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Pierogi Festival in Whiting, IN - 7-27 thru 29-07

Pierogi Festival in Whiting, IN - 7-27 thru 29-07
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  • Post #31 - July 23rd, 2008, 11:36 am
    Post #31 - July 23rd, 2008, 11:36 am Post #31 - July 23rd, 2008, 11:36 am
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    Come join us on Saturday, July 26, 2008, for the 2nd Annual Ride to Pierogi Fest.

    Located in Whiting, Indiana, Pierogi Fest is a celebration of that darling dumpling originating in eastern Europe. It was started by a group of friends while eating breakfast (probably vegan-style) at Dimitri's Cake and Steak. They didn't choose the Kielbasa, and (luckily) they didn't choose Charnina (aka. ducks blood soup); instead, they chose the lonely dumpling in an effort to promote good, healthy eating throughout the environmentally friendly town of Whiting, Indiana. So come join us at Buckingham Fountain on Saturday, July 26, 2008. We will take the following route at a "touring" pace (average 12-14mph) that approximately follows this route:
    http://bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Buckingham-Fountain-Chicago-IL-Whiting-Indiana

    If you haven't checked out the luscious website of Pierogi Fest, it's here:
    http://www.pierogifest.net

    And you can read more about your friend, the dumpling, here:
    http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierogi

    Riders should meet at Buckingham Fountain at 11am. The ride leaves at 11:15am, sharp. If you miss us, meet us on the way down. If you're on the South Side and do not wish to ride north to the fountain, contact me to make arrangements. Don't be shy; the pierogi is your friend, and riding a bike to the fest with 1, 3, or 27 speeds with coaster, hand, or endo-brake always makes them taste better.

    = This ride will be more exciting if you wear a helmet, sunglasses, and sunscreen. =
    = You will need a lock for your bicycle! =

    Are you on Facebook? Add this event to your calendar..
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=43329450952

    - Eric (the ride coordinator)*

    * - note: all riders assume full risk and at no time will any of the coordinators be held liable.
  • Post #32 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:05 pm
    Post #32 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:05 pm Post #32 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:05 pm
    It was lots of fun last year; we did a group bike ride from Buckingham Fountain to Whiting and enjoyed about 3 hours there. Mmm..

    we're doing it again this year, and can't wait to consume butter-slathered goodies.
  • Post #33 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:13 pm
    Post #33 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:13 pm Post #33 - July 23rd, 2008, 12:13 pm
    I'll be there Saturday. Can't wait.
  • Post #34 - July 24th, 2008, 2:48 pm
    Post #34 - July 24th, 2008, 2:48 pm Post #34 - July 24th, 2008, 2:48 pm
    So excited about this! The fiancee and I have been wanting to go for about 2 years now. We'll be there Saturday afternoon!
  • Post #35 - July 26th, 2008, 11:07 am
    Post #35 - July 26th, 2008, 11:07 am Post #35 - July 26th, 2008, 11:07 am
    We were there yesterday, about an hour before the parade. Dumbest thing I did all year.
    Overflow capacity. Elbow to elbow wherever you go. Pierogi lines were 25 to 30 deep. One Port-a-Pot per block. Waiting line was 15 long. Once there, you'll find them FULL. We have been to tons of festivals. First time to this one. I bet it was cute back in the day. But today, it has overgrown it's venue. I wish them luck.
  • Post #36 - July 26th, 2009, 12:27 pm
    Post #36 - July 26th, 2009, 12:27 pm Post #36 - July 26th, 2009, 12:27 pm
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    I made my maiden journey to the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana this year and can happily say, if you read this right now and could jump in the car and head right over there, you should do so without hesitation.

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    Chicagoans tend to have a pretty dire notion of northwest Indiana but, as I knew from a visit last summer, Whiting is a proud and tidy little town, full of cute little houses with perfect square lawns and flowerbeds and, during Pierogi Fest at least, flying the Slovakian flag.  And, it seemed clear, a cheerful sense of the absurdity of a festival devoted to dumplings.

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    Knowing her to be the source on small town food events, I called Cathy2 beforehand.  She warned me that during the Friday night parade and lawn mower drill team performance, Pierogi Fest could be packed beyond one's tolerance for crowds; she felt it had become more of a tourist event than an organic local festival.  Well, I couldn't go Friday night anyway, so I aimed for what I hoped would be a midafternoon lull on Saturday.

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    Timing was pretty perfect, actually; the ice cream and root beer stands had long lines but the pierogi stands were fairly quiet.

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    The fest stretches through four or five long blocks of Whiting's picturesque main street (119th), with probably 8 or 10 pierogi stands as well as a variety of other refreshments and assorted local vendors of the sort you see at any street fest, everything from tchotchke sellers to tarot readers to a National Guard recruiter, as well as a stage area devoted to folk dancing and music.

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    Clearly there were going to be more pierogi than I could take in on one trip.  I needed a strategy, and so skipped the first couple of vendors in favor of a name I recognized:

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    Lynethe's, on 119th just a few blocks east of here, is well known as one of the best spots for pierogi, especially since John Kass wrote about it a few years back.  Ironically it's actually run by a Latino who had worked for the previous Eastern European owner, but it remains a pillar of the Whiting pierogi scene and was doing some busy frying even during this lull time:

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    So I figured Lynethe's would be a good choice for a control, especially since I've cooked them at home (and still have some in my freezer from last summer).  I ordered a sauerkraut one and a potato with cheese:

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    Lynethe's belongs to the fried-crisp school of pierogiology.  The sauerkraut I liked a lot, the potato oozed way too much orange cheddar, like Cheez Whiz Pierogis, I wanted just a note of tart bryndza-type cheese like they have at Smak Tak.  Still, a good baseline for what would follow.

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    Buscia's is a non-restaurant vendor cooking up pierogi in an assortment of 50s-style electric pans.  They are apparently there to represent Whiting's transgender community:

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    Seriously, I was totally drawn in by the promise of bacon buns in a combo, so I ordered the combo.  The pierogi were a little mushy and just so-so; hamburger forgettable, potato decidedly better:

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    The bacon bun could stand to learn a thing or two about being lighter and fluffier, it was pretty much artillery standard, but it had great bacony flavor and was one of the best things I tried.

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    I walked past other, more improbable food vendors...

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    But this bunch, from a bar called Coach's Corner, lured me in with some quick-witted banter and infectious enthusiasm.  They were serving "chevaps," which is to say cevapcici, ground meat sausages freshly grilled, and despite hardly thinking that I needed the minimum order of five, I tried them.

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    "You take pictures of your food before you eat it?" one of them asked.

    "Well, you don't want to take pictures of it after you eat it," I said.

    These were great, and I loved the simple butter-cream cheese stuff that came on the side.  I'm definitely going to have to go back and give Coach's Corner, 6208 Kennedy Ave. in Hammond, a try.

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    I haven't been able to track down Victor's Grill, if it's a standing restaurant, and it may just be another homemade spot, but it looked promising, so I stood in its line for a few minutes (business was starting to pick up as lunch was digested).

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    These were kind of heavy, wrapping-wise, but the fillings were pretty good.

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    I wandered some more past the stage area and reached the block with the beer garden in it.  Although business had picked up a little at other stands by now, I wasn't prepared for the line at Dan's, which stretched down the street and around the picnic tables:

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    What accounted for this wild popularity?  Did everyone know that Dan's was the place, or was this one of those psychological things where a line attracts more line because, hey, if there's a line, it must be good?

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    I heard someone ask these very questions of someone ahead of me and the answer came back, "This is the only place where they're not frozen.  They're totally fresh."  Well... I'm not convinced that that was the reason, because I'm not convinced you can tell the difference, frankly.  Still, it wasn't like I was too hungry to spend 15 minutes in line, so I did.

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    It is an impressive operation, a dozen bins filled with a dozen flavors, certainly the widest choice here by a comfortable margin.

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    I tried cabbage, sauerkraut and mushroom, and cherry (which squirted hot cherry juice all over me as I bit into it).  The wrappers were a little rubbery from the holding method, but the fillings were outstanding, it wasn't hard to see why this place was popular.  As I picked up my order, I heard someone say that the spinach were the best, so now I have a reason to go back next year.

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    I'm often disappointed by Chicago's small street fests because it seems like the same vendors are there at each one dishing up the same pork skewers.  Pierogi Fest, though it had some commercial catering ringers, clearly draws real local cooks and earns a lot of local support as a result.  I loved it, the small town feel, the enthusiastic goofiness of pierogimania, the women who clearly should not have been wearing "Hey, Nice Pierogies!" T-shirts yet did so anyway, everything.  It's a great Chicago-area event and well worth checking out on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the perfect day for it.
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  • Post #37 - July 26th, 2009, 1:14 pm
    Post #37 - July 26th, 2009, 1:14 pm Post #37 - July 26th, 2009, 1:14 pm
    We also made the trip out there yesterday for both lunch and dinner. During our dinner stop at Dan's an observant member of our group noticed the purveyor that Dan's uses...

    Alexandra Foods
    3300 N. Central Ave, Chicago
    (773) 282-3820

    That is too funny! Making the annual pilgrimage to Indiana for a Chicago product. :) I will continue to make it for the sights and sounds though.

    Looked over their pierogi list and it was identical to Dan's booth with an omission or two.

    The mushroom pierogies are heavenly (as always)! Very savory.

    I also gave the Mexican Pierogies a try and they were so so. I figured if we can have potstickers and ravioli, why not?

    Bill wrote:Here are some of the photos I took:

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    I was hoping to see this maiden of the potato pancakes but she was nowhere to be seen.

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    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #38 - July 26th, 2009, 1:35 pm
    Post #38 - July 26th, 2009, 1:35 pm Post #38 - July 26th, 2009, 1:35 pm
    In the words of Mick Jagger, "Shattered, shattered." But good detective work (I was wondering how they cranked out so many fresh ones in time for the fest).

    I looked for the potato pancake lady too, no such luck.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #39 - July 26th, 2009, 8:12 pm
    Post #39 - July 26th, 2009, 8:12 pm Post #39 - July 26th, 2009, 8:12 pm
    Panther in the Den wrote:That is too funny! Making the annual pilgrimage to Indiana for a Chicago product. :) I will continue to make it for the sights and sounds though.

    I've met Dobra/Cookie Monster manning a booth for Delightful Pastries there.

    Did they have the gyros stuffed pierogi there this year?

    It's too bad my parents don't consider Pierogi Fest a great way to spend their anniversary. Fortunately, there is next year.

    Thanks Mike for all the pictures to remind I should have gone anyway.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #40 - July 26th, 2009, 8:24 pm
    Post #40 - July 26th, 2009, 8:24 pm Post #40 - July 26th, 2009, 8:24 pm
    Mike G wrote:Well, you don't want to take pictures of it after you eat it!


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  • Post #41 - July 26th, 2009, 8:54 pm
    Post #41 - July 26th, 2009, 8:54 pm Post #41 - July 26th, 2009, 8:54 pm
    Yes, I saw Dobra there but she was very very busy!

    Don't know about gyros stuffed pierogi, but I didn't check every pierogi stand in detail.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #42 - July 27th, 2009, 10:56 am
    Post #42 - July 27th, 2009, 10:56 am Post #42 - July 27th, 2009, 10:56 am
    I went with about 10+ friends yesterday and got there right before 11am. It was great to be there so early and see/talk to the vendors before it was really busy. I noticed quite a few booths used Kasia's brand pierogies... which we saw many open up packages and boiled the dumplings early on.

    It was really a refreshing festival with it's quaint small town feel and supportive community. I look forward to going next year... and I'm oddly craving pierogies even today after having more than my fill yesterday.
  • Post #43 - July 27th, 2009, 11:15 am
    Post #43 - July 27th, 2009, 11:15 am Post #43 - July 27th, 2009, 11:15 am
    foodie1 wrote:I went with about 10+ friends yesterday and got there right before 11am. It was great to be there so early and see/talk to the vendors before it was really busy. I noticed quite a few booths used Kasia's brand pierogies... which we saw many open up packages and boiled the dumplings early on.

    It was really a refreshing festival with it's quaint small town feel and supportive community. I look forward to going next year... and I'm oddly craving pierogies even today after having more than my fill yesterday.

    Kasia's also has a local outlet where they can be purchased (as well at some grocery stores)...

    Kasia's Deli‎
    2101 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
    (773) 486-7500‎
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat

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