Discover Polish Meals in Atlanta at Beksa Lala’s Pop-Ups

Basia Piechoczek, founding father of Polish pop-up Beksa Lala, doesn’t thoughts being known as a crybaby. In truth, she reclaimed her childhood nickname, which suggests “crybaby” in Polish, as her pop-up’s namesake.

Piechoczek grew up in New Jersey, one in every of America’s “Polish pockets,” however her household moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after changing into enamored with St. Augustine on a trip. It was there that Piechoczek entered the restaurant trade, as a method to make ends meet in school. After graduating with a level in training, she realized that instructing didn’t go well with her and bought a job at Tom Grey’s Moxie Kitchen and Cocktails in Jacksonville.

“I simply instantly fell in love with their system and the best way that they celebrated meals and executed a extremely nice eating expertise,” she says. Piechoczek labored the entrance of home for 5 years, ultimately changing into the supervisor; Moxie advanced into Prati Italia in early 2020.

In July of 2020, Piechoczek relocated to Atlanta to be the assistant basic supervisor at Cooks and Troopers. On the identical time, the restaurant was internet hosting Mujo’s pop-ups and Piechoczek helped the crew transition into their restaurant house subsequent door.

Piechoczek determined to change industries and at the moment works for a nonprofit. Final fall, Piechoczek’s longtime pal Andrew Selvagn (Burle’s Bar) approached her and requested that she make Polish meals for a pop-up. Burle’s hosted Beksa Lala’s first pop-up — a Polish Christmas occasion that includes pierogi, borscht with dumplings, and wild mushroom-stuffed cabbage — on December 23.

On the identical time, Piechoczek provided to fill in any pop-up vacancies at Bogg’s Social & Provide, her neighborhood bar. The chance introduced itself and he or she jumped proper in — Piechoczek simply completed substituting for a brunch and dinner residency there.

Whereas Atlanta correct doesn’t have a big Polish neighborhood, there’s a pocket exterior the perimeter. For instance, Piechoczek’s son attended Polish faculty on weekends on the Polish Membership of Atlanta.

“I feel that with the eating scene within the perimeter, it’s laborious to get one thing that’s genuine,” she says. “You go to Buford Freeway and you’ve got all your mom-and-pop outlets and individuals who grew up cooking this fashion and small enterprise house owners and I feel that simply usually, the Atlanta eating scene is missing a little bit bit too.”

Even should you’re accustomed to Polish delicacies, you’ll discover that Piechoczek’s cooking subverts that meat-and-potatoes stereotype. The ability bowl, for instance, combines delicate greens and thinly sliced radishes and cucumbers with millet and roasted sunchoke for a toothsome contact. The accompanying buckthorn berry French dressing provides tanginess and a touch of spunk. Adjika, a Georgian scorching sauce made with eggplant, lends a complexity to the breakfast blintz. Sweeter brunch gadgets, just like the Jewish-style chocolate babka French toast and racuchy (apple pancakes), are subdued with a bitter cream whip.

The zupa ogorkowa, a soup with pickle brine, rice, carrots, dill, and what Piechoczek calls “a bitter cream sludge,” is hearty with out being overwhelmingly filling — the addition of toasted rye is nutty, with just a bit chunk. Piechoczek’s Polish-style pierogi have a melty mashed potato inside and get a pork fats taste from smoked farmers’ cheese, regardless of being utterly vegetarian.

The surprising elements that Piechoczek incorporates, corresponding to buckwheat and birch syrup for the waffles, or the buckthorn berries within the energy bowl’s punchy French dressing, fulfill a necessity for playfulness and converse to the intersection of cultures in Poland.

Nevertheless, Piechoczek doesn’t again down from alternatives to showcase Polish nostalgia. The desk playing cards Beksa Lala makes use of had been impressed by her childhood Polish faculty, in addition to her previous studying and writing guide.

“Numerous what I like about doing these pop-ups is individuals reaching out and being like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. I haven’t had one in years. I grew up in Pennsylvania or I grew up in Chicago and it’s actually cool to see this sort of meals down right here,’” she says.

As an example, the brunch menu’s sausage plate comes with the choice so as to add a facet of potatoes that’s accompanied by a shot of buttermilk, a nod to Piechoczek’s father.

“One visitor reached out and was like, ‘That’s superb. My dad used to drink buttermilk. He would put pepper in it and eat it with potatoes too. I’ve by no means seen something like that.’”

Beksa Lala’s pop-up residency at Berle’s begins this Saturday, February 10. Along with pop-ups, Piechoczek typically affords pierogi and paczki pickups.

“Folks acknowledge one half or one other and relate again to their very own reminiscences of rising up with something Polish-inspired,” she says. “I actually love listening to everyone’s story too, like [with the buttermilk] or going again to the desk playing cards the place any person stated like, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen that guide in years however instantly knew what it was.’ So it’s actually cool that all the things that’s only a slight little nod to my very own nostalgia and that different individuals are choosing up on that as nicely and are capable of heat their hearts up a bit.”


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