Friendly Foods on Center Street in Tacoma sells three or four different kinds of pirozhky.
I caught just a brief mention of pierogi on a food show a month or so ago. It was enough to get me intrigued with making that at home.
And so I launched Project Pierogi. Or Project Piroshky. Or Project Piroghi. There are a lot of ways to spell and make meat and vegetable stuffed vessels. Update alert! Until recently, ahem, I knew little about the differences between all these meat-filled vessels. Readers have told me about the difference between pierogi (boiled meat vessels, dumpling like) and piroshky (fried meat vessels, turnover like), and have given me a big list of all the versions of all kinds of Eastern European meat vessels (there are many). A dozen readers have offered me recipes for pierogi, piroshky, piroghi and __ (insert various names and variations there) and I intend to share them with you in a story. I love that when you know little about something, TNT readers line up to tell you what you need to know. And give recipes for it. Lots of recipes. I love recipes. Please send me recipes.
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In my quest to make them, I wanted to find examples locally. Then, I intended to cajole someone into giving me the recipe, or at least deconstruct what makes good pierogi or piroshky or piroghi delicious (in theory anyway). I went to the European Deli Romka, which I wrote about earlier this year. Nope. But they do still have a vast selection of Eastern European soda pop and interesting cheese.
Then I remembered our HomePage Editor Kate McEntee asked me about a Russian/Ukrainian/Eastern European grocery store at Center and Union – Friendly Foods. And there they were -- pirozhky.
The display case also yielded warm, meat-filled fried belyash (a pork-filled turnover, $1.50) and fried chebureky (something I can only describe as resembling a fried sausage-filled quesadilla, sans the cheese, $1.50).
The pirozhky (99 cents each) were delicious, if not a little greasy (they probably need to turn up the temperature of their fryer, or move the inventory in the display case quicker). The cabbage pirozhky (99 cents each) had a nice pungent flavor with an acidic twist, likely from the addition of a bit of vinegar from the taste of it. Potato pirozhky combine creamy mashed potatoes with a garlic-onion bite. Day-old meat pirozhky (discounted to 50 cents each) was a bad idea. The day-old texture was unpalatable. Stale and greasy – not so good.
Just beneath the pirozhky was something that really pushed my carbivore interest – fresh bread. I saw a bakery employee pull loaves from the oven and slide them into the display case. I took home a warm loaf of kievsky bread ($3.99), which turned out to be a sour-tasting bread – too sour for me in flavor and too dense in texture to make good sandwiches, so I froze it with the intention of later turning it into a savory-sour bread pudding dish.
Friendly Foods bakes its bread fresh on site.
Another discovery: cake. Made in house, the cake selection smelled and looked delicious. The cherry cake ($5.99 a pound) was more dry than I would have preferred, but the real cherry filling (not from a can!) was an appreciated touch. The same cherry filling was inside the cherry pastry ($1.25). Other pastries came in savory and sweet versions.
UPDATE: If you want to send me a recipe for pierogi or piroskhi or well.. any Eastern European meat-filled vessel, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3612 Center Street, Tacoma