Cleveland: Stops at Slovenian bakery, meat market complement National Cleveland-Style Polka Museum visit

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If you're going to visit the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, fortify yourself first with some sweet or salty Slovenian food.

The minute you open the door to Wojtila's Bakery in Euclid, Ohio, you'll smell the butter in the air, and your eyes will probably fall on a kind of nut roll that's in the shape of a bread loaf.

Slovenians call this potica (po-TEET-sa). We call it the sine qua non of baked goods. You can buy the whole loaf for $26.50 or just eat one piece for $1. Either way, you'll be glad.

The bakery cases hold a full line of Slovenian breads, pastries, cakes and doughnuts. Luscious lady locks, golden with butter and oozing with cream, are so beautiful they could star in their own movie.

Don Wojtila Jr. is the baker and proprietor of the shop at 897 E. 222nd St., a few blocks from the polka hall of fame.

Mr. Wojtila, who starts baking at 11 p.m., also does wedding cakes and cookie trays, and is especially busy at Christmas and Easter. He opens the shop at 6 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. On Sundays, he's open from 8 a.m. to noon.

When he's not sticking sweets into the oven, he plays in a five-piece polka band started by his father, Don Wojtila Sr.

After you complete your tour of the polka hall of fame, it's well worth your time to drive over to Azman Meats, a Slovenian meat market at 654 E. 185th St.

That's where Bill Azman Jr. and his wife, Marie, make the sausage that achieved space age fame. That happened in 2007 when Sunita L. Williams, a U.S. astronaut, took a kind of beef jerky called "smokies" with her on her flight into space.

Ms. Williams' mother, Bonnie Zalokar, was Slovenian, grew up in Euclid and moved to Massachusetts. But she had intense gastronomical memories of Slovenian sausage, and so did her high-flying daughter.

Mr. Azman said it takes about five to six hours to smoke sausage. The couple also make rice and blood sausage.


Marylynne Pitz: mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.


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