‘Borsch, Vodka and Tears’: author explores Polish vodka and cuisine

Professional boozehound, chef and author Benny Roff wasn’t always a vodka fan. It could be said that he took the long road in his appreciation of both vodka and Polish cuisine. Roff travelled the world while working as a chef along the way at restaurants such as Le Bernardin in New York City, Jardinière in San Francisco and Kensington Place in London. Upon returning to his native Australia in 2006, Roff started his Polish education as bartender and then manager of Borsch, Vodka and Tears – a restaurant/bar in the Windsor suburb of Melbourne.

Author Benny Roff

Founder and former owner Andrzej Kaczmarski derived the evocative name from a Polish proverb about drinking piołunówka (Polish absinthe): “First is drunk for health; second for pleasure; third for tears; fourth is for madness.” Roff describes the restaurant as looking and feeling “like some kind of dive in an old part of Kraków” and while the décor, food and drink are distinctly Polish “the easy-going crowds are most definitely modern and Australian.”

 

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