kielbasa needs can now be met without a plane ticket!!

Ramona

Mary, Frogtown in Minneapolis sounds like Port Richmond in Philadelphia. Perhaps your referring to fresh kielbasa which is cranked out on "high" before Easter. It is redolent with garlic and believe me-I know how it can permeate everything and make your eyes water! As I said tho-the fresh I had at TKF was a bit plain.
I never knew paczki came in a savory variety. I've had meat pierogies, but not paczki. And those stuffed cabbage sounds wonderful. I myself use veal/beef/pork.
Sadina-last Easter in Philly, I got smoked kielbasa fresh out of the smoker and fresh with tons of garlic and my car reeked!! Can't beat it!

Washington Cube

I first heard about this place, when a Russian man asked me about eggplant, while standing in the produce section of a Whole Foods. I've yet to go, but he raved about it. Sounds like a field trip to me.

MD Resident

My wife and I have been to this place several times. It's deserves a better review than this. The reviewer needs to sample more types of their food offerings. There's nothing like it in the area (stores in Baltimore would be the next closest thing). It's worth going to repeatedly...!

Ramona

MD Resident: I appreciate your comment. Perhaps my standards for Polish food are high. No, I take that back-they are high. I'm Polish. I grew up in an area with a large Polish population and know good from not so good. I stand by my opinions and by no means does that mean I wouldn't go back. I certainly would for their smoked kielbasa among other things. They are filling a need in a Polish food deprived region and I think that's great. However, I can't say that everything I tried was great because it wasn't-your opinion might vary and I'm glad you're patronizing them.

Regina

I'm headed up to Philly this weekend. Can you give me some suggestions on markets and restaurants you love?

Ramona

Hi Regina,
Port Richmond is the area you want to go to in Philly. Fortunatelly, it is immediately off of I-95, at the Allegheny Ave exit.
For kielbasa, I go to Czerw's
http://www.kielbasyboys.com/
Krakus Market
http://www.krakusmarket.com/
Piast
http://piastonline.com/

To eat, Krakus has a small luncheonette which serves homemade food. Across from Krakus is Syrenka's-a cafeteria style luncheonette which has excellent stuffed cabbage etc. Both are quite informal, but I absolutely love that about them.
Julia's Bakery and Cafe is more of a quaint European cafe with crepes etc.
All of these are within walking distance, except for Czerw's were you need to drive down Tilton which is one way. A bit hard to navigate the one way sts. but totally worth it.
Bring an insulated cooler so you can haul stuff home too!

hannah

I need a good recipe for the pork ribs under the sour kraut at Nye's polonaise and for the spiced up pork roast stuffed into cabbage leaves. I LOVE this stuff but have Never made it --- please help! Can Ramona Post it please. (I only have a webtv, so I can't see links requiring flash or java if you link me to some recipes)

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