Ever since I could stand at a kitchen counter, I helped stuff, pinch and fry pierogi, a delightful Eastern European dumpling, typically filled with potato, cheese, sauerkraut or cottage cheese. This was the only Polish tradition that was left in my family; we usually made them a few times a year.
In recent years, Pittsburgh has seemed to have an increasingly feverish obsession with pierogi. There's definitely a history here, and many bars serve them. But now, there are multiple food trucks that serve them, with traditional and non-traditional fillings alike. Naturally, when I found out about Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest, it piqued my interest. Pierogi are the quintessential nostalgic comfort food for me.
So Mark and I checked it out over the weekend.
Although I left Pierogi Fest happy, (I won a Twitter contest that got Mark and I some free merch) I was a little disappointed by the execution of the event.
There's admission: $12 a pop at the door. Luckily I bought a Groupon ahead of time that cut that price in half. That doesn't cover any food -- just to get through the gate.
There was no shortage of pierogi options. More than 30 vendors were there, including at least a half dozen serving strictly pierogi: Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck, Gosia's Pierogies (Latrobe), S&D Polish Deli (Strip District), Cop Out Pierogies (Etna), and Perla Pierogies (out of Ohio).
Unfortunately, the lines were out of control. People were everywhere standing in lines. And there wasn't really anything else to do to break up the time. Mark and I had the patience to go through one line, which ended up being Pittsburgh Pierogi truck because 1.) their prices were reasonable, 2.) the line wasn't as bad as some of the others, and 3.) I wanted to try their food.
To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the pierogi there. But the haluski was bomb. Cop Out Pierogi looked amazing, however that line seemed longer than any other and looked like it snaked all through Stage AE. I figured I bought a Groupon for there too, so Mark and I would try their pierogi some other time.
Some things I wish would've been available: An opportunity to try a pierogi (or even half of one) from each pierogi vendor. Like, a $10 VIP pass to try them all and have an assembly line serve each one. Then cast a vote for best pierogi. Apparently there IS a best pierogi contest, but there's no way anyone could try them all with the kinds of lines with waiting 30 plus minutes in each one.
I think I demo about how their made, the background on their heritage, or even a couple cheesy pierogi filled games. (See what I did there?) I guess it doesn't really matter what I think; I'm sure they made their money and are all set to go for next year. But those were just some of the things I was expecting.
Mark always tells me the pierogi I've perfected over the years are the best he's eaten anyway. ;) After all, I've been making them since infancy, pretty much.