Hello again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great week! For this special short edition of Foodie Adventures, I’m introducing you to a new business in Simpsonville specializing in a cuisine that I learned to love when I was young, Polish food! 🙌
I am very happy to be bringing you this blog about a cuisine that’s so near and dear to my heart. My grandpa was Portuguese, but we ate a ton of Polish food growing up. Papa lived near Fall River, MA, and there were both polish restaurants and bakeries that we could get our fix of Polish food at. One of our favorites that’s still there is Patti’s Pierogis (Guy Fieri even stopped by once!). It was always one of my favorite outings with my grandparents when we went to visit. You can find a ton of little restaurants and places like that up in New England, but there’s not a lot down here – until now!
Since moving to the Upstate, which is such a foodie-centric area, I count myself lucky to be surrounded by so many great cuisines. There are obviously some gaps, and Polish food is certainly one of them. So I was really excited to see Aga asking people if there was any interest in someone bringing Polish food to Greenville and the surrounding cities, and knew I had to reach out!
Allow me to introduce you to “The Carl’s Products“, run by Aga Michalska, and her husband, Karol. She recently invited me to her house to interview her, hear her story, and of course, try her food!
How did you get started with the business?
So my dad had a butcher shop in Poland and I worked with him. When we came to America in 2012, we noticed that none of the sausages and meats were the same and we couldn’t get what we were used to here. The meats were so sweet, for example honey ham, we didn’t have anything like that over in Poland, we couldn’t understand how the meats were so sweet. We really missed the food, so we started smoking our own meats in our garage by making hams and sausages for us and our friends. We had a big party when we first smoked some meat! For us it was like having a backyard bbq. After a while, we had a lot of customers when we lived in Virginia through word of mouth. We just moved to South Carolina in March and we are trying to spread our wings here.Aga Michalska, Owner of The Carl’s Products
Tell me a little bit more about some of the dishes you make, I would love to learn more about your pierogis (not going to lie, these are my favorites)!
In Poland, pierogis are saved for special occasions. The recipes are passed down on the men’s side of the family, not the woman’s. So the Grandfather teaches his sons how to make the dough recipe, and they in turn teach their sons, and so on. We are using my husband Karol’s recipe, which I didn’t learn how to make until after we got married. Even in the states, we continue with this holiday tradition in our family. We have a competition between us and his brother at Christmas to see who can make the most pierogis. Our record so far was 500 in 2019 in one day!!Aga Michalska, Owner of The Carl’s Products
Oh, we’ve made it a competition on Facebook at Christmas too. We’ll ask people on Facebook “How much do you think we’re going to have this year?” and whoever can guess the closest in the comments to the final total of how many we made, wins a bowl of pierogis! Some of our friends tried to cheat and asked us for status updates along the way but we made sure it’s always fair.Karol Michalska, Owner of The Carl’s Products
The best part about making pierogis is when you get all the family around at the table. We have friends that live in Greer, and friends that came to visit us from VA, so it was six of us around the table and we hadn’t seen each other in a long time so it was such fun making pierogis with everyone.Karol Michalska, Owner of The Carl’s Products
We were lucky enough to get to try not only both types (dinner/savory and dessert/sweet) but also four different flavors of pierogis that Aga and Karol make. The first savory pierogis were stuffed with sauerkraut and meat. They also make their own sauerkraut, which typically takes a couple of weeks to ferment, that gets added to the pierogis before wrapping. The Russian style is made with potato and white cheese, which is similar to a farmer’s cheese, which they also hand make themselves!!
Karol tells me that everything they make is fresh, all natural, and they make all the mix-ins they use from scratch or grow them themselves (if they can). They said the only thing they don’t grow themselves is potatoes, so that is one thing they do buy. However, I did fill them in on some great farmers markets where they could get some locally too.
We also got to try two types of fruit pierogis – one with blueberries on the inside and one with strawberries in the filling, topped with homemade strawberry jam. Aga loves dipping her pierogis in sour cream, but didn’t include any since I’m non-dairy, however, a good non-dairy brand is a great substitution here too.
The strawberries, from a local patch, were from Stewart Farms. They originally went there intending to pick one bucket, then came back with six buckets, they loved them so much!
One of the other traditional dishes we got to try was Golabkis (pronounced gah-wump-keys phonetically). One was made in the traditional way, with meat and rice rolled in cabbage, topped in a tomato sauce.
Then she has a special way of making them if she has leftover cabbage, where she chops the cabbage up, if the leaves are too small to roll. She’ll mix it in with the filling and makes it into more of a meatball shape, which works better for people who aren’t huge fans of cabbage.
It was very kind of them to give us a loaf of freshly made bread as well, which made fantastic sandwiches and was both crusty on the outside and super soft on the inside. They also offer a jalapeño & cheddar and a cinnamon raisin loaf on their menu, Karol’s favorite is the jalapeño and cheddar.
So how does it typically work when people order food from you all? Do you have a menu that you give to folks or a specific pick up date range?
Our menu is here (see below), you can order through our Facebook page or Instagram by messaging us! It’s just a home business for now, so you come pick it up from us in Simpsonville. In the future once we get more established here, we’d love to do some markets or possibly get into small local grocery stores as well. When ordering smoked products, we need one week in advance to make them. All meat is cured naturally and needs some time. Pierogis, cakes, and bread can be ordered about a day or two in advance usually.Aga Michalska, Owner of The Carl’s Products
Aga sent me a ton of great photos from their menu, feel free to sit through the slideshows below for a few minutes to check them out!
I was so so happy with everything that Aga and Karol made, and am super excited to share this with all of you! I can’t wait to bring some of these to my family and friends to share soon, and I look forward to watching them grow in the Upstate as they gain the following they so deserve. Make sure to give them a follow and some love on social media! 💜😁
So how was your weekend, Foodie Friends? Are you excited to try some wonderful Polish food? Have you ever had any before (the stuff from a grocery store doesn’t count)? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗