I promised you a borscht-off, and a borscht-off you shall have!
(Insert Rocky music here).
In this coooorner we have the undisputed, never defeated, world famous Christmas Borscht from VESELKA!
And in this cooooorner we have the newly discovered upstart with the impeccable pedigree, Clear Borscht with Mushroom Uszka from POLONIA!
Now that you’ve met the soups, it’s only fair to introduce you to the judges which are me and the boy. We feel we make excellent judges for The Great De-Beet because we love beets, borscht, mushrooms and soup. Nuff said. Let’s get down to the judging.
Point No. 1 ~ Prettiness.
I was taken by the shapeliness of Polonia’s uszka and their plump, sensuous nature and turned off by the slight film of oily-ness floating on the surface of the soup. The boy was taken by the gorgeous, deep, intense ruby-red color of Veselka’s broth and how clear it was; you could see all the chunky-bits hiding shyly beneath the surface. I grudgingly agreed.
Point No. 1 winner? VESELKA.
Point No. 2 ~ Aroma.
It’s funny, having the two borschts right next to each other brought out aspects of the Veselka borscht I had never noticed before, like it’s overwhelming perfume of beef stock. Polonia’s soup smelled mysterious, exotic, earthy, sweet and redolent of unseen spices.
Point No. 2 winner? POLONIA.
Point No. 3 ~ Taste (broth only).
Just as the two soups had wildly different aromas, their flavors were polar opposites as well. Veselka’s is a manly broth; salty, beefy, spicy, chunky, garlicky, vinegary and well, delicious. Polonia’s is utterly feminine; sweet, beety, earthy, subtle and well, also delicious.
Point No. 3 winner? A TIE. I preferred Polonia’s, the boy, Veselka’s.
Point No. 4 ~ The Dumplings.
The pictures do not lie. This decision was as easy to make in person as it is to make over the Internet.
Point No. 4 winner? No contest. POLONIA.
Point No. 5 ~ Ease Of Procurement.
Walked in waited for 5 minutes next to about 10 Polish men of every generation doing shots of vodka at 1 in the afternoon. The lady behind the counter told me she didn’t have any borscht to sell me as I hadn’t ordered it a month (!) in advance and that she might have some for me on Sunday (this was on Saturday just before we headed Upstate to celebrate Christmas with my family). I guess I put on a pretty good pout when I told her I wasn’t going to be around tomorrow because she agreed to sell me a small container. It was $4.50.
Walked up to the branch on 2nd Ave and E. 9th St, decided it might be more prudent to get the borscht from Little Veselka at 1st Ave and E. 1st St as it’s closer to home and would be warmer. Walked over there, walked up to the window, placed my order, paid $4.25, got the soup, walked away.
Point No. 5 winner? Hands down. Veselka. (But if you like a little color, go with Polonia).
And In Conclusion?
Yep, we have a tie!
If I were the only judge Polonia would be our winner. I preferred the broth and the uszka and I love the, *ahem* charm, associated with a trip to Polonia.
But, this was a team effort and while the boy preferred Polonia’s uszka, the wait made him cranky and he vastly preferred Veselka’s broth.
So, I say unto you, there are no borscht losers!
Unless you really hate beets.