'People have fun trying to pronounce it' former Scran & Scallie chef tells us about his lockdown sweetie business, Ptasie Mleczko

Eddie Janusz has brought this Polish treat to the capital

Eddie's stall at Leith Walk Police Box
Eddie's stall at Leith Walk Police Box

“It translates as bird’s milk and is pronounced p-tah-shea mleh-ch-koh,” says Eddie Janusz, 41, in reference to his new business, Ptasie Mleczko.

It was set up at the end of last year, when this Edinburgh-based sous chef, who has worked at Tom Kitchin’s Scran & Scallie, the Tower Restaurant and Fingal, was “at home and itching to be creative and cook”.

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Since then, customers have been spreading the word about a rather unusual sweet that you can pick up at the Leith Walk Police Box.

According to Eddie, originally from Poland, ptasie mleczko is familiar in his homeland. (There’s a fantastical folk story to explain its name, which involves a princess asking a prince to bring her an impossible gift of bird’s milk). He couldn’t find it in Scotland, so created his own, as a taste of home for the Polish community, as well as something new for those who’ve never experienced it.

This involved some experimentation, as Eddie couldn’t find a truly authentic recipe for this chocolate-covered milk souffle.

Now he whips up a Willy Wonka’s factory worth of flavours, including cocoa nibs and dark chocolate, lemon, hazelnut praline (his favourite), cookies and cream, raspberry, and lots more. Eddie makes almost all the ingredients from scratch, including fruit syrups and pralines.

They’re gelatin and gluten-free, and they use ethically-sourced chocolate. They keep schtum about the other additions.

Bird's milk

“We can't tell you!”, says Eddie. “What we can say is that it’s made with natural and whole ingredients and produce from local suppliers. We are big on supporting local businesses”.

New flavours are constantly in development, but their next step has been creating a variation to suit those on plant-based diets.

“Our vegan ptasie mleczko is, as far as we know, the first of its kind”, says Eddie. “It's a long time in development. We can't wait to launch it in March”.

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We’re sure that it’ll be as popular as the rest of the range.

It seems that people do want to ask for something different, even if they find the pronunciation tricky. (We struggled to say quinoa for years, but it didn’t stop us from buying it).

“When we were selling for the first time, no one knew what it was, let alone could pronounce it,” Eddie says. “People have had fun trying to say ptasie mleczko and I can confidently say that those who didn't want to try it, when they did, wanted more. The Polish community, who know this treat, have said it’s next level and are buying it as gifts. We are overwhelmed and touched”.

They sell out quickly. That’s partially because, Eddie explains, outdoor market space is at a premium, with new and old businesses jostling for space. Markets have got smaller, but demand has grown. However, he also puts their success down to a sense of togetherness that the last year has emphasised.

“We live in Leith, which comes with its own sense of community” he says. “For us, lockdown has highlighted the importance of local businesses, for the variety, quality and community they bring to where we live. It’s a beautiful thing”.

Order through their website www.ptasiemleczko.co.uk for free delivery or click and collect from Leith Walk Police Box, see Instagram

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