Eat pierogies for a good cause

Written by Rebecca Sodergren on . Pierogies


Prepare to put away some pierogies.

Brandon McCarthy, brewmaster at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Homestead, is behind a fundraiser there tomorrow night (6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22) where he’ll serve halushki with noodles he made from scratch, more than 40 dozen pierogies from Forgotten Taste in Wexford, 50 pounds of kielbasa, and sauerkraut.

Proceeds will benefit Pittonkatonk, a free potluck picnic and brass music festival that will be held May 2 at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion in Schenley Park.

Tickets are $10 for all-you-can-eat food; the beer to wash it down is sold separately.

There will also be some raffle baskets, including the top prize, a “Pittsburgh Sammitch Basket.” Mr. McCarthy asked several sandwich shops to donate a gift certificate for a single sandwich, figuring this small outlay from a lot of different restaurants would make for a cool prize. But some restaurants chose to take it over the top. Union Pig & Chicken contributed a certificate for an office party’s worth of sandwiches. Alfred’s Deli in Polish Hill gave 10 sandwiches. Other contributors include Thin Man Sandwich Shop, Oh My Grill, The Steer & Wheel and Spoonwood Brewing.

Mr. McCarthy is friends with Pittonkatonk organizer Pete Spynda, a DJ who goes by the name “Pandemic,” and he provides beer at many of Mr. Spynda’s events. Mr. McCarthy said he wanted to help raise funds for Pittonkatonk because Mr. Spynda organizes “community-oriented, family-friendly events that aren’t a completely defanged thing where you’re not going to have fun as an adult.”

Pittonkatonk, he said, brings back the feel of the ethnic social clubs that used to dot Pittsburgh, where in the summertime, hundreds of people would show up for potluck picnics.

Admission to Pittonkatonk is free; attendees are asked to simply bring picnic food to share.

Read more about the Pierogi Fundraiser on Facebook.

Read more about Pittonkatonk here.

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Black & Gold Pierogies hit the market

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Pierogies

At Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in Latrobe yesterday, there was some really hard hitting going on. 

Fortunate fans were putting a hurting on the first shipment of Mrs. T's "Limited Edition Black & Gold Pierogies," which the company created in partnership with the NFL team, which you may have heard of. 

The naturally colored pierogies, potato ones and cheddar ones, are to be available for a limited time at least in the freezer section at area Giant Eagle, Shop 'n Save, Wal-Mart, Kuhn’s and other stores.08012014pierogies

Mrs. T's vice president for marketing & sales Scott Hart has an easy run into the end zone on this one, and he knows it.

"Steeler Nation has some of the best and most passionate fans in footbal," he said in a release. "Pittsburghers also love pierogies, so we know they’ll love sharing these Black & Gold pierogies while cheering on their Steelers this season.”

Maybe not sharing them, but ...

Read more about the product at the excellent domain name of 

Mrs. T's photos

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Pierogi Night vs. Pizza pops up

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Pierogies

Since the fall of 2010, Tomasz Skowronski has been making and serving Pittsburghers pierogies at bars, art galleries and various other locations in the East End.

The roughly monthly or so events have evolved into a regular series of pop-up, vegan feeds called "Pierogi Night," the next of which is from 6 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, June 29, at what's become its regular spot at the Stephen Foster Community Center in Lawrenceville.

That's the neighborhood whre Mr. Skowronski lives with his girlfriend, Kate Lasky, a fellow Pittsburgher who's been helping him with the dinners since the spring of 2011.

The theme is always pierogies vs. some other food. This weekend, it's Pierogies vs. Pizza.

For $10, you get both on a buffet, or you can takeout five pierogies and two slices of 'za (three kinds, fresh from the oven). A buck more and you can try one of the couple's fresh juices.

The couple publicize the events on social media. I had a great email conversation with Mr. Skowronski, in which he laid out the history of the event, and told me about how they eventually want to open a permanent restaurant -- "hopefully soon."

She just this spring finished her master's degree in international development at the University of Pittsburgh, so she's "taking a breather," he said; he's working as a bartender while they scout for a location, also somewhere in the East End.

They work hard at "Pierogi Nights," when they can feed more than 200 people two different types of pierogies. "A few favorites are: sauteed kale/potato/onion; roasted butternut squash/corn/dill/poblano; 'Warsaw gutter' -- vinegar-blanched then fried cabbage/tomato/onion; roasted parsnip/carrot/celery," he emails, "and we've had everything from falafel wraps, banh mis, burgers, Korean bbq, tacos, ... lasagna, soup, pies, pad thai ... [We]'re always trying to be true to the food, while keeping the interest of the people who come with interesting ingredients/new fillings/etc."
They get a lot of help from friends, from cooking to cleaning up, but still, "it's a huge task to serve all-you-can-eat to such a large crowd. But we've had a surprising amount of dedicated support -- people who come out every time, sometimes out of state, and spread the word to their family and friends."

If you want to join them, Saturday could be the night.

We're going to try to, and plan to talk some more with them about their plans for an Eastern European restaurant/bar.

Pierogi Night artwork over an illustration by Bohdan Butenko in Mr. Kowronski's Polish baby book, "'Na Straganie," or "At the Market"

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Eat ... and learn to make pierogies

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Pierogies


I was excited to learn this morning that this Friday is Night Market IV. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's after-hours, outdoor market of food and other wares is periodically held in conjunction with the Cultural District's Gallery Crawl

Food-wise, this Project Pop Up market -- from 6 to 11 p.m. at the corner of Penn Avenue and Eighth Street -- promises Bluebird Kitchen, BRGR, Burgh Bites Cart, Cafe Byblos (new at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip), Fukuda, Healcrest Urban Farm, Meat & Potatoes, Pittsburgh Pie GuyPretzel Crazy and Zeke's Coffee, among its full list of vendors.  

As if that weren't enough, Braddock's American Brasserie in the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel over on Sixth Street is adding to the fun by offering a class on "The Art of Pierogie Making." 04222013braddocks

During the spring gallery crawl from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., chef de cuisine Brian Volmrich, above, will demonstrate how he does it -- Braddock's offers pierogies ranging from Braised Short Rib to Buffalo Chicken to Chocolate and Peanut Butter  -- and then attendees can make their own creations.

Now that's some art a lot of us can appreciate.

Braddock's photos

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Pancakes, pierogies and Primanti's

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Pierogies

RachelRayscreen"The Rachael Ray Show" gives Pittsburgh a shout-out today, with a segment that has Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro visiting three city restaurants.

The New Jersey baker starts his culinary tour at Pamela's Diner in the Strip District, where he samples (and helps make) a plate of its crepe-like hotcakes, stuffed to the brim with fresh strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. "So good," he exclaims. "That's how you do hotcakes, Pittsburgh style!"

Then it's on to Lawrenceville's The Church Brew Works, baby, for a taste of the microbrewery's famed pierogi pizza. It also gets a resounding thumbs-up.  

"The garlic ... forget about it!" he says after stuffing a cheesy wedge in his mouth. "You got good pizza here, chef."

That's followed -- you guessed it -- by a trip to Primanti Bros.' original location on 18th Street in the Strip. Again, no surprise here that he loved it. 

"You gotta open one in New Jersey, come on!" he tells Toni Haggerty, who's been making sure customers get everything they expect for almost 40 years. In Mr. Valastro's case, that was a thick sandwich made with Black Angus top sirloin, sweet sausage, pastrami and roast beef. 

The tastiest part of the segment, though, is when Rachael, who appeared at the Settlers Ridge Barnes & Noble in Robinson in June to promote her latest cookbook, "The Book of Burger," declares our beloved 'Burgh a city worth visiting. 

"I love Pittsburgh. It's a great food city," she tells the studio audience, as Mr. Valastro nods in agreement. "I have such a great time there, and the people are fantastic."

Aw, we love ya, too, Rach! 

You can watch the video here

Rachel Ray Show photo 

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They're Peddlin' Pierogies

Written by Dan Gigler on . Pierogies

We didn’t invent them and we’re hardly the only people who eat them, but few other foods have such an engrained, emotional connection with us Pittsburghers than simple pierogies.
A mere mention of the doughy dumplings conjures images of babushka’d bubbies cooking in the basements of onion-domed Orthodox churches, where recipes are passed between generations.
It does not, however, make you think of a pair of tattooed, 30-ish, ultra-progressive guys, rolling dumplings made from organic dough, cage-free eggs and local produce in the kitchen of a smoky dive bar, serving patrons who are bobbing their heads to the metal and punk bands that are regular bills. These guys occasionally sell pierogies via bicycle, too.
Old Pittsburgh, meet New Pittsburgh in the form of Jeff Newman and Thomas Guentner of Peddlin' Pierogies. The pair ply their trade at Inn Termission Lounge on the South Side on Monday and Friday nights.
“These are not your grandma’s pierogies -- we make no apologies for that,” said Mr. Guentner, 33, of the South Side Slopes. “These are made with all local ingredients. We’re repackaging Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh.”   
Quite literally. In their four varieties of pierogies – classic cheesy, hot jalapeno, kraut and Swiss and black bean and corn – they use: dough made with organic spelt flour from Clarion River Organics; potatoes from Jodikinos Farms in Clinton; cheeses from Nittany Valley Organics in Mill Hall; the North Side’s own BL sour cream; plus numerous other local purveyors’ products from the Pittsburgh Public Market.
They fry the pierogies in olive oil rather than butter, and a half-dozen will set you back a modest $5.
 12212012thomas jeff
The two men first met in 2010 when Mr. Guentner was working for the Student Conservation Association and applied for an internship with Mr. Newman’s company, Steel City Soils, which promotes urban farming and composting. Mr. Guentner didn’t get the job, but he and Mr. Newman (now 29, of Braddock Hills) became friends and eventually got around to scheming on another venture – a bicycle take on the food-truck trend.
“It was always going to be food and bicycles,” Mr. Newman said.
But what to – pun alert! – peddle on pedals?
“We both have Pittsburgh tattoos on our bodies. We both love Pittsburgh. And Pittsburgh loves Pittsburgh,” Mr. Newman said.
And what’s more Pittsburgh than a good pierogie?
With help from friends, they spent months working on recipes that incorporated both healthy and locavore principals, cooking first out of a temporary home in the kitchen at Ruggers Pub on the South Side. In early summer they hit streets of the South Side and the Strip District on a hard-to-miss old Ross bike, their culinary creations carried in a welded-together blue trailer adorned with a taxi light that says “PIEROGIES.”
One person who caught notice was Inn Termission manager Tony Rome. After some discussions with him, Mr. Guentner and Mr. Newman agreed to get the long-idled kitchen at the “Mish” – as it’s affectionately known by regulars – back into working order if they could sell their pierogies at the bar.
Now their pierogies are featured two nights a week at Inn Termission and occasionally appear on the menu at Ruggers. They hope to expand their production to sell at other venues and to add more adventurous combinations.
They’ve had to iron out some technicalities with the county Health Department to become a licensed mobile vendor, but plan to take to the streets again on the bike next year. They also make a vegetarian chili and are working with a local purveyor of egg noodles on another Pittsburgh/Eastern European favorite: halushki.
Meanwhile, how have these newfangled pierogies with the textured dough and no butter gone over?
Mr. Newman said that younger customers are embracing them, but older customers are a tougher sell – at least initially.
“We had a guy say, ‘By the time I got through the fourth pierogie, you changed my mind.' ”
He added that they’d like to learn more of the art of making the Old World dumplings from elder experts around the region.
“Pierogies are so traditional -- especially in our city’s culture which values that,” Mr. Newman said. “We want to keep that tradition alive.”
Peddlin’ Pierogies are available Monday and Friday nights at Inn Termission Lounge, 1908 E. Carson St., South Side. For more information visit

Second from top, Dan Gigler photo; others courtesy Peddlin' Pierogies

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