Closer to nature
In the depths of the Tucholskie Forests, on Lake Charzykowskie , there is the Notera hotel.
The heart of the hotel is “Las i Woda” restaurant with Maciej Hippler as the chef. Maciej Hippler, a member of the national team of the Culinary World Cup, has over 10 years of professional experience. As he comes from the area, he knows the local flavors and regional products, and he uses this knowledge when composing the restaurant's menu, but I will write about it in a moment.
I come to the hotel for a weekend to enjoy nature and the spring season. The room greets me with a beautiful view of the sun setting just above the lake, all in purple and golden colors.
The main message of this place is: closer to nature ("notera" stands for nature in the Kashubian dialect). This message is referred to in many ways, from eco-friendly solutions in the hotel (e.g. heat pumps, waste minimization, rainwater recovery), to a responsible approach to ingredients in the restaurant kitchen. As Aneta Zalewska, director of the hotel says:
With Maciej Hippler, the chef, I talk about the cuisine of the region and the “Las i Woda” restaurant. Before I study the content of the menu, I admire its design and interesting concept. The menu is divided into four groups: Garden, Lake, Forest, Farm. In each category there are starters, soups, main courses and desserts. I decide to try the dishes from each group, but first I let the chef speak:
"I begin working on the menu by making a list of available products, they decide on about the content of the menu. It has to be local and seasonal. We do not use Asian spices or weave elements of distant recipes into our dishes. We use Polish, mainly local ingredients, from funghi (blewit and filly mushrooms) to all kinds of fish (zander, vendace, roach, pike). We make our own vinegar and vegetables in brine that we add to the dishes. Now for example, we make garlic in brine, and soon we will pickle young beetroot in buttermilk "- says Maciej Hippler.
The chef emphasizes that in the menu we can try elements of the Bory Tucholskie region’s cuisine, and not Kashubian cuisine. Local ingredients of the best quality, and well-proven local suppliers are the foundation of “Las i Woda” restaurant cuisine. Along with the great imagination of the chef and his team, and with a touch of experimental cooking, you get a delicious final result in a surprising form, achieved with simple ingredients.
In “Las i Woda” restaurant, a seasonal menu insert is prepared once a month and the main menu is changed quarterly. From time to time the management organizes themed dinners with special guests. A "Connoisseur Weekend" takes place once a quarter.
But let's get to the delicacies I tried. I started by tasting lettuce served with fresh cheese from a small local producer (the Garden category). Young “frisztik” cheese (the local name of a delicately flavored cottage cheese) is served with cherry tomatoes, chive oil confit and a mix of young vegetables with a dill and watercress dressing.
From The Lake category I chose marinated trout from the surrounding lakes, in a homemade apple vinegar, with dill, horseradish and pickled cucumber from the restaurant’s pantry. It is light and gentle, and the plate looks like a piece of art.
The main dish from the Forest category is tender wild boar shoulder with young carrots, beetroots and “plince” - this surprising side dish is baked pancakes made of potatoes and flour. Immersed in a juniper demi-glace sauce, they taste fantastic!
! I look for dessert in the Farm section, where I chose “sękacz” (a very special type of cake also known as “baumkuchen”, baked on the spot) with gooseberry jelly and caramel cream. A feast for the palate is complemented by the view of the lake outside the window.
In the restaurant, you can also try local beers (from Bytów and Kościerzyna). For those who like liquor there is a great selection of fruit tinctures from a local supplier in the bar. They are also sell them to take away. In addition to classic flavors (quince, raspberry or blackberry), there is dogwood or sea buckthorn available.
The chef thought about youngsters as well. After all, the Notera hotel is often visited by families with children. The menu includes a special children’s section. It offers carrot soup, chicken chops with mashed potatoes and carrot salad, pasta with young peas or waffles.
After the feast at “Las i Woda” restaurant, we set off for a walk along the lake. It is beautiful!
Wczasowa 1, 89-606 Charzykowy
phone. + 48 52 377 72 11
The author of text and photo: Anna Włodarczyk
Aficionado of good food, regional products and flavours. Author of the best-selling cook book, “Retro kuchnia” (“Retro kitchen”), in which she re-discovers forgotten, pre-war recipes. Author of www.strawberriesfrompoland.pl blog, photographer, and culinary journalist.